Monday, January 23, 2012

I Like Big Butts

As farmers, growers, producers of food, we look at things from a different perspective than the rest of the world. We may seem like misfits at times, but our different point of view is a good thing!

We don’t see cutesy animals romping and frolicking over the farm. We see a source of food and income. Because our livelihood depends on it, we MUST be good caretakers. Healthy animals and healthy land are the basis for our business and our way of life.

Animal and plant crops provide the stuff that keeps the humans of the world fed and clothed. These crops must be cared for, and cared for well, in order for everything and everyone to thrive. It is an important task that farmers take most seriously.

There are those who would question the care and concern on the part of the farmer. This is not fair if the questioner has no actual knowledge of farming. The movies have done nothing to further understanding of agriculture. “Babe” and “Charlotte’s Web” are entertaining, but painted farmers in a very undesirable manner. I will even suggest that some of the so-called documentary movies regarding food production are in fact slanted and biased. Practices that to the un-initiated look cruel or unnecessary are part of the routine care that the farmer knows will produce a superior product. Without some sort of human intervention, there would not be a product to go to the market. The world would be a very hungry place if it weren’t for farmers, their knowledge, commitment and hard work.

Yes, baby animals are cute and cuddly. But, they do not stay that way. They do not make good pets. They do not, I repeat… DO NOT rank up there with human beings! They are intended to be food and they should be well treated until such a time as they are destined for the plate. That indeed is the practice here on the hill.

When we look at the young animals on the farm, it is to assess health and vigor, although we enjoy the pastoral scene and the bucolic antics. We get a sense the carcass quality beneath the wool (or feathers when we look at broilers) and know that we are doing a good management job. The big butts on the lambs indicate superior muscling and a desirable carcass. Big muscles equal more meat. And ultimately more meat equals more money.

**Just for the record, making money is NOT a reason to go into farming. **

One of the reasons we raise meat animals is that we enjoy good, clean, wholesome meat. I realize I just offended a lot of vegetarians. For that, I apologize…but please hear me out. Those who choose not to eat meat do so for a variety of reasons. …and that’s okay. But, I would suggest that anyone who becomes vegetarian in order to prevent cruelty to animals check out the facts. The facts. Most farmers aren’t abusive or hateful. Most farmers are not notoriously cruel to their animals; they cannot afford to be. To re-iterate…their livelihood depends upon it! As for those who would say the animals are treated as commodities…yes, they are. But, commodities have value and are treated accordingly.

Unfortunately, there are bad farmers, mean farmers, and farmers who just don’t care about anything but money. But, there are folks like that in every profession. Those few bad apples shouldn’t spoil the whole bunch!

When you live on the land, by the land…you also live for the land. A good farmer is concerned about those in his care, be they animal or plant crops, and he will do everything he can to assure that health and prosperity abounds on his farm. Care of the land is as important as care of the crops.

One of the local veterinarians has a bumper sticker on his vet truck: “Farmers…the first environmentalists”. While there are those who would look askance at this statement, those who would attempt to demonize all farmers, it must be made perfectly clear that farmers MUST be concerned with the environment…because they know how important it is to their livelihood. A whole lot of thought and care and concern go into being a farmer.

On a personal level, we get a great sense of accomplishment and satisfaction when we look at the lamb chop crop and see those healthy, robust lambs. That line of lamb butts is the result of a lot of hard work, thought, planning and prayer…and good farming practices. We also know that the result of all the before-mentioned effort… this will be some awesome eating!

Yep….I like big butts!

…and I cannot lie…

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