Having concern for the welfare of animals is an admirable virtue, and I don’t doubt that many, if not most, people harboring such concerns are motivated by the highest ideals and have the best of intentions.
There are abusive farmers just as there are abusive policemen, abusive school teachers and abusive parents. But let me be quick to point out that these are the exception and not the rule.
However, I seriously question if very many of these concerned citizens have ever been chased or tossed over a fence by a bull, had a foot stepped on or been kicked by a 1,500-pound cow, been knocked down by a ram or a billy goat or been bitten by an angry hog.
My great-great-grandfather was killed by a horse. My great-uncle had both legs broken by a horse. A friend was killed by a bull, and two other friends were injured by bulls.
I was personally knocked down and run over by a flock of sheep. Providentially, I wasn’t badly injured, but I could have been.
We have a neighbor with a deformed nose because a horse bit it when he was young. I had to rescue my dad from a cow which had him pinned against a fence.
By his own confession, he would have died right there because he absolutely couldn’t breathe. I acted swiftly, I was not gentle, and I did not read her any Miranda rights. But I probably saved my dad’s life and did not do the cow any lasting harm.
When the contest is between a 180-pound man and a 1,500-pound cow, guess which one has the upper hand. There are times when a certain amount of rough handling is necessary.
So, while you are concerned for the poor animals, I beg you to have a little sympathy for the farmers and the conditions under which they work, which also includes the dangers associated with farm machinery. They put their safety — and sometimes their lives — on the line in the course of producing the meat and milk of which we have such an abundant supply.
New Galilee, Pa.
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