I don’t mean to start off on such a depressing note but this is something that’s been on my mind for a while lately. This is mainly because about a month ago now we had to put our house dog down, but that’s not what this post is about. Rather this post is about death on the farm. I mentioned in my last post that I have been helping out on my farm since the eighth grade, and to elaborate on that a bit more I got my first dairy cow then and I began to show cows with my local 4-H Dairy Program. My first year it was only my one cow, Katy, and the year after that I took on three more. And that year was when I learned the first real lesson in my life about disappointment, responsibility, life and death.
Though I had taken on four cows at that time I was only able to bring three to the fair I went to with the 4-H Dairy Program previously mentioned above mainly because one was just too nervous to be able to show properly. Though I was only about fourteen years old I was forced to take responsibility and learned that not everything will always work out as you want it to.
Now we come down to the main message for today. A few months after that in October 2013 I experienced the first time one of my cows died. Her name was Hazelnut, and even though this was years ago now, and I barely remember anything about her now, it was the first time I had ever REALLY experienced death, and it was one of the hardest moments of my entire life. (She’s the cow in the picture below).
I’ve always told people that becoming a part of the dairy industry was one of the best and most important decisions I’d ever made in my entire life, and this was one of the main reasons why. I was forced to grow up and become much more mature than I probably would’ve been, and most likely than I ever would’ve become, if I hadn’t taken responsibility over the lives of these cows. Death is not something that one can just take lightly on the farm. These are animals that you’ve been with since the day they were born, or just a few weeks after that. They are more than just pets or a way to make money, they can become like your own family.
A few years after this, I lost another one of my cows, once again due to reasons that no one could’ve predicted or changed. And just last year I lost my latest one, after only nine days old. Each one of these was like a tear in my heart and I will never ever forget any of the ones I’ve lost even if I might forget a few things. Along with these, lately on the farm we’ve had a surge of cows having babies early, which then turn out to be twins, and the cows get sick and so far two have died. Watching a cow get sick, deteriorate and die is one of the hardest parts of dairy farming. And no matter how often it happens, no farmer ever gets used to it, no matter what they say. It hurts, it’s not fair, and sometimes I find myself worrying about it happening again. But even through all this farming continues on, and dairy farmers keep the lives of their cows as clean, happy, and as comfortable as they can. And even though there are days when it’s easy to question why we keep going, and if it’s even worth it anymore, there’s always something that makes it worth it.