A good friend of mine always reminds me, "If you have livestock you will also have dead-stock".
This is a fact in raising farm animals.
We lost a calf yesterday.
One I intended to keep around and grow the herd.
One who I invested much time and money in.
One I planned on having my children help me milk.
I think sometimes I shouldn't care so much. We raise animals to eat. We essentially raise them to die. Why do I care so much if there are casualties along the way? I can write it off as a loss.
But still this morning I wake up and I go to the window to count the cows. My morning ritual. Before I drink my coffee or do anything else I count. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.....7..... No. There are only 6 now. I failed her somehow. My mind races.
But I know. I care because it is my job. I raise these animals for a reason.
Grass N Grace Farm was founded on the principles of raising and loving and caring for livestock in a way that they have the absolute best life. They can be exactly as they were designed to be.
Cows can roam the fields and aren't forced to eat certain things so they grow fast or produce the most. They are loved on by our family like giant goofy dogs with slimy tongues. Pigs get to root and play in our shaded woods. The boys make them mud puddles and they get all our food scrapes. They run to the fence in anticipation when they see the boys and are calm and happy. Our egg laying chickens roam the property and the meat chickens who are more vulnerable get moved everyday to fresh pasture in their pens. They have freedom to express themselves as Joel Salatin says.
So when an animal doesn't get to live the fullness of their expected time on our farm I feel like I've failed them. The loss never gets easier for me. I still morn for them, and I have come to terms with it. If my heart gets hardened then I have lost our original purpose of starting our farm.
"Until one has loved an animal a part of one's soul remains unawakened."