Last Thursday evening, I loaded up three cows that I would be taking to the processor early Friday morning, and the entire process took about ten minutes. It was quick and easy. Now when you hear most folks talk about sorting and loading cows, you hear horror stories about how difficult it can be. “That steer wouldn’t load, that heifer went crazy, this calf hollered all night,” and so on. To be clear, we have experienced that too, but not normally. Most of the time, it’s just as easy and quiet as it was Thursday evening. So what gives? Why was it so easy? I think there are several reasons. One main reason is that our corral is located between two pastures. As you know, we move the cows almost daily, so they are used to moving in and through the corral area, so it’s normal to them. They don’t freak out when they see cattle panels and gates. Where your corral is located is very important when designing your farm layout. The other reason why I think it was easy is because the cows see me every day, and so they are extremely comfortable around me. Cows are much easier to work when they are used to you. They can sense pressure, that’s why it’s so important how you handle them. We try to avoid pushing or driving cows; we always try to lead them.
People ask me all the time “How can you eat the animals you raise?” Or they’ll say “I couldn’t eat them if I raised them.” I understand where they are coming from because most folks are disconnected from their food. We have chosen to take part in the process and raise our own beef, pork and poultry. So does that mean I am cold-hearted when it comes to processing and eating the animals we raise? Each of those three cows I loaded up Thursday were born here on the farm. I’ve watched them run through the pastures and play with each other. So on the contrary, I am not cold-hearted about it at all. I consider the sacrifice the animal is making for me and my family and I honor it. We honor them in how we raise them by providing a healthy environment to live in. We also honor them around the kitchen table when we pause to thank our gracious Father in Heaven for providing the food from the land we live on. We are connected to the land.
“Everyone should farm something.”