It’s time that I come clean. I’m terrible at my job. The very essential component of my job, I hate doing. The part where I feed the world delicious and healthy beef products. The part where I have to load my cattle onto the trailer where they head to their next destination. The part where I have to sell my cows.
Let me explain why this is the hardest part of my life. My life has never been without cows. I’ve always been a ‘cow girl’. My cattle probably receive more attention than they need or enjoy, but I love them so much that I give them everything I have in my heart.
I picked out my first cow at the age of 7. That cow’s name is Hershey and she is still alive to this day. Unfortunately, because of health reasons, Hershey is going to be put down this year. I can’t even tell you about it without my eyes welling up with tears. She is the most beautiful cow in the world (to me) and there will never be another cow like her. The day that Dad and I decided that she needed to be put down I bawled. I didn’t want to have to do it. I tried to explain to my dad how we could keep her forever, how we could keep her until she dies on the farm, where she belongs. My dad then looked at me with big, sad blue eyes and said, “Kel, you can either let her die painfully, day after day of dreadful pain, on the farm or you can sell her and end her pain.” I looked at my dad and I knew he was right. It was the right thing to do. It would be selfish for me to keep my favorite cow for personal reasons. So
this year, after she weans her calf, Hershey will be sold. My heart will hurt for many days, but it will heal. I will always have pictures of her and her offspring. I will always have a little piece of Hershey and I couldn’t ask God for more.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the first or last time I will have to put down an animal. Every fall we load a semi full of cattle that will head off to market. These were my babies that I watched grow and mature. I took care of them day after day. It still is my least favorite day on the farm. Even though I’m 24 I still cry while I watch that semi trailer leave my farm. I promise my babies that everything will be okay and not to be scared. Once I get my tears all cried out, I begin to do my daily chores on the farm. I then realize that every day there is new life on the farm. There are new babies for me to love each year. I have to remind myself that I love the taste of beef and that my babies are providing others with food to keep their bellies full. I remind myself that some little blonde hair, blue eyed, little girl (like myself) is sitting at her dinner table eating some of my beef, and thanking her daddy for giving her the wonderful life she has. I then remember that my cows are returning the favor of caring for them. They are, in essence, caring for me by providing me with juicy, tender, delicious meat to keep me healthy and full. Every time the semi leaves I have to remind myself of these things.
So you’re probably reading this and wondering why I farm or eat meat. Well, first off, I love cattle and wouldn’t trade what I do for the world. They make everyday worth getting up for and my cows are my children. Yes some die, but all live wonderful lives on my farm. They make me smile and remind me that life is simpler than others believe. They‘re the best therapists a girl could ask for. They sit and listen for hours. Their soft fur helps ease my anxiety and makes me feel safe. No one can give me what a cow can and for that I’m forever grateful. Second, I enjoy the taste of beef. Every meal I make consist of wonderful vitamins and nutrients—thanks to the magnificent animals I raise. It is such a delicious food and something that I really don’t think I could live without. Third, they were put on this world for a purpose. There is a complete life cycle on this planet. I just make sure that this cycle is pain free and with no worries. Our cattle never have to worry about finding food or water. They don’t have to seek shelter when bad weather permits. They have the most glamorous life a cow could ask for.
So next time you’re eating meat—enjoy it. Remember that a farmer worked hard to bring that food to your plate. Remember that it lived a great life and never lived a day in pain. Let the farmer’s shed the tears—you just enjoy that delicious steak!