My Farmer and Me–Emotions run wild!

mama says goodbyeI realize to the average Joe or Jane Public, this will sound excessive, but to me it is something that, as I am now a full fledged senior citizen,( not in spirit,though) and headed closer to my end of life challenges, I would like to explain in terms that they would understand.

Mama Says was her name. She was 9 years old. A mother and Grandmother like me. Even has stepped up and taken care of another’s baby when necessary by licking off a newborn and providing her milk to one who’s own mom didn’t give quite enough for that first feeding or two. So in her lifetime she has made her mark and left an imprint on our hearts.

Mama Says was part of a group of Brown Swiss animals born here on Bejosh Farm and named after characters and inanimate objects in the Forrest Gump movie; Ed has watched that movie so many times he could probably recite most of the dialogue in it.  This breed can be slow at everything, from standing up in that first few minutes of life (sometimes it takes hours), to figuring out how to suckle a bottle with help from one of us. Does that give you an indication of the Gump connection? They seem to be very intelligent once they get beyond that initial ‘start up’ of living, but do seem to lean to the slower side of ambition.

Now please understand that this is not a put down or opinion of our view of certain people by any means, just that these particular animals remind us of that movie. We have had animals named Forrest, Jenny, Box-o-Cocolet, Sadie, Ms Laweze and Mama Says, Lt. Daan, Miss Suzy and Bubba Gump to name a few from memory. See the fun in  this?

I can remember the grand kids and a neighbor girl (cousin) teaching Mama to lead so she could go the the county fair and show in 4-H and in the open classes for Bejosh. It is usually a tad hilarious to watch the younger kids coaxing that small calf to walk with them on a lead or halter, as the calf is just as stubborn and anxious to quit as they are. But in the end they prove to be good at it and do the kids and our family proud.

The past couple of years Mama Says has suffered with abscesses in her hooves as did one of her sisters a few years older than her. We tried our best to give her a chance to get better this last time; Ed was able to trim and treat her for this problem, but this time is came right back and she was suffering with a swollen hoof that when treated, would not get any better. So the tough decision was made…

Yesterday our son and daughter-in-law came with they cattle trailer and picked her up for the trip to the auction barn. They took her for us so she didn’t get knocked around by other animals in the bigger trailer that our normal trucker has. She had the trailer all to herself and hopefully enjoyed the trip.

Now I am not going to say that this is the way I feel after all animals leave the farm and head to auction. It is not. However, sometimes you just get attached to certain ones and it is like a death in our little ‘farm’family. These animals have personalities all their own; some are cute but laid-back, some are full of the devil from the time they are born, some can get aggressive (Megan comes to mind for me), and as with everything, some are just here doing their job and have no real outstanding qualities. But they are all a part of us; we see them every day!!

So as I took this photo of Mama in the trailer just before she left, I was a bit sad and mad at the same time. If we were making a decent price for our milk, we probably would have afforded to take a chance once more on her healing; treated her and put her on pasture for the summer ( better for feet). Treatment isn’t cheap and losing a milk cow from the herd, even one, makes a difference in production which in turn means smaller check. Mama couldn’t survive on concrete in the freestall barn as it did more harm than good. So many things figured into this decision and in the end we did what we thought was fair and the best thing for the animal. No more suffering. Still isn’t right in my mind! RIP Mama Says; Forrest, Jenny and Lt. Daan await your arrival…….

9 Comments

  1. Thank you, Su Ba for saying so well what I was not able to. Carol was distressed already and didn’t deserve that criticism.

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  2. Donna, just as you made a decision to sell your hayfields, Bejosh Farm made a decision to sell their cow. You sold your hayfields in order to pay bills. Bejosh Farm has sold their cow in order to pay bills.

    Demanding Bejosh Farm to euthanize their cow (incurring the expense to euthanize and loss of past investment put into the cow) and bury it (loss of income) is not much different than demanding that you should have donated and transferred title of your hayfield (incurring the expense of escrow + loss of past investment into that land) to someone else for free (loss of income).

    I duly respect both parties for the decisions they made for themselves. As we go through life we constantly have to make decisions.

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    1. SuBa, i think you maybe going over board.i never Demanded.never. i stated, and i am sorry if i did not reflect it, that the preferred choice,as i DO think i pointed out ,was to be put down or used by family for process.than your heart knows where your heart is,so to speak. I live in dairy land.am fortunate to have 3 to freshen any day (dexters) i also steered last calf,to be meat on table. Love him ,handle him.if i need money ,always, i would sell to farm down road,craigslist,something more personal and checkout-able. As l stated,we sold herd for money due. I think they could have had an alternative,should of. This was in beginning of my learning. We all know,our animals suffer sometimes from us,there dependant. Not on purpose! But it happens. One dairy farm here (jersey ) sells low producers,lame, to family.they will be in field,not pavement,not high demand.or on table for meat,not stressed. As i said,i have processing 3 miles away. Meat is better not stressed. You as Vet know that. If money was issue,that route could have gone through,with selling meat.A little higher price,but better for body and COMFORT of heart. STOP trying to make me out as BAD guy. I do know. I think animals who pull heart strings ( not the meat chicken roosters,they go first) deserve a consideration in the end. Give them their due. The point Bejosh was making ,was sad happens to animals when through with. The point i was making,not demanding, was our choice on how sad or sorrowful.

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  3. I do have farm. I do have ” blog” stories to tell. I have never known death the way i have learned death on farm. And life,life of living and life of birth. That is how i think you learn ,ultimately, death.i do know ,that circumstances sometimes dictate the final decision. But i also state “hard cold fact” as they are. I take responsibility for “their” sacrifice, due to me. And it is not only breathing buddies i talk of.The land also suffers due to “us” farm life “affords ” us more than we deserve in ways no others could imagine let alone consider as a prospect of satisfaction. It also humbles you in ways you don’t want ,let alone could ever anticipate.I am VERY fortunate to have a processor 3 miles from me. That is always and mostly our choice. Times have dictated, for a herd,and mortgage due other wise. Same with organic time invested beautiful hay fields. Needing to sell due to bills,and watch it tornup,sprayedsprayedsprayed to kill our growth to plant GMO! So YES ,i have a farm, and a life. And animals that have given their life for me. IN ANY WAY I CAN, i will put down and bulldoze into the hole,or take to processor. I did not hear of Bejosh farm alternative measure here.

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  4. The beginning of Donna’s reply says it all….”I really don’t understand…” I am a farmer too, but I also spent the majority of my life working in veterinary medicine. I saw first hand over the years that the majority of non-farm oriented animal lovers really don’t understand, nor do they take any effort to try to understand. Sadly I learned early on never to hire a person who said during a job interview that “I love animals”, because they would never work out and would only cause trouble in the future. They never understood, and refused to.

    Carol, I wouldn’t remove Donna’s reply if it were in my blog. The public needs to see that Donna’s line of thinking simply reflects the lack of knowledge and experience of farming, of the balancing act you do while trying to make a living. Each person out there that finds themselves parroting Donna’s point of view needs to see the farmers’ viewpoint so that they can examine their own thoughts, and perhaps attempt to see both sides of the situation. Hiding the realities of farming only makes the non-farm public more critical of what goes on in trying to make a living at farming.

    I see no sense of cruelty or abuse in your decision with Mama Says. Donna surely hasn’t been to a standard livestock auction, or she wouldn’t have stated those claims. I’ve attended hundreds, no…thousands of livestock auctions, mostly working in the background where any abuse (if it were going on) would have happened. I seldom saw any mishandling, and corrected any that started to occur, teaching the handler about a better way to get the livestock moved. I have witnessed far more humans getting injured than animals.

    Finally, Donna apparently is unaware what Mama Says fate will be.

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  5. I am so mad and horrified that you would say these things to Carol. It’s obvious that you are not a farmer. If you were, you would understand how sometimes things have to be done that are painful, but can’t be handled any other way. Carol, I wish you would just remove this awful post from the blog. I know you can’t help what mean people write, but I don’t think I am the only one who is so offended by the way she addressed you.

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  6. I really don’t understand how you can write this,explaining your decision as rational. She should have been respectfully put down on farm.Instead,even with roomy trailer ride, the suffering ,pushing prodding whipping,beating forcing, neglect,waterless, long time crowding,and much more,at auction. Then she could be bought up by someone who will slowly starve her to get any last drop of milk you speak she so lovingly gave. You could have mercifully put her down and buried her.

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    1. Obviously Donna you do not know my parents, or the ins and outs of everyday life on a farm. My parents are known for saving animals that most farmers would not. The majority of those that my parents chose to save cost them plenty of money and were not ever going to be able to produce anything to contribute to sustaining the farm. As a matter of fact I can name plenty of animals who were blessed to have lived at Bejosh Farm. I witnessed many times right before or after milking that my father would be talking to someone who stopped in the driveway and suddenly we have a new dog, a new pony, a new sheep, a new goat, cat, bull, etc. We were known as the farm who would save anything. My father even untangled a chicken hawk from our chicken wire early one morning, he used his electricians gloves and plenty of steak but kept that chicken hawk with the hurt wing in our basement all winter. He brought it up every night and fed it, worked it’s wing over and over. Then later the next spring he released that bird. He did the same with orphaned baby skunks, raccoons, rabbits, countless animals. I am not sure what auctions you speak of, but the auction we send our animals to is humane, certainly don’t do the plethora of negligent acts you are saying above or I KNOW my family would not send their ‘family members’ there. You really shouldn’t judge, especially with this. You are very far off…. so much so that you really should not have even warranted a response from me. But I wanted to make you aware that I am a Bejosh Farm daughter and my parents are the two most caring farmers I know. And lastly, she will not be bought up by someone who will starve her and milk her. Cows go to the auction from Bejosh Farm for a few reasons: 1. they are aggressive and could hurt someone (maybe 3 times in my life I saw this and it was AFTER they hurt someone…so they were given a chance even once aggression was noted), 2. when they will not breed (and the normal farm this might be 3-5 times.. our farm it can be for an entire couple years, they get A LOT of chances) 3. and lastly it is a combination of age/health. A cow can give birth each year and depending on the animal, her genetics (good/bad feet, legs) and her health… she might be 85 – 90 in our years and be worn out, sore, tired, would be too much for her to be bred, to keep milking, she is not eating well, etc… And in this case it is NOT humane to just let her keep going because in some way she is probably suffering. And it would be selfish to make her do that. As for euthanizing and burying her… do you honestly think that farmers who get paid the same, or slightly less for their milk today than they did 40 years ago in the 1970s is going to pay a vet fee $150+ to come and euthanize each animal as it gets older??? That is just ignorant. So then bury every single animal (some farms have 5,000 cows easily) as it gets older? They sure would have to bury them real deep because they would be plowing up bones every spring. As much as I just cried reading about Mama Says getting on the trailer (I showed her at the fair 3 years ago, I have a picture of my kids laying with her, I helped deliver her last calf), knowing she is heaven now, I am still a big girl and know that life is not all rainbows and unicorns. Because although she has inevitably been butchered…there is a dog (just like the ones that were constantly being dropped off) somewhere that is hungry and can be fed now. And hopefully that dog was living in a WONDERFUL, COMPASSIONATE PLACE LIKE BEJOSH FARM.

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      1. Thank you, Maggie! This is an excellent response and I loved reading about how caring your family has always been. Ed and Carol did a great job raising kids as well as animals.

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