The Farmer's Cry
It was a sad day for animals when a new social movement coalesced around the idea that animals were the moral equivalent of people and must be given the rights of people.
Not only is this cruelly misguided and not remotely plausible, it has deprived animals of the chance for their true needs, rights and welfare, to be defined and protected by their guardians, on whom they are so dependent – people. If they are the same as us, then we have no obligation to understand them or save them, they will somehow take care of themselves. All we need to do is rescue them from us.
We are so disconnected from animals, from our food, from the natural world that most people no longer have even a remote clue about what helping animals means and how it can really be done. Farmers do, they live closer to nature and to food and to animals than any of us, but the wise men and women who govern our society decided long ago that they are no longer important or relevant to the global economy, and can safely be ignored and roll away, like Tumbleweeds in the great plains.
Ed Gulley is a dairy farmer, a self-described dinosaur, a fiercely individual and honest man who, along with his wife Carol, started an instantly popular blog called the Bejosh Farm Journal. Gulley, a life-long farmer, and an artist and sculptor, wanted to give the farm a voice again and let people know what the lives of the farm and the farmer and the real animals in the real world are like.
There is no human being I know who grants animals more rights than Ed Gulley does, the screaming anti-carriage protesters in New York are not to have saved one single animals with their millions of dollars and campaign of hatred and lies. Ed Gulley had a crippled chicken born nine years ago, and he built a special pen and roost for her to keep her separate and safe from the other animals. She lives there to this day.
Any one of us who lives on a farm with animals know the truth about animals has been lost, a message powerfully reinforced by the angry and profoundly ignorant movement to drive the carriage horses from New York City and put the in peril in order to "save" them from the awful cruelty of working with people in cities.
We cannot possible help or save the remaining animals in our battered world if we know nothing about them. And the people who know something about them have no say in their future or welfare, they do not have lobbyists and legislators in their pocket.
The animal rights movement is long on money and ideology and short on knowledge and understanding of animals. The same, sadly, is true of the many good and naive people who give them money.
The animals are left in an awful place, their only true advocates and the people who give them work and food and safety, people like the farmers or the ones in the carriage trade. And they are targets, bit red bulls eye's planted on their bags, they are too busy struggling to defend themselves from increasingly ludicrous accusations and to survive to raise their voices and be heard. In our world, your voices have to be loud and ugly and expensive to be heard.
Farmers and carriage drivers have no time, they are busy working.
Any farmer or anyone else who lives on a farm or writes about animals know that the lives of animals have been so emotionalized and exploited and distorted that few people understand their real needs and natures. If you write about a calf, you will immediately be inundated by messages wondering – often quite angrily – if the calf will be separated from its mother. Animals are not our partners, they are perpetual victims, their natural lives no longer acceptable.
If you post a photo of a horse with its head down( a sign of relaxation), you will be flooded with messages demanding to know why the animal is sad.
Increasingly, animals are seen through the narrow prism of abuse, cruelty and neglect. If you believe an animal is the moral equivalent of a human being, you will expect the animal to be treated just like a human being, or a human child. We are literally sucking the souls and lives out of them so that we might feel better about our selves as human beings in a disconnected world.
This idea of animal rights is driving animals out of the world. Because that seems to be the only real idea of the animal rights movement: to take them away, where they will vanish from our everyday lives. The Ed Gulley's of the world are the solution, not the problem. They love animals, keep them among us, give them care and purpose, and feed us.
The idea that animals are due the same rights as people is a standard that cannot be met, and should not be met. Animals have lost their true and natural place in the world, they are adrift. We are loving them to extinction.
This idea is what leads to people choosing to kill the carriage horses rather than leave them in their good and save lives. This idea threatens the farm and livelihood of people like Joshua Rockwood, persecuted by secret informers because his water tanks froze in -27 temperatures and one of his 200 pigs might have gotten frostbite on the tip of an ear. You ought to see the faces of farmers when they hear that story.
I think often about the Asian elephants in the circuses, animal lovers have fought for years to ban them from the circuses that have entertained countless people for centuries, but seem not to care at all what will become of them now. People who really love animals know what will happen to them now. They have not been saved.
Ed Gulley is a busy man, he has made time to speak out.
A couple of weeks ago, a male calf was born, his name was Peeps, Ed had to reach into the mother's uterus and tie a rope to Peep's hind quarters and pull him out, the mother was struggling. He posted a video and of course, all of the questions were about whether he would be getting back to his mother.
Ed is not a politician, he stands in his truth. No, he wrote back, the young calf will either be going off to breed or going off to slaughter. This is where food comes, this is how farmers pay their bills, this is how fresh and natural milk is truly made.
"Most urban shoppers would tell you that food is produced on farms," writes poet, author and environmentalist Wendell Berry. "But most of them do not know what farms, or what kinds of farms, or where are the farms, or what knowledge or skills are involved in farming. They apparently have little doubt that farms will continue to produce. For them, then, food is pretty much an abstract idea – something they do not know or imagine – until it appears on the grocery shelf or on the table."
Americans love to eat, but they have lost touch with the reality of farms and of animals. Most of us used to live in farms, we knew work was not cruel for working horses. But now 90 per cent of us live in crowded urban areas, we never see farms, farmers or farm animals, we no longer know much of anything about them, other than they are to be seen as piteous and dependent creatures, in constant need of rescue.
But we do assume that when we go to the market or buy milk, there will be lots of food for us to buy that is healthy and, compared to the rest of the world, cheap.
We love to rescue animals they feel are being abused, or not being treated as people. But we don't care about farmers, we are forgetting what people are for. If you live on a farm, you know the truth. Animals are not like people. Sheep and horses and cows give birth, and look for their babies when they are gone, and in a day or two are grazing contentedly in the barn or the pasture. It is just not the same.
Yesterday Ed wrote a piece on his blog in the voice of Peeps, his new calf. Peeps explains, directly and honestly, just what the two paths ahead of are. If you care about animals, you ought to know the truth. I recommend Ed and Carol's blog, it is the voice of real farmers and also the voice of real animals in the real world. If you like to eat, you ought to read it.