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Saturday, November 02 2013

"Real ranchers don't eat quiche."

Or maybe that's real men .... oh well, same thing.

Actually, they might eat quiche. That may be a line they do cross. Mine won't, but then again, he's not very adventurous at the table. He's a meat and potatos guy.  I, on the other hand, happen to eat quiche - and like it.

Then again, I'm not a 'real' rancher. I'm a bit too sentimental for that.

For instance, my recent proclamation that Grandma Deer would not be shot because it's a sin against the elderly, is a good example. And may I point out that Other Half called me from the deer blind this morning to tell me that he had let my does walk away instead of shooting one. I'm sure it is because I have become fond of my does and see them more as 'distant pets that can be eaten in an emergency' rather than game.

In fact, I object to the very word "game" in reference to hunting critters. It is not a game. Don't get me wrong, I'm not against hunting at all, I just don't think it's a fun game. When I was a child, we were poor - really poor. There was no such thing as game hunting and hunting seasons. It was called "pot hunting" because unless it was a rattlesnake, you didn't shoot anything you didn't plan on eating. 

(Although I do recall my stepfather shooting a tomcat that kept beating up our cats. It was my early introduction to the concept of "shoot, shovel, shut up," but I digress.)

Although I had a vague notion of hunting 'seasons,' I fully understood the concept that "Daddy shot a deer and we need to shut up about it. I knew the term "firelighting" before the affluent children did. I understood it was against the law, but I also understood that sometimes "daddies have to do things that are against the law to put food on the table."

Then I grew up and discovered grocery stores. Although more convenient, I never thought for an instant that it was 'better' than nature's grocery store. Which brings us to the ranch.

Real ranchers can't afford to be sentimental. While Other Half has a crusty exterior, he's a softy about a lot of things. But when it comes to ranching, he tends to share that 'matter of fact' notion that what's good for the wallet rules. I, however, can be very sentimental about my animals and my land. I can afford to be, I play Twister over dead men. That gives me a certain amount of flexibility. (No pun intended. Okay, maybe a little pun intended...)

Anyway, the latest crisis on the farm is Bully. (again)

Bully is an old bull. He was older when we got him, and he's served us well.  Bully produces a consistent calf crop each year. Despite the fact that he's bred to cows that look totally different, Bully stamps a calf crop that I have trouble telling apart. They have low birth rate and gain weight quickly. And EVERY cow gets pregnant. He is not aggressive, easy to handle, and stays inside fences.

We moved the tame former show cows and Bully up to the ranch in North Texas. Bully was having problems maintaining his weight down here. His age was showing. We had hoped that up there with all that grass, he would gain weight.  He isn't. He is losing weight.

He is also not keeping up with the girls as they migrate around the ranch. He gets lost. Bully pretty much confines himself to the west side of the property. He's safe there. He has two big meadows, forest, and two ponds. The only real danger to something his size is getting caught in a flash flood of the creek.

I wonder about his vision though. As you recall, several years ago he had a month-long brush with blindness. He recovered but I don't know that he re-gained full vision. It was enough to get around here, but here the fence borders are pretty straightforward.  Up there, he might as well be a wild cow with no fences.

So here is the dilemma. Other Half wants to sell Bully for slaughter before he dies of old age.

"Get some money out of him. And he won't suffer. If he goes down there, the coyotes will eat him."

From my line of thinking, here are the flaws in that perfect ranching logic:

We don't need to get any more money out of him. He has given us a great deal of money already.

Sending him to slaughter to keep him from suffering is laughable. He will be confused and frightened. And if he has a vision problem it will only be worse.

I argued that we owed Bully better than that.  Other Half cocked his head, much like the RCA puppy staring at a phonograph. This was a novel concept for him.

My solution:

Bring Bully home and let him stay with the bull calves here. If we decide to put him down later, we can take him to the butcher ourselves and grind the meat into hamburger. Our butcher will handle things humanely and he won't be frightened.

I can handle the idea of eating Bully. What I can't handle is the idea of using him up, discarding him to make a buck, and sending him into a situation where he will be frightened before he is executed. That doesn't seem right.

Yes, that kind of logic is lost on most people. People with empty wallets cannot afford to be sentimental. And yes, I have been preaching that we need to start living now on the paycheck we'll receive when we're retired. But if we discard Bully for the quick cash, I fear that though my wallet will be fuller, my moral bank account won't.








Posted by: forensicfarmgirl AT 09:28 am   |  Permalink   |  7 Comments  |  Email
I so agree. It sounds like a win win solution to me.
Posted by Janet on 11/02/2013 - 05:46 PM
Totally agree with you, as usual. If you do choose to euthanize Bully, you can do it humanely and still "make a buck" by having him butchered. Isn't that a win/win for both sides? (Except Bully, but it's just hell getting old no matter what) :<
Posted by Lisa on 11/02/2013 - 08:10 PM
Two choices to ensure that billy does not fall victim to illness/injury/ choosing the one with less suffering for Billy seems reasonable. Enuf creatures suffering in the world...we all die at some point...hope OH listens with his heart....
Posted by clairesmum on 11/03/2013 - 10:16 PM
Could he stay here at the old folks home?
Posted by gma on 11/06/2013 - 04:38 PM
Not by himself. A bull by himself gets into trouble. We discussed it and for now he can stay there. :)
Posted by forensicfarmgirl on 11/06/2013 - 07:37 PM
I love you for your humane and passionate thinking !
Posted by Terri's Pal on 11/08/2013 - 09:36 PM
:) thank you!
Posted by forensicfarmgirl on 11/09/2013 - 12:53 PM

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