Monday, December 9, 2013

I like beef. And I like people that don't like beef.

So, if you're keeping up with the blog, you noticed that yesterday I decided to start my own series called "Meat FULL Mondays", an effort against "Meatless Mondays". But, I want to clarify things here. My effort is against the idea of taking meat out of the daily diet, not against the people who have chosen that lifestyle already.

Now, as an avid agriculturalist, and someone who has an extreme passion for livestock and beef, I guess this isn't the norm, but, I don't dislike vegetarians. (A double negative - GASP! Please bare with me here.)

But, it's true. I hold nothing against a person who makes the life decision to become a vegetarian. IF it is for the right reasons. If a person simply doesn't like the taste of meat, that is their personal opinion, and I will by all means respect it. If a person chooses not to eat meat because they feel their lives are healthier without meat, well, I don't agree completely, but I can still swallow that logic. What I can't handle is people that choose to become vegetarians because they think animals have been abused/harmed in their lifetime, or that eating meat hurts animals.

Folks, it's time for a little lesson. And it is called passion.

I'm going to go ahead and break the news to you, in case you haven't heard: farmers are NOT millionaires. There are so many anti-meat activist groups out there that try to push the "farmers are money-hungry, greedy people" agenda. Well, with a changing market that sometimes means corn prices are at an all-time high, and cattle prices are at an all-time low, there are times where ends don't meet. Yes, there are times when we make a profit, and that is good. But profit is never outrageous, and money is not the reason we raise cattle.

Let me share a story.

This is a picture that my mom sent me last night around 10:30 pm, when most of us were cuddled in bed, in heated homes, watching the evening news. My parents, however, were at home, instead watching the temperature drop and drop and having their worry climb and climb.

You see, at our dairy, we have calves born year-round. And, we also have beef cows that sometimes calve a little early for the spring, or a little late for the fall. This picture is of a momma cow and her brand new baby bull calf. He was born yesterday afternoon, when it was a brisk 41 degrees outside! Welcome to the world junior, it's a grand ole' place. But, when the sun went down last night, and the temperature dropped into the teens, my parents knew action must be taken.

You see, a few days ago, when the snow and ice storm hit, we had FOUR baby calves born that day. If you can imagine, making a transition from a nice, insulated warm mommy to a freezing, icy, Texas environment, well, you too would be less than excited. Despite my family bundling up and fearing the worst weather possible to gather up the babies and their mommas, bring them inside the barn, complete with straw, blankets, and heat lamps, all FOUR babies died. Talk about a heart-breaker. My mom had called me that evening and her first words were: "I've got a prayer request." THIS is the kind of things that farmers and ranchers pray about. We pray that mommas hold their babies inside for just a few more days. We pray that the babies that are born are found as quickly as possible. We pray for the sun to shine. We pray for the ice to melt. We pray for brand new baby calves to have a strong will to want to live. Basically, we pray for things that we cannot control.

But, back to the picture. So, last night, after realizing that the temperature was going to be too cold for Harley's baby bull calf. Yes - we name our cows. My parents went out, picked up the 85 pound calf and carried him, with his mother following, into the barn. Then, they put out a couple bales of straw so that the pair could cuddle up against the cold weather.

Did my parents have to go out in the cold, in the dark, to rescue this baby? No.
Did my parents want to be out in the cold wind? Probably not.
Did they want to save his life because they love cows? You bet.

Farmers and ranchers have a 24 hour, 365 day job. Farmers and ranchers do not get a vacation, and certainly not a 'paid vacation'. Cows eat every day, just like we do - yes, all 1,100 of them.Cows have babies every single day of the year. The weather is always changing. Cows need farmers. And here's the other thing: farmers need cows. Why? Because they have a passion and a genuine love for cows.

Check out this video: our family was honored as one of the top 7 dairies in the country in 2013, and we operate solely on a passion and love for cows. This was our video biography played at the National Dairy Farmers of America Convention this spring.

Moral of the story: farmers love cows. If you choose not to eat meat, that is your own personal decision, and I will respect it. My only hope is that those who make the 'vegetarian' decision will equally respect my decision to raise and love cows. The end.

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