Daily Prompt – Object Lesson

Sherlock Holmes had his pipe. Dorothy had her red shoes. Batman had his Batmobile. If we asked your friends what object they most immediately associate with you, what would they answer?

That’s easy – my phone! The very piece of technology I’m using to answer this question!

My phone is my lifeline to the outside world.

Farming and particularly dairy farming can be isolating. A friend of mine posted on Facebook the other day “Dairy farming – ruining social lives since forever!”

The long hours and the need to be there 24/7/365 puts a dampener on most outings. Just as you settle in you need to go home to milk. By the time you’re done you’re too tired to bother and you know you have to get up in the morning and do it all again.

So my social life is really social media!

I discovered Facebook a long time after my friends did. I’m still not convinced, but it has its place.

Twitter has been my true savior! I have found kindred spirits there I would never have known existed. There’s a different type of person on Twitter, but how and why I can’t tell you. It suits my because I think that’s how I talk. 140 characters, straight to the point.

Twitter is where I’ve learnt about dairy farms in different parts of Australia and the world, discovered activism and most importantly found out what a blog was!

Its where I found my ‘home’.

Its the place that I can go for a serious conversation about the goings on in the world or find some bubblegum for my mind.

I have met some of the people I ‘know’ on Twitter. The most extraordinary thing is its like we’ve known each other for years. Its something I’ve written about before.

I do talk to people I know! I text a lot. By a lot I mean A LOT! Its how I and my busy friends get our information out in a way that doesn’t impose. I can ask a question, make a statement, invite or just update in a way that doesn’t stop my friends from doing whatever it might be they’re doing. They can answer when they’re ready. Also gives people time to think before they answer. 

I do make or take the odd actual voice call too!

Without my phone I’d be lost!

Daily Prompt – Long Exposure

Among the people you’ve known for a long time, who is the person who’s changed the most over the years? Was the change for the better?

I went to an agriculture college after finishing high school. There’s a saying that goes “It takes all types to make up the world” and I’m pretty sure they were all there!

One of the first people I met was Adair.

She had a friendly face, gentle kind eyes, and a welcoming smile.

And she was a little odd.

We were immediate and firm friends.

Adair was from a life of privilege, though you’d never pick it.  Her parents doted on her, she longed for nothing.

Adair was at ag college to learn about farming so she could run the farm daddy had purchased. By farm I mean under 100 acres in the hills behind the Central Coast of NSW.

From the start, Adair had a different view about animal production for food. She was already vegetarian, and would go vegan later in life.

Adair never said ‘I don’t want to know’. She wanted to know everything. Even when the lesson included some distress to the animal, she was there. She did question the why’s and what ifs, but I thought that was great. I had always struggled with castrating male animals, cutting lambs tails off and intensive pig and chicken farms. It was nice to have someone with the same ideas.

But you could explain the reasons behind these practices, and in most cases she’d accept it.

We would do a lot of very strange things together.

One of our favorite things to do was go into town after dairy duty in two day old dairy clothes.

Another was to put her mums maternity dresses on with our work boots or better still rubber boots and go to the pub.

We were always there for each other. She defended my mood swings, I defended her views and vegetarianism.

After college, she went back to the farm and basically isolated herself. She did have a few friends, most of them living an ‘alternative’ lifestyle. I did keep in touch for a while, but my work made it near impossible.  This was the time before mobile phones.

A lot of years later I found her on Facebook.  I was so excited to find her. Of all the people I’d met in my life, Adair had been one of the few to encourage my eccentricities. I needed that acceptance again.

The first thing I noticed was she’d become an animal rights activist. In my naivety I thought it was great, and wondered how I could get on board.

It wasn’t long, after reading her posts, I figured out not only did I  not want to be involved, I wouldn’t be accepted anyway.

We continued an uneasy friendship for a while. I asked her to clarify some activist positions. She tried to tell me my chosen career was terrible. But we still got on.

Until one day.

She posted an absolute lie. She said drinking milk causes arthritis and brittle bones. I stated that of all the health issues the elderly  dairy farmers I know have, they weren’t among them.

That was it for her. She followed the usual activist line and told me I’m a cow rapist and I force my cows to be pregnant for financial gain, that I rip baby calves off their mothers and murder the boys, and that I personified everything wrong with the world and I should hang my head in shame.

The Adair I remembered with an open, questioning mind and morals, not that much different from me, had turned into a hate mongering member of an agroterrorist organisation hell bent on stopping the use of animals for food production.

I was devastated. Absolutely devastated.

I cried and cried.

It was like she had died.

I knew we’d never talk again.

I knew I’d  never see her again.

That was about 12 months ago. I still have days…

Adair is the person who’s changed the most. And I miss the old Adair dearly.

Propraganda and How It (Doesn’t Always) Work

The news was broken by PETA yesterday of the abject cruelty endemic in the shearing sheds of Australia.

It came with a video complete with an official sounding voice and emotional music.

Why is a dairy farmer having a rant about this?

I am against the mistreatment of all animals.

And I worked in the industry for about 10 years. So I do have some experience. But that’s a blog for another day.

I have seen the behavior depicted in this video, but I didn’t stand back and watch. I had a shearer sacked for treating sheep like that. I made enough noise in two other situations for the overseer and the grower to see what was happening and moved those horrid excuses for human beings on. I walked away from what would have been a lucrative job as a contractor allowed this sort of abuse to occur because the shearer was a ‘gun’ (lots of sheep shorn in a day) and even moved 800km’s away just to find a new team after basically being blacklisted where I was for it. All in all, I probably saw seven shearers act with such contempt for another living creature. They don’t get a lot of work.

Here is the video. Watch with an open but curious mind…

So here are a few of the problems I have with this video.

Firstly, why (again!) was the footage held for 12 months without prosecution of the shearers involved? This is something we see regularly from so called animal welfare advocates.

Some of the filming was obviously done with the full knowledge of the person being filmed. This can mean a few things. It could be a set up. It could be a mate filming a mate and that video has been used inappropriately.

A question that has been bubbling in the back of my mind is who has a hammer on their stand and why? Its not a normal part of a shearers kit.

Not surprisingly, some of the images were taken out of context.

The sewing up of a sheep is something that needs to be done from time to time. It has little to do with the per sheep payment system as reported by PETA. The reason a sheep ends up with a cut like that are varied but rarely does it lead to the death of the sheep. And no, pain relief is not used. PETA again are using emotion without facts. They are comparing human skin to that of an animal that has evolved to have less nerve endings in areas prone to damage.

There is also footage of a shearer with his foot on the sheep’s neck. To me it doesn’t look like much downward pressure is being used. Experience tells me its being held still so the sheep doesn’t kick and then need to be sewn up.

And lastly, who installed the cameras and was it done with full knowledge of the owners of the sheds involved.

If these groups had there way, every livestock enterprise in Australia would be under constant video surveillance with open to the public feeds over the internet. Nothing should be hidden in their view.

Agroterrorism is being used in this country by these groups to obtain footage they can then cut and paste to suit their own agenda. This is what I believe has happened here. Imagine what they would do with live feeds.

This picture was on the Weekly Times report about the video. I feel I should comment on this picture. Its out there for all the world to see. I have no idea where this picture came from but it doesn’t help anyone but PETA.

Or does it?

It shows a sheep with some blood. I do feel bad for this sheep. But looking at the picture I notice the sheep isn’t very cleanly shorn. There’s wool left on the rump. This indicates the shearer was probably a learner.

But the more interesting thing I notice is, except a tiny patch on the bottom left, the lack of blood on the fleece.

Could be a lucky shot… make your own assumptions.

Source: PETA

I am also guessing you have more question. And you should! All of the material shown by ARA’s needs to be dissected and any cruelty that we can stop needs to be stopped!

But if you want information from people who know and understand, ask a farmer! They are the people with the hands on experience in animal welfare.

There are lots of farmers from all over the world to be found on Facebook and Twitter and most are more than willing to let you in on the workings of their enterprise.

Feel free to leave questions and comments. If I don’t know the answer, I’ll probably know someone who will.

Thanks for reading.

Unexpected Pleasures

Last night, while talking to a person I am proud to call friend, she told me I’m the most sociable loner she knows. I replied I didn’t have a real friend until I moved to Coopernook. That made her laugh a lot – its a location joke…

But that’s beside the point really!

It made me think about why I’d made it to my 35th birthday without discovering the pleasure of true human connection.

The BPD I’ve spoken of before was one reason.  I had always been a loner! 

About a week after arriving in Coopernook to start our first dairy operation together, the P&C uniform lady rang me.  She’d heard I had a child to start at the small school and wanted to let me know what I needed and what she had as new and second hand uniforms. She seemed rather nice. A little forward, maybe nosey, but nice!

There was no bus for Coopy school so the parents made their way to the front gate every afternoon to pick their children up.  Everyone knew everyone and had their groups.  I sat in the car and read.

Until one day the uniform lady came and tapped on my window and told me she couldn’t watch me sit on my own anymore and no matter what I said about enjoying my reading time she would bug me till I socialised a bit!

As you can well imagine, I had no idea how to handle this!  So I went home and asked my social butterfly husband who suggested it wouldn’t hurt me to actually talk to people.

The rest, as they say, is history!

Her and I will be friends till the day we die, and know we have each others back!

I met four other awesome women in Coopy, and seeing them always makes my heart sing!

So, how does this relate to my current need to show what I love about my dairy life?

The people.

It takes a special kind of person to be a dairy farmer, and it takes a special kind of person to be true friends with a dairy farmer! 

To paraphrase something I read on Facebook, dairy farming – ruining weekends and social plans since forever!

A lot of the people I have come in contact with since we started milking cows around here have become good friends.  Mostly because hubby is like that I guess!

And no matter what our perception of the the publics perception, they do appreciate what happens to create the dairy products they love – if we show them.  My time at Coopernook showed that to me.

And if it hadn’t been for our desire to leave the situation we were in and try to make a dairy life for ourselves, I would be totally unaware how awesome having true friendships really are!

So here’s to the unexpected pleasures that come with milking cows!

No Toilet Paper. Goodbye Socks!

Today, quite by accident, I performed a little social experiment.
In the last week or so, I have posted and shared a few what I consider interesting links on my Facebook page.
These are some of them;

Animal Welfare: A Wyndham Station Perspective

An Open Letter From Dylan Farrow

EXCLUSIVE: The Danger Of Outrageous Outrage

Live-Ex Comes Home To Roost

All very interesting and informative reads that, in my opinion, everyone should read.  I had three “likes” and two comments for all of those articles.

Today I was having a rare read of my Facebook feed when I came across this doozy from an old friend I shall call Spud – because that’s what we called him at Tocal.

No toilet paper. goodbye socks !!
  • You and 5 others like this.
  • Alison Germon
    Write a comment…
    Of course I “like”ed it! It sounded very Spud-like!
    It was a trick. Within seconds I received this via chat….
    You’re in trouble! Lol! A friend did this to me, its a game. You shouldnt have liked or commented on my status. Choose one of the following:
    1. Damn diarrohea!
    2. Just used my boobs to get out of a speeding ticket.
    3. Anyone got tampons? Im desperate.
    4. How do you get rid of foot fungus?
    5. Why is it no one is around5. Why is it no one is around when Im horny?
    6. No toilet paper. Goodbye socks!!
    7. Is it too early for a whiskey?
    8. What a day, can’t wait till my husband gets home!
    9. I just feel like running naked in the garden.
    10. Does liver and peanut butter make a good sandwich filling?
    Dont explain on the status, just send this message. Your turn!
    I looked at the list for a while and decided on 2.

    Just used my boobs to get out of a speeding ticket….
    Like · · Promote · Share
    It was the most plausible post there. 9 was tempting and had it been raining I would probably have put that one on.
    As I write this, 17 people have clicked “like” and nine have commented.
    I haven’t shared the fact I blog with my Facebook world – too many of them know hubby and I’m not ready for him to know.  But I am tempted!
    Maybe this is what we need to do to promote farming – make it low and degrading. I doubt it.
    We Australian farmers have a lot to be proud of. We are the cleanest food producers in the world.  We are at the forefront of animal welfare standards.  We feed and clothe everyone in Australia and millions of people world wide.
    Why is it then I am taken more seriously when I post something about my boobs and nobody listens when I  share the stories of our lives?
    This is another reason I haven’t bothered sharing my inner most secrets with Facebook.
    But it does beg the question – if my boobs and those of others are so damn interesting, why are more people not interested in what’s happening in the  dairy industry?