Farm Animals


I like animals, but I don’t consider myself an animal rescuer or a fanatic. Guess it’s because I grew up on a farm.

On a farm, dogs are for companionship, hunting, and protection of livestock—or people. Cats are mousers, usually in the barn. Horses are for work or for fun. None of these things mean that you can’t love them and take care of them. Some dogs, like my Kura, are more . . . decorative. Some cats are more cuddly—mine is a Maine Coon and he is so not about cuddling. He hunts. He stays out in all kinds of weather, but he does come in from time to time, especially to eat.

As you know, I “rescued” my mustangs. They were in a bad situation, and I was able to help. I maybe should have stopped at two, or definitely at four, but now I can’t imagine not having all of them.

That doesn’t mean I can rescue any more, or even help out that much with donations. I made a commitment to these five, and any accompanying offspring. It’s heartbreaking to see so many in need, but I have to be smart about this.

Unlike some people, I do not consider goats or cows or pigs to be pets—they are livestock. *Disclaimer: if I had a cute, cuddly Dexter or Highland cow, I’d likely consider her a pet; but we’re talking a hypothetical milk cow, not a steer.

When I was little, Gramps raised pigs. Fall was butchering time. Some hogs, he’d send to market; one of them was mine. I’d read Charlotte’s Web, so my pig was named Wilbur. He was cute—and when Gramps took him to market, I earned $10. That’s the way a farm works. He’d spin in his grave knowing that some people keep pigs as pets . . .

At my dad’s farm, dogs weren’t pets at all. They slept on the back porch whenever they weren’t needed for hunting, never came in the house as far as I knew. Cats lived in the barn. When I was older, I’d sneak kittens in the house through my bedroom window. Mom was adamant that no cats EVER be in her house—but once I was found out, she changed her mind and has had a cat ever since. The house kind.

Also, I may be a bit squeamish about wildlife. Eating them, that is. I love to watch the deer up around the house, but not sure how I’d feel about someone shooting one of them. Other deer, fine, but not “mine!” Turkey, dove, quail—these are, obviously, birds, and everyone knows how I feel about birds. Fire away!

For the record, I’ve eaten venison, squirrel, and raccoon. Not a fan, but I was a kid, and kids had to eat whatever they were served.

Some wildlife I consider pests. Rabbits, squirrels, and racoons, to be specific. Yes, we shoot raccoons that come in the barn. They carry rabies and three of my horses are not vaccinated. Truthfully, I don’t mind so much if they come in out of the cold, but poop in my barn—let alone my tack room—and you are toast. Period.

There are limits when it comes to animals. Livestock should be useful or sold. Or eaten, if you get right down to it. You can’t keep letting animals breed and keep them all—why in the world would you keep ten chickens and five roosters? Or two goats who lead to six goats and more? These are not pets. They’re farm animals.

Indiscriminate breeding is a bad, bad thing. There are plenty of animals who need homes; creating more is irresponsible. Particularly, of course, if you plan to keep them all. We’ve all heard stories of animal hoarders and it’s heartbreaking. My mustangs came from such a place.

It’s all well and good if you can afford it—and by that, I mean you should be able to afford feed and basic vet care without begging for money or going bankrupt. If you’re set up as a rescue, you still need to have the space and facilities and should, in my opinion, be able to provide the basics even if donations are slow to arrive. It’s kind of like all the GoFundMe projects that we’re all flooded with.

There’s one gal on my social media feed, who I barely know and with whom I have no relationship whatsoever, that was asking for donations to geld a colt. That’s pretty basic, and costs maybe $200, depending on what part of the country you’re in, and is something a rescue should have prepared for. Again, my opinion.

Would I have liked to have Cavalry stay intact? Of course. He’s a doll, good conformation and a great temperament and personality. Flashy, too. But he’d have to live apart from the mares or I’d be overrun with foals. I’m not a breeder, even though I once thought, a long time ago, that I’d do that if I had the chance.

This one tiny filly has me terrified—I check on her constantly and haven’t slept well for a week . . .

And I’ve had two people mention interest in breeding him to their mares. Nope. Even if he hadn’t been gelded, no, for the very reasons I’ve already touched upon.

On the other hand, if I’d had another Catnip mare here, I would have been sorely tempted!

 

 

 

 

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