Christian. BoyMom. Farmer's Wife. Marathon Runner. Ag Professional. Bourbon Lover.
Advocate for all things agriculture and rural.
Advocate for all things agriculture and rural.
Tunis Sheep Hampshires heed
A friend asked me to respond to this article, written by a PETA volunteer.
At first, I wanted to paint a picture of my boys playing with a newborn baby lamb, or a girl sleeping in the pen with her steer after a hard day in the show ring in an attempt to prove her wrong.
But the problem is, on her main point, she is not wrong.
She claims FFA and 4H are not teaching the romanticized version of raising animals to our kids.
Organizations like PETA love for us to tell the romantic stories of livestock. Because the more we do, the more they can profit from spinning our stories.
But the reality is, raising animals isn't romantic. She talks about a mother pig singing to her piglets while she nurses them. I wonder, has she ever witnessed the same mother pig eat one of her piglets for reasons unknown to us? Has she ever watched that 500 pound sow roll over on half her litter, killing them instantly and then push their little dead bodies out of the way to get to her food?
Has she ever watched a ewe relentlessly paw a newborn lamb until she kills him?
Has she ever dried off, warmed and comforted a baby calf whose mother delivered him on the back side of the pasture and then left, not looking back once?
No. She hasn’t, because she doesn’t raise livestock. In fact, her organization doesn’t even run a single animal shelter.
Kids in 4H and FFA have seen this. And they develop compassion for their animals in spite of the reality of animal nature (which often is very cruel). Raising animals is beautiful most days. But sometimes it's the exact opposite and our kids know that.
She is also right that most animals will end up in the food chain. And as she laid out so well, there is nothing kind about eating animals.
There is nothing mean about it either. The bear is not considered mean when he invades a rabbit den and consumes an entire litter of week old rabbits. A tiger is not considered cruel when he starts eating his prey before she has even died.
I take pride in the fact that humans show more compassion in our protein consumption than animals do (another thing that serves to remind us animals and humans are not equal, not the same).
We work very hard to raise animals in a clean, healthy and safe environment. We bond with them while they are here, we provide everything they need. And when the time comes, we kill them in as humane a way possible and consume them (after they are dead of course).
Is that kind? No, not really. Is it cruel? No. It's a fact of life.
As long as God keeps giving us two rows of teeth, I will take that as a sign we are supposed to consume our protein as a steak (or preferably a lamb chop).
So yes. Our kids are probably hardened from raising livestock. When my boy has to say goodbye to the lamb he showed all summer, his heart will toughen a bit. In the same way it will when he has to bury his first dog, when he suffers through his first breakup, and when he gets his first paycheck and realizes how many dollars are taken for taxes.
Life isn't romantic and neither is raising livestock. Which is exactly why kids leaving 4H and FFA are more prepared to succeed on the road ahead of them than their counterparts, who are often spoon fed a fairy tale version of reality.
5/22/2015 04:14:43 am
Your article is so right.
5/23/2015 10:52:00 am
Very well said!!!
5/23/2015 12:25:50 pm
5/22/2015 04:18:02 am
This was best way I think I've seen to explain what we has 4-H & FFA leaders try to teach our kids....We don't try to cover up or sugar coat what the end results will be for their chosen animal...I find it amazing how many of these kids continue returning year after year to take another animal to fair...It's not always about what happens to the animal at the end..but what our kids are learning...Responsibility, Compassion, Sympathy, Obligation & Trust...etc....I'm sure there are tons of things that our kids are learning from raising an animal...Well said Kate Lambert..Very well said....Thank you!
5/22/2015 04:23:29 am
Thank you so much for visiting and for commenting!! And even more thanks for your work as a 4H/FFA leader!!
1/29/2016 04:03:39 pm
And Pride in what they have done
5/22/2015 04:33:41 am
Thank you Kate for your very honest and "real life" response!
5/22/2015 04:34:02 am
5/22/2015 04:46:40 am
How can I thank you enough for writing this?
5/22/2015 04:49:20 am
I love the real response. My kids have learned hard work, responsibility, compassion, and the true value of a life. My kids have learned about life and death in real life situations. They know the value of hard work and the disappointment of life with livestock! We say raised in a barn with PRIDE! thank you Kate for not sugar coating life on a farm!!
5/22/2015 04:50:37 am
This article is so true. Great read. I wouldn't raise my daughter any other way. She is learning valuable life lessons.
5/22/2015 04:53:09 am
Very well said! I raised animals for show for 11 years and have had my children raising animals to show for the past 11 years as well, we wouldn't change a thing about our experiences or lessons learned. My children know the reality of what animals are for, that God created them for a purpose and it's not to be our equal. God only breathed life into humans, He spoke animals into existence. Thank you for speaking for the 4-H /FFA families!
5/22/2015 04:56:55 am
Very well written and very true. My kids love each and every one of their animals. Raising their livestock with all the responsibility that comes with it has made my kids more rounded. They respect all animals whether it is on the farm or out in nature. Thank you from a 4H and FFA mom.
kim elkins rowlett
5/22/2015 05:03:44 am
Thank you for such a clean factual response for the facts of life of our 4-H & FFA childern. My kids have been one one still is raising, showing & processing our livestock. My oldest grandson will be showing his 1st animals this year. Each and everyone of them can & will be able to do what needs to be done in order to provide for there families. All in a humane way.
5/22/2015 05:14:20 am
Awesome job Kate. Well written and exactly on point. Thank you.
5/22/2015 05:39:10 am
These are the reasons we raise our kids with livestock. There are some lessons in life you can only learn from raising animals. There is also no other joy for kids and parents then seeing them do well with something they have put so much time and effort into. my husband and I both grew up raising livestock and there is no other way we would choose to raise our kids.
Tanya [Toni] Nelson
5/22/2015 06:37:01 am
When I was growing up in NYC, in the '40's, I thought the ASPCA was a wonderful thing. I have lived on a farm here in Missouri since the'50's and I believe they have morfed into a part of HSUS. And as far as I'm concerned, they both could be public enemy # 1.They have no clue about livestock and just prey on those that are equally ignorant.We raised our 6 children on our farm with every type of animal there is. I'll put them up against any so called animal rightest. This subject angers me.
"I I take pride in the fact that humans show more compassion in our protein consumption than animals do."
5/22/2015 07:30:45 am
Hi Duncan! I appreciate you visiting and your comment. I believe that humans raise animals in a safe and compassionate way, regardless of the size of the operation.
1/30/2016 10:24:37 am
I was raised in Texas in a small farm community. Large feedlots are run by companies, not families. There is no compassion, it's for profit. A small operation may be run by families but they aren't doing it for compassion either, they do it for profit. It's all about the all mighty dollar.
5/22/2015 07:45:23 am
I can not believe someone who has no idea what 4-H and FFA
5/24/2015 02:34:46 am
Judy, I just read the article and I did not see one hint that FFA and 4-H are bad. I thought it supported the two organizations as raising more rounded kids. No, it didn't expand into the paperwork area. I think that part of FFA is wonderful as it is something most kids graduating from high school have no clue about.
Diana Payne cummings
5/22/2015 07:55:22 am
The only thing you forgot to mention was the 4-h and FFA students take care of those animals in the rain and snow, while those people sit in their nice warm, dry and cozy house!! I'm from 3 generations of raising and showing animals and there is still tears in your eyes when your grandson or granddaughter has to load that animal on a truck or trailer!!!
5/22/2015 12:01:57 pm
Most down to earth article in support of livestock producers yet. Thanks to the author.
5/22/2015 02:48:16 pm
You painted a wonderfully honest picture of the realistic livestock producer and the animals they care for. Thank you for your words, I hope they can help someone on the other side of the issue become more aware of our truth!
5/22/2015 04:08:04 pm
Well said! I have been a 4-H manager for 8 years and I will graduate next May to be an Agriculture teacher. I have watched my 4-H members lose their projects they worked so hard on, one lost a steer to urinary calculi, another a goat, one member lost 3 of his pigs to a fire at the school ag barn. These kids were devastated. Not only did they lose the potential to make a return on their hard work, they lost their friends. I have also watched them shed tears while saying goodbye when it was time, but I have also seen the look or accomplishment on their face when they exhibited their animals at their prospective show. People do not understand that most these kids spend more time with these projects than they do their human friends. Most of them also have their entire family rallied around them, helping them with their projects daily, which many kids do not get that luxury outside of 4-H or FFA. My husband, 2 daughters and I just fought for 2 weeks trying to save a baby calf because it's mom abandoned it and I wish these people could have seen the tears we all shed when we were unsuccessful. Thank you for what you wrote, it was great!
5/22/2015 04:21:47 pm
Great article, thank you! We are a big 4-H family and I believe that it teaches kids so many things in life. Way to go!
5/22/2015 11:48:32 pm
So well said .... thank you for putting the right words together.
5/23/2015 12:54:46 am
Kate please tell me you submitted this to the actual original publication. It needs to be printed there as well. Great job.
5/23/2015 10:42:47 am
I did!! But no reply to date. No surprise there really.
WILLIAM L. BONE JR.
5/24/2015 02:28:41 am
i was raised on a farm so i can relate to this action,yes action.. when my daughter raised a steer for 4h club it was very trying to tell her how unfair the judgeing was and she still wanted to do it. now my grand daughter wanted and did and has raised several hogs. i told her how hard it is to give them up to be butchered, her reply was yes paw paw that is why i named my pig (bacon) and still she raised several more..what a anaminal loving girl
5/24/2015 01:39:20 pm
5/25/2015 04:04:20 am
Thank you. So beautifully said.
5/25/2015 04:36:42 am
Well done! And could not have been more spot on! We were in 4H as kids, and now my husband works in a feedyard, while we manage a small herd of goats. Until one has actually loved the lifestyle of ranching, raising food for your family, one does not understand the heartbreak that we go through when we lose a kid or calf. Or the joys we see when a set of quads are just as strong and healthy as the set of twins. We spend our lives making sure our animals live best life possible, whether it's short or long. Well done!
5/27/2015 07:51:04 am
Well said my Grandaugher has learned so much for caring for her animal, she understands responsibility at age 6 fir caring for something that Relyies on her. A life lesson learned through caring for her Rabbit.
Mary Anne Hausch
6/1/2015 06:11:26 am
Very well said.
6/7/2015 01:47:39 pm
6/8/2015 12:03:34 am
PETA targets animal agriculture but blissfully ignores the issues such as breeds of dogs that are genetic disasters for developing painful lameness and other conditions to satisfy many peoples personal whims
6/8/2015 10:22:20 am
So very true and stated very well...this really needs to get out to the general public...
6/9/2015 09:01:14 am
Very well said
6/9/2015 10:41:24 am
SO true. What kills me about many of the people who (apparently) believe all animals should simply be released into the wild, to be left untouched by human hand, is that they have no idea how cruel "the wild" actually is by their own standards.
6/10/2015 02:52:24 pm
I am a city girl but was bowled over by this reply and so give kudos to you for telling it like it is. As a city girl I like to think my steak comes from Safeway or Co-op and is wrapped in cellophane but that is also fiction....good way of addressing the reality.
1/27/2016 07:30:10 pm
Well said. But these kids grow up knowing what work is - feeding and thawing ice in 0 degrees before they eat, putting up hay in. 100 degrees. They will never be the adults that adopt a pet and then throw it out when "It's not what they expected"
1/28/2016 06:48:51 am
this article was really great I would love to see an actual commercial on TV supporting the American Farmer ,FFA and 4H you don't even see commercials like that anymore . Now that would be something great .
1/28/2016 07:59:18 am
As a mom of two daughters and a 4h leader I can really appreciate this article. My girls were raised with animals since they were born. It is tough and believe me we have shed a few tears, but I wouldn't want my life any other way. Kids with animals seem to thrive. Thank you !
1/28/2016 08:29:15 am
What an incredible article. Thank you
1/28/2016 02:00:51 pm
Excellent article. To bad it can't be seen everywhere. I have raised livestock and pets all of my life. I have also seen some horror stories, some involving acts by organizations like PETA.
1/28/2016 07:47:19 pm
Your article is well written! I grew up with livestock, and I loved them very much. It was often sad, when they ended up on the table. I am not going to lie, this helped me in my decision to be vegetarian, and now vegan. I am however, always sick with PETA, they are horrid. They vilify everyone and everything! In fact, we used to have sheep, we had a bum lamb whose mother tried to kill her as soon as she was born. Needless to say, she was a bottle baby. PETA would never admit to this. They want everyone to see the bad stuff.
1/29/2016 08:07:06 am
Hope none of you PETA, and vegan folks are seen using leather items; shoes, purses, belts, etc. wouldn't that make you, let me think, a hypocrite?
This was the first thing I read this morning - and it was an inspiration. I was raised on an island in Florida...spent my life on the beach or in nice professional clothes and clean shoes! Marriage and many years later I am on my husband's mom's small farm in Ca (sans the clean shoes:) and am so grateful (most days:) for my personal experiences raising pigs, goats, sheep, ducks and chickens. Our teenagers participate to some degree but it's really my endeavor. I chose to raise endangered livestock breeds and do school field trips. I've handled lambing, kidding, farrowing and hatching - and I will never forget the joy of live birth or the heart break of stillborn. My children have witnessed and helped with many and sharing those moments with them - the anticipation, education, amazement, the exhaustion...! It develops / reveals a level of compassion that causes my heart to burst with pride - pride in them for participating and caring and also in myself for working so hard to develop and maintain this farm for them - and for the children who visit who otherwise would never see a litter of piglets at feeding time (and sows don't really sing...they grunt as they are pumping milk:). Their questions range from silly to insightful and I answer each one with real life answers.
1/29/2016 10:30:47 am
Great, great response! You did such a wonderful job of taking the article and flipping it around to show the truth. Well done!
1/29/2016 04:12:37 pm
Animals certainly engage in cruel behavior. They kill, rape, eat their young, and in some cases even torture their pray. We are not like other animals. We are more intelligent have a greater capacity for empathy which is why murder, rape, torture, and cannibalism are seemed wrong by the majority of human society. So why use the argument that "it is okay to eat other animals because they do it too. It's nature" The simple answer is that it is a bad argument and it makes no sense. There is absolutely no reason to consume animal products except for taste and pleasure. To me taste and pleasure is not a good enough reason to take an animals life which is why I am vegan and I assure you I am quite healthy and well fed. Anyone can live a life as I do and live quite well. And more and more people are seeing that. Times are changing. In a hundred years or so I think the consumption of animals will be viewed as human slavery is today. We look back in the practice of slavery and think "how could anyone have thought owning another human being was okay?" In the same way people will one day look back and day "how could anyone have thought raising and killing animals to eat, just for the pleasure of it, was okay?" It is the beginning of the end for animal agriculture in this country.
1/30/2016 11:23:26 am
Totally agree with you. I never did understand how people can raise the animals and say they love and care for them and then have them killed to eat them. Just don't get it!
1/30/2016 05:06:33 am
I understand and appreciate the pressures placed on the animal agriculture community. I also appreciate when someone from that community attempts to speak open and honestly about their industry. I have spent 95% of my life consuming these products and also considering myself an animal lover as Betty said above I was a true Hypocrite. I would use logic that it is here for that or that it doesn't know and lived a great life until then. Then a video from PETA changed my life forever. I am honest enough to know that many, if not most farmers do not conduct themselves that way. I also know that PETA is a business (just like farms like yours) whose purpose is to take my money. PETA did however open part of my mind and started my journey past my conditioning that this is ok. I am not a preachy vegan and this is the first article I have responded to in the 3 years since I have changed. I feel that you are fair and will consider my points on your journey. I will get the first out of the way... The teeth statement? Please drop that one it takes an otherwise well thought out argument and diminishes it. One can look at pictures of animals whose teeth look like ours and then look at their diets to get the truth. The other interesting points, to me, come from the compassion argument. Their is no compassionate way to produce and consume animal protein for us. It is the suspension of compassion which allows us to do this. This is the precise thing that 4 H and you teach your children. Your kid feels horrible saying goodbye to the lamb because something doesn't feel right about taking care of something and then betraying it. He needs to be hardened in order to participate. I feel that this is the sign of the beauty of the animal we are. That we have to be trained to not be compassionate. The loss felt for the dog is a great reminder of the bond we can have with these animals in a true mutually beneficial relationship. I agree with your assertion of the pain felt when someone takes money from your hard work. Imagine the pain felt for someone taking money for your life. The difference is that I never have trusted the government like those animals trust you. Lastly, taking pride in the fact that you are more compassionate in how you remove the lifeforce from your food? Which is more compassionate? An obligatory carnivore eating the only thing it can, an opportunistic omnivore ensuring it's survival or a greedy omnivore taking the a life it doesn't need to for either money or strictly pleasure?
1/30/2016 06:49:51 am
My kids are farm kids born and raised on the farm when they were 5 and 7 I came home and they had found a baby bird featherless that had been kicked out of the nest they told me that they were going to raise the bird. When I convinced them that wasn't possible and the bird was going to die they looked at the baby bird said goodbye and went to fed it to the cat
1/30/2016 11:40:18 am
Thank You ~ Great article
1/30/2016 11:58:14 am
You have always been a ' keeper' . Happy birthday too.
2/1/2016 02:21:59 pm
Very nicely written! This teaches many life lessons,the responsibility of feeding the livestock and caring for them everyday.
5/20/2016 06:55:18 am
As a mother of 4 small farm kids, thank you for such a refreshing article. I shared it everywhere.
1/29/2017 01:30:59 am
This blog came up in my feed again from my post a year ago and I felt I should respond. My husband and I raised two great kids on our farm and they got a lot of knowledge from working with animals. But some days it wasn't easy. I'll never forget the excitement of our first litter of kittens that the kids were old enough to interact with. My small son ran out to see them before breakfast and came back with a tail and one leg. Apparently the mother cat had been cannibalizing her litter. I found out later that she was very sick but that's pretty hard to explain to a four year old isn't it? But my kids grew up learning the hard lessons of animals and both developed a sincere love of animals. I commend you on a thoughtful and honest article about the realities of life on a farm.
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Kate Lambert grew up in northern Illinois, not on a farm but active in FFA and showing livestock.
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