I know that this blog is mainly for our dog and cat pets, but I couldn’t resist giving a shout out to some other, larger domesticated pets that many of us have in our lives. I am talking farm animals, such as pigs, cows, sheep, goat, chickens, and some smaller examples, such as rabbits.
I happen to be USDA certified to examine food animals, and have been able to enjoy that rare experience (pleasure) for the last few years while examining a local pig club’s pigs at the Grange fair held nearby. My good friends run the club, and this week is the big finish to a year’s worth of prep for them and their club members. From obtaining the piglets, to growing them into the ready for sale pigs that you see pictured, there is a lot of learning, effort and time involved in the process that ultimately ends up as pork on a plate, or in a bun, for those of us that eat meat. I watch as these young kids and teens groom and primp their pigs, to help them look their best in hopes of winning ribbons, and a good market price for the ultimate fate of their charges. I am sure they are somewhat attached to their pigs, as I would be, as they are truly adorable as I come upon them in their pens, sleeping with what looks like a big smile on each of their faces. Yet, these kids have learned all aspects of the business up to this point, are are polite and consummate professionals in my dealings with them.
As a parent, I think that all children should have some experience with farm animal husbandry, or at least a knowledge and appreciation of what is involved in the process. This is the time of the year that Grange Fairs are going on all over the country. If you are lucky enough to live near one, take your children, and convince them to do more than go on the rides and engourge on funnel cakes or cotton candy.
Consider entering your pie or photo in a contest. Watch a cow or pig handling show, or go over to the barns and maybe learn a little about the various species. It is always enlightening. At the very least, you will see the most elaborately coiffed roosters you will ever see in your life! I know I did.
If you are like me, you will see it as a chance to go back in time, for a day. I feel that way, watching people that work with cows and horses and farm equipment regularly. You get a glimpse into their life, and and an old way of life at that, which was more tuned into nature, and seasons, and the weather. You are reminded of the daily needs of animals, and farms, the products from those farms being what we so depend upon to nourish our families. It is an opportunity to step back and think about where our milk, cheese, eggs, meat and vegetables come from, the process of which is so much more involved than a simple click to purchase on the internet, or a trip to the supermarket.
An added bonus is that this occurs during the summer, when we hope to be able to slow down a bit, and take time to savor the sun and maybe the family that we don’t get to spend so much time with during the rest of the year. And what else can you think of that costs $10 a carload? Come on! The last time I paid by the carload for anything was when I was in elementary school. We were all packed into our Cadillac in our pajamas and went to the drive in movie theater, with my brother smuggled in the trunk! (Sorry mom, but you know it’s true. Remember… we were seeing Planet of the Apes?) Try finding a drive in theater while you’re at it! And Grange Fairs are fun, so why not make a point of going? Maybe try the kettle popcorn while you’re there? Sounds like my idea of a good day.