Friday, 25 October 2019

Another misleading hashtag: Farm24

This #farm24 seems to be the new idea of talking about the real life of a farmer. As always from the human perspective and trying to make a harming industry appear kind. Interestingly enough, tapping #farm24 into Google brings this article up as number one. It has a rather delightful picture of a cow, with twins and a farmer holding a ‘calf puller’ talking about how the farmer helped the cow calve her twins. The real story of farming from the victims’ point of view is not as heartwarming as the picture suggests. The cow wouldn’t need the help at all if she hadn’t been artificially inseminated in the first place. Carrying any baby, takes a huge toll on the mother, twins especially so. Any parent or person with a small iota of logic would also know that she would not want her children to then be cut into pieces and sold as ‘meat’. As is always the case, animal farmers like to be seen as the good guys, not the slave traffickers they actually are. I have used the words directly from Dairycarrie, a blog by a farmer,

"To top off all those reasons, after having twins a cow often has health issues. Having twins leads to more retained placentas and uterine infections. Carrying and growing two calves takes a toll on a cow."

This mother will be out to calf every year and her babies sold for meat. (obviously dairy cows suffer more) If one of these twins is male then the likelihood is high the other will be a freemartin. If you are unaware of what a freemartin is, Dairycarrie explains again,

 "When a set of twins is born and one is a bull calf and the other is a heifer calf, more than 90% of the time the female is infertile. The infertile female twin is called a freemartin. This happens because early in embryonic development it’s common for the separate embryos to fuse and share the same blood supply. The hormones that the male fetus produces can cross to the female fetus and causes reproductive tract abnormalities. A freemartin heifer will carry a Y chromosome instead of the typical XX chromosomes of a female. There are a few ways you can check to find out if a heifer is a freemartin, only one of them is something you can describe in public without people looking at you weird. Since a freemartin’s reproductive tract isn’t usually formed correctly, you can start with a physical exam.”

Thanks DarrieCarrie!  by physical exam, make no assumptions that the cow enjoys having a hand and arm put inside her vagina, for all the females out there, do you enjoy a smear test, and who looks forward to a prostate check, and that’s just a finger ?

Safe from harm - sanctuary cows

The more hashtags and heart warming stories the animal industries throw about the more ironic it seems that the general public buy into the rubbish. To wade through all this bumph, you as a human have to ask yourself one question. The only question that matters, “Would you find it acceptable and humane, if the same actions were taken against you, your partner, your family or your children?” If no, then it cannot be humane to do this to someone else for profit or product. If you answered no, then please look at;

Please do not contact Treway Farms, they were used as just an example because they came to the top of the search. They are by no means to my knowledge any different from any other farmer out there.

Friday, 18 October 2019

Introducing the latest member of the Big V family: Luna

This little lady needed our help urgently. We were phoned direct by the farmer for help, and to go and see her. This shows our message is getting out there! She has suffered an unknown traumatic event which has caused paralysis in a rear leg. The farmer wanted her to get better and have a life where she was cared for. He does not have the time to give to her and at this point in her life it is unclear if she will stand and, therefore, may not be a profitable enterprise. He did not want to put her to her death, and was very pleased to relinquish her to our Sanctuary. 

It is vitally important that we can help this little one, most obviously to save her life; but also to encourage the farming community here to contact us for help, to welcome us into their farms and hear our message about treating animals as sentient individuals. To understand we are knowledgeable and not city dwelling idealists with no idea of logistics, hands-on toil and animal husbandry, which is sadly how most of the farming community regard all vegans.

Little Luna arrived safely. While we were transporting her I could feel the weight of her in my back, pulling at the tow hitch. Her presence was a physical feeling, not just an emotional one. I wondered whether all those that take animals for slaughter can feel the weight of the beautiful lives pulling behind – a reminder of who they are taking and where? I found this sensation strangely overwhelming, made more poignant when we passed the slaughterhouse, which would have been her destination. As we passed, several trucks full of her kind were visible, with the ‘fresh flesh’ lorries loading at the other end. My heart was profoundly heavy, knowing she too could smell the stench in the air. We knew she would be scared, unsure and feeling vulnerable as it was her first trip away from the home she had known and her mum. Her first time on the road. We drove slowly, circumventing every pot hole, worrying around every bend so she was as comfortable as possible. We cared; I cried at the lost lives, the unnecessary suffering of other families, their losses and their grief.

As soon as we arrived home she was unloaded by carrying her into a deep fresh bed. Despite our best efforts she had started to cry. Not imagined tears, not the whimsical flights of fancy that those who eat cows believe we make up. Salty tears that dripped down her beautiful, ginger cheeks. I dried her face and washed her down, getting a feeling for what she had endured. We then took it in turns as a family to stay with her through the day and the night, waiting for the vet to arrive. Gwynnevere read to her for most of the afternoon. Through the night Alba and Morrigan snuggled up in the sweet straw with her. In the morning she was more at ease and calling to us if we walked by the barn, without saying hello.

As the days went by little Luna began to improve. In rehabilitating anyone who has suffered a catastrophic event, every small positive landmark is a victory to be celebrated in the long journey. After a few days, all the necrotic tissue that had been festering on this baby’s previously untreated pressures sores sloughed away! Using my tried-and-tested Miranda's Marvellous Moist Medicinal Unguent, tested on anyone that stands still, the alarming and considerably large sores are now all freshly bleeding, which for anyone not in the know is an extremely good thing! Her tail is no longer raw with maggots living inside the flesh, but has dried out and scabbed over.

In the scheme of her long road ahead, this is just a tiny shuffle forward, but it is forward! We have no idea on her prognosis at this stage, we have no idea if she will be able to weight bear, but we do know she is now comfortable and her skin is healing. She is eating and drinking well. She is kind and loving and accepts our administrations of care with a head rub and a sniff to our faces. Our beautiful little girl that needs us for all her needs, trusts in us to do the right thing. No different to the little human girl that admiringly gazes into her eyes. Two different species, both with the same trust and need to be cared for with kindness.

Our naming fundraiser on Facebook, revealed ‘Luna’ to be the calf’s name. Thank you to everyone that took part. This helped us to buy the straps needed to lift her and are now ordered. It also has bought some sweet straw for her bedding, enough for her through the months of October and November.

Our regret is that we were not able to intervene sooner and, thus, stand a better chance in helping her to walk. That we can't tell her mum, whom still loves her and misses her that we will do right by her and that she is cared for and safe.

If you would like to sponsor this little lady monthly, please get in touch, her needs will be considerable.

Friday, 11 October 2019

Introducing our very own Princess

The days draw long and sweet, the insects' buzz and birds flit and swoop into the pollen-covered lake. The grass is growing, the sun breaking through tumultuous clouds, I am living in safety. Why then do I sit and have this ache in my chest, a heaviness inside, a feeling that makes me draw my breath deep as I try to exhale this long-lived pain away? I know, but do you?

My guardian sits with me now, understanding and saying nothing, I know she understands as we talk in feelings. Her tears fall, as do mine, as she says sorry to me again for something she did not do. Do you know why we cry? She carries guilt and sorrow that is heavy and I carry heartbreak and longing that still overwhelms me now, as I sit. Humans tend to use long words to dissuade and discourage other humans from understanding our pain, from connecting with us, from seeing us as we are, like anthropomorphise, personification. Laughing and mocking others that try to connect with us. We are people, we have personalities, we have feelings; we may not express them in the same way, but that does not mean we are lacking. Any human that takes the time to sit quietly and think through our lives from our perspective can begin to understand us.

Is my grief less than a human mother's grief at the loss of her child? While you can shout and wail and call the police; do you not think I scream inside? that my wailing is not as passionate, just because you describe it as a moo? MY voice is complex, I have many words, is it my failing that you cannot understand me?

I have lost many children; I remember the sight and smell of every single one. Every life I felt kicking inside me, every small head I was able to nuzzle before they were taken. I still remember my lost children. The horror of being powerless to stop them being taken numbs me. When the farmer puts cows into the field, my heart shatters at the cries of the other mothers who are calling and mourning their stolen children, the memories of my little one's flood back.

You may look and think that I am just a cow, but you do not see me but you do not see me. You do not see the mother I was; you do not understand the pain you have caused. As I sit in my sanctuary now, I would give my life, again and again, to have saved my children, as would you. Do not judge me to be unfeeling, just because you feel nothing for me and do not understand.
So, we sit together, her hand on my neck, two mothers, one with two legs and one with four. Our love is no different, just how we express it, she understands, when will you?

Friday, 4 October 2019

Update: Azra’s got wheels

Azra is mobile again! Thank you for your faith in us to know the right thing to do for Azra to be able to live her life as she wanted to. After her sudden decline with cancer and then her recovery following a complete mastectomy, we watched Azra’s will of iron to get better but her frustration at her weak back legs caused by degenerative myelopathy. She has a fantastic chair now that will support her more and more as the disease progresses. You have no idea the joy it was for her and for us to be able to walk down the lane again in the sunshine. The joy it brings to all to have our snaggle toothed, grey haired girl out for walks cannot be overstated. On her first try out in her chair, once the wheels were in place, she was offfffff, doing all the normal doggy things she loved to do. To see someone you love mobile again is overwhelming. She is our super trooper.

To walk next to our golden friend is an honour. To hear her familiar floppy walk as her large feet hit the ground is a comfort, like a warm blanket on a chilly evening. To turn and see her black-eyed gaze looking back at me with her soul searching look is nothing short of a miracle. She has been through so much in her life, this is just another chapter. Her floppy-footed walk is now accompanied by the rumble of wheels. It is overwhelming the strength of her will to get better, to be part of the pack, to be with her family. I hope her story gives other people courage to trust the animals in their lives. To give them the same chances as they would a human in the same position. To not prejudge and cut their lives short because it makes the human life easier. It is not our role to judge what their quality of life is by our parameters but to allow them to guide us with their wants and desires. To listen closely to their language, to trust in them to know their own capabilities. We don’t know what tomorrow will bring but today was an adventure. Whatever is on the horizon, she can trust in us to be by her side.

Never give up. The non-human animal in your life has an ability to heal that is as strong as your own and a will to live. So often as humans we underestimate a non-human animal’s capabilities. So many people contacted me saying I should have had Azra euthanised when she was post-operative after her mastectomy. So many felt it was their duty to judge a situation over the internet by their own standards. To say that she was suffering in some way. She was never in pain, she may have been uncomfortable at times, and she may have been frustrated. But it was her frustration and will to move that has propelled her forward. Azra is happy to be alive and we are over the moon. Too many humans take the easy road for themselves rather than being an honest guardian and allowing the animal in their care to set the pace.

Just over a week of using her chair, from doubly incontinent, fighting cancer, unable to walk, to walking down the road with her friend. She uses her chair for walks over ten minutes three times a day, but to potter down the road for five minutes she can cope very well now without. These chairs are fabulous, I cannot recommend them highly enough. We thought Azra would be reliant on this chair until she passed away; instead, it has helped us to rehabilitate her and she is able to have independent moments. Thank you again to all those that helped.

As you can see in the photo, this evening walk with Azra was beautiful. She and I rumbled along as the sun slowly dipped his head to bed. The air has taken on the smell of autumn, a hint of frost, as if it is hiding around the bend. After the recent rain, the boggy notes of fungi are a pleasant undertone; hinting at mushroom suppers not far ahead.

She travels well now in her chair. For over 45 minutes she was plodding along, nose down to the ground, with an occasional glance around. We stopped at the viewpoint for a little rest, before heading home as the darkness dripped its lacy wings on the trees and the shadows lengthened to become clotted pools that stopped me seeing ahead, but still the rumble was beside me. The plopping sound of large, hairy pads striking their rhythm on the moist pavement.

By the time we arrived at the last hill to home I could smell roasting garlic and chilli. Knowing our dinner was on the way, Azra picked up her pace, knocking the wheels on the front gate in her haste to get home to supper. My old girl and I had a wonderful rumble through the darkness and now off to sup the homemade courgette rum, just to test if it needs a few more twists of ginger, in the name of science.