Sometimes farming sucks.
Farming is hard, heartbreaking, exhausting and expensive.
I’ve had the privilege over the past couple of years to “meet” some amazing farmers and ranchers through social media.
It’s wonderful to have a network of people who understand that farming can be hard, and are there for each other when sometimes it feels like we can’t keep going.
On Tuesday, one of my twitter friends shared that her favorite heifer was sick.
Like many of us, Michele has been raising livestock for years. In fact, Pumpkin was a descendant of a cow Michele bought when she was just 12 years old.
Every few hours, Michele would give us an update on her heifer’s condition.
She told us that they’d brought out a veterinarian. She shared with us the heifer’s symptoms and other dairy folks offered their advice while the rest of us offered as much support as we could via twitter and facebook.
Then Wednesday afternoon, Michele had to make one of the toughest decisions ever made on a farm, she had to put down her favorite heifer.
Farmers can’t stand to watch their animals suffer.
We spend long hours in our pastures and at our barns caring for sick animals and nursing them back to health.
When there’s nothing else we can do, though, we know that its best to put the animal out of its misery.
It’s hard for us to give up.
We feel guilty, like there was something else we could have done.
We second guess ourselves and shoulder all the blame. What if we had noticed the symptoms earlier? What if we had called the vet sooner?
We feel defeated because we’ve devoted years caring for that animal but in a split second there’s nothing more we can do.
We feel like we’re fighting a losing battle, like we really aren’t in control and we’ve invested our time and money in a lifestyle that’s completely unpredictable.
We pray, we cry, we toss and turn that night.
The next morning we do what farmers do, put yesterday’s pain behind us and go on caring for our animals.
It’s a part of farming.
It’s a tough part, a part we don’t often tell people about, but a very real part nonetheless.
I think Michele put it well in one of her facebook posts, saying:
“Anyone who thinks that farmers don’t care about their animals needs a reality check. Its heartbreaking when they get sick.”
This is the side of farming we need to start sharing.
Do you share the emotion, the pain, the heartache you experience while raising livestock?
It’s time we show them that they couldn’t be more wrong.
Share the stories about those times that farming sucks but because you are dedicated to caring for your animals you dry your tears, dust off your boots and keep on going.