Speaking for Ourselves…..

[In response to an animal rights activist demonstration and march through Toronto’s Royal Agricultural Winter Fair on November 10th, 2018……]



Much of our western culture has a romanticized image of farm animals from story books read and cartoons we watched as children.   We have anthropomorphized animals and presume them to “think” like humans.  But if we’re to decide for them, we should live with them for a very long time…..four seasons; four years; a lifetime; if we’re to decide for them at all.

Some of the animals defended by activists would actually hurt or kill them, depending on the circumstances. Don’t turn your back. They are instinctive creatures.  What they deserve is our respect, our love and their space. But they don’t need us to “talk” for them.

We have purebred cattle, some of which we occasionally take to exhibitions in town. We begin contact with them – touching them – in certain ways in which we slowly ask their permission and many have allowed that contact.  We respect that.  We respect their space and we know how to move around them in order not to upset their equilibrium – their instinctive need for safety.

Because animals don’t lie, they would never allow our contact otherwise. They would object vehemently if they weren’t comfortable letting us work with and be around them in a respectful way. They sense disrespect a mile away.

Animal rights activists say they “speak” for the animals. No human being should presume to “speak” for an animal, let alone any creature with which they don’t have contact and connection.  We do not “speak” for our animals.  We observe and we “listen”.

Violent, extremist language is sometimes used, calling out “animal abuses” on the farm when most of the animals which the vocalists supposedly “speak” for are far better cared for than they would be if fending for themselves in nature. They are not only fed but nourished with the best feeds available.  Water is never far.  They are protected from predators, for the most part. Their illnesses are treated. Their pains are addressed with analgesics. They are assisted, if needed, at calving.  They are admired – i.e. energetically held in high regard. They are free in non-fenced range areas; free in our gigantic fields; free to express themselves in every possible way.
They aren’t bored.
Their primal needs are met as herd animals. We work with, not against, their routines and life cycles, as much as possible. Our cows are content cows. Even if we didn’t adore them and respect them, it’s still in our best interest to ensure their wellbeing and contentment to ensure their health and productivity. Most cattlemen recognize that, when cattle are their livelihood.

“Nature obeys us precisely in proportion as we first obey nature.” – Thomas Troward

Some cows, on other operations, unfortunately, fall under the abusive hands of humans, just like many children do.  Who would think to graphically, publicly show the world via any kind of media, the abominations of abusive households and hold them up as examples of why nobody should have children or “hold them hostage” in their homes. Images of animal abuses make us cringe more than anyone. “Let them be free,” they say.  Similarly, we could we say “Let 2-yr-olds go play in the streets.”

Most livestock farmers are responsible.  Some are downright saps who love the life that living with livestock allows them.  They would live in a shack, if necessary, to keep that lifestyle, because it’s like no other, in terms of how it connects us to the animal world and their nature – Mother Nature.

Being under the influence of most cows’ energy is downright meditative.

Many of us are sensitives. We are mostly quiet people.

Extremists come yelling, with mega phones at public agricultural and livestock events, shouting, violently, calling us evil; scaring cattle, ironically; calling us part of the industrial problems of the world, when we couldn’t be further from that narrow definition.  We are, rather, surviving, honouring, respecting – being the shepherds and caretakers that we signed on to be, attracted to the animal world; and taking it on as a responsibility like no other.  Our work is not a job.  It is a lifestyle that we commit to seven days a week, 24 hours a day and through all  “holidays”. There are parts of the larger beef industry that could be modified and modernized for the better, as is the case in every other aspect of modern industrial culture.  We are learning here, like every other human being.

But outside the food processing industry, such as it is currently, we, as caretakers, who raise livestock,  are living out our souls’ agreements, as the animals are living out theirs.  It is our intended experience here, as it is that of the animals.

Plants, after all, object to being destroyed and eaten.  Scientists have shown how they cringe and do everything possible to protect themselves – from pests and from the elements – to ensure their growth and/or recovery.  We eat plants.

We are cellular beings; living, breathing parts of consciousness in various forms of expression and expansion.  We rely on one another for sustenance in this bio-diverse world in so many different ways. We rely on one another energetically.

The question is, what energy do we bring to each and every one of our actions and interactions?  That is for each individual to decide. Without self-righteous judgement.

We respect the multitudinous ways of being human – the vegetarians and vegans as much as the meat-eaters.  We are a diverse species capable of expressing our individuality in beautiful colourful variations. We respect all living creatures equally. To work with them is a privilege and an honour. We’re all in this together.

We choose to focus on helping cattle thrive; not on the abuses they are subjected to at the hands of some other humans but on the joy that cattle bring us and on everything they teach us. We focus on our colleagues who share this joy.  What we focus on  expands.


Published by

Cate Brown

I have been a cattle woman my entire life. I am currently a cattle rancher in British Columbia Canada with my husband Phil. As part of my job here, I am also fortunate to work with - do the dance of life with - cattle and horses. I am a philosopher and a meditator in my quiet time and I love to write. I'm a prolific reader and a bit of a podcast junkie. I have earned my living in the cattle industry in both commercial and purebred sectors and have also been an agricultural and livestock journalist for publications across Canada for at least 35+ years. I am passionate about the cattle culture in which I currently work and live. I regularly contemplate our way of life and the ways we can improve our sustainability, relative to our relationship with our nature - Mother Nature. I champion low-stress livestock handling and women's increasing input on this landscape. This blog embodies one of my efforts to better connect with family, friends and colleagues in the cattle business. Beyond that, I hope to make our way of living and cattle production practices more transparent and to better connect our producers and consumers. It is also a joy to share my observations of animal psychology to help everyone better understand what motivates us and them. [ig: catebrown66 ]

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