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The Tough Stuff March 7, 2008

Posted by Laura in Faith, Family, Farm.

A long time ago, God created a perfect place where man lived a life of leisure and animals coexisted as herbivores. But man is a selfish willful creature and he refused to live as God had commanded. He brought sin and all its repercussions into the world. No longer do we live to be 500 in good health. Animals now exist in a food chain with humans at the top. Those people who have embraced Jesus as their Saviour will one day be rewarded with a paradise again, but in the meantime, we must live in a very fallen world.

What does that have to do with farming? Well, a lot actually.

Yes, to be sure, there are lots of idyllic moments of new chicks peeking out from under their mother’s wings and goat kids playing king of the mountain and leaping for joy, but what comes along with them are the moments of sadness, anguish, and dread. We haven’t shared many of them.

On Tuesday Snap had two kids, both bucklings. The one pictured in the previous posting seems to be doing well enough, but his brother was born crippled. His front legs were too short and the hooves were turned under so, even if he could walk, he’d be treading on the tops of his “wrists” for lack of a better word. He couldn’t really stand, couldn’t nurse, and couldn’t follow the others around. A very sad thing indeed.

We didn’t have many choices. If we did nothing, the kid would be easy pickings for predators or would starve. If we bottle-fed it, we would only be postponing the inevitable. It’s not reasonable to do orthopedic surgery on a goat. That only left one choice- to put it down.

When we were little, we all cringed in Charlotte’s Web when Fern’s father was going to put down the starving runt that became Wilbur. “How cruel!” we thought. But was it? Statistically, runts rarely go on to do well and, if they survive, they tend to have offspring with problems.

In real life, animals don’t really talk, they don’t have souls, and nature has a way of keeping the herds/packs/flocks healthy. The sickly and weak don’t survive to reproduce, thus the group can stay healthy and strong. In our very imperfect world, God has put safeguards in place. In the wild, those weak animals allow the ones higher in the food chain to survive.

But don’t think that just because we understand all that that it makes it much easier to do what needs to be done. I listened all afternoon with sadness and anguish to that poor kid calling for his mother because he was hungry. But when she came, he couldn’t get any nourishment. And Joe had the heavy heart of dread all day knowing what he needed to do when he got home, hoping that the poor thing would pass on its own before then. It didn’t and so he had that awful deed to complete when he arrived.

How can we continue hobby farming if there are these components to it? With a full range of emotions. With a respectful understanding of God’s design. With appreciation for all the healthy ones and the opportunity to live life as a cohesive family unit. We rejoice in the blessings and sorrow in the losses. Though we don’t see life through rose-colored Disney glasses anymore, we wouldn’t trade it and we are grateful for all the experiences He gives us.



1. Marci - March 7, 2008

That is always the hard part. It is part of life though. I am sorry that y’all had to go through that.

2. Grams - March 7, 2008

You made the only choice possible for the kid.
So much more humane than the alternatives.
So sorry it happened but all the more to still enjoy his brother Casper, Snowflake, Marshmallow, Alba, Sugar, Snowflower, Puff, Yeti, Honky, Feather or whoever he ends up being!
Love you so much!

3. Dreamer - March 7, 2008

Very well written, Laura. I’m sorry that you had to experience that. There will certainly be more tough times and difficult decisions in the future. I guess they just serve to make the sweet times even sweeter. It isn’t easy to be tough when you have a soft spot for babies. Take comfort in knowing you did the right thing.

4. Sheryl Anderson - March 8, 2008

Laura, I’m sorry about the kid. That is so sad. But he was lucky to be born on YOUR farm, where people still know that God is the beginning and ending of all of this.

5. -Kev - March 26, 2008

You know, this somehow reminds me about the Levitical requirements that a different priest had to do the sacrifices each time. It’s not that it was impractical for one person to do the sacrifice, I believe it was because the Lord didn’t want any of the priest to become desensitized to the real meaning of an animal giving up its life. It’s not a trivial thing to be taken lightly.

The contrast your story offers compared to how our wider society has “industrialized” slaughter, such that a single person at a factory slaughterhouse has the job of killing animals all day every day, reinforces this idea for me that the Lord doesn’t want us to treat it lightly.

Y’all have tackled it rightly, I think.

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