Posted on Dec 18, 2015
By Ellie Laks, Founder of The Gentle Barn
While in Tennessee Jay and I met some cows on a cattle ranch. They were terribly afraid of people. As we walked through their pasture, their eyes were wide with fear, the matriarch trying to figure out why we were there, and, attempting to reassure her family.
They followed behind us, watching, assessing, trying to plan their next move, whether it was to run or hide. When we had walked passed them and they thought we were not looking, the moms went back to nursing and grooming their babies and gently nuzzling them. One mom, fuzzy black with a white face, put her head down so her tiny baby could bonk heads with her and play. She patiently held still, careful not to move or push her daughter. While I watched and smiled for them, a pang went through me like a lightning bolt when I thought of them being separated and screaming for each other. I had to literally shake my head to get the images out of my mind.
I watched them, knowing they were so intelligent and sweet, a beautiful, loving family. They understood, however, the life of a cow. Beautiful pastures, overhanging trees, the fierce love for their babies, and eventually the trucks, the separation from their family, the fear, the terror, the pain, the end. Every time humans come around you can almost see the question forming in their minds of whether it was happening that day. And, when the trucks come and take them away no one will stop them. No one will cry out and protest. It's perfectly legal to send a family to their deaths. Why?
I looked into their eyes and used a soft voice but they saw me as the enemy, quaking where they stood, frozen. I wish I could have helped them trust me. I wish I could have scratched them under the chin and on their backs. I wish I could have brushed them and taken off the burrs, sticks, and leaves caught in their fur. Most of all, I wished I could save them.
I looked into their eyes and now their gaze haunts me. I watched their innocent sweet babies play and now the memory of them keeps me up at night. How do I bring twelve cows home to our small property? How do I leave them there, now that I know?
The law might not stop them. The community might not protest but I hear their cries. I feel their pain. I am protesting. I am affected. I won’t look away. Until we all wake up and take a stand, until we have kindness and peace for all of us, until animals are safe, I'm carrying this cross and I won't put it down.
Written by Ellie Laks
Founder, The Gentle Barn