let's talk farm animals

Farm life can be difficult, but beautiful

By Robert Thompson, Timmins Daily Press (ON), 21 Aug 2021

The poet in me recognizes the beauty of a farm scene. I was sipping coffee one morning as the sun was clearing the horizon of field and fence.

Swallows were searching for the flies that pestered the cattle. Feral farm cats paced the property looking for distracted prey or easy handouts from cookie-munching humans.

Beautifully tended gardens, apple orchard, grape vines and mature trees blended with farm machinery.

Here was a scene that ached for photographic treatment for the ultimate agricultural calendar.

Looking about me I felt some of the emotion that must be part of every farmer’s character.

I thoroughly enjoyed spending a brief time being immersed in farming culture this summer.

It wasn’t all poetry and Kreigoff-esque imagery. I have had my eyes opened to the reality of farm life.

While milking the cows one evening I couldn’t get one of the cows to stand. I nudged her a couple of times as I passed by on my errands.

I had forgotten that I overheard a conversation about a truck making a pick up so when I asked my farmer host if the cow was resting, he laughed, thinking I was using dark humour.

After chores we had to pull the dead animal out of its stall. I’ll never forget its twisted, dislocated body lying by the driveway.

I was told that, “all livestock can be deadstock” in a dismissive way indicating, not unkindly, that such occurrences are just part of the farming tableau. A farm cat made friends with me. This feral creature had learned early that survival meant fending for itself. Born with one eye, it was easy for me to nickname it Cyclops. This cat was an in-house wannabe. At the very least the newly acquired nickname raised its status even though its scruffy exterior barred it from the farmhouse.

Life is hard on a farm. During the procedure to remove the dead cow I had to hold a large steel crowbar in position so that a heavy chain could be pulled around a corner without biting into a post. Many farming folk can show wounds from accidents relating to machine or livestock. Farming has to be about business.

Production must come before aesthetics, however farming has an authentic emotional side. Farming is not so much a job, or even a career, but a way of life.

The people I spent time with in pastoral splendour loved what they were doing.

There is rightness in that.

Robert Thompson is a local teacher.

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Posted by FFC on July 19th, 2009 :: Filed under Education and public awareness,Farm life
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