Saturday, April 21, 2007

Big Long Redneck Rant

I am not one who debates. At one time I could argue with the gusto of a teenager full of righteous anger. Probably when I was a teenager. But no more. Now a days, I have more of a "live and let live" kind of philosophy.

Also, I am not one to use my blog to nanny-nanny-nanner other blogs. It's just not my cupa.

Having said that, and not having an english nor a law degree, it is with great trepidation that I attempt to comment, inspired by this post. Or, at least part of this post, because I know it was about much more than what I am going to discuss. For me to get into gun control, I would also have to get into things like Rope Control (BTK killer killed at least 10 with rope!) and
Baseball Bat control (Ted Bundy, anyone?) and the options of keeping wooden bats legal but having very strict regulations on aluminum baseball bats.

So the part in question begins "With all due respect to certain members of my extended family, hunting is stoopid."

Ok. Let's get one thing out of the way right off the bat. ALL sports are stoopid. Whether you are whacking, dribbling or kicking a ball, casting, climbing or landing a triple lutz, posting, flipping or freefalling, they are all stoopid. (And watching someone other than an immidiate family member play sports? Stoopid to the Nth power.)

Now that we've cleared that up, I will address one of my particular stoopid choices - the one referenced in the aboved referenced post. (How's that for double talk.) And, for the record, this isn't intended to be aimed at anyone in general. Just thought I might possibly explain hunting in a way that anti-hunters haven't considered it.

It seems to be the natural course of events when an incident such as the shooting spree at the school in Virginia is in the news, gun control will again be a hot topic. And it is also the natural course of events that when gun control is a hot topic, hunting is pulled into the fray.

And so, by virtue of being a hunter,I have unwittingly become an accomplice to a massacre.

And further so, if Seung-Hui Cho can have a manifesto, so can I.

I bring you...

Inside the Mind of a Killa'

Yes, it's true. I own guns. Plural. And I have been known, on occasion, to kill with them.

"Why????? Why would someone doooooooo such a thing???" I hear you cry.

Well, I'll tell you.

Is it perhaps about preserving cultural heritage as the referenced post might suggest? Let's see.

It is true that I grew up in a family of hunters. I can vividly remember my father, grandfathers, uncles, cousins and various family friends sitting in my parents' dining room on the night before deer season, discussing the next day's hunt as well as those of years gone by. To me, the smell of Hoppes #9 is as much a part of the Thanksgiving season as turkey and pumpkin pie are. (Deer season, for those of us not honorable enough to hunt in archery season, begins the Monday after Thanksgiving in PA.) It was as much about gathering together as it was about the actual hunting.

So that must be it, right?

Well, no.

There are some folks that feel if a person still carries on in a certain tradition, that person is nothing more than an unfortunate lemming, doomed to repeat the actions of others with no understanding as to why. So called "recovering Catholics" are great ones for this. (I have rejected the church but you have not. You must not know any better.) The idea that "one has not rejected, therefore it has never been questioned" is ridiculous.

I can't say for sure that had I not grown up in the environment I did, I would be a hunter today. All I can say for sure is that it is where I got my start but, to quote the old ad, I've come a long way. Baby.

So it isn't about preserving cultural heritage.

It is, however, very much about culture.

Or a reaction to culture.

It is very much a reaction to a culture of not having to be responsible for one's own decisions or actions. The culture that leaves the lights on at night to enhance the landscaping. The culture that tosses the aluminum can in the garbage instead of the recycling bin. The culture that complains of rasing taxes to better support schools but will buy every damn DVD/CD/MP3/concert ticket/sporting event ticket/new technological gadget/whatever the latest craze/ latest product currently touted by the sports(or music) star with the multi million dollar contract.


That one.

(See, this is why I don't debate.)

Let me try to explain.

When I put the sights of my gun on an animal, I know that in an instant I, personally, will be responsible for taking its life.

Have you ever looked into the eye of the animal you ate tonight? Did you ever stroke its fur? Did you even bother to thank somebody - the animal, especially - for what you have?

I am also responsible for dealing with the messiness of gutting and cleaning the animal. It's up to me to make sure that I make as much use as possible of the animal so there is minimal waste.

When you pick up the shrink-wrapped slab of choice cut meat from the grocery store, do you ever wonder about the person who's job it is to spend their entire day butchering carcasses? So YOU don't have to? Did you ever wonder about the person at the slaughterhouse who spends the entire day killing animal after animal? So you can claim to be oh so "civilized"?

I know the animals I hunt have lived as animals should. For the most part, they were bred and born wild (although I'm sure a "stocked" pheasant or two have already been victims of my bloody rampage).

Do you have any idea where your meat comes from? Is is a feedlot? A factory farm? Was it kept confined to a small space? Was it force fed? Was it hauled hundreds of miles in a trailer packed to the brim with other animals, wild-eyed with fear? Was it sick? What did it eat? Was it injected with hormones?

When I pull the trigger, it is me and the animal. I can't ignore it, I can't pass the job to someone else, I am responsible. I must be as humane as I possibly can or else I must live with the consequenses. If I am not able to kill the animal right away, it suffers at my hands until I can do so.

What about your dinner? Did the bolt gun stun it enough? Was it still conscious of anything when the butchering began (as does happen)? Do you even care?

Not many people look at thier hamburger and think "What have I done?" They don't have to. Our culture makes sure they pretty much never will.

I wish I could remember just how many times I had to hear about "killing Bambi". Just once, I would like to see...let's say Charlotte's Web where the ending is a little more like real life. In the altermate ending of Charlotte's Web as told by Ms. Quintessence, Wilbur is not saved. No, Wilbur is kept in a pen where he can pretty much to nothing but eat and poop. Then, one fine sunny day, Wilbur and all his other pig buddies on the farm, are crammed into a double level trailer. Wilbur, unfortunately, is on the bottom so he gets pooped on all the way to the slaughter house. And for once, it won't be the hunter who is villified. No, in this movie it will be some mom or dad who is demanding "More Country Style Ribs, Pronto! Little Suzie's soccer team is coming over for a cookout and I need those ribs!"

Now, don't get me wrong. I don't survive on the animals I kill by hunting. Not by any means. I too, must purchase meat. And regrettably, it is often times at the grocery store. I don't want to give any false impressions here. Hopefully, as things get rolling with our farm, it will one day be completely avoidable.

But it the mean time...

I hunt because there is a connection that I don't want to lose. I do it to remind myslef that I do not exist alone in a vacuum. My choices affect others - other people and other creatures. Some day it will be animals that I raised. If I am going to eat meat, what is so wrong with wanting the animals to lead a good life and die a humane death? It is one job I place enough importance on to be done right that I am willing to do it myself.

So, there you have it. Why I kill things. My manifesto. You can comment if you want to. But don't expect a debate - there won't be one.

Hopefully, it will give some insight into the minds of killers for those of you who are grappling with it.

And if it puts me in with the likes of Seung-Hui Cho, so be it.

At least I'm trying to get out of company with the other mass murderer that's been in the news lately. You know, the one who dosn't have to take responsiblilty because the blood isn't physically on his hands?

I guess we are all barbarians in our own way.

Edited to add: On the off chance that this post is inspirational enough to make someone want to exlpore options other than grocery store meat, Eat Wild is a great resource for getting started. Click on the "Shop for Meat, Eggs & Dairy" button and you can can search your state for farms that are committed to the well being of the animals they raise. Often times you can even visit the farm you are interested in. Please, please, please consider supporting these people.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Nerves of GAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!!!'re all caught up on the situation with the animals, right? If not, you might want to skip down to the previos post because it will make this one oh-so-much-more-meaningful.

The new goat - goat/dog. He seems to be settling in alright. Hubby and I did manage to get to the store for another 300 feet of fence which we hope to put up this weekend. Because you know, nothing says "The Lord Is Risen!" like installing fence.

In the mean time, he is still in the kennel. Which is holding him just fine.

Sort of.

He has actually warmed up to the dogs and is pretty happy when they are in the kennel with him. However, as goats are herd animals, he's not too crazy about being alone when we bring the dogs in. Not a happy goat. At all.

At first he would just kind of trot around doing the "Baaaa-aaa" thing.

Back and forth, back and forth.


Back and forth...


When we built the kennel, we put it right off the back of the house so we could just open the back door and the dogs could run right in. It's great on those bitter cold winter nights - not having to actually walk the dogs out to a kennel. Just open the door and boot them out.

The downside of this, of course, is that, when you have a lonely goat in the kennel, sooner or later he is bound to realize that he can stand up and look through the window of the door. It's an old door and has four big panes in the top half - just perfect for lonely goats who want to peek in on the family.

In the morning at breakfast...

Sitting at the kitchen table trying to pay bills...

In the evening, having a nice family dinner...

We would all try to ignore the cacophony and carry on a fractured conversation.

Me: So, Daughter, what did y-
Me: What did you d-
Me: What di-
Lonely Goat:...
Lonely Goat:...
Me: Wha-

And so on.

It is hard enough ignoring him but he stands up and looks right in the windows at us.


I finally told hubby we need to get the fence up and get another goat to keep him company before I lose what little bit is left of my mind.

Because just when you think it can't get any worse...

The other night - the night when the temperature dropped from the lovely mid 60's to something like 20 below - I reached my breaking point.

I had an unusually long day at work and didn't get home until around 7:00 or so. Just enough time to feed all of the animals before darkness really settled in. I had been in a real hurry that morning and ran out the door without my lunch so, by the time I got home and fed everyone else, I was really ravenous. I foraged around in the freezer to try to find something quick and easy.

Aha! Pierogies and Sprouts de Brussels in butter sauce. Perfect.

I put some water on the stove to boil...


...sliced up an onion and put it in a pan with butter...


...cut a small slit in the bag of Sprouts de Brussels in butter sauce and popped it in the microwave...


...checked the water - it's boiling - time to put the pierogies in...


...stir the onions and butter, careful not to burn them...


...check on the Sprouts de Brussels, oh good, the goat finally settled down...


...stir the onions and butter again...


...check the pierogies, uh oh, looks like one popped open, better get -




Pierogie flying through the air.

It's funny how, in life, your priorities can shift in an instant. One minute you are happily stirring your pierogies, the next minute you have a goat smashing through your window in a hail of flying glass and, out of some sort of primitive fight or flight reflex, one of your precious little potato pockets is sailing through the air to land Splat! on the floor where it is promplty gobbled up by a beagle.

It's funny how that can happen.

All of a sudden like that.

And those tender little Sprouts de Brussels in buttery sauce, cooked to steamy perfection, now sit in your microwave, slowly giving in to the Canadian cold front that is now blowing around your kitchen as you plod around out in the garage, looking for a drill with a fresh battery and some screws and a piece of plywood and the circular saw because God forbid you find a piece of plywood that is remotely near the size you need to cover the now missing window of your door through which first came a goat and now a Canadian cold front, congealing to a gross yellow mass what was once a warm buttery sauce on your now pitiful Sprouts de Brussels.

Funny how those things happen.

The goat, you will be happy to know, is no worse for the wear.

I, on the other hand...

Monday, April 02, 2007

Welcome to Identity Crisis Acres!

Where our motto is "Ummm...what am I again?"

So, I think you are familiar with the chicken. If not, you can read a bit about her arrival here. When she first arrived, she was pretty sure she was a cat. She ate cat food, she hung out with the cats. Now, however, she is a goat. At some point after we got
Rhubarb, she decided she was no longer a cat but, in fact, a goat. She now eats the goat food, grazes with them when they are out of the pen, and sleeps with them and night. The only essential difference between her and the goats is that, when they all come out of the goat house in the morning, there is sometimes an egg in her spot.

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Here at Identity Crisis Acres, we feel it is important that each creature explore all the possibilities of livestock lifestyles. Take time to explore you!

I also think I might have mentioned that we are in the process of getting two more goats.

I'm having a little trouble on the angora end but we did have success with the boer - or beer! - goat. Hubby and I went to the farm last Saturday and picked him out. The only problem with that was that they have an awful lot of goats right now. Like hundreds. And they need to move them out. So they could only hold ours for us for a week.

This would be the week hubby worked every day. It would also be the very same week that I took son to look at a college. The long and short of it is that we didn't really have a place to put him.

Now, you might say "Well, just put him in with the other goats." And that, eventually is what will happen. However, we aren't quite ready to breed just yet so we need to keep him away from the girls. Or, probably more appropriately, keep the girls away from him.

I had to work on goat pick-up day so the task was left to hubby. We decided that the new goat could just go in the garden for now since it is a nice, big, fenced in area. Hubby went to the farm to pick him up - in the station wagon, hee hee - and deposited him in the garden. All was well.

Was being the key word.

At about 3 o'clock, I finally wrapped things up at work and I was on my way to see my children in their first track meet of the year. As I was putting the last of my items in the car, my cell phone rang. It was hubby.

Hubby: Hey.
Me: Hi. What's up?
Hubby: Our new goat?
Me: Yeah...?
Hubby: It's done gone and runned off.

So, instead of seeing my children in their first track meet of the year, I was instead canvassing the neighborhood for the errant goat. We both drove around for a while with no luck, checking back at the house every once in a while. Eventually, I passed hubby on my way out of the driveway as he was on his way in. I told him I let the girls out in hopes the new goat will see them and just hang out with them.

Then I headed down the road and made a turn on to a small road with a few houses. The last house on the road is the one that borders our property to the east. It was sold about 1 1/2 years ago to a youngish couple but I never really met them as of yet. Not because I didn't want to be social or anything - it's more a case of just not having, or making, the time. I was just going to go past this house and continue on to the dirt road that goes on to our property when I spied one of the neighbors in front of the garage. I stopped, sighed, and turned the car toward the garage.

I could tell he was on his cell phone. He hung up as I got out of the car.

Me: Hi! I'm your neighbor. Did you...
Neighbor: Hey! Hi! Are you missing a goat?

And that is how I finally got to talk to my new neighbor. And then hubby showed up and we really had a grand ol' time chasing the goat around his yard.

We still weren't having any luck so I went back to the house to get one of the girls in hopes of luring new goat home. While I was away, the goat trotted off through the woods towards the highway.

Now, imagine yourself and your spouse (who happen to be other neighbors of ours who live a little bit further down the road) driving along, minding your own business when, from out of seemingly nowhere, you see my husband leap off a cliff from the woods onto the road below on the heels of a goat.

I wish I could have seen it. Hubby said he was running kind of sideways and backwards trying to hold up his hands to stop traffic when he realized the people in the one car were our neighbors laughing hysterically.

He eventually was able to run down the goat, catch it, and carry it up through the woods where I met him with the car.

We brought the runaway home and, having nowhere else, put him in the kennel.

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At Identity Crisis Acres, we offer a wide variety of living arrangement to suit your individual needs. Not happy with your current roommate? We'll find a perfect match for you.

So, you see, things are a bit odd here. Now, you might be thinking "Well, at least things worked out ok with your horse." And, for the most part, you would be right.

Remember the horse? How's about a little picture to refresh your memory?

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Isn't he getting big? Isn't he cute? Doesn't he have a lot of legs?


So, as always, here's the story.

When we initially picked out the horse, it was pretty much by a photo on-line. Fine. The horse shows up and all is good. I was so happy with him, I put his baby picture - the very first one I ever saw of him - on my computer as the desktop background.

Then, I took some more photos. I would open up the photos on the computer and compare them to the baby picture, oohing and aahhing at how big he was getting.

And then...

Once in a while I would wonder "Gee, he has a bigger white sock now than he did when he was a baby. Unless..... Nah." That little feeling was always there but, really, what were the odds that I wouldn't have the right horse?

Then, about a month ago, I got a call from the rescue coordinator.

Me: Hey! How are you? We LOVE our horse!
RC: Oh. I have to talk to you. I don't know how to say this...
Me: What?
RC: You have the wrong horse.

So, apparently the odds are pretty good.

As it turned out, there were three colts that were almost identical. The one we got had the right ID tag but it was the wrong horse.

So, what other choice did we have?

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Identity Crisis Acres
Where you never quite know who you are or what the hell you should be doing.