A Vegetarian Sees Life and Death on the Farm

Whenever we buy land somewhere, I want a small hobby farm. Nothing too big, but I do want a vegetable garden, some chickens, goats and maybe a couple of cows. But the animals won’t be for eating; as a vegetarian since 1989, I love animals too much to eat them.


But, since landing here at White Rabbit, it’s become clear to me that if I want farm animals, I’m not going to be able to hide from the cycle of life and death that comes with them, even if my animals aren’t there for meat.

For starters, animals have babies, and the population must be kept in check.

One day while picking lettuce, I saw a visitor drive away in a truck, and in the back was a bleeting lamb that was being taken away from it’s Momma.

A few days later, another baby lamb was born. We were lucky enough to see it just minutes old. That little guy is so cute! But guess what? He’ll get taken away as soon as he’s old enough.

A dozen or so free range chickens were sold off earlier this week. They were either too old to produce eggs, or never produced at all. They were “on the payroll” as Farmer Val likes to say, and they weren’t earning their keep. So off they went.

heartliver_02.jpgAlso this week, Farmer Brian took one of his grass fed, free range cows to be slaughtered for beef. “She was the troublemaker” he said. Then, two days later, a neighbor’s cow fell in a ditch. It had broken its leg, and Brian had to put it out of its misery. Off that cow went for processing. Two cows in one week; gone!

Now, we are waiting for another cow to have her baby calf. And the cycle will start all over again.

I really do want a hobby farm, but I know I’m going to have to buck up like all those 4H kids, and stop getting so emotional about farm animals. There’s a fine line between pets and meat, and not all farm animals can be pets if you want to stay in business.

11 thoughts on “A Vegetarian Sees Life and Death on the Farm”

  1. Hi Stacey, thanks for commenting, and pointingus to the Farm Animals Shelter link.

    I’ve been a veg for about 20 years now, and have met my share of people that are averse to it, as well as people who are faithful to not eating their friends. It’s good to meet another one from this particular tribe. Keep it up, an stay in touch!

  2. Hi, I am vegetarian too! Thank you for being one. I’m the only in my family so I don’t really know too many. I have said many times I would like to have my own farm – I just love animals and adore farm animals. I would love to spend just 1 day in a cow pasture and just snuggle with them. Have you considered having your animals spayed and neutered? (see link below) And just in case an accident would happen, I would do research to find the closest and best veterinarian with farm animal experience. Much luck to you!


  3. Hey Lee,

    Thanks for reading.

    You know I’d never slaughter one for profit either. But what I am learning is that shit happens, and if a cow breaks it’s leg, it’s gotta be put out of its misery. So even if all of my farm animals are pets, stuff like this can happen, and blood and guts may be involved. It was a real wakeup call.

    I got a little desensitized to the meat thing when our dog started eating a raw meat diet. It grosses me out to no end, but I hack up those bones and flesh because it’s the best thing out there for our dog so he can fight his cancer.

  4. Wow.

    As a vegetarian, also, I can still appreciate the circle of life and all of that. Honestly, I can. Yet, I still have a lot of trouble digesting situations like this. I keep telling my Jim that when we settle down on some land in a few years that I want much the same as you: my own vegetable garden, a chicken coop, some goats, a few peacocks, a cow or two. But part of me isn’t really sure I could deal with the whole “circle of life” if it suddenly involved my pets. And let’s face it, if I had a little area for some farm animals, it would be strictly for personal enjoyment reasons – not to make money.

    You said at the end:

    “not all farm animals can be pets if you want to stay in business.”

    That’s true. I agree 100%. I still, however, couldn’t justify slaughtering any animal. I’d sale my babies off to someone else who wanted to treat them with love and kindness and compassion before I’d do that.

    I guess what I’m saying is that I wouldn’t do well in a situation like that. I do get emotional when it comes to animals. I don’t think there is really any hope of that ever changing. Thank goodness.

    And Jim, I couldn’t be a butcher either. Just looking at those photos made me a bit queasy. I could almost smell the blood and raw meat through the computer screen. And that is about as close to it as I want.

  5. One reason behind this little discovery journey of ours is to try and find out what we might want to do next instead of sitting behind a computer for another twenty some years. With so many options at our fingertips, we have discovered it’s easier to determine what we don’t want to do than to focus on what might be best. And I just discovered I do not want to be a butcher.

    Carving up rather large quantities of what Anthony Bourdain would call “nasty bits” for Jerry was was quite an enlightening experience. An exciting one for Jerry, but one I don’t necessarily care to repeat.


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