"A cow is so much like a woman"

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

McDonald's - Austrian Teet

In which I take the metaphor a little too seriously.

A few months ago, I wrote about how the female members of non-human animal species suffer from especially egregious and prolonged abuse at the hands of their exploiters.

With brutal precision, farmers routinely turn the reproductive systems of female animals against them, finding newer and more callous ways in which to exploit them as science and technology allow. This isn’t to suggest that males don’t suffer as well – they do. But their suffering isn’t as prolonged or extensive as that of their female counterparts; veal calves, for example, are tortured for sixteen weeks and then, “mercifully,” (relatively speaking) slaughtered. Their sisters, meanwhile, are exploited as baby and milk machines for three to four years, after which they become ground beef. First, their babies and their babies’ food is stolen from them; and, finally, their lives are snatched away as well.

By the mere fact of their sex, sows, hens, ewes, does, nannies, cows and heifers – not to mention mares, bitches, jennies, jills, etc. – are ripe for especially brutal and prolonged exploitation. Oftentimes, this involves a constant cycle of pregnancy, birth, nursing and baby-napping, culminating with the female’s own death when she’s no longer able to breed or “produce” to her “owner’s” satisfaction.

Using excerpts from Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson’s The Pig Who Sang to the Moon: The Emotional World of Farm Animals for illustration, I explained how this process unfolds in “pork” production. Under the headline “Horizontal Women” (a play on one nickname for pigs, “horizontal humans,” so earned because they are so much like us), I emphasized how female pigs’ reproductive organs are turned against them, and the mother-child bond, severed and exploited, all so that Humans can continue to enjoy cheap “bacon”:

Breed, gestate, deliver, nurse, grieve, repeat: this is a sow’s lot. The whole damn “pork” subdivision of the megatheocorporatocracy rests on the female pig’s sexual organs – in her ability to give birth to the next generation of porcine “property.”

The process is much the same with cows: in a dairy operation, mother cows (“dairy” cows) undergo a continuous cycle of forced pregnancy and birth, followed by the theft of their children and milk. Breed, gestate, deliver, nurse, grieve, repeat.

Photo via Yamanize

A “dairy” cow’s children are taken from her shortly after birth, “ideally” within 24 hours; daughters may become “dairy” cows, like their mothers, or perhaps “beef,” while sons are destined to become either “veal” or “beef.” An estimated one million “veal” calves and 35 million “beef” cattle are killed annually, in the United States alone. About 9 million cows are confined in U.S. “dairy” operations in any given year. A cow’s natural lifespan can be 25 years or more, however, “dairy” cows are milked to excess within 3 to 4 years, after which they’re “retired” into ground beef.

As with pigs, mother cows and their children suffer immensely in factory farms. Their suffering is oftentimes tied to their status as females and youngsters – a quality which transcends species boundaries.

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Family and friends.

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

Sorry for the lack of posts lately. I’ve been busy and tired and stressed and [insert your excuse here]. Still recovering from a weekend spent hauling railroad ties to and fro, in order to prepare the garden for the coming season. I was so tired last night, I had trouble sleeping, and woke up exhausted. I hate it when that happens.

Anyway, go check out Sanctuary Tails, one of Farm Sanctuary’s latest projects (the other being Making Hay). I’m totally digging on the new blog, and find myself returning to it whenever I’m in need of a smile – it never fails to deliver.

Many of the most recent entries deal with love, family and friendship among the sanctuary’s varied inhabitants: there’s Dutch the duck, Molly and Morgan the goats, and Sprinkles and Tim the piglets.

Oh, the piglets!

There’s not an animal species on earth I don’t love, but I’ve got a special place in the cockles for pigs. Probably because my own two (canine) girls, Kaylee and O-Ren, remind me of a mama sow and her baby piglet. They both have cute lil’ piggy butts; Kaylee, owing to the several+ litters she birthed before making her way to us, has a slightly stretched belly and large, obviously, err, used nipples, whereas Rennie’s got a bald, pink, pokey lil’ tummy. In the morning, Kaylee barks and dances for breakfast, while Rennie will stay behind in bed with me (if Shane’s nice and present enough to feed the dogs before I arise), roll over onto my pillow, and rub her “piggy fat” in my face. I cannot think of a more delightful way to start the day. Seriously.

Speaking of the family, now’s as good a time as any to share a few photos of Shane and the dogs. I took ’em Sunday afternoon, after we’d finished the weekend’s yardwork, which is why he looks so beat. The dogs, on the other hand, spent the day lounging in the sun, so they were full of…something. Ralphie and Peedee were play-fighting all over the place, totally oblivious to Miss Kaylee, who just wanted a little lovin’ from daddy. Rennie, as usual, was all about the tennis ball.

2009-03-22 - Shane & Dogs - 0007

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Horizontal Women, Redux

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

This is extent of interaction allowed between piglets and their mothers “living” on modern factory farms:

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Horizontal Women

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

Last week, I started reading Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson’s The Pig Who Sang to the Moon: The Emotional World of Farm Animals. Well, not so much “reading” as “listening to the audiobook.” (Hey, how else am I supposed to occupy myself while I clean the house?) I read Masson’s When Elephants Weep a long time ago – back when I was a newbie vegetarian – and enjoyed it immensely. I figured I’d like The Pig Who Sang to the Moon as well, and so far, so good.

Masson structured the book so that each chapter covers a different species of farmed animals: pigs, chickens, sheep, goats, cows and ducks, in that order. He juxtaposes information about the animals’ emotional lives – thoughts, feelings, sentience, capacity for joy and sorrow, etc. – with the brutal reality for the vast majority of these “owned” animals. Treated like milk and meat machines, dehumanized and objectified, their individuality obscured and their needs ignored, farmed animals suffer the worst of humanity’s whims and wants.

Though I’m only about a third of the way in, a theme which keeps resurfacing is the extra-special abuses (the collective) we mete out to the female members of the species. With brutal precision, farmers routinely turn the reproductive systems of female animals against them, finding newer and more callous ways in which to exploit them as science and technology allow. This isn’t to suggest that males don’t suffer as well – they do. But their suffering isn’t as prolonged or extensive as that of their female counterparts; veal calves, for example, are tortured for sixteen weeks and then, “mercifully,” (relatively speaking) slaughtered. Their sisters, meanwhile, are exploited as baby and milk machines for three to four years, after which they become ground beef. First, their babies and their babies’ food is stolen from them; and, finally, their lives are snatched away as well.

By the mere fact of their sex, sows, hens, ewes, does, nannies, cows and heifers – not to mention mares, bitches, jennies, jills, etc. – are ripe for especially brutal and prolonged exploitation. Oftentimes, this involves a constant cycle of pregnancy, birth, nursing and baby-napping, culminating with the female’s own death when she’s no longer able to breed or “produce” to her “owner’s” satisfaction.

Certainly, we recognize that the theft of a mother’s child is an atrocity when the victims are human mothers and children. At the same time, we argue that non-human animals deserve no rights because they are mere brutes, “lesser” beings, ruled by instinct and instinct alone. Yet, what is the drive to reproduce and parent if not an evolutionary instinct? And if we follow the popular line of reasoning – i.e., animals are creatures of instinct – does it not stand to reason that the maternal instinct is especially powerful in non-human animals?

100 million pigs are birthed, raised and slaughtered for “pork” annually – just in the United States. 100 million piglets are stolen from their mothers. Mothers who, without a doubt, grieve for their disappeared babies. These poor mothers are forced to relive the trauma over and over, as each new litter is stolen from them. This is what I mean when I say that a female’s – a mother’s – suffering must surely be the most painful to bear.

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Kinship Circle: Monkeys – Stolen From Trees, Sold For Research

Wednesday, December 31st, 2008

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Kinship Circle – kinshipcircle [at] accessus.net
Date: Dec 29, 2008 8:56 PM
Subject: Monkeys: Stolen From Trees, Sold For Research

KINSHIP CIRCLE PRIMARY / PERMISSION TO CROSS-POST

12/29/08: Cambodia Monkeys: Stolen From Trees, Sold To Research
FOR A FORMATTED LETTER (WORD DOC), EMAIL: kinshipcircle [at] accessus.net
Easily modify letter. Copy/paste it into an email or print letter to fax or mail.

Kinship Circle - 2008-12-29 - Stolen From Trees, Sold For Research 01

LT: Cambodia’s long-tailed macaques are stuffed into mesh bags and crammed into the bottom of a boat.

Kinship Circle - 2008-12-29 - Stolen From Trees, Sold For Research 02

RT: Babies clinging to each other in small barren cages await their fate.

SOURCE: http://www.buav.org/e_projecty.php

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More human than (the) human(s).

Monday, October 20th, 2008

In The New York Times, “Farm Boy” Nicholas Kristof “Reflects” on time spent murdering innocent, sentient beings:

Then there were the geese, the most admirable creatures I’ve ever met. We raised Chinese white geese, a common breed, and they have distinctive personalities. They mate for life and adhere to family values that would shame most of those who dine on them.

While one of our geese was sitting on her eggs, her gander would go out foraging for food—and if he found some delicacy, he would rush back to give it to his mate. Sometimes I would offer males a dish of corn to fatten them up—but it was impossible, for they would take it all home to their true loves.

Once a month or so, we would slaughter the geese. When I was 10 years old, my job was to lock the geese in the barn and then rush and grab one. Then I would take it out and hold it by its wings on the chopping block while my Dad or someone else swung the ax.

The 150 geese knew that something dreadful was happening and would cower in a far corner of the barn, and run away in terror as I approached. Then I would grab one and carry it away as it screeched and struggled in my arms.

Very often, one goose would bravely step away from the panicked flock and walk tremulously toward me. It would be the mate of the one I had caught, male or female, and it would step right up to me, protesting pitifully. It would be frightened out of its wits, but still determined to stand with and comfort its lover.

He goes on to say,

So, yes, I eat meat (even, hesitantly, goose). But I draw the line at animals being raised in cruel conditions.

How very generous of you, Mr. Kristof.

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Celebrating Mothers of all stripes.

Sunday, May 11th, 2008

Saluting Animal Moms on Mother’s Day

According to writer Anne Morrow Lindbergh, the trials of motherhood make moms the great vacationless class. Although she may have been talking about the human variety—the moms who are near and dear to us—other animals show the same tireless dedication to their children. PETA hopes that this Mother’s Day, while you are praising your family’s matriarch, you’ll also remember that some of the best moms in the world are found in the animal kingdom.

Northern Fur Seals

Human mothers tuned in to Channel Mom may find themselves responding to anybody’s child when they hear someone calling the M word, but fur seals never make this mistake. Fresh from foraging for food, moms have to find their young quickly in a sea of hundreds—or possibly thousands—of seals, so both mother and pup depend on their uncanny powers of vocal recognition to find one another. Both will call out and answer, responding selectively to one another until they are reunited.

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Orangutan Island Episode 4 tonight on Animal Planet

Friday, November 30th, 2007

—– Original Message —–
From: Michelle Desilets
Sent: Friday, November 30, 2007 8:50 AM
Subject: primfocus: Orangutan Island Episode 4 tonight on Animal Planet

Please tune in…and let us know what you think! ORANGUTAN ISLAND: Lessons Learned, Lessons Lost

World Premiere Friday, November 30 at 8:30 PM (ET/PT)

The community now numbers 34 after an unexpected loss and the rainy season continues relentlessly. The inexperienced orangutans are still trying to figure things out – some learn new survival skills while others forget crucial lessons already learned.

Unexpectedly, Hamlet becomes a role model as the group learns to imitate his effective method of foraging for food in the flood waters. Meanwhile, Chen Chen keeps out of Hamlet’s sight on the platform, hanging out with his long-time friend Donald. But when Donald ventures out to look for food, the darkness and rising flood waters leave him scared and disoriented. Will Chen Chen realize Donald is missing and go searching for him? Cha Cha ignores vital lessons she’s learned and lets her curiosity lead her into a dangerous playdate with a snake. Then meet Jordan, a bit of a social outcast whose fond memories of being bottlefed could turn out to be deadly.

To find out more, please visit http://www.savetheorangutan.co.uk or our partner in the US, Orangutan Outreach at http://www.redapes.org.

Michelle Desilets
Director
Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation UK
“Primates Helping Primates”
http://www.savetheorangutan.org.uk

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IDA Writing Alert: Baby elephant turns to her grandmother for milk

Friday, June 1st, 2007

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: In Defense of Animals – takeaction [at] idausa.org
Date: Jun 1, 2007 9:25 AM
Subject: Writing Alert: Baby elephant turns to her grandmother for milk

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch ran an article Jade the baby elephant at St. Louis Zoo who was rejected by her mother. Please write a letter to the editor of The Post-Dispatch about the suffering elephants endure in zoos. Send letters to The Post-Dispatch at letters [at] post-dispatch.com.

Read “Baby elephant turns to her grandmother for milk” online.

Baby elephant turns to her grandmother for milk

By Diane Toroian Keaggy
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH

Thursday, May. 31 2007

Rejected by her mother, the youngest elephant at the St. Louis Zoo has found a new source of milk: her grandmother.

Three-month old Jade gets about 10 bottles of elephant formula a day but recently started to nurse from grandmother Ellie, who also nurses her own 10-month-old daughter, Maliha.

“It’s a very unique situation,” said curator of mammals Martha Fischer. “We don’t envision that Jade is going to be adopted by Ellie, but we do want Jade to have an opportunity to have some real elephant milk.”

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Belated Mother’s Day wishes, to Kaylee with love.

Monday, May 14th, 2007

Kaylee the dog, that is.

2007-02-22 - The Dogs Soak in the Sun - 0020

Miss Kaylee is the only one of my three girls who’s birthed a litter.

Several, actually, judging from the size of those nips:

2006-12-02 - KayleeFestivus-0014

In fact, when we first adopted her and Jayne, we (well, the rescue group) thought that they were a mother-daughter pair.

2006-10-02 - ThirdDayHome-0109

I highly doubt it, though.

No, I can only wonder where her puppies are; what they look like (and if any of them have her snaggle teeth!), whether any of them managed to stay together, if they’re even still alive. I hope they were all adopted into good homes, and that their families love and adore them as much as we do Kaylee. Above all else, I hope they’re free from the abuse and exploitation that Kaylee and Jayne endured before they found us.

To Kaylee and all the other sweeties out there, Happy Mother’s Day.

Photo via Matt McGee

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Meet these Mother’s Day animal heroes

Sunday, May 13th, 2007

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Fund for Animals – news [at] fundforanimals.org
Date: May 9, 2007 12:58 PM
Subject: Meet these Mother’s Day animal heroes

THE FUND FOR ANIMALS UPDATE
May 9, 2007

Photo via mape_s

Animals cannot share their stories on their own, but we can do it for them. In honor of Mother’s Day, here are three accounts of valiant animal moms who overcame great adversity to care for their young:

Mother Rabbit — When Hurricane Katrina pummeled the Gulf Coast, thousands of animals perished. One amazing bunny survivor made it through the floods and was taken to a foster home. But before she could get to our Rabbit Sanctuary in Simpsonville, S.C., Mother Rabbit (as she was affectionately named) gave birth, nourished her infants, and prepared them for their lives ahead — alone. Too weak from the trauma, Mother Rabbit died, but she made sure her beloved babies, Camelia and Magnolia, would find sanctuary. Read more by clicking on the link: https://community.hsus.org/ct/a1S7Mss1gXUj/

Osprey Mom-to-Be — Mating season for a pair of osprey on Cape Cod was unceremoniously derailed when a powerful storm severed a portion of their carefully crafted nest and sent the female plunging headfirst into the sandy beach. And there she might have stayed — risking possible starvation, suffocation, and hypothermia — had an eager pair of storm watchers not been combing that very beach. The Good Samaritans rushed the sand-encrusted raptor to our Cape Wildlife Center. After three days of rehabilitation, the female was released at the beach and immediately joined by her mate. The ospreys are now busily repairing their nest in anticipation of the pitter-patter of their chicks. Read more by clicking on the link: https://community.hsus.org/ct/qpS7Mss1gXUu/

Red-Tailed Hawk Mom — In the wilds of southern California, a young red-tailed hawk fell from his nest in plain sight of several dedicated bird watchers. The rescuers brought the youngster to The Fund for Animals Wildlife Center in Ramona, Calif., where he recuperated in the medical center before being released back to the nest. Mom flew in to welcome her healthy baby home, and the reunion resulted in squeals of delight. A few days later the situation was repeated with another sibling, and again, Mom swooped in and excitedly welcomed her second youngster back home. Read more by clicking on the link: https://community.hsus.org/ct/adS7Mss1gXUm/

In the human and animal worlds, the initial gift of life can be just the first of many treasures bestowed by a mother to her child. This bond is unique, whatever the language or species.

Thank you for caring about animals,

Michael Markarian
President
The Fund for Animals

P.S. If you’re looking for a gift for the mom who loves animals, consider a monthly sponsorship at the Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch in her name [click on the link to https://secure.hsus.org/01/ffa_monthly. This donation is used to directly help animals who have been abused or abandoned; your Mother’s Day tribute lasts all year long!

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Friday Random Cuteness: Meet Your Meat

Friday, March 16th, 2007

Still busy with the house hunting, but not too busy to take notice of all the new calves that have magically appeared in our backyard in the past month or so. You see, folks, our current rental home sits on an 80-acre working farm. In fact, one of the many fenced livestock pastures butts up against the fenced-in area of our backyard. The closest pasture is usually where our landlords sequester the newly-birthed calves and their mothers, so we have the bittersweet pleasure of watching the young’uns romp around on shaky legs, test out their brand-new vocal cords with hearty moos!, and suckle on their mommas’ impossibly huge teats. Sweet because it’s like watching the live TV version of Cute Overload; bitter because the buhbies and parents alike all share in the same destiny – namely, the meat hooks. So sad, and so unnecessary.

Carnies, let me introduce you to your meat.

2007-03-14 - Momma & Baby Moo-Cows - 0044

2007-03-14 - Momma & Baby Moo-Cows - 0038

More “farm animal” pics here.

And, of course, them pesky carnivals (pesky because I just can’t seem to keep up, try as I might):

* Carnival of the Green 68

* Carnival of Hurricane Relief 79

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ASPCA: Time Is Running Out for 100 PMU Foals–Please Help Us Spread the Word!

Tuesday, November 21st, 2006

More info on the ASPCA Equine Program / Adopting a PMU horse is available here.

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: ASPCA – website [at] aspca.org
Date: Nov 21, 2006 1:14 PM
Subject: Time Is Running Out for 100 PMU Foals–Please Help Us Spread the Word!

Winter has come early in Alberta–and that’s bad news for the mares and foals living on PMU ranches there. No longer needed for the production of hormone replacement therapy drugs, these equines need a place to go, and fast.

Because there is not enough grass to leave the animals on pasture, several of the PMU ranchers have decided to wean their foals at the end of the month. Any foals who have not been adopted by November 30, 2006, will be sent to auction–and an uncertain fate.

The California-based Animali Farm is working hard to find good adoptive homes for the more than 100 foals and mares facing the November 30 deadline. If you can give one of these equines a second chance, or if you would like additional information, please visit Animali Farm online at http://www.theanimalifarm.com or email animali [at] aol.com. You can also call them directly at (805) 938-0174.

If you cannot adopt a horse, please forward this email to all of your horse friends. The only way to get these babies adopted is to get the word out to enough people, and we need your help to do it.

Thank you so much for caring.

Forward this email to a friend

View the list of adoptable foals

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© 2006 The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®
424 E. 92nd St., New York, NY 10128
Visit us online at http://www.aspca.org

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IDA Writing Alert: Zoo elephant Sri still carries her dead fetus

Thursday, November 16th, 2006

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: In Defense of Animals – takeaction [at] idausa.org
Date: Nov 15, 2006 10:35 PM
Subject: Writing Alert: Zoo elephant Sri still carries her dead fetus

A hearty thank you and congratulations to the volunteer writers whose letters to the editor of the Philadelphia Weekly were published.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch ran a story about Sri – the elephant at St. Louis Zoo who has been carrying her dead fetus since November 2005. Please write a letter to the editor of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch on the suffering elephants endure in zoos and the ill health effects associated with their captivity including early reproductive shutdown and high infant mortality rates. Send your letter to letters [at] post-dispatch.com.

Click here to read “Zoo elephant Sri still carries her dead fetus” online.

You can use the following points to help you in your letter or visit http://www.helpelephants.com for more information.

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