Respecting Them for What & Who they are

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This is Tia.   Also known as Princess Tia.   Also known as Tia Bella.

If you follow our farm page or are familiar with me at all, you know that Tia is the daughter of Bibs, the cow who thinks she is a dog.  Bibs is the daughter of Sweetie, my first cow ever milked here on the farm, my favorite cow, the cow I unintentionally had a hand in causing the death of due to a tragic  mistake in judgement .

Needless to say, I adore Tia.  Tia is a treasure here.  Tia is special.    Tia’s grandmother lived up to her given name being one of the sweetest cows I believe I will ever meet.  Tia’s mama is an attention seeking pest who follows me around and rubs her head against anyone who will allow it looking to be scratched and rubbed.  Those facts having been laid out and knowing what is known about me and my farm practices, what I am about to state may come as a surprise and shock to some who follow Tia and our farm and see the scads of photos and posts about this little girl–Tia has not let me touch her since she was three weeks old.

I employ the word ‘ let ‘ intentionally here.  You see, despite what impression I may inadvertently give with my posts of adoration for my livestock and my swooning over my “pet” farm animals, I never  force my attentions on them.  Never.

Tia has yet to accept my touch of her own free will.

All newborn livestock will tolerate being handled and held to some degree.  Some will even walk right up to you out of curiosity and lean into your touch.  Some actually come to enjoy affection early on and that remains with them.  Tia was petted and hugged her first three weeks.   There are several factors in the foundation of her young life that one would expect would leave her totally open to my touch and completely receptive to me in general: her mother being totally comfortable with seeking my affections,   spending all of her time with her best buddy, Izzy , a bottle baby who adores me and rubs on my legs continually,  her other fast friend being Elsa , the very tame and tiny miniature Hereford heifer who loves a good back scratching and walks pressed against my outer thigh–but  Tia gently withdraws if I extend my hand to her.  She has no fear of me, she just does not wish to be handled by me.  I respect her wishes for personal space.

I walk around this farm every day and address each and every animal on it by name.  I nod my head at them as I pass as though passing a neighbor and speak to them.  If I have time, I extend my hand or offer a hug to those I know will lean in.  I truly do love all of them.  I love all of them enough  to acknowledge that some of them do not want to be pets; Some of them just want to be llamas or cows or pigs …and that’s okay with me.  I try to respect not just what they are are, but who they are and understand each as a whole.

I studied both biology and psychology in college and while I did not get as far as I would have liked in my education due to unforeseen family demands, I was captivated by both sciences.  They still dance in my brain merging like beautiful puzzles when I consider my farm and the livestock on it.  The scientific classification a biologist would use, for example, I take a step further to include psychological factors.  I see little Tia in simple terms  as :

Mammal

Bovine

Dairy heifer

Jersey

mini Jersey

Tia

For me, the first three go to physical/biological facts: what she is; the last three to psychological and physiological facts: what makes her Tia.

The first three are self-explanatory.  The last  state that she has specific traits and qualities that make her who she is; the unique being that is Tia.

Jerseys are a particular sub-set of dairy cow with specific needs in the cow world as opposed to other breeds.  Add to that the fact she is a miniature stature Jersey and those traits are often times magnified as far as calving issue possibilities and dietary needs.

There are also social issues within the herd that may need to be assessed and closely  monitored  with Jerseys, particularly minis, that just don’t seem to exist with other breeds :  Jerseys tend to be shy , unassertive bovines and can be ‘ run off ‘ hay rings and troughs by stronger willed cows.  Social issues such as these are part of general psychology. Psychology is the study of function and behavior–not just human behavior, but behaviors of all species.

Not least important is who is Tia, the singular personality ?  Tia is wildly curious and playful.  Tia is confident and unafraid.  Tia will walk just next to me for long periods of time but gently back away if I reach down to touch her.  Tia will walk right up to me and stare right at my eyes while I speak to her while I work.  Tia likes the company of people, but not direct contact.  Tia will do exactly what you ask her to do with direction while moving her.  She will be a fabulous dairy girl !  She may choose never to be a pet.

Here, on this farm, she has the absolute right to make that choice.

 

Proverbs 12:10 (KJV) A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.

The original Aramaic ( Ancient Jewish )  text from which  this verse was translated states ” The righteous one is aware of the soul of his animal, and the evil withhold their compassion.”

I regard all of my animals as individuals with certain rights.  Yes, I intend some of them for the table, but even they are offered my affection and spoken to.  They are allowed the freedom to pasture graze.  They enjoy the ability to engage in their natural behaviors.   My boars must be penned for the sow’s safety and mine , but their yard is large and planted and they have pools and toys.  I make them mud puddles when it is hot.  They get cookies with everyone else.  I never keep a single animal alone in a yard.

I do not believe in restraining an animal more than required for farm functions.

We do not halter our cows unless absolutely necessary.  Early on, a mentor explained to me why it was unnecessary with proper guidance and training and that stuck with me.  I had to halter my first two dairy girls as my parlor was not complete and I needed to tie them loosely to milk for a week or so, but the instant the parlor was done, off came the halters. I only halter the llamas for moving them or shearing.  I only haltered a cow once since and that was for vetting and she was trying to hurt the vet, being very uncomfortable with mastitis.

I do not tether my stock in any way aside from fences to keep them safe or to separate them when necessary–neither physically or spiritually.

I do not make unnecessary demands on my livestock and I leave them choices.

I respect them as the individual beings they are , each one of them a unique personality.

I firmly believe that even and perhaps especially for those meant to feed a family, an animal requires the ability to be himself to be in top condition .

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I believe it is of the utmost importance to engage the entire animal for optimal health: the mind, the spirit , the body —  Fresh air, cleanliness, exercise, natural behaviors, play, human interaction on their terms,  proper diet, sound medical care, regular assessment , room to roam, freedom to choose within limits of safety, etc.   I think the last may be one of the most important.  If someone took away all of my choices, I would be a miserable and unhealthy being.

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