Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Animals build Character

I used to wonder what people were talking about when they said some people were against the fair we had in town every year. I heard there were protests against rodeo and even people who said raising animals wasn't worth the cost of doing so.
Just a little kid raised on a cattle and sheep ranch in Wyoming, these stories befuddled me. Why would anyone be against raising animals? After all, if it weren't for animals I don't think I would have ever learned how to handle people.
Take bum calves for instance. When they first enter your life a bum calf is fun. These little orphans need rescuing and  you get to be the super hero to do just that. At first mixing and warming milk for them is simply a treat. They're small calves so they grow accustomed to you and run to you every time you walk into the corral. Before long though, the once cute pet turns into a big hungry calf who wants fed and wants it now so when you enter their pen you are greeted with an aggressive head bunt and continual head bunts until the calf's belly is full. I've met people like this. No, none that I've had to feed milk to or been head butted by. But friends who are fun to have around for a time but eventually you learn you are their friend because they need something from you. Eventually they become so expectant of said something that if they don't get it, you are the bad one. That's okay though. You learned from the bum calf that there eventually comes a time when separation is healthy so that the calf can become independent and feed himself. I think it's the same way with people.
From my show pigs I learned how to adjust to precision. Those pigs seemed to always have something to oink at me about. If I didn't take them for a walk around the pasture their shed was in, they got rambunctious. If I didn't refill their mud puddle with cool water on hot summer days, they wouldn't lay in it and they'd start panting from overheating. Everything had to be so precise. I may be, or may just know, quite a few of these personalities. Thanks to my porcine, I can better adjust to the ol' type A.
From chickens I learned that if you leave yourself vulnerable, you may wind up getting hurt but you'll learn a lesson from that. In my case I learned to wear shoes while feeding them. Chickens also have some special needs. They can't just swallow water like you or I, they have to tip their heads back and let the water roll down their throats. They also don't have teeth. They always have to have some sort of sand in their system so that their gizzards (food grinders) can digest their food manually. I know that each of us have things that make us different. When we learn those idiosyncrasies about others, we'll be able to care more and better for them.
From new lambs I learned that sometimes you just have to love. Many cold winter days we'd have brand new lambs on the ground that would have died if it hadn't been for my parents or older siblings bringing them into the warm shed, or even our house, where I'd sit with a towel, wipe them off and cuddle with the poor little things. I think all of us need love, after all isn't that Biblical?

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