Growing up on the farm has been fantastic for our children. I would want it no other way for them. Our 5 year old, David, is always quick to help out in any part of the operation. He helps process chickens and, now that we have begun our custom operation on the farm of our beef and pork, he is happy to help out there too. He still gets mad that we won't give him a knife, though.
To date, he has had no problem with the fact our animals are raised for meat and they must be butchered at some point. Until last weekend. Sometimes it is ok to lie to your 5 year old, if you believe it protects him, right......
We tag our animals to keep track of their genetics and aid in our herd development. Our cows and heifers all get a large green tag with a number. Since we breed artificially, it is important we can identify the cows in heat in order to get them bred. These tags are perfect for that. We put a small white tag in the ears of our bulls\steers to keep track of them and to see what each cow's calves are turning out to look like. David has always befriended the cows. We talk about how the boys are all getting sold, but the cows stick around for a while. Great. Until three weeks ago. We had a nice looking steer (#38) that David decided would be his pal. I told him that was not a good idea as he was sold, but to no avail they became "best buds" as David said. Well, we have pretty docile animals and #38 was no different. He would wait for David to pet him, come over to the gate to see him, and just be friendly. That is what we want in our animals. Until David told me we could not Butcher #38, they were buds. Well, what are we supposed to do? I pushed back his slaughter date twice and today was the day. We have been building up to it. We told him that some nice farm in Tennessee saw the pictures of him (#38) and loved him. They wanted to buy him. COMPLETE LIE. But that brings me back to above, that is justified, isn't it? So, we made a date with Nana for David to spend the morning there and while he was gone, #38 was "sold".
I have to say, there is nothing easy about the killing part of the operation. I am not fond of it, but it has to happen. Today's was even a little more difficult knowing it was our sons "bud" that was in the chute. 2 hours later we were done and David thinks #34 is hanging in the cooler. Perhaps David will learn not to get so attached to the white tags from now on. I am not sure how long we can pull off today's events. But I have a feeling it would not be the same next year!