Monday, January 16, 2006

The kindness of strangers..... and a moral dilemma

So, I think we can safely say that yesterday was a BAD day. Thanks SO much to everyone who left a comment - they were really touching to read, and they have helped a lot.

One of the upsides of having a lot of animals is that you don't get the chance to wallow in self pity for very long ;). Everyone still needs feeding and watering, Granny needs her cuddles, and the pygmy goats can always be relied upon to do something so ridiculously comical you find yourself laughing out loud, in spite of how you're feeling.

And then of course there was the very practical problem - what do you do with 60-70kg of dead goat? She was too heavy for me to move on my own so I rang our neighbouring farmer, Will, and thankfully he came over straight away and helped me move her out of the pen and out of sight of the rest of the goats. But that was only half the job done.

Since the outbreak of Foot & Mouth in 2001 it has been illegal to bury fallen stock on your own land (quick point here, you'd think dead animals would be referred to as dead stock - as opposed to livestock - right? Well, no. In farming terms, dead stock means anything that isn't an animal - feed troughs, gates, fence posts, tractors. So that's dead stock, and dead animals are fallen stock. Confused? Stay with me.)

So, there are now only 2 options:

Option 1 - DEFRA operate a Fallen Stock Scheme, whereby they provide you with a list of knackermen in your "local" area (for Bedfordshire this means our nearest is in Birmingham), who will collect the animal, and charge you - for this area - about £100. It's not the money that's the problem (though I do balk at paying what seems like a hell of a lot). The main problem is that it can take up to a week to 10 days for the animal to be collected.

Option 2 - you can take the animal to the local hunt kennels, or they will come and collect it, and charge about £15 - £25. They generally come straightaway.

Now, here comes the moral dilemma. I have always been EXTREMELY anti hunting with hounds. I mean REALLY anti. So the thought of having anything to do with the local hunt is a complete anathema to me.

But the alternative is to try and bear having the poor thing lying covered up in the barn, and knowing she's there, for maybe a week or more. During Foot & Mouth I saw at first hand what a ruminant looks like when it's been dead a few days and that wasn't the final image of her I wanted in my memory.

I really wrestled with the problem all last night. I felt that going down the hunt option would be selfish, and totally against my personal beliefs, and yet I so desperately wanted her to be dignified in death. A restless night was had.

First thing this morning I rang the local hunt. The guy was here within an hour. He was kind and sympathetic, and treated her with dignity and respect. He made the whole thing as painless as it possibly could be.

In the back of my mind I really feel I've compromised my personal code of ethics. But I'd do the same thing again. I honestly never thought I would live to see the day when I was GLAD there was a local hunt. But today I was.

Now look, I promise normal service will be resumed shortly and I WILL do a knitting related post later in the week - promise ;)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

We all have dilemmas in our lives that are unpleasant. Sometimes the hard option is actually the easiest.

I'm also anti-hunt, but I was relieved to hear that man who came was sympathetic. Many hunters do care about the well-being and respect nature. They often give back to the environment what they take away.

So grieve for your loss, don't berate yourself for your choice and have faith that it was the right one.

Good luck and take care.

5:34 pm  
Anonymous jess said...

That was a very informative post, as an urban-dweller it is really revealing to read about the after-effects of the foot and mouth, as well as read about the hunt in a different light.

10:13 am  
Anonymous pumpkin said...

Read this on one of my forums and thought it was appropriate for you. It's aimed at domestic pets, but could be said for any animal, really.

It's based on a Norse Legend and was written in 1998 by Steve and Diane Bodofsky.

Rainbow Bridge

By the edge of a woods, at the foot of a hill,
Is a lush, green meadow where time stands still.
Where the friends of man and woman do run,
When their time on earth is over and done.

For here, between this world and the next,
Is a place where each beloved creature finds rest.
On this golden land, they wait and they play,
Till the Rainbow Bridge they cross over one day.

No more do they suffer, in pain or in sadness,
For here they are whole, their lives filled with gladness.
Their limbs are restored, their health renewed,
Their bodies have healed, with strength imbued.

They romp through the grass, without even a care,
Until one day they start, and sniff at the air.
All ears prick forward, eyes dart front and back,
Then all of a sudden, one breaks from the pack.

For just at that instant, their eyes have met;
Together again, both person and pet.
So they run to each other, these friends from long past,
The time of their parting is over at last.

The sadness they felt while they were apart,
Has turned into joy once more in each heart.
They embrace with a love that will last forever,
And then, side-by-side, they cross over… together.

11:33 pm  
Blogger Midsummer night's knitter said...

Hey, sorry to read about Big Ron... On a light-hearted note,will you be spinning any of your Jacob fleece? One of my friends used to have Jacobs and Soays, but she has mainly Hebridean now. When we first went to meet the sheep, my DH and I had a conversation about names - "Nope,"says I" She won't name the ones she eats!"...of course, they were halfway through "Chloe" at that point in the year.... I now believe that having an emotional bond with your livestock means that they are much more likely to be treated humanely, even if it does cause heartache at times.

11:35 pm  
Blogger cccavicch said...

So very, very sorry to read about Big Ron's death, and that you had to deal with this on your own. I know how concerned you were after the shearing when she stopped eating. My heart goes out to you!


11:19 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

maybe you need to review your opinion of the worth of hunting as a part of the holistic nature of the countryside and farming

10:24 am  

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