Lessons from Luna
We've lost a handful of animals on the farm, especially during lambing and calving season. It just comes with the territory: a lot of life, some death.
But a sweet, little lamb captured our hearts in a new way. He was miraculously found on a cold, rainy morning left behind the sheep flock in the pasture by Opa.
Isaiah brought him home about 45 minutes before I had to leave for deliveries for most of the day. We set him up under a heat lamp, and he slowly came back to life. Isaiah then went to the store for some colostrum, a better bottle, and we supplemented colostrum and raw cow milk.
We didn't expect him to make it through the day, or that next night - but, he did. He even stood up and walked around. But, in the afternoon the following day, we noticed he became more lethargic. He was not sucking well, and so we were mostly cup feeding him. We started researching emergency methods, but it was too late at night to call a vet. We later learned
We woke up two times that night to feed Luna. Each time, he seemed more lethargic. I knew that when I woke, he likely would be passed on, and he was. I called his name, hoping he would somehow come back. But, his mission was over. Luna, we will always miss you and appreciate the lessons you taught us.
He touched our lives in a deeper, different way. For days, my littlest one was looking for the "ruff ruff" in the house, because even though Luna was a lamb and he knows what lambs are, Luna was more like a pet living in our home.
Really, most animals are treated like pets. We know how to keep them alive, but we really give little to no thought on giving them a high quality of life, let alone the type of life they want. They are there to please us, not the other way around.
But we know what it's like to not live the type of life we desire, that our souls yearn for. Our out-of-control pace, corporate hours away from those we love most, and unrewarding work point to a life most of us would trade for a life we live on the sidelines of the times we "have" to work. If we think long enough, I think every one of us realizes that's not how we were made to live life. Especially in the last year of COVID lockdowns, we realize how important socialization is to humans. Declines in mental health strike severely,
Isaiah has such a way of intrinsically knowing how to respect animals. Throughout the time Luna was with us, he was so balanced in knowing when to help, and when to allow natural processes to take place. It's a little like he's a cow whisperer, or just "gets" it. A few situations arose during that time where I considered offering some programs that I see other farms offer. I'm quick to offer more experiences to our friends and customers, however, when I asked him his thoughts, he was quick to point out how the benefits of those programs are only to humans.
He noted how stressed so many young animals must feel, ripped from their mothers way too young and fed from bottles, living in tiny squares indoors instead of wide open pastures with their mothers, petted by hundreds of visitors, or even rented out to different homes.
He asked me if I would do that to my own child, and...I cried. Because not only are we doing those things, we are doing them to those without a voice.
Yes, animals are entirely snuggable. And, that doesn't mean we should never snuggle. But, they also have their own lives to live: lives we are just here to support, not control. As Joel Salatin says, how can we begin to appreciate the "pigness of pigs?" How can we adore cattle in their natural habitat, in their extremely complicated hierarchy, and support them without trying to mold them to our view of how they should be?
Often when folks call to come visit our farm, they ask if they can see the animals. I say yes, but please understand we are trying to replicate their natural environment. There's no stalls, no gates, and possibly a long walk to go visit them.
Truth be told, everytime I walk out to the pasture of any of the animals, I feel a solemn sacredness descend on the ground I am on. Most of my human worries and concerns fade, and I am in the moment with "the transcendent ones" as Isaiah calls them. He's right.
On a spiritual mentor's podcast I follow, I randomly saw this comment the day after Luna passed, and I know this is what I had to write on, even if it would ruffle some feathers. It said something like, "until we can treat the lowliest animal with utmost respect, our earth will not move forward out of the evil and hate we endure."
They're right. And friends, we are failing big time. We want more animal involvement, which I believe is oh so good, and oh so needed. But not on our terms. Take a look at our world. No, not us. We need to watch them, follow them, and learn from them.
So, next time you consider buying, visiting, or supporting an animal organization, consider...is how they are treated how I would treat my own child? What does this sweet little one want?
I don't write this to condemn. We are all just trying to do a little bit better each day. But, I do feel this is the message I don't have an option but to communicate to you. I hope that it helps slowly shift the conversation around farm animals and their management.
Thank you, Luna.