City Folk Gone Wild

In case my blog has gone viral and you’re a dedicated follower hanging on my every word whenever you get some free time from your glorious job in Paris (a girl can dream right!?),  I should let you know that I live on the Eastern Shore of the US in a very agricultural environment. No bustling metropolises in sight. Instead, it’s farmland for as far as the eye can see and vast fields of corn, corn, and more corn. My area’s claim to fame:  Silver Queen corn. Please, no autographs yet. Let me get through this blog first.

As you probably know by now, unless you’re new to this insanely popular piece of online literature I’ve been slaving over, I’m sort of into animal rights. Some may call me an animal rights “freak.”  I prefer the term “advocate,” thank you very much.  Hey, someone has to look out for these defenseless creatures; otherwise, humans will just keep on killing.

Whoops, this is about to turn into a rant…. which this is not.   Let me compose myself.  Breathe.  Okay, better.  So… local farmers of recent past generations have sold off part of their farms, most likely just to make ends meet and not lose everything.   That’s why the Eastern Shore is sort of a patchwork of rural farmland with neighboring urban areas and new housing developments popping up at a more rapid rate each year. The wildlife is still all around and all too often humans tend to think the idea of sharing is ridiculous, so we just shoot whatever we don’t want around. A simple solution for the morally void.

Now geese are a problem at planting time for these farmers.  BUT I’m very pleased to say that the farmers here use “goose cannons” to keep roaming (and hungry) Canadian geese off their crops.  It’s something they’ve always done, and it’s such a better solution than filling them full of shotgun shrapnel. The cannons are a stroke of humane genius. They don’t hurt the geese at all; the noise just scares them away.  A dull echoing boom about every 15 minutes and that’s it. It sounds very much like a distant military base testing experimental weaponry (I know because we have one of those too). To be honest, I personally don’t even notice the noise anymore.  Most of the people around here don’t notice the noise…it just becomes part of the background.

So it seems like a nice agreement has been worked out with no violence involved. Case closed. Well, hold on now. In just the past year the new residents in these lovely housing developments have begun complaining to the police about the cannons making too much noise. Their idea of getting away from city life and moving to the country didn’t include these cannons so they’re just going to have to go. The ironic part is the cannons are an integral part of an agricultural area – and an agricultural area is where these complainers wanted to move to.  Not to mention that this is a way of life for the farmers in question…these are not hobby farms.

working farm

working farm — a common sight here

What’s even more ironic – the “city folk” move here to get away from the city. They want to see farms and green and wildlife out their door.  More than likely, they came from a cacophonous location filled with police sirens, ambulances, honking car horns and people galore because they wanted to get away to a rural area in which to raise their kids or simply to have a more low-key, rural existence.    I know that was my purpose for moving here (you see, I’m an urban transplant myself).

But what do a select entitled few do as soon as they get here?  Complain about the fact that it’s an agricultural area with farmland.  Wait…What!?  Did they not realize these are working farms?  Did they not realize that the people on the working farms have to make a living?  Or more importantly, that these working farms were here first?

farmer

loading silver queen corn

The craziest part is that the cannons aren’t exploding 24/7 year round. They’re only switched on during specific planting times. Just suck it up, city folk, and please understand that when you buy into an area, you’re not just buying the structure you’ll live in, but you’re buying the experience. You’re buying the community, the heritage, the customs. I understand wanting to be comfortable in your environment, hence the exodus to the serene rural country, but please understand that some changes, while good for you, can affect another’s life in a big way. Please remember to keep some perspective and realize that a dull, echoing “boom” isn’t the end of the world.

When is exposing a crime a crime?

When is a crime not a crime? When you don’t get caught? Sort of like if a tree falls in a forest and no one’s around. Does it make a sound? Maybe, maybe not. If someone commits a crime but there are no witnesses, is it still a crime? Maybe, maybe not. At least that’s what the owners and operators of slaughterhouses, factory farms, and feedlots across the nation are hoping. You see, all too often animal advocacy investigators come meddling into “Big Ag’s” affairs and have the audacity to videotape the cruel, abusive, and illegal behavior they witness and then share it with the public. I know, awful, right!?  “Big Ag” would have you believe, and indeed have gotten legislators to believe, that exposing a crime should be a crime.

These agricultural business owners (or “Big Ag” as they are sometimes called) make their money by exploiting animals for profit.  Too often efficiency and bottom line turn into atrocious cruelty and inhumane treatment.  And it turns out that when people see video of dead baby pigs being ground up and fed back to their own mothers and cows with festering sores wrapped up in gestation crates it hurts profits. So, obviously, these owners can’t have that news getting out. I mean, if the American people were to see the sinister torture these businesses are inflicting on their livestock they might not get that big contract from that major fast food joint that should be coming through just about any day now.

So how does one stop the slippery activities of these devious animal advocates? Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce the Ag-Gag Law!  I won’t get into the technicalities, but the long and short of it is that this law would make photographing or videotaping cruelty or abuse to livestock illegal. That way, instead of having to stop the criminal behavior of the abusers, the documentation of the crimes would itself be a crime. Now that’s what I call getting ahead of the storm. To stop the abuse and follow the laws would throw the whole “Big Ag” system out of whack and take a super long time to implement.  The genius Ag-Gag law does away with the pesky need for reform and instead punishes those who are trying to shine a light on rampant animal atrocities.

The latest state pushing this bill through into law is Idaho. Even though the great people of Idaho are against the legislation, “Big Ag” proponents crammed it down their throats like legislative foie gras. So now the animals of Idaho have no voice but, lo and behold, the “Big Ag” businesses have found a way to keep their wallets fat. Of course if you ask the owners of these businesses they’ll say they’re not breaking the law to begin with. My question is simple:  if they’re not breaking the law why would they care if someone comes in to document what they’re doing? Shouldn’t that negate the need for the Ag-Gag Law?

Lock up the advocates and let the abusers go free. Is that the America we live in? Doesn’t it sound like some sort of Bizarro universe? I mean, don’t you want to know what’s in your food? Or how that food made it to your grocery store or better yet, to your table?  If you don’t, I highly suggest you Google “cruelty with animals raised for food.” Read a couple of those stories and you might just change your wonderful ignorance-is-bliss tune.

How the Ag-Gag Law works