My Barn: A Life Or Death Experience

Show-Me Life

What would an animal activist do?

Published on: March 20, 2013

In their early years, their role in lambing was limited. They knew it was important to keep lambs alive because they would have more to show or sell. So they worked hard at bottle feeding.

As they matured and entered into the FFA program, their SAE projects brought about a deeper level of involvement. They were responsible for nutrition, animal health, marketing and every aspect of lambing.

Their small hand size required them to deliver lambs that needed assistance. But helping with the miracle of birth brought a new emotional aspect to their education. They realized that they hold the fate of an unborn lamb in their hands. And some don't make it.

Over the years, I must say there have been more tears shed in the barn than in the home. I am grateful for the life lesson my children have learned by being involved in 4-H, FFA and agriculture. I believe it has made them stronger, wiser and more compassionate.

It is that side of agriculture-the compassion-I wish animal activist groups could experience. But I am not sure they could handle the emotional decisions made in the barn.

Real life
I know that many animal lovers share similar emotion over their pets. However, that may be one or two pets in a lifetime. We have a flock of ewes that lamb every year. And with each birth there is the possibility of death.

It would be interesting to see how animal activists would respond to every day farm life, especially during a difficult birth.

They could witness how producers make split second decisions to save the life of an animal. They would hear how we are forced to make those decisions.

Frankly, I would gladly pay a veterinarian to come out and handle the physical and emotional stress that comes with lambing problems. However, there are no large animal veterinarians that work on sheep in our area. It would require loading up a ewe in labor and hoping that she and the lambs do not die before we make it to a vet in a town 30 minutes away. Which choice would an animal activist make?

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  1. Diana Stornetta says:

    I've been lambing out 50+ ewes every year for 40+ years. You nailed exactly how I feel everytime I walk into that barn during lambing season. I can't tell you how many life lessons my daughter's learned in that same barn. Many lessons that have made them the compassionate caring young women they are. I too wish that the animal activist would just spend a day in my shoes and then tell me I don't care and love my animals sometimes more than I care for myself. I spend many long nights in the barn sitting with ewes, feeding bottle babies, helping ewes through the first critical moments with their lambs. Thank you for your great article! Even though I live this on a daily basis - it still brought tears to my eyes. Glad someone else sees things through the eyes of our animals.

  2. Michelle Wade says:

    Love this story. I, too, have cried over a difficult birth that ended with a ewe without a baby. Never thought of the animal rights activist take. My thought on animal rights activists has always been that I AM the animal activist. I believe in humane treatment of animals. And unlike the people protesting, I am actually helping animals to live safely and well cared for.

    • Mindy Ward says:

      Well put, Michelle. That is truly what farmers do on a daily basis. Thanks for sharing that perspective.

  3. sue duncan of facebook says:

    Mindy you have done such a wonderful job with your children....I have a feeling you also where taught the same kind of love

    • Mindy Ward says:

      Sue, without a doubt! From an early age, my parents displayed a love of animals, love of family, love of community and love of people. I believe that is a legacy many farmers and ranchers pass on to their children as well. Thanks.

  4. Kristie says:

    So wonderfully stated. I sat and cried as you described the scene in the barn. I have been the daughter growing up in that situation and the mother with her own children in that same situation. I and my children understand that in life there is also death. It is, however, LIFE that generally out-weighs death on the farm. Without life there would be no next generation. Thank you for a wonderfully 'described' scene from many farmers lives!

    • Mindy Ward says:

      I agree that life out-weighs death on the farm. Thank you for reminding me of that fact. Truly that is why we farm--to bring life to the land and livestock.

  5. Jan Case says:

    As I read this blog post my coworkers are wondering why I am crying at my desk. Very well written eloquent recount of the sad reality that some do not make it. Most of my coworkers read the daily news blast, then they try to recount the heinous actions that one human has taken against another at that point I plug my earphones in and read agriculture and farm blogs, Thank You for sharing.

    • Mindy Ward says:

      Thanks for taking the time to read farm blogs. Sorry to create tears in the workplace. But, as ag writers, we appreciate being a part of your day.