I was at a conference when a large animal veterinarian told this true story:
The managers of a dairy farm were mystified when one of their cows would not give milk.
This was an operation where the animals were more fortunate than most, in that they got to go out to pasture each day, rather than spending their entire lives locked in an enclosure. As in all dairy operations, the cows were repeatedly impregnated so that they would give birth and produce milk. After each birth, the calves were taken away so that the milk meant for them could instead be pumped for human consumption.
A mama cow who had been through the routine of turning in her babies before dutifully watched as her latest newborn was hauled away. Yet when the lactating mother was hooked up to the milking machine, she was dry. This went on for days, with no apparent explanation. But then came the moment when the baffled operators stumbled upon their answer. One spotted a movement in the woods at the edge of the pasture and went to investigate. Mama cow had given birth to twins. Knowing what their fate would be, she had taken one for sacrifice and hidden one to save.
This Sophie’s choice inspires the new title for my blog. Moo2 is in honor of this cow and her two babies whose stories evoked tears in nearly everyone who sat in the conference hall and heard it.
The title also means “moo to meow,” in that we talk about all animals here, from farm to family room; from the animals we think little of to the ones we greet joyfully upon our return home. (That means the title could also be baa/chirp/oink/woof/snort/cock a doodle doo…and could quickly get a little too long. )
I am grateful to each of you who share my compassion for animals and who read and consider these words, wherever you are on your own personal journey. It can be devastating to face the truths of animal suffering yet also joyous to help alleviate it. As Farm Sanctuary president Gene Baur recently wrote, humans possess a fundamental capacity to feel empathy, yet we sometimes turn it down when faced with the pain and suffering of others. “The good news is that we are capable not only of turning our empathy down but also of turning it up…Empathy is like a muscle that becomes stronger as we use it.”
Here’s to a great workout. Get to know a cow. Hug your cat. A big heart does a body good.
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