I spent most of the day out and about today. Its my day off and I like to enjoy myself when I can. So my son and I headed out to the country to do some shopping. During the drive I happened to pass a large cattle farm. Seeing the cows in the pastures brought back a memory.
This memory was what I think of as my first real emotional scar. Of course, those of you who have been reading me from my bloggers beginning know that I've had MANY horrific emotional scars, but those were different....gradual. This was quite abrupt.
I was about 14 or 15 years old and living with my mother in Maine at the time. Her boyfriend had some things to do in town and decided to bring me along to help him out. Its quite a long trip from the mountain (where we lived) to town. It was about 20 miles away. So the drive was long and dull as there's only one road way up in the sticks and all you see along the way is fields and farms.
Well, we were passing a very large cattle farm. It had huge empty grazing fields across the plain, so you could see rather far and it took a while to pass the property even at 45 mph. So as we were driving I was looking off into the field to see if I could spot any livestock. I happen to be an animal lover and have a very high respect for them.
As my eyes found a couple cows, something didn't seem quite right about them. They seemed spooked or something. So I looked closer. As I watched I saw one cow looking at something I couldn't see. It had a fighting stance like it was ready to brawl and then all of a sudden it changed its mind as if it was bluffing. It turned barreling down the hill of the pasture toward to road.
"What's it doing?" the words came out as a whisper as I was trying to figure out what was making a normally calm grazing cow run like that.
Then I saw it. A man (the farmer) was running full speed after this cow with a rifle in his hands. I was in shock. There are certain ways by which farmers slaughter their cows in my experience. This was not it. Then I spotted a second man running after the first, also with a shot gun in hand.
The cow was moving at a good clip toward the road getting closer to us as we were nearly ready to pass the area.
"What are they doing?" I asked nervously, not liking what I was seeing. "What are they doing?" Suddenly the works came out louder and more panicked.
My mother's boyfriend just kind of glanced out the window and then kept driving, without much thought.
I was paying attention. Suddenly the cow came to a grinding halt, spitting dirt and sod up behind her as she dug into the ground and spun around to face the farmer who'd caught up with her. Just as the two squared off the cow suddenly dropped to her knees, almost bowing to the farmer.
The farmer raised his shot gun aiming it straight at the cows head only a couple yards away from her and then he pulled the trigger. The echo of the shot filled the air but was quickly shattered by my screams as I watched the cow crumble to the ground in horror.
If you think that was the worst part, you're wrong. Its NEVER recommended to shoot a large animal such as a cow in the head. They have very thick skulls and there's a good chance that one shot won't kill them right away. It takes a long time, therefore the animal suffers. The recommended kill shot is in the heart. So even though the cow went down, she was still kicking. The farmer quickly ran up over her and pulled the trigger again......in the head. This was an obvious sign of simple mindedness and indolent negligence on the farmers part. I recognized it immediately and lost full respect for the man and what he did for the community.
Now I've seen things in my time, horrible things, but this was the very first time I witnessed something that actually made me scream out loud and sob uncontrollably. It tore me up inside. I felt what the cow must have been feeling....fear....heartbreak....knowing it was the end and not knowing why.
I don't ever recall reacting like that to anything else before or after that. It stuck with me. And the lack of compassion will forever haunt me. Both from my mother's boyfriend who just told me to look away and from the farmer who shot a cow nearly point blank in the face....twice.
I never did find out what brought it all about even as I went to school with the farmers kids. And even though I'm an adult now and much more intelligent than I was then, I still cant think of any reason for a farmer to have done that to their livestock.
Some people may read this and think very little of it and maybe even roll their eyes as we EAT cows. But to me a cow isn't dinner, its an animal. A living breathing animal with a heart, with thoughts, emotions and even a soul.
But even as we all have our opinions, no matter what anyone else thinks, I just know that this scar will never fade.