Monday, December 2, 2013

Ranching with a Vegan company

So I have a company. :)
It's a soap company that is all vegan. But we also live on a cattle ranch. Isn't this hypocrisy you would ask yourself?

To answer this question I will have to go back to the beginning.

In high school I was a vegetarian for several years. I still ate cheese and drank milk. I have a strong love for animals. I volunteered at the local animal shelter and also had an intership at Sea World in San Antonio. As we were flying back my friend said, "I would rather see them in the ocean". That statement, all though small made a huge impact upon my life. I was wanting to be a marine biologist at the time.

In my mind we needed places like Sea World. But not because of the shows. What they had behind the scenes was what captivated me. We learned about the various marine animals and it was in those moments that I really found my connection with them. My parents wouldn't fund my education for a marine biology degree stating, "You will be away from us too much" and I didn't know that we had choices (apart from our parents' ideas) so I ended up going with computer science, switching majors, and ended up with a business degree. My life with animals became non-existant as circled around my computer and worked for non-profits as a single mother.

Years later I met and fell in love with a rancher. How was I to know what it was like??

I saw some crazy stuff happening all around me. I saw the most grittiest cowboy who could rope a wild cow off the back of his horse, stop and nurse a calf back to health. I also saw him shoot a calf when it was in too much pain.

We raise our beef on grass. I once was asked, "Since you don't give any growth hormones or anything to your calves, what happens if one gets sick. Do you deny antibiotics?"

I turned to her and said, "Why would I want anything to suffer. I will give a shot of antibiotics to a calf that needs it. I would not appose killing a calf, with a bullet, if it was suffering." This year we only doctored two calves. One made it, one didn't.

I'm not a monster. I thought to myself as she stormed away. I'm human. I have feelings and emotions. We have horses, dogs, and cattle. Our animals live such a free life while at our place. Our dogs spend every day outside running around. We've had other strays come into our yard and we've fed them. They stick around until the neighbors come and get them. I can't help but think that if they had it so bad at our house, they would just return where they came from.

I think back on my life. I understand people want to have a certain lifestyle that allows animals to live and be free. Free from eating. Free from pain and suffering.

I also think that our mother cows are treated with the utmost humane care. I have a bunch of them and they are my life. I have gone out in an ice storm to help a calf get to the other side of the fence with it's mother. I have massaged scours butts' of calves (nasty-yellow-smell) to get the calf to eat from it's mother.

That is the animal lover in me.

So why would you kill a calf? One nasty twitter reader once tweeted me because they saw I was a rancher. They don't know me.

I love my family. They also need to survive. God gave us the animals so that we could eat and provide for our families. I don't take that lightly. This was my husband's choice before I met him. I am with him and now it is my choice to stand by his side and ranch. We are conscious meat producers. I buy cage free eggs. :) (ADD MOMENT: thinking of getting some chickens).

I can feel my hippy come out in me when I ask my husband for one more day to get a calf to take a bottle....but even I know when it's time to let animals go. Just like the powerful cycle of life. It's mysterious. It's sometimes not fair (one of my clapa (Cleft Lip and Palate Association) friends just gave birth to a stillborn son). I can rest assure anyone's hatred if you personally come to my ranch and see how we live. If you have the time to do that. If you get to know me and still think that I am a monster, by all means....write hateful things about me, to me, etc. But most likely you will discover that I am a human. Our greatest need...each and every one of us....is to be accepted.

Okie Suds has vegan products that do not contain anything from an animal....no fat, no milk, nothing. Strictly from the vegetables on this planet. Why? I don't like the smell of goat's milk. I love gardening. I also love all natural products. They make my skin feel amazing.

I wanted to write this because many of my soap customers are vegan and make strict decisions. I wanted them to understand these things about me personally for being a producer of beef and also having an eco friendly company. It's a choice. I fell in love with a rancher with a heart as deep as the ocean. And....I'm an animal lover.

But also ... we use our animals to create our living. We use our horses to ride. We use our dogs to help gather. They are working dogs. We also use our cows for beef.

I still dream of life on the ocean. But... perhaps another time. For now,  I will study grasses, watch cattle, and enjoy my family.....which includes the entire herd.