When I was younger, I always remember the start of our fair week included my dad leading the livestock exhibitors meeting on Monday. He’d welcome everyone, wish them luck and impress upon each of us how important it is to think about everything we do when we’re caring for our projects.
When I was real little, I didn’t think too much about it. My dad would say things to the extent of ‘some things that we know are okay for our animals, other people may not agree with’ so it was really important that we think through everything. As the years went on, the speech morphed into ‘if you see anyone with video cameras that you don’t know, find your group leader or another adult’.
In 10 years, my dad’s speech went from just thinking about everything you do in case there’s someone who doesn’t understand what happens with livestock to the fact that there may be people out there video taping youth in order to ‘expose abuse’ on the Internet. That never fails to boggle my mind.
When I raise my pigs and sheep, I always do so with the animal’s best interests in mind. Making sure they have food, clean water and shelter is my highest priority. I think pigs are the smartest livestock species out there and sheep…well, they never seem to amaze me with their ability to get into trouble! I know the vast majority of all youth and adults who raise livestock share the same type of respect for their animals and duty to care for them as well as they can.
I hope one day my dad will be able to tell livestock exhibitors at my fair that people may have questions about what they do with their animals, but don’t be afraid of having a friendly conversation with them and go ahead and answer. I hope that someday we won’t have to worry about an activist with a camera or someone writing a scathing article without asking any questions.I don’t know that we’ll ever see that day come, but we’ll keep taking care of our animals and I’ll continue to hope.