This author hopes this memorial may awaken readers to the horrific practices of animal farming and factory farming and that, together, people will demand their government pass laws to safeguard these animals who have only suffering to bear on their way to the slaughter. Each one of us must bear the shame the farmer refuses to bear, for we are of the same species, and we are the consumers that demand the farmers to raise these animals. But we can unite together by passing humane laws prohibiting farmers from treating these animals abominably.
I encourage each reader to demand our government enforce laws protecting these animals when they are born, give birth, are raised, and transported to the butcher. The least any consumer of meat can do is assure that a doomed animal is treated with respect and kindness before it is killed. Not only does the meat-eater owe this to the farm animal, but he owes it to himself as well, for if he cannot respect and protect an innocent animal, then he cannot respect himself or another human being. At the very least he should help the farm animals so that he can save himself and humanity.
The author has included here, in memory of the billions of farm animals who give their lives for the human dinner plate, one animal, the author’s own, who escaped a horrible existence and an early death.
One Who Lived to be Buried and Remembered
Species: bovine—Scotch Highland steer
Human companion: Edgar Balliet, III, VMD
One Christmas morning in 1985 after they had opened a few presents beneath the tree, Edgar asked his wife to go along down to his parents’ farm to feed the two sheep. The day was crisp, a thin layer of snow lay on the ground—a beautiful morning for a walk. When Gay and Edgar stopped at the barn, and Edgar began throwing hay and feeding grain to the animals, a strange sound erupted from one of the barn’s back stalls.
Gay looked questioningly at her husband, and then a huge smile erupted on his face. “Here--I have another Christmas present waiting for you.”
“Oh, boy! Let me see. What is it?” Gay said, bouncing like an excited kid.
Then he motioned to the far stall, opened the heavy door, and introduced the animal. “Gay, meet Scotty.”
Gay looked, tip-toeing to the open door, and she saw a younger version of something she didn’t recognize. The animal stood as tall as and as long as a golf cart. His head looked cow-like, but what was puzzling was his coat. The baby animal had bright, long red hair.
“What is it?” Gay said. “He looks like Sasquatch.” The calf looked at Gay and bellowed. He sounded like a baby steer.
“It’s a Scotch Highland bull calf,” he said, smiling widely. “He’s your Christmas present.”
“Thanks,” she said. “Just what I’ve always wanted. Wouldn’t a pair of snow boots have been more practical?”
“Well,” he snickered, “I really did get him because he was going to be auctioned off by the Game Preserve and probably bought for meat. Since he was born at the Game Preserve, and I’ve been his vet since he came into the world, I didn’t want to see him butchered. And, anyway, I really needed another animal at the old farm here to help keep the grass down. Two sheep don’t do the job. Hey, you remember the Scotch Highlands over at the Game Preserve—the two red, long-haired cattle? Well, those were Rosie and Brutus, Scotty’s parents. He was to be auctioned off in September, and I told Tony I wanted him. I bought him for fifty bucks, and he’s been at the preserve waiting for Christmas Day.”
Gay looked at the calf dripping with long, red dreadlocks, and said, “Hey, that was a steal. Can I feed him something?”
“Well, he’s pretty wild—not too used to people yet—been out on the range for some time and isn’t really used to being hand-fed. We can try to tame him while he’s penned up in this small stall for a couple of weeks.”
So, all bundled up in his puffy winter jacket, Edgar sidled over to the young steer with a grain scoop full of oats. He crouched down to make himself look little and unintimidating, and the calf snorted, his hot breath steaming when it hit the frigid air. Then, in a few minutes, with the smell of the oats lingering, the Scotch Highland bull calf took a couple steps closer. Minutes later he was eating from the scoop.
Though he wasn’t ready then to accept another person into his stall, he tamed up well enough in the next two weeks so that Gay could go inside and hand-feed him, too. At that time, her first reaction, as he licked the oats from the scoop, was, “Geez, he stinks. Smells sort o’ sour.”
“Yeah, cows and steers always smell that way. It’s their rumen and ‘cause they chew their cud,” Edgar said.
“Other than his bad breath, he’s kind of cute. What are we going to do with him?”
“Nothing. Let him live his life here as a pet. He’s my lawn mower for the pastures here at the farm.”
Just the year before Edgar had purchased the old Balliet farm from his parents. While his parents then became renters in the house they sold to their son, the farm was his to maintain, and that was just fine by them. Edgar and Gay had built their house across the street in a patch of woods. They also built a barn and seven horses, so having two properties to keep up was quite a task. Scotty’s helping with keeping the grass down in the pastures at the old farmstead would help with the chores.
For the first three weeks Scotty wore a calf halter so that if he escaped from the pasture, he’d be easier to catch and lead back to the barn. But it wasn’t long before his big hairy head out-grew it. By that time Edgar was fairly certain Scotty wasn’t going to try to escape the pasture, so he took off the halter.
Over the next several weeks Scotty tamed up pretty nicely. Edgar’s father visited him on nice days when Scotty was on pasture, and knowing that people always had snacks for him, Scotty trotted up to them and put out his big tongue, which, like an elephant’s trunk, wrapped itself around the tasty morsel. And from the first that tongue served as his own built-in dishrag. He used it to clean his mouth after eating, and he used the tip of it to clean the boogies from his nose. “Oh, that’s really too gross,” Gay would say as the tip of Scotty’s tongue disappeared into his nose.
“Well, he can’t very well use a Kleenex, can he?” Edgar said in defense of the little guy.
Scotty loved any snacks: lettuce leaves, carrots, apples, and even dog biscuits. And, in just a few months’ time, he was perfectly tame and friendly.
At four months old his horn buds were just starting to peep from his head. Scotch Highland cattle are known for their long horns that stretch, between the points, to four feet. At six months of age, Edgar thought it best to castrate the bull calf. So, he retrieved Scotty’s baby halter and stuffed Scotty’s head into it. It was way too small, and his red hair stuck straight out from the tightness of the out-grown halter, but Edgar popped him a little sleepy juice in order to castrate him. Though Scotty was cute and personable, keeping him as a bull might turn him into a real butthead. A few minutes later, using the Berdizo cattle castrator, Scotty was castrated.
With his manhood removed, Scotty became a more sociable animal within a few months’ time, and he definitely preferred the company of people over the two sheep in his pasture. Edgar’s dad fed him biscuits on his daily walks around the farm, and Scotty always followed behind like a pup, walking right up to him, nudging him a little from behind until Edgar, Jr. turned around, gave him a knuckle-rub to his forehead and stuffed another biscuit in his mouth.