Reflections on how we could change farming for the better…

Uncategorized

Thom&Mum

I don’t want to add anything to the general over drive and I’m aware that when I’m in writing mode, I end up in the zone and I’m not available for my family. My son ends up left to his own devices for too long while I’m just sat in front of a screen, typing away. I don’t want to do that to him. Even if it’s the hardest thing to do, I want to be present, to be with him as we share precious playful moments together. I know that his youth is very finite and that it won’t last forever, and I must make sure that I make the most of it and that I offer him precious moments that he will carry with him as memories into adulthood. That’s why I have decided to consciously limit the time I spend on the internet, trying to avoid this false sense of emergency that is so addictive and so predominant when one checks her emails 10,000 times a day.

Also I would like to focus more on my yoga practice as all these recent false emergencies have made me slip off again and neglect my daily practice. So I want to go back to spending more time trying to be present in real life, with my family and with myself, on my mat.

My recent experience trying to rescue four dairy cows has been quite challenging and I ended up getting into trouble with nearly all concerned parties (apart from the cows…) and that made me think a lot about what I want to do with FocalHeart. I knew that by getting involved with farmed animals, it would be quite hard emotionally, which is fine. I knew what I was getting into and I knew that dairy farming wouldn’t be the easiest area of farming to handle. I have been reflecting quite a lot about all of this lately… The life of a dairy cow is full of repetitive trauma. I know a dairy cow (who I really like a lot) who is 12 years old, still being milked twice a day and still giving birth to a calf every year… A calf that she might not get to have with her more than a couple of weeks… There is only so much a cow can take before she breaks… I have met quite a few broken cows and it’s so heartbreaking to see!

I’m definitely not advocating meat eating here, but at least grass fed animals reared for meat are pretty much completely left alone with minimal human disturbance, compared to dairy cows! So if that was to be the case… is lacto vegetarianism such a kind lifestyle on the animals?

The very few ethical farms that exist today truly believe in what they are doing, but their customers need to wake up and pop the bubble they are in.

I haven’t visited a lot of them but the few ethical farms that I have visited do care a lot about their ethical values. Their main problem is that they are too popular. They probably will dislike me even more for writing it publicly on the internet,  but they are supporting too many customers because so many people agree with their values and make the ethical choice to shop there to support them. The feel good factor for shopping there is big. Now I’m not saying: “Hey people, don’t support your local ethical farms anymore”, I’m saying : “Hey people, start your own local ethical farm as there is a need for more of them”. A great way to change farming is to ‘become’ farming and to change it from the inside…

Currently there isn’t enough of them, and the demand for the highest animal welfare standards is increasing. All these well meaning customers are actually putting a big strain on the animals. Farms are at their maximum capacity, having  the maximum amount of animals that their land can support, but the demand is unlimited and growing exponentially!

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I’d like to say that again: ethical farms can only have a limited amount of animals living off their land but their customer base has no limits and some ethical farm shops even buy in products from other farms when they run out, so that their customers are not disappointed and won’t go shopping somewhere else.  This success is putting more strain on the animals, and the farm ends up removing  the calves from their mums earlier so they can get more milk in order to make more yoghurt, cream, cheese, etc… so that the shelves are not empty.

There is a serious need for more small scale, local, organic farms – there is no denying it. The world will not go vegan and the vast majority of people are buying their animal food from supermarkets, which are buying them in bulk for as cheap as possible which is having a devastating effect on farming and on the farmer’s life. Conventional farming will not change because they can’t. They are stuck with their mortgages and with ridiculously unrealistic quotas. To me, it seems that the very much needed change in farming will come from small local organic farms, as their customers make the conscious decision to support them because they are willing to support this change. As customers they have the power to encourage their local organic farm to take it a step further, in terms of animal welfare.

So people need to appreciate dairy and its hardship a bit more and stop drinking milk as if it was coming out of a tap. They need to implement discipline with it and consume it with respect and deep appreciation. They need to accept that there should be time without dairy in their local farm and not run to the supermarket to get it instead, as it’s putting strain on other cows somewhere else.

In my opinion the only way that farming will change, is if people start more small organic community farms to support their community and their community only. Customers need to understand that these small local farms have their limits and if they want to make a difference then they should tune in with the natural rythm of these farms and accept that, for instance when the cows are calving, people should try to go without cream, their favourite yoghurt or even dairy altogether for a while…

This issue brings up a lot of questions regarding people’s eating habits. It may be that being too stuck in a belief system or a particular dogmatic system might be one of the main reasons why things got so out of hand in the first place, as in the myth around dairy being such a staple, daily necessity? Also the myth around (grass fed organic) meat being the worst product in terms of animal cruelty, the myth of ethical shoppers who believe they are doing such a great thing by shopping at ethical farm shops and spending an absolute fortune there every week, when really they are causing a big strain on the animals who have to go through such hardship… Keep going there, but be mindful! Be grateful and appreciate every single animal product you buy for what it is, because behind every single animal product there is a sacrifice. May it be the sacrifice of a life, of a calf…

I’m not denying the need for animal foods in a human’s diet. I was vegan for eight years and at the end I wasnt doing well at all. I ended up undernourished. I love the idea of veganism, as an ideal, a vision for the future, and I hope that we, as a species evolve in that direction… but this is not the reality we live in right now. And right now, animal foods have played a big part in our evolution and are still essential for a lot of people. So telling people to go vegan is a nice idea but it’s not going to work. We all need to be kind to ourselves, and to each other… and to work on having a better understanding of death so it’s no longer the worst thing that can ever happen. Death happens all the time, so as my friend Dolly the cow told me, it’s good to think about it and to be aware of the fact that we, too, will die at some point. I have asked quite a few farmed animals what their thoughts were on death and most of them have healthier and more detached views on that subject and with more clarity than most of the humans I know!

Anyway… I’m off to get my son ready for bed. I have done it again… he is waiting for me and is trying to get my attention!

Have a lovely night!

Noémie.

 

On kindness

Animal Communication, Uncategorized

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This morning, I have had to deal with an abusive reaction from someone regarding my forthcoming workshop with the cows (it’s due to start on Mother’s Day, in less than two weeks time). My first reaction was to fall apart. I cried, I was deeply hurt. When you pour all of your heart into something and it’s met with a mean, harsh & abusive response even from just one person, it’s disheartening. This person basically said that I was an “apologist for slavery”, that what I was doing was “hippy nonsense tipping over into disgusting, deluded profiteering” and that “I was exploiting the cows misery pretending I was doing them a favour by being a bit nicer about it”. I was crushed. I cried and started to doubt myself. I believe that there is a bit of truth in every lie, and I also believe that I probably have something to learn from this painful experience. This person has applied pressure to a part of myself I’m not completely at peace with and it got me to reflect a lot about the point of what I was trying to do. Was it worth doing? Should I be charging any money at all for workshops? Am I making money out of the cows misery? Does it actually make any difference at all to the cows that people come to listen to them and spend time with them? At the end of the day, they can tell us/me all the things they would like to be different with the situation they are in, but what can we do to make it change? We are not farming them, we don’t have any power in the decision making process of what is happening to them.

Don’t get me wrong here, I’m not calling for people to be sorry for me or to defend me. I just wanted to share this painful experience with you as it did send me to a place of self reflection… I even considered giving all animal communication related things a rest, regardless of all the work and energy I have put into this.

This person’s reaction is something I have been observing for over a decade now, in the animal rights movement. Some people can be very unkind and mean to one another. They pass heavy judgements and tend to destroy other’s attempts or initiative if it doesnt fit perfectly into their vision of what people should and should not be doing. I have even been like that myself, so I know exactly what it feels like.

I have witnessed countless times people with a genuine interest being ridiculed and bullied because they suggested a very creative idea to raise awareness about animal suffering and it was met with cold, harsh disapproval. It happens a lot on the grassroots activist forums and websites, and also inside big corporate Animal rights organizations. I did work for one and was very disappointed to discover how staff members were treated, bullied, managed through guilt and were made to feel very unhappy and frustrated. Miserable & angry, staff under pressure don’t last very long: they end up resenting their job, even hating it. They are no longer creative or productive and ultimately this has an affect on the animals. Hence the high turn over of staff in Animal Rights/Welfare organizations. I have been in that situation and I was actually good at my job in the beginning. I made a lot of sacrifices for the organization I was working for. I was working around the clock, even when heavily pregnant. It sent me to a dark, sad place and the way I was treated really put me off Animal rights activism. Now that I know the ‘behind the scenes’ of big animal rights organizations it doesn’t appeal to me to support them at all. I feel like I would be supporting the very things I feel the world would be better off without!

It took me years to heal and to recover and to find my own way to help animals.

I interviewed Captain Paul Watson a few years ago and he told me that to him the best way people can help is to use their own unique talent to support the cause you strongly believe in. If you are good at and love photography then offer your skill to help, if you are a lawyer, or a teacher, or anything… offer your talent towards that cause. I completely agree. Love is what makes the world go around and passionate individuals achieve far greater results than money hungry organizations. Your passion for something is a more powerful tool than donating money. Talking passionately about something you really believe in will spread and get people think at a deeper level, further than just another fundraising appeal.

So instead of destroying each other’s initiative to make a humble difference in the world, why don’t we support each other, for instance with kind words? Why can’t we be kind and respectful to one another? Why be abusive and mean to someone? You don’t know where they are coming from in their life. You don’t know what inner struggles they have, and what got them where they are in the first place?

At around midday, Billie Dean‘s newsletter arrived in my inbox. I read it and was amazed to see that she was talking exactly about that.

In her newsletter, Billie Dean stressed out the importance of supporting one another, to make a positive difference in the world… donating money if you can, to support individuals who are trying to bring their humble skills to make this world a better place… may it be a street performer, a blogger, or any individual who is trying to add a bit of colour, a bit of warmth, a bit of love and kindness around them.

Before judging, pointing the finger, undermining & criticizing what others are doing… try to find a place of love within yourself. A lot of the time, people who conduct such agressive/negative behaviour towards others are crying out for love themselves and have a lot of healing to do with their own wounds. Being mean to someone because you disagree with them is a very immature way of handling the disagreement. Having the need to hurt someone or “put them in their place” because they are not doing things your way, is a very childish behaviour indeed! it shows a lack of empathy and a lack of understanding of the bigger picture.

As far as I am concerned, I will take on board some of what this person is saying and I’ll put the brakes on facilitating workshops with farmed animals. I’ll only do it on request for now. It does sadden me as I really thought that by getting people to connect with farmed animals, it will ultimately help them develop their own personal relationship with the animals and they will be able to experience for themselves where this connection takes them… but I don’t want to advertise such workshops if it can come across as me trying to profit and exploit animal misery. I don’t want to become an easy target for the frustration of animal lovers for the time being as ultimately it will have a negative effect on the animals I’m trying to help. Maybe when I’m a bit more established and people approach me then I will organize such events again. But for now, I’d rather avoid the snow ball effect.

If you are interested in what I’m doing, watch this space for regular news, suscribe to FocalHeart newsletter, suscribe to my Youtube channel and if you believe in what I’m doing, make a donation. I’ll still facilitate workshops with pet animals, I’ll be uploading videos on Youtube and I’ll keep writing about my encounters with animals, pets and in the wild. Farmed animal related stuff will be only on request for the time being.

Thank you for reading :)

Noemie.

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