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What we do NOT like about farming...

posted Mar 8, 2013, 3:07 PM by Dan and Caroline Swansey   [ updated Mar 17, 2013, 8:38 PM ]
So a couple of weeks ago I was asked a question: What do you not like about farming?

I answered that I liked everything about farming, at that moment, even though I could think of several challenging aspects of farming, there was nothing I could think of that I did not like about our lifestyle as farmers.
Well, unfortunately I was reminded of one thing that I hate about farming last Saturday when suddenly one of our draft horses, Charlie, started to go into a severe colic. He went from not eating at 7 am, still dry, we walked him, to drenched in sweat by 8am. By the time the vet had arrived he was breathing hard. She took his vitals and temperature and felt for his intestines and gave us the worst news we could have expected. She couldn't do anything, his intestines had shifted to the wrong side and she didn't believe he would make it in time for surgery. We cried in disbelief, even for a short moment hoped for a miracle. But it was clear, Charlie was in a bad condition and was suffering extremely. He laid down and we relieved his pain.

Although I don't want to elaborate on Dan and I's emotions, we had a very hard time accepting the reality. Did we do something wrong? Could we have prevented this? The vet told us colic is the number 1 killer in horses and it can be caused from as little as eating a clump of dirt and there is really no way of telling why it happened without an autopsy. 

So this brings me to writing this post. What I do not like about farming is that it involves as much death as it does life because nor life nor death can exist alone. The fact is that farm animals do not live as long as humans do and thus we are bound to experience many deaths when we bring many lives into our farm. And as beautiful it is to see an new life be born it will never be easy to see death come around. Even with butchering, when we take the life of  animals we did not 
particularly bond with because we have raised them for their meat, it is far from easy and we do not take their lives for granted one bit. We try as best we can to give every animal the love and respect they deserve.

Bud, our other Draft horse, also had a hard time seeing Charlie go. We let him go close to Charlie as he had past away to allow him to see what was happening (this was recommended by the vet), and the first few days without Charlie were very hard for him. He neighed for him and looked for him for a long time. 

Horses are very special animals and with every horse we have owned we have
developed a precious relationship, because horses are smart and so incredibly strong, and still they don't mind working so hard for us. At our farm we depend on them and they depend on us for food and shelter. Because our farm needs at least 2 horses to do the work and to give Bud another companion horse as soon as p
ossible we tried to find a new team of horses which we may be buying next week.

This is not easy but a phrase comes time mind: "it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all"


We will continue to focus on bringing life to the farm and will continue to have to accept that death though not always wanted will sometimes be here as well.


In the pictures Charlie was hooked up on the left.
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