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Who said this would be easy?

Farming is the life for us...but it's not always an easy life.  We’ve had a rough string of luck this month with several things happening that have caused hardship on the farm.  Farming isn’t about avoiding bad luck -- it's about adjusting and adapting to the situations that come as a result.  

The most notable of our recent trials was our herd bull, Winchester, fell in what appears to have been a freakish accident.  In his fall, he caused nerve damage in his back that made him unable to stand.  Laura was the first to notice while doing some morning chores.  At first glance, it looked as if Winchester was just laying down, happily chewing his cud.  However, when she and our girls got closer they could tell something wasn’t right.  His back feet were spread out behind him like Superman -- except he wasn’t flying.  Laura knew right away this was serious and got to work to try and help.  She knew that when cattle are laying down an in awkward position it can make it difficult for them to get up because of their extreme weight.  This same extreme weight can make it very difficult to help him out -- you cannot just grab onto his backside and heave-ho.  Laura enlisted local help -- a veteran farmer neighbor and the ever-present and always-willing-to-help Grandpa.

Together, Laura, the girls, Grandpa and the neighbor worked nearly all day using tractors, straps and pure muscle along with a lot of ingenuity working to get Winchester lifted and his legs back facing the right direction.  Then, after getting his legs back in the right direction, they worked for several more hours working with his muscles trying to limber them up enough that they would work.  However, during the work, it became apparent that something more serious was going on and after consulting with our vet determined that Winchester would never stand again -- he no longer could move or feel his legs.  Although he was in no pain and was perfectly happy except for his legs, he would not continue to thrive without being able to stand.   The next decision to make was how to most respectfully end Winchester’s life.  It is our belief that the greatest respect given to the animals on our farm is to ensure after living a happy and meaningful life on their farm that their death is equally meaningful.  This means that we utilize them as nutrient dense food.  

The problem with this plan is that in the United States, the law at an inspected butcher is that the animals must be able to walk onto the kill floor under its own power.  This is a reaction to the mad cow scare of the late 90’s.  However, Mad Cow disease is not even a possibility for a cow fed a 100% grass diet like ours.  However, the law does not distinguish between grass fed cattle and industrially raised cattle.  We were very disappointed that we would not be able to use the meat.  But then, after many, many phone calls, Laura found a relatively local Butcher that was willing to do the butchering if we brought Winchester to him.  The reason he was able to do this was because he was a Custom butcher and the meat would not be able to sell to retail by the cut.  They have different laws to follow and therefore would be able to butcher Winchester, even though he could not stand up on his own.

We were VERY glad to be able to have honored Winchester’s life by ensuring that his death would be with great purpose and look forward to all the nutritious meat he will provide for our family.

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Synergistic Acres - 21733 Iliff Rd, Parker, KS 66072 - 913-735-4769
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