Mother’s Day. A happy day for most. Flowers, cake, tons of ice cream, and taking mom to the restaurant. Cards proclaiming love and gratitude, decorated with pictures of flowers, hearts, mother cats and kittens, momma dogs and pups, and all kinds of other baby animals. As for us, an animal rescue organisation, this Mother’s Day, we chose to feature the picture of a mother cow and her baby. Becoming for Alberta. Cattle, here a cow and her calf, hold one of the closest bonds in the animal world. Amazing and wonderful to witness. Cows would walk for miles to find their calf, will tell them apart from hundreds of others. When calves are taken away from their mothers, each time, the cow bellows for days, mourning the loss of her child. Heart wrenching to listen to. A sad, longing, desperate call, day and night. Dairy calves are taken away from their moms after 24 hours, this is how long their time with their mom lasts, the one and only day they get together. One short day to lick them, nuzzle them, let them nurse, comfort them. The cow’s milk is for us, not for their calves; our babies, not theirs, are brought up on it. Grown people drink milk too, drink and eat anything else made from milk. Dairy and veal calves are raised away from their mothers, in sad, lonely, solitary confinement. Veal calves are then slaughtered after a few miserable months, dairy calves go on, are put in groups with other calves to become dairy cows themselves, to spend their almost entire life in stalls, never to walk over a meadow or feel the warm sun on their backs. We never think of this. The pictures below show the crates of dairy/veal calves, in summer and in winter. Alberta winter… The rows upon rows of crates, from afar, indeed look like rows of white crosses, those with no name on it, and almost fitting this way… In each of those boxes, a baby calf, without a name, without a mom. Without her warm milk, so much that symbol of motherhood.
Why these gloomy, depressing thoughts on Mothers Day? Rest assured, definitely not to turn all of you into vegetarians, or vegans. I would not even try. It is Albert Schweitzer whom I quote: ‘Think occasionally of the suffering of which you spare yourself the sight.’ For all the moms in the world, human or animal, weather you are the mother, or the child: Respect all mothers, and respect cattle. Most people around here just see cattle, or beef, and the milk, as Alberta’s industry, and do not think of the individual animal. How they live, and how they die. What they go through while kept, or killed, for our use. Or abuse. Meat, or milk, and the worst: rodeos. Getting mom rodeo tickets for her special day? Think twice. No matter what they say, its brutality provides calves, bulls, steers and other animals with the fear of death, each time, not to speak of the risk of injury and/or death, and this for nothing more than crude entertainment, greed for fame by the performers and money. Part of rodeo is watching or performing the ‘wild cow milking’ event. Teams of men restrain a struggling, terrified, not used to being handled nursing cow, to then express her milk into a bucket. This degrading act could only be possible in the circus-like atmosphere of a rodeo. Attacking a mother animal for the heck of it, in front of a cheering crowd (I avoid the more fitting word mob) defies all human decency. In all cultures, milk or the act of nursing is almost hold sacred as part of the mother/child relationship. In rodeos, it is trampled into the dirt. In rodeos, the abnormal becomes normal: Very scared and confused baby animals like calves are thrown to the ground and bound in tie-down events, nursing cows attacked from all sides, a sick spectacle of dominance and outdated ideas of courage and masculinity. That’s rodeo. Do not go there. If you are a mom, stand up against violence, anywhere. Do not go to a rodeo, teach your sons well.
Mother’s day is not just about honoring our own mothers, but all mothers. It is about giving life. And life in all its glory only. Think about it.