by Pettus Read
Whenever something goes wrong with mankind, one of the first places
scientists seem to look is in the barn lot. If a sickness is reported we blame it on the meat we ate last night or from the water that just happened to come from the stream that passes by farmer Brown's place.
We give farm animal names to our illnesses such as swine flu, chicken pox, and mad-cow disease. When Chicago burned they blamed it on poor old Miss O'Leary's cow, who has been proven not guilty in recent years.
However, you still hear bad reports from the media on that mistaken identity crime report which has caused that innocent bovine to suffer much mental anguish. It is time we give our farm animals a break.
In a news report a few years back from out of the mid-west, cattle were blamed for something they had nothing to do with on purpose. It seems a group of people had a dinner-on-the-grounds meeting in a cow pasture and a lot of the attendees came down sick from e-coli. The cattle had been removed from the field several days earlier and their carefully deposited "remains" had been cleared from the field. At least that is what the event attendees assumed and most of us know that total removal would have been impossible.
People attending the summer get-together used the field for a picnic along with a concert. Many of them had to go to the hospital due to severe stomach distress. No one took the blame for poorly cooked food, mishandled utensils, failure to wash their hands properly, or just the fact that someone decided to eat lunch in the same pasture that the previous cows, who aboded there for several months, went to potty in. Instead, they blamed the cows for messing up the ground as cows will do.
In my opinion, the cows were given a bum steer in that news story. The cows did what they do naturally. They eat green grass and give white milk,? (which I consider a miracle anyway), and leave behind the unused portion. They have done this since the creation of time and why should they change now.
My question with that story has always been why spread your meal in the middle of possible e-coli infestation to begin with? I have camped in cow pastures, played sports in cow pastures, walked bare footed in cow pastures, and having been practically reared in a cow pasture, I guess I have been inoculated for many illnesses modern day generations have been spared from.
I always wondered after reading the story if the attendees of that event placed their food on the ground, which would have been pretty dumb, or did they have a cow chip throwing contest before lunch?
For some reason no one ever questioned the people who got sick. Instead, they blamed the cows who only did what they do because they do. Know what I mean?
I guess we have become so removed from the farm that we no longer know that if you play with the pigs, or cows in this case, you are going to get dirty. Today's society does not have the same immune system we had forty years ago and at times the least little thing can make us sick. We just have to be more careful these days.
E-coli is dangerous and is not something to take a chance on. The recent outbreak in spinach is a good example that care has to be taken to prevent e-coli. But let's not forget that humans seem to spread it by carelessness much more than our farm animals. I have never seen a cow in a kitchen with unwashed hoofs or being cited by the health department for not using a hair net.
The problem in many cases is not the cows or the farm, but bad choices made by ourselves. E-coli shows up very often in our well water sources and usually comes from our own septic systems or other systems located in the area. Human error is the problem here and not the cow's fault.
We are now discovering that wildlife waste is also becoming a major water polluter around the country. With increased, unnaturally high populations of deer, turkeys and geese living close to suburbs and being fed, as well as protected, many streams and water sources are becoming polluted. And, it is very unpopular in many areas to reduce those wildlife populations. But, they are a source of e-coli contamination and now, maybe more a threat than livestock numbers. Livestock numbers can be monitored, controlled, and fenced away from foods that could receive contamination. That story from the dinner-on-the-grounds was one that should not have happened and was "udderly" ridiculous. We all need to practice safe food handling and avoid situations that could make us sick. It is time to let the cows have their pasture back, or at least, let them party until the humans come home.