How to Be a Real Farmer: Thoughts on Animal Husbandry

Real farmers know it is best not to anthropomorphize, in other words to assign human characteristics to the animals in their care. The animals are only livestock and should be treated as such; real farmers don’t need to put a lot of thought into animal behavior. Real farmers are able to go about their day uninterrupted and accomplish their tasks in an expedient manner. I am not a real farmer. I know this because when I come across certain scenes in the barnyard I have to stop, scratch my head and ponder what on earth is going on.

Do you suppose she is in time-out? Or maybe they were all playing hide and seek and she’s about to yell out, “Ready or not here I come!”

Real farmers don’t form unnatural relationships with their livestock. They don’t have a favorite hen that will sit in their lap to be petted and discuss religion, politics or relationships at great length. I consider it chicken therapy.

Real farmers never see their livestock as children. They don’t get involved in the interpersonal relationships; they only worry about things like providing food, water and healthcare. I, on the other hand, seem to get dragged into it often.   

 “Peter won’t let me in the barn again,” said Frankie.

“Why won’t you let Frankie in the barn, Peter?” I asked.

“Because he won’t say the secret password,” he replied. 

“Well there you have it, Frankie. Say the secret password.”

“But I don’t want to. It’s stupid.”

“Just humor him, Frankie.”

“Okay fine. Little pig, little pig, let me in.” 

“Nope. Not by the hair of my chiny, chin, chin.” 

“See! I told you!” 

“Stop being a jerk and let me in.”

No, I am certainly not a real farmer. And you know what? I’m glad. I have to believe being a real farmer would be awfully boring.

Christine Byrne lives on a small farm in rural Indiana where she takes care of chickens, sheep, alpacas, llamas and whatever else meanders through. You can read more about her farming adventures at www.frontporchindiana.blogspot.com

Published on Jan 12, 2012

Grit Magazine

Live The Good Life with GRIT!