Spring Births- watching my first calf being born

A new experience in March, watching a calf being born. At dinner my host family said that it would happen soon and sure enough when I went back to my room, my host mom came and told me it was happening. The calf was born with little difficulty and was adorable. The mother cow is 12 years old and this is her ninth calf. My host family treats their animals very well and with two cows provides dairy (milk, cheese, sourcream) for many people in the village and other locations. The difficult part about this was that I knew the calf would not be raised.

Dairy cows are expensive to keep and just having one or two is a lot of work. And naive me didn’t know that cows have to have a calf every year to keep producing milk. And that most of the calves born to dairy cows are not raised and instead are sold for veal. I think it is very important to know where food comes from and for us to make changes to intensive factory farming. If you want to learn more about compassionate farming, I found this site informative: https://www.ciwf.com/farm-animals/cows/dairy-cows/

A few days after the birth, my host family butchered the calf.  I knew it was going to happen but I didn’t know when. One morning, I walked into the kitchen and there was part of the calf on the kitchen table being divided up into parts.  I went into a little bit of shock as I wasn’t prepared for this. I sat that morning praying that my host mom wouldn’t serve meat at lunch as I knew it would be the calf and I didn’t think to tell her that I wouldn’t be able to eat it.  So sure enough, when I sat down to lunch, it was there. I ate some bread and pickles and left early. I was able to discuss the situation later that day with my host mom and she made adjustments for me at future meals.    However, the sadness that I felt for the calf and my new knowledge about dairy cows will stay with me.

While I know that I do not want to eat beef anymore, what about cheese? I love cheese. I like the stories behind the makers of cheese, the amazing varieties and the dishes that can be created.  Queso!!!  Cheese, Crackers and Wine!  I  am not sure of my answer yet but I’ll be more conscious about my consumption of it.


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