Two recent articles in the newspaper, refreshingly non-election or extra-marital affair oriented, caught my attention.
The first was about an ox which was euthanized at the agricultural Green Mountain College in Poultney, Vermont. This is a school with a working farm whose emphasis is on sustainable agriculture. As a matter of course, the school turns its livestock into products which are served in the dining hall, which is what the words "working farm" and "sustainable agriculture" are all about.
The ox, named "Lou" (first mistake), had a hind leg injury that was continuing to deteriorate. The decision was made to put the big boy down and have him serve his last purpose as a natural food product. Animal rights activists went into a tizzy, going so far as to finding a sanctuary where Lou could live out his days as opposed to becoming the lunch lady special.
The article didn’t elaborate, but I’m assuming that Lou made his way to the dining hall, on a plate. I’m fine if you disagree with me, but the activists’ time could be better spent trying to improve the conditions of large animals processing facilities where inhumane practices run rampant. "How we treat the meat we eat" is the tag line for the Animal Sanctuary, and that’s an important thing to think about. It’s also part of the driving force behind "free-range" and "natural" meat products, and I have no problem eating something that I know had a decent existence on earth, hence the over-used phrase "happy meat." I’m also happy to eat hot dogs and chicken wings and things that, I know, didn’t have a very good (albeit brief) existence before it became packaged in the store, ready for me to buy. It’s the way of the world. But we can do it some honor if we remain mindful of what it took to get there.
Whether he knows it or not, Lou did the right thing. He honored the college's values of farming and sustainability.
The other story of interest was about a monarch butterfly that was a day late and a dollar short when she emerged from her chrysalis after her brethren had already migrated south for the winter. Fortunately for her, her coming out party was in the butterfly gardens of a self-proclaimed "Butterfly Lady" in Ulster County. "I knew if I just let her go, she’d die," Butterfly Lady said. "But she’s so fabulous she deserves to be in Mexico with all of her millions of brothers and sisters."
This resourceful Butterfly Lady called Southwest Airlines and told them the butterfly’s plight, and they agreed (seriously) to fly both Butterfly Lady and the butterfly to San Antonio, where apparently all the other butterflies have a lay over until their final push to south of the border.
But Butterfly Lady also had to get a permit from the US Dept. of Agriculture to transport a butterfly across state lines. This normally takes months. She got it in two days.
A couple of thoughts. If butterfly was a late bloomer, and didn’t make it south before freezing, that, my friends, is called natural selection. It’s important. It matters. Now, butterfly’s procrastination gene will be allowed to carry on, possibly to the detriment of the entire species (did Butterfly Lady think of THAT?). There’s a reason the slow get left behind/eaten/stuck in tar pits.
I’m glad Southwest Airlines has this kind of disposable income. Yes, it’s good press in the name of "environmental awareness" (gag). Remember that the next time you’re paying an exorbitant price for airfare. If I can find a squirrel who is pining for a trip to Disney World, maybe I can get a free ride to visit my parents in Orlando.
And let’s not even get started on a governmental agency, that normally can’t get out of its own way, that managed to issue a permit in two days. Remember that the next time you see a New York farm for sale because the owner could no longer rise about the suffocating bureaucracy to make it work.
Just some thoughts.