Thou never did'st them wrong, nor no man wrong:
And as the butcher takes away the calf
And binds the wretch and beats it when it strays,
Bearing it to the bloody slaughterhouse,
Even so remorseless have they borne him hence;
And as the dam runs lowing up and down,
Looking the way her harmless young one went,
And can do naught but wail her darling's loss.
King Henry the Sixth, Part II
(King Henry at III, i)
Regina at Animal Acres
It has been said there is more suffering that goes into producing one glass of milk than what it takes to make a slab of steak. When we sit down to do the math and add up the anguish, heartbreak, loneliness and death that is indigenous to the dairy industry the above statement seems quite possibly a bit restrained.
In order to provide a constant flow of milk dairy cows are forced to produce a calf every 12 months. When we understand that a dairy cow's pregnancy time is the same length as a humans....nine months, we can realize the strain it inflicts on her body.
We then take this mothers milk from her and keep it for ourselves. However, we also commit a crime of theft that crosses the line of decency as to what anyone could claim as being humane. We take this mothers baby from her.
When the calves are only 48 hours old they are stolen from their mothers forever and neither will experience each others company again.
This is not the wonderful life of cows living in a beautiful green pasture we are often told about. This is a life where the one thing desired most by any mother, her baby, will be stolen away from her for an eternity. The tragedy here is two fold. The newborns yearn for their mother and the mother longs desperately for her baby. This is a world also where the never understanding of what is happening is as dark and as terrifying for the babies as it must be for the mothers.
Mother cows will wail and bellow for days begging for their babies to be returned to them.
Adding to this affliction the mothers are continually hooked up to a computerized machine that sucks them dry of not just milk but of their life. Most dairy cows will only live four years before they are rounded up and sent on that journey to become hamburger meat.
The female calves taken from their mothers are then kept isolated to become future milk machines. They will be forced to give up their babies as well one day too and their male calves will be considered disposable and most often killed immediately at birth.
This was the world that beautiful Regina pictured above was born into. A world that if we choose to as most of us do, will never have to worry about. In this world like all dairy calves little Regina was denied her mother only hours after being born. She was fed colostrum as a replacement for her mothers milk but her mothers affection and love would never be replaced. We do not create machines to mimic a protective, nurturing mother. The machines we create for farms are invented only to take from the animals and are never intended to give anything back to them.
Regina would spend her next 6 months alone in a cruel existence until her auction day would arrive. Most of the babies brought into this world will be sold for less than the price we pay for a pair of designer jeans yet little Regina would go un purchased that day and she would most likely be left to die in the auction house with the other unsold calves.
Yet Regina instead would be taken away by a farmer who planned on utilizing her as a test subject for new medications he wished to try out on a baby too sick and too weak to become a profitable milk machine.
Regina's life would change once more but this time it would change for the better when Vanessa Hidalgo wandered to the back of a building where the farmer had left Regina to live as a bovine guinea pig. When Vanessa first laid her eyes on Regina she was frail, half starved and terrified of humans. Each time Vanessa would approach, little Regina would attempt to move away but was nearly to weak to escape even her own shadow.
For the next 3 weeks in the brutal scorching heat of summer Vanessa would visit little Regina everyday to check on her and to also make it known to this particular farmer that Regina would be rescued as soon as Vanessa could find a place to bring her.
Vanessa dialed the Animal Acres phone number one afternoon and spoke with the shelter manager Frank Allen who told Vanessa she could bring Regina to their sanctuary.
Up until this point in her life Regina was like every other dairy calf. She had no name, no one to comfort her and no one who cared about what would ever happen to her.
But on that day in the back of her father's utility van Vanessa sat with the scared, dirty, fragile little baby and she was given a name. On this ride to her new home at Animal Acres it would be the beginning of the end of her invisibility and loneliness. It was the beginning of her life as Regina.
A life which is overflowing now with hugs, kisses, comfort, healthy food and attention. A life that she shares peacefully and joyfully with many other animals who were once just like her and were destined for a life of disrespect.
It is an amazing and beautiful irony that this baby who might have been forced to give away her own babies and her own milk to us now instead gives away only her love and affection. Regina happily and naturally now gives away big licks, playful nudges and winks. She now also gives her trust away freely to everyone who visits her as if to say to the world, this is who I am when visible, when respected, when cared for.
Regina is now living that wonderful life that you might possibly read about somewhere but this life is at Animal Acres which as a sanctuary for rescued farmed animals is a far cry..... from a normal farm which would exploit her for her milk and her flesh. For this one baby there is a happy ending.
Regina with Vanessa
Just as sometimes we may feel our own suffering goes unheard by the rest of the world and merely disappears into silence so does the suffering on dairy farms go completely unnoticed. The pain goes undocumented, the anguish goes overlooked and the deaths here go unacknowledged and even denied by the ones consuming it's products.
Yet we do know our own pain is felt somewhere. We recognize that it exists in our insides, our flesh, our nerves and acknowledged by neurons which send it throughout our brain so our minds can make it real for us.
Our suffering does not go lightly and unnoticed by ourselves. And either does the unimaginable suffering and death from the dairy business go unnoticed for every single one of these mothers and babies who live invisibly behind the walls of the dairy industry.
Not seeing this industry clearly for it's brutality and depravity is not caused merely by the concrete and steal barriers that separate our eyes and hearts from these very much.... women and children beings. The invisible aspect here is in reality created by our own indifference and our own apathy. This partly because to know this world would involve a direct confrontation with our own complicity and partly because this business is defended and arranged so that the realities never reach us.
One major aspect of living mindfully and compassionately is about taking responsibility for our own actions. When we imagine what it might mean to awaken ourselves it's simply just about being able to see.... clearly.
There is no judging in this truth only responsibility and gentleness.
We do not need to make the claim of something as right or wrong but we can look at the arithmetic of so many millions of babies and mothers suffering and see it as unnecessary and unjust. Whether the cows are raised on an organic farm or a supposed humane dairy operation the pain, the loneliness and then the death is all the same. The only real compassionate alternative to this brutal industry is veganism. That's it.
When you become vegan you are taking action in an almost identical way that Vanessa did when rescuing little Regina or in the way Animal Acres has by saving hundreds of animals just like Regina from having to live and die in such a remorseless world.
Become a sanctuary for all the mothers and their babies suffering in the dairy industry.
listen here She Just Wept