It’s a slippery slope from livestock to pet

By Ted Blankenship | October 1, 2022

When we had six heifers and their offspring on 20 acres north of Rose Hill, the veterinarian (a frequent visitor) gave me some advice that would have been very useful if I had followed it. 

“Don’t ever name your cows,” he said. 

“Oh, we won’t do that,” I replied. 

Unfortunately, we had already named them. 

There was Little Cow, Curious, Hazel and three others I don’t recall. 

I know now why you shouldn’t name farm animals. Eventually they will go to the sale and you will never see them again. You will have lost a pet. And that’s not pleasant. 

We should have known better because we turned farm animals into pets a few years earlier when I was the editor of The Coffeyville Journal. 

I needed a picture for the Easter paper, and I sent a reporter out to buy five baby chickens. 

They were cute enough to make a nice front-page picture but not so cute that anyone on the staff would take them home. So I did. 

Our house was perched on the crest of what is known as Big Hill. To say these chickens were free-range would be a gross understatement. They roamed over all of our seven acres plus a good deal of the neighbors’ land. 

When we sat on our deck, they lounged with us and would have sat on our laps if we had let them.

If a door was left open inadvertently, the chickens thought they had a right to enter the house. We disagreed.

When one was late coming home in the evening, we combed the hills looking for him or her. 

The time came when we had to get rid of them. I didn’t have the courage to do it myself, so I took them to a slaughter house. We cooked one but couldn’t eat it. So we buried them all. 

That should have been the end of it. But a few years later, our daughter-in-law brought home some little chickens from the school where she worked as a speech therapist. 

The chicks needed a home—so we adopted them. 

We didn’t give them names but we numbered them. Most of them learned to fly pretty well because the coyotes were always hungry.
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