I was fortunate enough to have a very wonderful relationship with an animal that most people only see from a distance. If more people had the opportunity to connect with farm animals, I think they would realize that there really is no difference between different species in their capacity to love us.
Some of my fondest childhood memories were those spent at my cousin’s dairy farm. He ran an old fashion farm where the cows were allowed to graze in large open fields. I was fond of the baby calves and actually became close friends with one of them. I named her Blitz because she had a lightning shaped blaze down her nose. Being only 10 years old, my cousin humorously told me that Blitz was my calf, but that she would have to live on the farm with him. I would visit Blitz every week. Our bond soon became very strong. Blitz was very curious by nature and would manage to chew through the ropes that kept her confined against the wall of the barn. Several times, when I would go to visit her, I would find her roaming around inside the barn. When my cousin resorted to using a leather collar and chains to keep her restrained, I would undo the latch and take her for walks around the barn myself! Blitz and I spent countless hours together. I would sing to her, tell her stories and take naps lying against her warm body. A while later I was diagnosed with scoliosis. Because of this, I wasn’t able to see Blitz for about a year. When I returned to the farm, Blitz was a heifer. She was no longer a calf, but not yet a cow. I saw her in the paddock with about 20 other heifers. I recognized the white square patch on her left shoulder. I called her name twice, but got no response. The third time I called her name, she slowly raised her head and looked in my direction. To my great joy, she stood up and walked over to me. She remembered me after an entire year! Our friendship resumed like it had never stopped.
I remember one winter’s day especially well. I was in the paddock area standing in front of Blitz. She had an itch on her shoulder so she was licking it to make herself more comfortable. When she swung her head around, she caught me square in the nose! I was instantly on my knees with blood covering the snow. I could feel Blitz nudging me with her muzzle, but I was in too much pain to respond at the time. My cousin came out of the barn, helped me up and brought me into the house to administer first aid. After the bleeding stopped, I thought about poor Blitz. This had been an accident and partly my fault for standing too close. I asked my cousin if I could bring Blitz a carrot, which was her favorite treat. With carrot in hand, I went back out to the paddock. Blitz was standing there with her head down to the ground. She wouldn’t even make an attempt to eat the carrot. She knew that I had been hurt and was upset! It took me about 5 minutes to convince her that I was OK. Only then did she reluctantly eat her carrot.
There was another time that Blitz went against her instincts to be with me. Cows are herd animals by nature. When the leader of the group decides to head for the field, all the other cows follow. Not Blitz! She chose to stay at the fence with me. I told her that it was all right and that she could go with the others. Blitz wouldn’t go. By now all the other cows were in the field grazing. It was just me and Blitz in the paddock. Not wanting her to miss out on grazing, I crawled under the fence. Together Blitz and I walked down the path to the field, side by side. I sat in the grass beside her as she grazed.
One day I went to the farm and couldn’t find Blitz! I looked everywhere. When I asked my cousin where Blitz was, he coldly told me that Blitz had had her first calf and was now a cow. Unfortunately she wasn’t a good milk producer. He had sent her to the slaughterhouse to be killed! I couldn’t believe my ears! When I asked about her calf, my cousin told me that it had been a bull and had been sold to a veal house. For months after this, I refused to eat beef. The thought of eating my beloved Blitz was too much to bare. It took me a very long time to forgive my cousin. I never went back to the farm after that.
I am grateful that I had the opportunity to know Blitz. When people tell me that cows are dumb animals I know that it just isn’t true. Blitz was a very intelligent, loving, sentient being. She had feelings and individuality. She was my friend! I still miss her to this day. The thought of what she had to experience at the slaughterhouse haunts me. I wonder if she was looking for me, expecting me to take her back home.
Blitz was a great teacher for me. All animals are. They offer us so much and ask so little. They only want a little kindness and compassion. The food industry sees them as commodities, not as feeling individuals. Still the fact remains that animals are capable of all the same emotions that you or I have. They feel love, sadness, pain and fear. They love their young and will risk their own lives to protect their offspring. Like you and me, they only want to live.
About the Author: Tumeria Langlois has been vegan for over 10 years. She originally became vegan on a search for spiritual answers. She says, “It just didn’t make sense to eat animals any more. Once I learned about factory farms, I became an animal rights activist.” Although she is vegan primarily for the animals, she enjoys numerous health benefits from being vegan as well.