This morning, I got up, walked my dog, fed the cats, turned off the night lights I leave on in the barn for the babies, checked water for the animals, let the chickens out to range, gave the chickens fresh water, and then made myself some coffee. That is my usual start to the day -- all while still in my glamorous pajamas & muck boots ensemble. Anyone who knows me, knows how much I love my morning coffee. It is the standard routine, however, that I take care of the animals before I have breakfast. I love my coffee, but I love my animals more. I may joke about the fact that the animals get better food & medical care than I do, but it is true. Inevitably, I really do budget for my own needs after theirs are met. Harrison Farm is a livestock farm, and -- like all livestock farms -- the well-being of the animals drives the well-being of the farm, which then provides for the well-being of the farmer.
After my morning routine in the barn today, I checked my email, and found this post on my blog from Anonymous: "There's nothing humane about taking the life of a sentient being, you are really confused about love and caring if you think you should kill things that you love. You don't need to eat meat and you are a shitty human being. Personal choices don't have victims and you are just another blinded human. Find your compassion, because you obviously lost it somewhere along the lines of becoming a killing machine. You suck."
Did you read that, friends? I suck. I am a shitty human being. I have lost my compassion to become a killing machine.
I suspect that Anonymous does not know me. If they knew me, if they had ever visited this farm, they would know without a doubt that my life is spent caring for this land and the creatures upon it. If they knew me, they would know that I do without things to make sure my animals have what they need. I have spent the last six months without a working clothes dryer -- but Cecilia Donkey got the vet treatment she needed to restore her hooves to health. Decisions like that are standard in my world, because I do love this farm and I do love my animals. Anonymous does not know the hours I spend working off-the-farm to provide income to keep the farm going, much less the late nights I spend working in the barn after I return home to ensure every animal receives care each & every day . . . No matter how tired I am.
Anonymous also does not know that today is the day I have long dreaded and feared. The day that the farmland is being auctioned off to the highest bidder. I have spent my life on this land. I love this land with every fiber of my being. After watching my mother and my grandparents devote their lives to this farm, it would be an affront to their memory if I did not love this land. And so on the day that I promised I would take it easy on myself, Anonymous decided that was an appropriate time to tell me what a "shitty human being" I am.
From time to time in the farm community, a reference to the "vegan agenda" will be made. I have many friends who are vegetarian, and some of the people dearest to my heart are vegan. They know me, and they know my farm, and they respect that I am virtually a carnivore. I respect that they choose to eat the diet that works for them, just as my diet works for me. And when you show love & respect to those around you, then differences in perspective only enrich relationships. Thus, when I hear someone reference the "vegan agenda", I find a way to point out that choosing to eat a plant-based diet does not mean a person is opposed to farming. That being said, I can understand why a farmer would feel defensive when individuals judge their work without understanding it. That is what Anonymous is doing to me.
Anonymous does not know that my life has been one of hard work and many trials. Anonymous does not know that this journey has forced me to establish and refine a belief system on life, and its value, and the ethics of eating meat. Anonymous does not know that people who are related to me have said far worse things about me than what they posted, and thus I have been forced to recognize that I do not care what someone thinks of me unless it is someone whom I respect. Anonymous does not know that my role models are my amazing friends who are champions of integrity, and kindness, and achievement. Anonymous does not know that I have endeavored to develop the ability to tell the people I love when they are wrong, in a manner that shares my appreciation of them while providing my own perspective. When I disagree with someone, I do so as Katherine Harrison. If Anonymous cannot stand in disagreement with me while saying who they are, then this is cowardice. And as Cap Garland told Almanzo Wilder, God hates a coward.
Friends, if you are reading this, you know me. You know who I am, you know my struggles, you know my heart. I hope you are unsettled by what Anonymous wrote. I hope it makes you pause before you issue a judgement on someone without knowing their heart. I hope that what you learn from this is to not be "Anonymous". The world has plenty self-righteous individuals who judge others; it needs more kindhearted individuals who lead with love. Anonymous did put a dent in my morning, but those who act with cowardice & judgement have not stopped Harrison Farm thus far -- and certainly will not today. We live as if the world were what it should be, to show it what it can be. And, frankly, when I go back to the barn, my animals will care much more about what I do to help them, than anything posted on the Internet.