Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Animal Stories: Emily the Cow

When Emily the cow was just a baby calf, her eyes gleamed with a keen intelligence and her heart stirred with curiosity. She was still new to this big world, but boy was she full of wonder and excitement just to be a cow. She had a whole life ahead of her! A life of exploring and grazing on fresh green grass. A life of standing under the beaming sun with her fellow cowkind.

One day, there was a break in her routine. She was probably excited at first. She was an adventurous cow after all. Emily and her cow buddies were loaded onto a trailer. The tight squeeze, the wooziness of speed and the rattle of the trailer probably started to disintegrate her excitement into a dull, pulsating dread. Something was not right. When the tailor parked, the dread must of burst to full fledged fear. She could probably see it in the other cow's eyes. She could probably smell their fear. She probably could smell something even worse, the blood and death of the cows that had arrived before her. She was at a slaughter house.

Emily was never the type of cow who would just except a fate such as death without a fight. When the slaughterhouse workers paused to eat lunch, Emily took this distraction as her only opportunity. With grace and agility, she leaped over a five foot fence to beautiful freedom. She dashed away from the shocked workers into her unknown future.

For 40 days, she wandered and continued to evade all attempts to capture her. It was not a comfortable environment that Emily had escaped too. It was cold and snowy. But the snow was hundred times better than the confinement and the certain death. She used her wits and made her way in the icy world. She rummaged through garbage cans munching on discarded bits of food. Emily made friends with the deer and lived with them. Emily was witnessed running through pastures alongside the local deer. She could relate to their grace, stoicism and will to live. She could shed her domesticity to embrace the life of a deer. It was a quiet life, a fearful life, an uncertain life, but it was freedom and it was life itself.

While she lived her wild life, she was stalked by the goons from the slaughterhouse. This cow's freedom couldn't go on. Her freedom was a blight. It was full of symbolism they didn't want to be associated with. She was meant for the slaughterhouse just like her family. She was meant to be food on the plates of hungry people all around the country. The blood rushing through Emily's veins was meant to seep out between a hamburger bun, as a hungry consumer munched away, not thinking of a living cow.

Probably the higher-ups at the slaughterhouse were raging. Cow's were not meant to escape. The cow was worth five hundred dollars. The ragged and hungry cow was meant to be slaughtered when she was still plump and rosy from a life of grazing grass. They saw there 500 dollars diminishing between each piece of garbage she ate. They didn't shiver for Emily when they thought of her out in the snow, they shivered to think of their future if all the cows got such bold notions to jump over fences.

Probably the men working the day Emily escaped were fearful they'd be fired. At first at least, but then they found themselves thinking of Emily as they loaded up the cows for slaughter. Her joyous leap over the fence toward freedom created an itch in their own brains. They wanted to drop the tools of slaughter and leap over the fence themselves. Finding a job was hard, and they were happy for the income, but a job where they fell asleep each night with blood on their hands was just too much. And now they knew, the cows weren't just mute and dull creatures not caring about life or death. Every falsehood they told themselves to convince their uneasy brains about the unimportance of cows was starting to crumble and pull hard on their heart.

Probably the farmer that raised Emily was secretly proud. He was probably an unsentimental man. A man who believed in the cycle of life, and who was raised on a certain hierarchy that placed humans and their whims on the top. But he was probably always gentle with his cows. He always tried to give them the best life possible before their slaughter. And Emily had a spark from her from the beginning.

The people living in the county where Emily escaped found her hoofprints left in the snow. Maybe a single mother who just went through a recent divorce saw that hoofprint and thought, there is always time for second chances. She thought she was lost without the life she'd always imagined for herself. A life as a mother and a wife. But she could be a mother without being a wife and she could be a woman who found a new place for herself and found happiness in new unexpected ways.

Maybe an old man saw the hoofprint and remembered his childhood growing up on a farm. He'd befriend the gentle eyed cows and despite what all the grown ups around him told him, he knew those cows were something special. The hoofprints reminded him of the magic of childhood and how believing what the adults didn't believe gave you power to be your own person.

Maybe a child saw the hoofprints and thought that cows were more than just future steaks and hamburgers but were lifeforms with personalities and the desire to be alive. Never again would the child look at animals the same way. She would cherish and respect them and admire them for who they were.

The people of the county were inspired by Emily. They rallied behind her. They went out to search for her in the harsh winter, wanting her to complete the mission she had started: the mission to live!

Eventually, one of the kind hearted townspeople captured her. There was no way Emily would go back to slaughter. Instead, she was able to live her life at an animal sanctuary called Peace Abbey. She had finally gotten what she had always wanted. Something so simple, just to be alive. 

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