Invisible Voices

a voice for the voiceless

the enormous norman

First, I want to thank everyone who has ordered a calendar – it is pretty exciting for me, both to see that some people want to buy my calendar, but also to be able to do a small fund raiser for Poplar Spring. I’ve had this in my head for so long, having put it into action after all this time is almost surreal! In the best possible way, of course.

Last weekend I was reminded that I’ve often tried to portray, with iffy results, just how gigantic the male Holsteins, like Norman are. When people come to the sanctuary, they’re amazed at their size. “I’ve never seen cows so big!” they often exclaim.

norman grazing

norman grazing

And they’re right. When would they have ever had a chance to see an adult male dairy cow, outside of a sanctuary?

Never, of course. They’re killed within days, or within a month, depending on whether they are killed immediately after birth and buried in a trench, or slaughtered for veal at a month old. Not that it is just the male calves who are discarded in this manner – the girls have the same fate, save for a few who will be “reserved” to become replacements for their spent mothers.

There are quite a few female cows at the sanctuary whose fate would have been veal had they not been rescued. The females Holsteins are plenty big, but the males…they are enormous. This is due to the genetic manipulation of the farmers, out to maximize their profits. The males end up with health issues related to their immense size that drastically shorten their lives. The farmers have no idea that this is a side effect of their manipulation, since the only adult male Holsteins they ever see are the rare ones they keep for “stud” services. Not that you can convince me the farmers would care, in any case.

Last weekend as we picked up poop in the pig yard, I happened to see Norman grazing right near the fence to the pig yard, and a couple of the pigs were grazing on their side, right next to him. There was my shot, I realized. The shot that might finally show the crazy size that Norman really is.

He is probably 6′ at the shoulder.

Whenever I see him, I can’t help but to say (usually silently!) “Norman is enormous!”

We all say that, and with a little boy’s lisp.

5 responses to “the enormous norman

  1. rich December 17, 2008 at 3:32 pm

    Norman is enormous, the first time I saw him I was blown away. When I think of his size he is the size of a bull moose.

    Thanks for the reminder that the majority of female calves are also slaughtered at birth or soon after. We often forget that it costs money to raise a calf to maturity so it can be raped, have a calf and be milked for profit. Much cheaper to kill the calf, until another cow is ready to be retired (slaughtered) and replace the milking cow.

  2. Mary Martin December 17, 2008 at 4:55 pm

    I wish I could send every omni I know to Poplar to work for a day. Or even to walk around for an afternoon and get to know their “food.”

    Thanks again for Ari. He’s so sweet. And he has such a great start. He’s lucky.

  3. nothoney December 17, 2008 at 6:01 pm

    The first time he walked by me in the horse barn I could barely speak. I had no idea that cows could grow to be so much taller than myself.

    I never knew about this video. It’s awesome. Thanks for this post and the vid, Deb.

    s.

  4. Deb December 17, 2008 at 9:04 pm

    @Rich – Are bull moose that big? I don’t think I’ve ever seen one! Or maybe I did in Estes Park, but not when I could really judge the size. He’s as tall as a buffalo, I think.

    @Mary – There are a lot of omnis who come through for the various events or for tours. There are omnis who volunteer regularly as well. It is strange, and I think these people do change, over time, but I still find it strange that the process could be so slow for people who love these animals (and seriously, they do, as weird as that is) and spend so much time with them. But others do come, and the change follows. Sometimes I feel I don’t have even the first clue what will wake people up. I love this video; seemed worth posting again!

    @Sheryl – That’s funny, I expected them all to be bigger than me, and they were, so Jake and Norman didn’t phase me. I don’t think I realized how gigantic they were for a long time, because they’re all bigger than me and the degree to which they were bigger than me didn’t register for a while. Glad you enjoyed the video! I go back and watch it periodically, just because I love it so much!

  5. Gary December 22, 2008 at 12:54 am

    He’s a huge boy with a huge heart.

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