“What you have done is who you are. What you do is who you will be.”
That’s the quote my yoga instructor started today’s class with. I don’t know who originally said it.
And in many ways it ties in with the story I want to tell today, about one cow by the name of Heidi.
Heidi was born in Florida on a dairy farm. The farmer didn’t see enough profit in selling the babies for veal, so he would put the newborn calves into trenches and shoot them. Heidi was spared that fate only because a couple farmers from Virginia had come to visit the Florida farmer to give him information on goat dairy farming. In “payment”, Heidi was given to these farmers, to be slaughtered for meat once she had grown enough.
And so Heidi went to that small farm in Virginia, a farm that was likely close to what most people imagine when they think of the idealized little farm. It was a farm that was a hobby, rather than an occupation. These hobby-farmers made a clear distinction between the animals they grew attached to, and those they would kill for profit or convenience. They were running a goat-dairy, after all, and the baby goats get killed just as surely as the baby cows do on a cow-dairy farm.
And so Heidi lived there, on that small hobby farm, for her first year. When she was deemed large enough to fetch a profit at slaughter, the slaughter truck was called to come pick her up.
And Heidi refused to get on it.
The farmers and the truck driver gave up, and the slaughter truck left without Heidi. Heidi lived, but the farmers of that small little hobby farm hadn’t given up their determination to kill Heidi.
The next time they called the slaughter truck, they were prepared. They’d closed Heidi into a barn, and backed the truck right up to the doors. The only way out was onto the truck, and there is no way that those farmers would have been gentle in their persuasion.
And so Heidi broke out of that barn by jumping through a window.
When Terry told me that, my jaw dropped. It bears repeating – Heidi jumped through a window.
I still can’t get over that.
Heidi wasn’t quite safe yet, however. The farmers’ next plan was to slaughter her on the property. Talk about people determined to cause death. One of their coworkers (remember, this farm was just a hobby for them) heard about Heidi, and somehow convinced the farmers to let her purchase Heidi so she could find a place for Heidi to live out her life. Her real life, where she wouldn’t be profited from, and she wouldn’t be killed.
When she called Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary, she was getting desperate. Terry and Dave would have one chance to bring Heidi home. They arrived at night with their trailer. Heidi was out in the field.
“You’ll never get her on the truck,” the farmers stated. Terry didn’t agree.
And Terry was right.
She had the farmers stay away from the trailer, away from the pasture where Heidi was. They got the trailer ready, and they called to Heidi. Heidi came right over and walked calmly onto the trailer. She knew, somehow, that these were people who would do her no harm, who were there to save her and take her home.
That is the story of how Heidi saved herself.
But that’s only half her story. The other half will be saved for another day.
Edit: part 2, now posted!