Homesteading is very popular right now.
Everyone wants to grow their own food or at least buy food from a local farmer
Everyone wants to raise cute little critters for their fur or their sweet milk.
Everyone wants to wear a pair of teal colored coveralls from Rosies and call themselves a homesteader. (Include me in that, I just bought a pair)
Everyone is speaking farmspeak, using words like sustainable, organic, and all natural even when
talking about the basil plant they are growing on their penthouse deck.
But there is more to raising your own food then showing up at the farmers markets in a straw hat and a pitchfork and coloring your soap with real honey.
Hard work is involved. Tough decisions must be made.
Two years ago our Great Pyrenees and much beloved family friend, Chubs, stumbled home with large jagged gashes and bite marks all over his body. While protecting our farmstead he went head to snarling head with what we believed to be a hungry Bobcat.
Our vet was out on another emergency call and so for two hours I laid with Chubs in our front yard, waiting. As soon as the vet saw him he put him down with a lethal injection. I swore then I would never allow another animal to suffer needlessly on our farm while I sat helpless, and I asked our oldest son to teach me to shoot a gun. Seems the law is against me having the meds I might need but via the magic of a FOID card I can own, and use, a gun.
A few days ago, I put this skill to use.
A young steer of ours was going downhill. Plagued with a parasitic infection that responded neither to our homeopathic treatments of powdered garlic and diatomaceous earth, nor to the traditional treatment of Ivermectin as recommended by the vet after taking stool samples, the calf was steadily losing ground. Some days he walked and drank and ate well but then the next day he was down and his weight loss became very evident this past week. We decided it was time.
But very few homesteading conferences, to-do books or videos will instruct you on euthanizing your farm animal. Sure you can learn how to milk a goat, make your own yogurt or even if you are so possessed...create homemade soap, but the info about how to shoot a suffering calf between the eyes is fairly non-existent.
Until now. So for those of you who might have the need to know, please proceed. But be warned , this is not one of those humerous posts. This is real life homesteading.
1. Position the animal towards you. Ensure the area behind you is open and free of humans, animals or solid objects that might ricochet a bullet.
2. If the animal s laying down, do not get him up. His head will stay steadier if lying down.
3. Draw a line with marker from each horn base to opposite corner of each eye. This will form a cross and where the lines intersect is where you will aim. Some sources suggested shooting from behind the ear towards the brain but I chose the frontal approach.
4. Load your rifle following all the steps your conscientious son taught you.
5. Stand about 3 feet away. A thrashing animal can hurt you. The end of your rifle should be approximately 2 foot from your target
6. Pray. Aim and fire.
7. Thank husband for doing the really hard work of removing body and burying it.
In my case the calf fell over immediately without a sound. There was blood from the nose and mouth , but very little from the head. Breathing ceased instantaneously but there was very minor involuntary trembling of limbs for about 60 seconds. His eyes were not focusing. I stayed and watched to make sure I did not need to shoot a second time.
Real homesteading is not always pretty.