May 30, 2024

Respect for Animals, People, and Traditions

Respect for Animals, People, and Traditions
By Carrie Comstock, Hartford High School.  

As I walk into the barn every morning, I see all the animals laying down and looking at me to see if I would feed them. A mixture of smells hit my nose; ranging between hay, sawdust, and cow manure. Hearing the animals in the morning is the best thing I could ever wake up to. I have two pairs of Holstein working steers, which are castrated bulls, trained to work in a yoke. My smaller pair I show in 4-H are named Pete and Diamond, and they weigh around 1,500 pounds as a team. My first pair is now two and a half, weigh 3,350 pounds as a team and are pushing six feet tall! That’s roughly the weight of a small car. I have shown them since my freshman year at local fairs and 4-H events.

Before I had steers I was really shy and didn’t like putting myself out there. Going to fairs has enabled me to interact with the public, and I love telling people about my animals. Talking to the public and sharing my story means so much to me. I feel like I’m keeping this tradition of having oxen alive, and I’m passing my knowledge of the draft animal era on to the future. 

My dad says: “My animals get fed before I feed myself.” This speaks to the ethics of our relationship and our mutual love and respect to the animals. My dad has taught me respect for animals, people, and traditions like working steers and oxen. The knowledge of working steers and oxen that is being passed down between us means so much to him and I. In reality, people are going to pick fights with you, but in the end of the day most times it comes back to what really matters in life. And for me, my animals matter to me and they matter to my Dad as well. Whether I’m working two animals the size of a car in the show ring or helping out a new comer at the wash rack, my steers are my life and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I respect my animals, and I certainly love and respect my father for all that he has taught me. 

As a Senior in the Natural Resources class at the HACTC, I have also learned a respect for the equipment and tools we use through all the safety training we receive. We also respect our teammates and have to know where everybody is at all times. Waiting for your turn on the bulldozer or excavator or any piece of equipment we have to know where the machine and operator are at all times also. The team has to have a huge amount of respect for each other and our instructor Tom Ostler in order to be fully aware of our surroundings.