Suffer the loved ones to slaughter

He stays up all night

With a cow giving birth

Looks after poddy calves for all he is worth

Happiness inhabiting his soul

As he murmurs

To small bony heads

Big brown eyes

And spindly legs

That run to meet the one

Who offers sustenance

He’ll spend his day

Praying for rain

For the herd he loves

Almost more than family

They’re less trouble

And quiet

As he moves amongst their warm, hairy hides

He knows what they’re thinking

There isn’t a beast

He can’t fathom

Nor hasn’t

Seen their ilk before

It runs in his veins

This cow lore

To cattlemen there is no chore






Who leaves

And who stays

Who is put away

In the freezer

These things would be difficult for some

Yet his face is stoic

Perhaps he is numb

He sends some away in a road train

Watches them leave

Red tail lights glowing

Through a shroud of dust

The sound of their lurching feet

Banging and rocking with the motion of the truck

He has done his job

Got the mob off to sale

In good order


The juxtaposition

Of this deep devotion



And raising

Does it tear at him?

Does a

Mixed formaldehyde of emotion



A war within?

It’s always been

perhaps mercifully

Lost on him

The irony that is

Sharing his beloved well cared for herd

To the meatworks

The butcher

The customer

A strange parallel

To consider

Something I did

A long time ago

But I don’t have to make a living from it


And it paid for my boarding school fees and all my childhood necessities so I won’t ignore that the blood of the beast hasn’t helped me a long way to what I am.

But theses parallels the loving and the slaughter – how could a poet not try (and fail) to untangle it

In other ironic circumstances – I have been catching mice in traps all week – and feeling slightly victorious about it (they make a huge mess) then one (smells like 10) died under my dishwasher and the smell is appalling – I’m so annoyed that it died in the wrong place and I can’t easily get back there to retrieve it so for the moment we are at a “stalemate” and it is truly stale.

Karma is a bitch.

Onwards towards Christmas we romp – I’ve done all the present buying and wrapping – my husband as usual will smile serenely when thanked on Christmas morning for his thoughtful gift by his mother 🙄😁 I actually love doing it so it’s not a bother.

Oh and I have an excellent present for him – one he couldn’t possibly imagine and you guys can have a crack at it if you like – if you get it right I’ll …

Um say “well done”

14 thoughts on “Suffer the loved ones to slaughter

      • I think you would really like it. It’s very famous. It’s worth reading the book first… It’s not a long book, I think it’s a novella and very famous.

        It’s about an Italian American woman who is married to a farmer in Madison County, Iowa, but is a bit at odds with it, feels lonely and prefers cooking vegetables to meat. In her mind she can’t understand the disconnect in rearing animals for slaughter.

        She meets a National Geographic Photographer one day when her family are at the State Fair and begins an affair.

        It was one of the best selling books of the 20th century and made into a movie in 1995 starring Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep.

      • The Bridges of Madison County is my ALL time favorite movie! I went to the place where it was filmed and photographed the covered bridges. I weep each time I watch it 🙂 So Good!

  1. When I had my herd of Goats (40 +) & my Sheep (20 +) Every one had a name, I named them after Stars in the sky: Altair, Deneb, Polaris, Antares, etc….Every animal came to me when I called it’s name, whether it was to be milked or led to slaughter. We took Night Walks together, so we did not have to worry about cars…..It all worked in “Harmony”…..I did all of the butchering, when it was time I faced the animal to the sun’s set, and a little part of me died with it……Because I knew it’s name, I raised and cared for it……It all came down to “Observation”; I would observe them, & they would observe me. Many times, when it was time for the slaughter, the Sacrifices would just walk up^ to me, as if to say; “Let us just do it!” I will never forget their innate Dignity……As I began to recognize them as “Individuals” each with it’s own unique Personality…..What a Blessing it was to have the opportunity to raise and care for these unique animals……

  2. I grew up next to my grandfathers farm of cattle and sheep. We had a chicken coup where I would collect fresh eggs each morning. I participated in the slaughter of the chickens. My job was to pluck the feathers after the blood had been drained and they’d been slightly boiled to make the plucking easier. Oh the smell! We always had a full cow in our deep freezer, I grew up bottle feeding motherless lambs and then devouring lamb with out putting two and two together. It was our life, it was what we did. We had an endless vegetable garden along with fruit trees. Pull the weeds, pick the produce, prepare it for canning…….the work seemed endless…..but so rewarding……..I am appalled by what I buy in the grocery store that is called “food”. I appreciate the part of my childhood that fed me. I appreciate all that was learned. The animals that have become a part of me. It’s just what was……..

    • I’m the same Mare – we lived close to the land – mustered the sheep, lamb marked, shearing, ate the sheep etc only had one go at scalding a pig – I imagine the smell would be similar to the chickens which thankfully I never had to do.

      We used to get really attached to the pigs because they were such characters. Dad would always put off the killing of the pigs.

      It is an upbringing that makes you grateful and gives a healthy perspective of what goes on.

      It’s why militant vegans annoy me because they have no idea of the depth and complexity of rural life. There are layers.

      I always end up in the middle of the road on this matter and it pisses the extremes of both spectrums off – can’t do anything about it – live and let live is my motto.

      You are right about some of the food in supermarkets – so much processed chemical ridden junk – not sure what that is doing to humans physiology.

      I’m grateful I have a choice now and I don’t eat meat – I’m more peaceful and it fits in with my Yoga studies “Ahimsa” non harming. I also feel healthier without it. But having said that I think it is important for people to do whatever is best for them. I wrote this poem because of the juxtaposition – I’ve always found it so interesting. The caring and devotion to livestock at the beginning and then the slaughter at the end – not so much on farm – that’s quiet and efficient if done well. More the processing plants which I would imagine would be hellish.

      I’m glad I wasn’t born a cow or a sheep or a chicken or a pig – such a narrow path we tread species wise –
      Born a dog and land in my household and you’re in heaven for life 😂 my Dad said once he would like to come back as one of my dogs – maybe he did – I bought Bodhi my boxer not long after he died and she is the animal who turned me vegan – but this comment is so bloody long 🤣 stopping now – lovely to hear from you, hope your boy is going okay say hi to him for me. 😘

  3. Well, this is a meaty response, no pun intended haha! Growing up close to the land and animals was the best part of my upbringing.
    My 3rd son Archie is a vegan. Became a vegetarian at the age of 11…..that was when he was my Clara Elizabeth…..whew, that’s a post for another day!
    Live and let live, absolutely, that is the loving way

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