PictureLast good-byes, Teton County Fair (c) cara blessley lowe 2013
The girls know, when they receive them as babies, that the lambs will be sold and killed for food. Baby lambs are called kids, and seeing kids--mere teenagers!--leading their sweet charges up the feed truck plank to the slaughterhouse is an unfortunate irony.

It is a cluster of consoling: of boyfriends and fathers and brothers with their arms and giant ranch-hand hands wrapped around the girls’ shoulders, belt buckles half the diameter as their waists; of sisters and other girls, mascara ribbons streaking their faces, a profusion of tears usually associated with weddings, or war.

As a bystander, you can’t get too sentimental.

These animals are bought, born, loved, raised, sold: the lesson is that earning a living is not without sacrifice, not without a price. This sacrifice means giving up something you love, adore even, and not just letting it go or even giving it away to another family, but leading it to it’s death.

There is a giant banner that sprawls the barn walls hailing the virtues of “Character”, which makes me wonder if I even understand the word. I never had to kill one of my animals when I was a kid.

Perhaps every parent should have to dry the tears of what I’ll call ‘chosen loss’ before the world thrusts it on their kids unawares. 

Might there be a future where 4H takes root in those beleaguered neighborhoods of Chicago and other American cities where children killing children has become common enough to the point of being overlooked by the media and our political leaders?

Might makeshift barns replace sacked-out tenements, children learning compassion--not vengeance--through the heartbreak of loss?

Christy Sing Robertson
8/8/2013 12:26:20 pm

Cara, you always amaze me. I am blessed to call you friend.

8/9/2013 07:29:09 am

C, I'm grateful for your friendship and love...thanks for your words

8/9/2013 04:42:33 am

Love you Cara! Your an inspiration to us in your ability to look at what others can not bring themselves to address or talk about. I cried tears when our lamb died of natural causes..... cannot imagine what my heart will feel when I actually kill one to feed my family......

8/9/2013 07:35:02 am

Steph, I thought of you guys when we saw this scene. So sorry to hear you lost a lamb, I didn't know...I can only imagine what your heart will go through, you as one who treats and cares for animals. These lessons are not simple, not easy, but they are worthwhile and mold our kiddos and the decisions, personal and otherwise, that they will make in the future.

9/26/2014 04:19:07 am

Very well written Cara. Its so true of the trepidation that haunts the young men and women who endeavor in this, however I believe that a more conscientious steward of animals come from this in two ways. One being the respect for the animal as do hunters who strive so hard for their game where once taken, a sense of admiration and respect for the challenge and sacrifice of that animal. Second the lesson of responsibility and character. Being responsible for a living creature, a "chosen loss", is a tough yet inevitable decision that matures youth in 4H greater than anything offered or available to teach in school.

10/11/2014 04:03:43 am

Thank you, George; you know the heart of what I am alluding to here and are putting it in practice--such love and respect for you and your family. xoxo


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