My friend the Buff Orpington hen, encountered at last summer's Lucas County Fair.
One of the bigger stories in Iowa this morning --- now that the weather has settled down a little --- involves the rescue of some 300 neglected animals of various species yesterday from a home in Drakesville, a little town in the heart of Amish country northwest of Bloomfield and southeast of here. The perpetrator was not Amish, by the way; members of that Anabaptist sect, while not usually sentimental about livestock, usually take very good care of their animals.
Apparently the perpetrator here was arrested in Ottumwa while driving a van that contained some 30 creatures and that led to the raid in Davis County where the balance of his collection, living in deplorable conditions, was discovered. Various corpses were scattered around the property, too. You can read more (at the moment) at The Des Moines Register and The Ottumwa Courier.
Most of the rescued animals were trucked to the Animal Rescue League in Des Moines, which now has a complicated (and expensive) situation on its hands. So if you're inclined to donate to animal welfare causes, that's a good option right now.
In honor of the rescue, I've pulled out the photo here of a Buff Orpington hen with whom I spent quality time last summer during the Lucas County Fair. Her mate was there, too. Several chickens were included in the Drakesville rescue.
I am partial to poultry and always stop in that building while at the fair, but generally not in the beef, sheep and swine barns. There's something fetching about fowl. It may be that I was a duck in a previous incarnation and that contributes to the affinity.
The fondness extends, some of the time at least, to diet. I don't usually eat poultry, and was congratulating myself this morning for having had only bread, cheese, fruit and wine --- rather than body parts of a fellow critter --- for supper last night. Then I remembered an outing earlier in the week to the Panda Buffet that involved both sesame and pepper chicken with a side of mongolian beef --- and no guilt whatsoever.
Consistency is not my middle name.
I do think now and then of becoming vegetarian (not, however, vegan). But for better or worse, I'm probably too lazy to take on the discipline. Although --- a friend introduced me last week to Hy-Vee's new white cheddar macaroni and cheese and it was so good I'm thinking now that might help make the transition easier.
This whole business reminded me, too, of the Jains --- adherents of an Indian (as in the subcontinent) religion I first became aware of years ago in the late Dr. George W. Forell's University of Iowa Comparative Study of Religions class.
The Jains carry respect for the physical interdependence and spiritual integrity of all creatures to an extreme, refusing for example to consume even honey because of the perceived violence to bees involved in its collection. They're vegan with a vengeance, so to speak.
That's a discipline far beyond the capablities of most.
But there are all sorts of interesting questions involved, which may or may not be worth considering when you consider that much of the time humans don't treat each other humanely and we're the species that does the most damage.
If we're concerned about 300 maltreated animals in Drakesville, how about the millions of maltreated animals in livestock confinements, those operations that pollute Iowa's waterways, too? Thanking about that could cut into one's enjoyment of an Iowa Chop.
Or those cheap eggs in the grocery store cooler when you consider most laying hens these days exist tightly packed in cages, valued only for what they produce and not at all for their fine personalities and delicate sensibilities. That could be enough to send you running to the nearest purveyor of eggs generated close to home by specialists in free-range production.
It's all very complicated and too early in the morning to offer answers. But I am going to have bread, cheese and fruit, again, for lunch today.