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NY Dairy farmer kills herd, himself

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  • NY Dairy farmer kills herd, himself

    This is terrible.

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100123/...y_cows_suicide

    I realize that I'm generalizing here, but as is often the case when I generalize, I don't care. ~ Dave Barry

  • #2
    I rent an old dairy barn. The owner has said it's a horrible time to be a dairy farmer. She thinks most farmers will sell out when the price of cows goes up a teeny bit. It's just sad someone would feel their life needed to end over that. I'd like to think he was concerned about his cows starving once he was gone, or where there would go. Hopefully it was more a compassion kill before he took his own life. Hard to judge when you don't live in his shoes.
    Maria Hayes-Frosty Oak Stables
    Home to All Eyez On Me, 1998 16.2 Cleveland Bay Sporthorse Stallion
    & FrostyOak Hampton 2008 Pure Cleveland Bay Colt
    www.frostyoaks.com

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    • #3

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      • #4
        So sad.
        http://www.talloaksfarm.net ---"Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts." --- Winston Churchill

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        • #5
          When I lived in Watertown NY back from 1999 to 2001, we had a similar situation except the farmer did not kill himself. He just decided one day that he did not want to milk anymore and he quit going to the barn. Some 60 head of dairy cows died standing in their stanchions from starvation or perhaps dehydration...not sure what got them first...but they were found all dead with him in his house watching TV.

          This man was tried for felony animal cruelty but only served a few days in jail and got a very light sentence and fine. I think he could not own animals for a few years or something ridiculous. My landlord then was a dairy farmer and the local farmers were just outraged at what he did. Apparently those cows were worth some money so to just let them die from neglect was a terrible waste as well.

          It is a rough time now to be a dairy farmer. Some dairy farming friends of mine from S. Dakota recently sold out their herd of about 80 cows. I guess the small dairy farmer will go the way of the other small farmers and soon all of our milk will come from mega factory dairies.

          I toured one of those farms in NY when I lived there. The cows are born, raised and milked in those big "free stall" barns. They never go outside until they are used up (fairly young) and sent to slaughter. The ones I saw had their tails docked also so they could not mess up their udders with manure. That is the future of the dairy industry I guess. :-(

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          • #6


            Unfortunately the choice for dairy farmers these days is get big or get out.

            Our new farm is an old dairy - they sold out last fall.
            Our closest neighbor is an elderly (late 70s) woman who has had a dairy her whole life. She's currently making roughly $35 per day on her milk sales. BEFORE feeding her self, the cows, or paying her hired help as she broke her hip and can't care for the animals by herself anymore. She has a gravel pit on the property, and that is the only thing keeping her going at all...
            It really is heartbreaking.
            -Jessica

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            • #7
              Agriculture is being attacked from all sides, from pseudo-intellectuals that never laid foot on any other than a well manicured golf course or park, but have an opinion how farmers should farm, to all those with agendas to push, like the animal rights people, making every little fault they can find to be the poster child for all that is wrong with that part of agriculture.

              It is hard to be honestly doing your best to produce whatever it is you produce, spent a lifetime learning how to do it better all along and then, because it fits someone's agenda to bash what you are doing, without recourse to tell your story and be heard, become society's pariah and second class citizens as a group and individually.

              I am sure the fellow had plenty of personal problems, but the environment all in agriculture have to work in today, having to be defensive against absurd attacks, would drive anyone with mental problems to do strange things.

              I hope he at least was a good shot, so the cows didn't suffer.
              Very glad that his craziness didn't drive him to kill people also.

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              • #8
                Bluey, while I get your point, I'm not sure I agree that he was crazy to do what he did.. it's possible that with the price of milk (low), the price of hay and grain (high) that he just didn't see how he could make ends meet anymore... I saw (maybe on COTH?) that most dairy farmers are losing money every day... there is only so long that someone can take that before all hope seems lost.
                -Jessica

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by AppJumpr08 View Post
                  Bluey, while I get your point, I'm not sure I agree that he was crazy to do what he did.. it's possible that with the price of milk (low), the price of hay and grain (high) that he just didn't see how he could make ends meet anymore... I saw (maybe on COTH?) that most dairy farmers are losing money every day... there is only so long that someone can take that before all hope seems lost.
                  I see your point, but realize that everyone is in the same boat, but not everyone shoots all their cows and themselves over it.

                  When the stock market crashes big time, a few stockbrokers also jump off windows, but the majority don't.

                  Sadly, there is something a little bit wrong with anyone that, well goes off the deep end.

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                  • #10
                    A person doesn't have to be insane to take their own life. Depression, hopelessness, and despair can drive a person to end their pain...especially when they see no way out.
                    Is it me or do 99.9% of cowboys just look better with their hats on?
                    <><

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Bluey View Post
                      I see your point, but realize that everyone is in the same boat, but not everyone shoots all their cows and themselves over it.

                      When the stock market crashes big time, a few stockbrokers also jump off windows, but the majority don't.

                      Sadly, there is something a little bit wrong with anyone that, well goes off the deep end.

                      Oh I agree completely. I guess what caught me up was "crazy"... mentally unstable? Depressed? Absolutely possible. But crazy? I'm not sure... of course, I suppose that's getting a bit nitpicky when it comes to choice of words... At the end of the day, farmer or not, there comes a point where things seem too much to handle for some people.
                      There was a hay farmer in the northern part of Maine who killed himself last summer when we had rain for months... I think your point is a good one that farmers have been busting their butts with little thanks, and when their business doesn't do well (or is barely scraping by), it must make it that much harder to take.

                      It's just such a sad situation for all involved... I can't even imagine how he managed to get through shooting 51 cows that he had cared for every day, let alone shoot himself
                      -Jessica

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by KSAQHA View Post
                        A person doesn't have to be insane to take their own life. Depression, hopelessness, and despair can drive a person to end their pain...especially when they see no way out.
                        Mental health is a continuum, you may call the deep end, insanity, crazy, whatever you want when someone is not any more quite rational enough to be sensible about where they are in life.

                        I don't think that shooting all your cows and yourself would be considered "normal", but fall into some kind of pathological state.

                        Suicide can be rational, as in someone with terminal cancer, but they won't go shooting their animals or other humans before they kill themselves, as the ones with mental health problems do.
                        The article hinted that the fellow had some problems previous to what he did.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by AppJumpr08 View Post
                          Oh I agree completely. I guess what caught me up was "crazy"... mentally unstable? Depressed? Absolutely possible. But crazy? I'm not sure... of course, I suppose that's getting a bit nitpicky when it comes to choice of words... At the end of the day, farmer or not, there comes a point where things seem too much to handle for some people.
                          There was a hay farmer in the northern part of Maine who killed himself last summer when we had rain for months... I think your point is a good one that farmers have been busting their butts with little thanks, and when their business doesn't do well (or is barely scraping by), it must make it that much harder to take.

                          It's just such a sad situation for all involved... I can't even imagine how he managed to get through shooting 51 cows that he had cared for every day, let alone shoot himself
                          To kill that many cows, well, you think that if he was the least rational at all he would have woke up after the first few and stopped and rethought what he was doing.

                          That he kept shooting I think indicates that he was very determined, to the point of not really being sensible any more.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Bluey View Post
                            To kill that many cows, well, you think that if he was the least rational at all he would have woke up after the first few and stopped and rethought what he was doing.

                            That he kept shooting I think indicates that he was very determined, to the point of not really being sensible any more.
                            Or maybe in his state he felt he was doing the right thing by them... that if he wasn't going to be there to take care of them, he couldn't promise their care and comfort anymore, so he did the only thing he could think of. To take them with him

                            I just can't imagine...
                            -Jessica

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Bluey View Post
                              Suicide can be rational, as in someone with terminal cancer, but they won't go shooting their animals or other humans before they kill themselves, as the ones with mental health problems do.
                              I'm not debating the fact the farmer who killed his cows may have been mentally 'off'. I just don't want to see suicide generalized as something only 'crazy' people do...speaking as someone who lost a beautiful 20-yr. old son to the act.
                              Is it me or do 99.9% of cowboys just look better with their hats on?
                              <><

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by AppJumpr08 View Post
                                Or maybe in his state he felt he was doing the right thing by them... that if he wasn't going to be there to take care of them, he couldn't promise their care and comfort anymore, so he did the only thing he could think of. To take them with him

                                I just can't imagine...
                                AppJumpr08, I like to see the best in everyone. That is what I am hoping too. That is was compassion for them that made him shoot them. You see had he had them all put down, people would be ok with that. I've heard a correct shot is sometimes more humane, and cheaper.
                                Maria Hayes-Frosty Oak Stables
                                Home to All Eyez On Me, 1998 16.2 Cleveland Bay Sporthorse Stallion
                                & FrostyOak Hampton 2008 Pure Cleveland Bay Colt
                                www.frostyoaks.com

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by KSAQHA View Post
                                  I'm not debating the fact the farmer who killed his cows may have been mentally 'off'. I just don't want to see suicide generalized as something only 'crazy' people do...speaking as someone who lost a beautiful 20-yr. old son to the act.
                                  KSAQHA, *hugs* to you, my heart goes out to you.
                                  Maria Hayes-Frosty Oak Stables
                                  Home to All Eyez On Me, 1998 16.2 Cleveland Bay Sporthorse Stallion
                                  & FrostyOak Hampton 2008 Pure Cleveland Bay Colt
                                  www.frostyoaks.com

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by aspenlucas View Post
                                    KSAQHA, *hugs* to you, my heart goes out to you.
                                    Thanks, Aspenlucas. It really changes your view on the subject...opening your eyes to the stereotype and stigma surrounding the tragedy of it all.
                                    Is it me or do 99.9% of cowboys just look better with their hats on?
                                    <><

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      This is a very sad article. I do kind of respect the man for making sure his animals had a good end, and not letting them die slowly in the barn if it took awhile for him to be found.

                                      I don't think it's good to stigmatize people who commit suicide as being crazy. Makes it hard on the families, and makes it harder for those who need help to seek it out. Depression is a mental illness, but "crazy" is a pretty loaded term. I'm not offended by the use, but I do think we should examine our word choices when talking about something like mental illness. There is a huge stigma still on any form of it, and I would hope that's something we all want to get rid of.

                                      This man may well have been acting rationally in the circumstances as he saw them. I'm speculating of course since the article was so small, but he may well have been in financial ruin. When you wrap your whole life up in something and put everything you have into it as most farmers I know do, it's hard to just walk away. He may have seen no way out other than what he did. Very sad.

                                      ETA missed a few posts while I was typing. KSAQHA, I'm sorry about your son. I lost a good friend to suicide while we were in high school. It is so shocking and so sad and it definitely changes your attitudes about many things.
                                      exploring the relationship between horse and human

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                                      • #20
                                        Maria,
                                        To kind of hijack the thread-how is Ian doing?
                                        Carol

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