Saturday, February 27, 2010

Different, but not less: Temple Grandin, you’re my hero!

Temple Grandin and Claire Danes (in costume as Temple Grandin) on the set of HBO's "Temple Grandin" biopic.

The HBO movie Temple Grandin is a must see! I’m sitting here watching it for a third time and am sure I’ll catch it a couple of more times while it airs on HBO throughout the month of March. Dr. Temple Grandin is a real life person, and what a life she has had!

As I watched the movie, I kept reflecting back on our own cows and how each one has its own unique personality. I have spent hours just watching our longhorns, it is relaxing to me, almost like meditating. I wonder to myself what they are thinking, and as I sit with them longer I'm able to understand more about their behavior and the pecking order they have created amongst them. It's really amazing to watch how they communicate with one another.

Jack feeding the cows; eating "cake" as we call it....

Temple Grandin, Ph.D., is known as the most accomplished and well known adult with autism in the world. She is a prominent author and speaker on the subject of autism, but her autism is not what defines her. She is a recognized leader in her field of animal science. She has written over 100 papers on technical and scientific livestock handling AND is a top designer of livestock-handling equipment to help reduce the stress of livestock during handling. I spent my morning watching her lectures via You Tube and learned so much about her mission in life for the well-being of livestock. The movie about her life actually resonated more strongly with me the second time I watched. There is a line in the movie which more or less sums up what it is she has aimed to create. Her character, played by Claire Danes, says regarding cattle:

“Of course they’re going to get slaughtered. Do you think we would have cattle if people didn’t eat them everyday? They would just be funny looking animals in zoos . We raise them for us, that means we owe them some respect. Nature is cruel, but we don’t have to be. I wouldn’t want to have my guts ripped out by a lion, I would much rather die in a slaughter house if it was done right. We can easily design a way where they don’t feel pain and they don’t get scared.”

I get that.

The first longhorn bull calf born at Hummingbird Farms. What a beauty!

When you live on a farm or ranch you understand the cruelty of nature: the coyote that ate the baby fawn; the raccoon that ate the chicken; the opossum that ate the robin’s eggs… I’ve also seen the epitome of cruelty in nature, which was in 2001 when Jack and I spent a month in the bush in Africa. Nothing will ever ring more true about nature until you have witnessed the cruelty that exists in the wild.

Our standard poodles, only 4 months old, meet the longhorns for the first time....

It was assuring for me to learn more about Dr. Temple Grandin and what she has accomplished. The fact that she is autistic is only secondary to all her other contributions to science and the humane treatment of cattle.

Just a day old; this longhorn was named Gran, after our sweet neighbor....

Temple Grandin has been quoted as saying, “most people don’t get that a slaughter house is much gentler than nature. Unfortunately, most people never observe the natural cycle of birth and death. They do not realize for one living thing to live, another living thing must die.”

Cows are curious, and they like to play.....

As an animal lover, I have battled with the idea of beef my entire life… Eat? Don’t eat? Is it good for you? Is it bad for you? Is it humane?

One thing that Dr. Temple Grandin has helped me understand loud and clear is that it is inevitable that cattle will be slaughtered and the sole reason they were bred and are here in the first place is for us to eat.

Except for MY cattle… My longhorns are my pets and are here for pure joy. Even when my herd gets too big and we have to sell, they are only sold to suckers just like me…. Someone who will hand-feed them and love them and let them simply be the fun-loving wonderful creatures that they are. Our longhorns are raised for what we call “ornamental” purposes. Believe it or not, there are people that have longhorn cattle for their majestic appearance as they roam the range. I guess you could say that we raise beauty queens…. And every fine ranch needs its own beauty queen, or ten.

The movie Temple Grandin is so well done and I’m glad I stumbled across it. If anyone believes that an autistic child can't prosper, they need to see this movie! If you don’t have HBO you can come over to my house and watch it with me for a fourth time because I recorded it. Long live the DVR!

And long live the humanity of all the fine creatures that feed this great earth!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Holy Moly! Snow!

Some of you reading this from up north might be thinking, snow? Big deal? Who cares? You are probably even really sick of snow by now. But snow in the Hill Country is a rare occurrence and a BIG deal.

So while I was in San Antonio sloshing around in the rain mixed with occasional sleet, Jack was frolicking with his poodles at Hummingbird Farms enjoying the beautiful snow.

To add to my misery, he kept sending me these pictures on my blackberry....

Our calves, Bell and Buddy Holly got to see their first snow and I missed it! I'll have to be sure and include this picture in their baby books.....

Saturday, February 20, 2010

My zit needs its own bra….

So I think I mentioned a while back that I went on a spur of the moment road trip with my two girlfriends, Lisa and Sami (if you want to hear more about this trip, you can go HERE to Sami's blog; it was one of those short trips that made my innards feel good). Technically there were three of us on the trip, but it felt like four…

The fourth being the big honking zit on my cheek.

It was so huge it had its own heartbeat. I kept waiting on the thing to start growing hair and nails. Although it never did, it did decide that it needed brothers and sisters and, well – the rest is history….

Why am I going through puberty again? I’ve always had problems with my skin, but believe it or not, I didn’t really have issues when I was a teenager when it would have been kind of normal. My little friends decided to wait until my early 20’s to rear their ugly heads. Literally. So at 20-something I went to my family’s doctor who had been taking care of all of us for years; in fact, my mother was his nurse. He was one of those old time doctors that did everything from delivering babies, to taking out gall bladders, to treating toe fungus. He practiced medicine until he was so old that the hospital said he couldn’t have privileges any longer. I guess when you’re 80 something they get a little wigged out about liability. He didn’t care. He just did more procedures right there in his office and I think practiced medicine for another decade. When I went to see him about my skin, I remember him telling me that it was stress related. Being the matter of fact doctor that he was, he literally said, “Until you learn how to calm your ass down you’re going to keep getting these things.”

He obviously knew what he was talking about.

Like clockwork, anytime I’m stressed out, you can see it in my face. Anyway - I finally called an ivory tower dermatologist the other day and begged to be seen on the same day. I couldn’t stand to look at myself in the mirror one more time with one of these alien creatures staring back at me. Since a plane had just flown into the IRS building 70 miles up the road, and due to the desperation in my voice, I think the nice lady that was in charge of scheduling decided she should take me seriously and work me in.

She asked me what my problem was and I told her I either needed Valium or Accutane.

Anyway, I’m hoping that I’m back on track and will soon have these babies reigned in. We’ll see. In the meantime, I have no other news to report because my free time has been spent on my latest addiction. I’m ashamed and can’t believe I have picked up this horrible habit.

Reality TV.

I am so insanely addicted to The Housewives of Orange County that I actually got on the BRAVO TV website and read some of their blogs. I can’t believe I have stooped to this level.

I’m so ashamed.

Do y’all watch that show? Jack keeps saying he can’t believe I’m watching these women. I agree, but I just can’t help myself. I think it’s because I’m shocked that women like this actually exist. They are the most immature grown women I’ve ever witnessed… They are vicious and cunning. Is it for real, or is there actually some acting and sensationalism involved because – well, you know, it’s TV?

What do y’all think?

One thing’s for sure. They might have bigger boobs and diamonds than me, but they don’t have bigger zits!

Y’all have a great weekend!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

It's Cheaper Than Gas

I have a couple of options on which road to take on my daily commute into San Antonio. One way is the scenic route and the other way is the boring highway route. Mileage wise, they are both about the same, however the scenic route usually takes longer because it's a two-lane winding road through the hill country. Although longer, I actually prefer that route because it soothes my soul a bit before entering the corporate drain.

It is typical for me to have to brake for wildlife on my commute. Slowing down for deer is pretty much everyday, and it's perfectly normal to have to stop while a raccoon, armadillo, and once a mama duck and her 5 ducklings cross the road. But today was the first day that I had to drive behind this:

Only in Texas.....