Friday, November 1, 2013

Day 1: My Purpose

Everyone has a different purpose in life. Some people spend their whole lives searching for the things that fulfill them and make them whole. I've always known that I wanted to work with animals but it took me years to figure out exactly what I wanted to do with animals. Then again, I still don't know where life will take me.

When I was in high school I convinced my mom that we needed to foster dogs for a local rescue. Rescue and adoption is still near and dear to my heart but I wanted to see what else there was in the wide world that would help me fill the void I feel without animals. When I went to college I entered as a Wildlife Management major. Sounded like a good idea at the time but eventually it thumped me upside the head that the chance of getting up close and personal with the wildlife I would be "managing" was going to be slim to none. And that just wouldn't do. The next choice? Animal Science. Turned out to be the best choice in college I would ever make.

The sound of grunting pigs greets me every morning (I tried to upload a recording but it failed). It was that sound that greeted me every morning in the years I was in Wyoming (along with the bellows of cattle and blats of sheep). This sound is like a lullaby to me. I would find myself in the barn whenever life seemed grim or out of control. It's still the sound that gets me through the happy and the sad.

I've said it before: I like cattle, goats, horses, etc...but I cannot imagine my life without pigs.

Whenever I give presentations to kids that have little experience with livestock I always tell them that pigs are a lot like humans. They are vocal (barking, grunting, squealing, screaming, etc), stubborn, independent, aggressive, friendly, and so many more things rolled into one. Too bad I can't drag sows into schools with me :)

Yes, they have a certain smell about them. And yes, they can be tough to work with (ask me about the Duroc boar that hated me or the times I've been knocked over by groups of 600-800 pound sows). But when I am with them, I know my purpose.

My time in Kentucky has been an emotional roller coaster and one of the reasons is I have had no purpose, no reason to get up in the mornings. I dread coming into town and spending the day sitting in the office. The times when I have had pigs to care for (while taking classes, doing research, other projects, etc) have by far been the best and most successful times here.

I can only speak for myself but I didn't get involved with animal agriculture for the money. It's actually probably safer to say that agriculture chose me. Working with animals fulfills me. It quiets all those voices in my head that question why I am doing this or that, what I will be doing tomorrow or later or in the next 10 years.

I am currently getting made fun of for always smelling like pigs (I have 7 sows and 100 piglets in the basement of our Animal Science building right now). People ask why I want to be tired and smelly each and every day. My answer is that there would be a giant hole in my heart and life if I didn't get up each morning to greet the animals.

Some of the images that have stayed with me through the years are the images of farmers and ranchers after their animals and land have been taken away from them, whether it's due to weather, foreclosure, or old age. The utter devastation haunts me. There's a reason that farmers rarely retire-to do so would be to watch their entire life drift away with the evening tide, gone forever.

I don't do it for the money. I do it because the pigs give me a purpose. And nothing can be more important than that.

I may not know exactly what I want to do with my life. But as long as there are animals involved-pigs especially-whatever I do will be just fine with me.

*Here is the starting page for 30 Days Of Randomness With A Pig Nutrition Grad Student, check back there for links to all 30 days.*

**If you want to read some more stories from the amazing Ag bloggers out there, check out the very talented (and fearless leader of this 30 Day Blogging Challenge) Holly Spangler's My Generation page! I know I will be keeping up with the stories :) **

No comments:

Post a Comment