Newborn Calf on Mays Road

On our way to Saison Market for sticky cinnamon buns and brie and pear focaccia, we passed the Mays Road farm where the cows sit right next to the road. They’re always there: big, brown, lazy beasts that inspire gleeful shouts from the inhabitants of two car seats in the back of our van, “Cows!”.  The old farmer, dressed in grungy jeans and plaid shirt, is often seen driving his old tractor around his fields. It’s just like a scene from a movie.

This day was a special one. A newborn calf stood not 10 feet from the road, inside the wire fence. He was so new there was still wet mucous and blood dripping from his hide (sorry if that sounds gross but it wasn’t). Mama Cow stood a few feet away from him, exhausted (I may be projecting).

The bewildered calf stared at the few of us who stopped our cars to take a look at Mother Nature in action. “You don’t see that everyday,” the man in the truck next to us said. I’ve seen two brand-new babies in my life, but never a calf. It was a beautiful thing.

And nothing like a scene from the movie Food Inc. In it, they show a panoramic view of agricultural fields as far as the eye can see. In these fields are hundreds of thousands of cows, crammed together, standing in mud. They are fed corn, not grass (apparently it matters!), and bred for slaughter by the major food companies, like fast-food restaurants. The condition in which these cows are raised is on the opposite end of the quality-of-life spectrum than that of our newborn calf in his pastoral field, watched over by a sole hard-working farmer.

So the next day I shopped at the Meat Market for locally raised meat, and the Old Farm Market for Cowichan Valley veggies. The meat costs more, so we’re eating less — which is really the whole point, isn’t it?

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9 comments

  1. You’re right about the images in Food Inc; we’re lucky that things aren’t quite as bad here. But a lot of the cows that we see so pastorally and idyllically grazing in the fields around here are dairy cows rather than beef cattle. Outside of special places like the Quist family farm, we have our share of feedlot cattle where most of our supermarket steak comes from. The dairy cows are allowed to graze when pregnant–that’s the time they’re not milking. Here’s hoping that newborn calf is off to a wonderful life in the fields.

    And you have me drooling for Saison pastries… 🙂
    Toni @backyardfeast

    1. Thanks for your input Toni.

      All these realities about where our food comes from makes it confusing to know where to shop. That day after shopping at Old Farm and Quist, I went to Safeway to get some toiletries. It was so much easier, faster and more comfortable at Safeway; I know where everything is. Slow food isn’t just about how it’s prepared in the kitchen, but how it’s reared and shopped for. It’s a mindset change I need to make.

      Maeve

      1. It’s such a process, isn’t it! I know I feel exhausted sometimes weighing all the pros and cons of every product I buy, and sometimes we just go to Costco and pick up what’s cheapest. 🙂 You should see us contemplate the ketchup aisle: organic ketchup in a plastic bottle, or regular Heinz in a glass one? Price? Ingredients? How to decide?!

        It’s so great to find places like Quist, farm gates, the Duncan Farm Store, etc, that do SOME of that thinking for us, at least. But seeing the natural miracles around us, like the newborn calf, or for me, pulling carrots out of the ground this week, keeps it all in perspective.

  2. Maeve (and other respondents). I too saw the calf on one of my early morning runs and, all I could think about was what the joggers in places like downtown Vancouver were missing. Thank you for your perspectives on the newborn calf. I will remember to say thank you the next time I run by.

    1. Ingrid,

      I can just imagine you running along Mays Road with little to no traffic in the early morning. What bliss! With fresh air like that cleaning out your lungs everyday, we can look forward to many, many years of your most delicious breads.

      Maeve

      p.s. We drove by Saison on Tuesday morning, on our way to the highway, and my two-year-old cried when I didn’t turn up your drive. I nearly cried right along with her. You’re sure you don’t want to open during the week? Even one morning?? 🙂

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