19 November 2008

Animal Rights... a response to Crunchy Chicken...

In response to Crunchy Chicken's "The Future of Fur" post:

I grew up on a mink farm. We raised mink for pelts. I think that, for the most part, fur is an acceptable FUNCTIONAL part of a wardrobe (note, that says functional, not fashionable). I would hope that the animals that end up covering us would be raised as they would have been if they were born wild. I also think that folks that try to "convince" you to quit wearing fur by spray-painting it (happened to a relative), dousing you in flour, "blood," or simply call you names need to learn more effective ways of changing the minds of others.

That said, if my family were still farming, I might not be as okay with it as I was.

Our mink were very healthy (they were more important to my grandpa than his own well being), fed a diet that did resemble what they might eat in the wild, just not in the same form (it was mixed/ground up), they had the opportunity to socialize with their neighbors, but often attacked each other (then screens were put up immediately) - mink are not social animals, and the only hand humans had in their breeding was making sure a male and female were together at the right time. When pelting time came, experienced adults (and a few of their willing kids) worked together at our farm to get through the process. **warning, moderately graphic** When the technology came about, a carbon monoxide tank was attached to a large box and mink were added one at a time, and before that, their necks were broken quickly, by hand - by my grandpa's or my dad's hands, both men sincerely cared for the animals and hated the thought of their suffering. **end of graphic section**

Growing up in that environment, helping with pelting, vaccinating, feeding, etc., I learned about animal husbandry, science, ethics, the cycle of life, and about dealing with "enemies." I would never trade my experience in childhood for anything else.

When my grandfather was told he had to have major surgery, he decided to sell half of his mink - his breeding stock, and pelt the rest in the upcoming season. An animal rights group came out a few months later, set thousands of mink "free," poured fuel along our entire fence line, and tried to start it all on fire (thus "freeing" the mink into a flaming ring). Our dog scared them away, and my family and our friends spent a week rounding up the mink that were "freed," finding hundreds had actually been killed (they have never learned to eat in the wild - and there was no food source for them, since they were fenced in to prevent any loose animals from being killed on nearby roads, of from decimating the local wildlife populations). The animal rights organization claimed victory in December of that year - saying that their act caused us to go out of business.

So, what do I think about wearing fur? I don't wear fur because I don't want to risk being spray painted, floured, covered in "blood," or attacked by anyone. My shoes are leather and we have some leather in our furniture. I'm glad that we have the option, but I would much rather wear fur/leather that comes from "happy" animals than from miserable, stressed animals.



Anonymous said...

I'll never ever understand those radical activists.

Live and let live.

Brande said...

Wow. Amazing story. You always here about these insane radical activists, but you never hear the stories from the side of the people affected. Thanks for sharing!

Throwback at Trapper Creek said...

Hi Erika, thanks for stopping by my blog. I have never known anyone personally that suffered from these terrible tactics. But there were several mink ranchers in our area that retired (thankfully) before that type of activity became common.

I feel so sorry for the mink that were let loose, and especially for your grandpa and the rest of you. What a terrible thing to witness, knowing how scared the mink must have been being out on their own.

Keep telling your story, people really need to know that animals can be raised humanely.

Thanks for the great blog.