This week I took a 48 hour vacation. I went to one of America’s great cities – Chicago. I had an incredible time at the Cubs game Tuesday night. Baseball is one of my favorite sports to watch. Always has been. And while I love the Yankees (enough to have a Yankees jacket on even at Wrigley Field), I love baseball more. I’ve been to major league games in so many different cities and can recount the joy of many at a moments notice.
The weather was PERFECT, absolutely PERFECT! Cubs were ahead at the seventh inning stretch and soon they had rounded the bags a couple more times and the Dodgers came up short. We were elated as we sang “Go Cubs Go.” Wrigley Field is one of those iconic images for so many of us whether we are a Cubs fan or simply love the sport.
For some reason, these images, this very central part of Americana continues to come to mind as I sit here on Saturday morning. I think it is because a few friends tried to be sure I was able to really enjoy it despite other things that were going on.
For most of us, farms are idyllic places that are also home to iconic images. The pastures serene and the barns a shelter from the harsh elements whether that is sun & heat or snow & extreme cold. We picture rows of corn or soybeans growing along the road. You can see someone tending things — just a farmer, plain and simple.
This is a sharp contrast to what some of the people I talked to daily were seeing Tuesday night. They were watching a horror film that was real rather than fiction. The images passing on the screens in front of them were the kind of thing they couldn’t imagine, the sort of things that stay with you forever. They were watching some of the worst in fellow human beings. And what’s worse, there was no way to distance the images because they took place on a farm.
Yes, bad things can happen on farms too. Horrible people can do something despicable almost anywhere. And this one individual has been arrested and hopefully the investigation will determine whether any others were engaged in the horrendous acts. I limited how much of this I saw but I’ve seen enough – far too much actually. The images of brazen, even boastful abuse of animals will stay with me. And I wonder what kind of person can do such things to animals.
The actions at this farm in Ohio are a sharp contrast to the farms I’ve visited in that state and others around the U.S. My brother has livestock there, close friends do and I’ve had a chance to see rural Ohio for decades. I have incredible images in my head of the larger reality of Ohio agriculture.
Luckily, I know it will be easy for me to continue building the idyllic farm visuals in my mind this summer and in the months and years to come. They won’t replace the reality that some people are despicable and do unthinkable things, but they will help me remember how rare it is and how lucky we are to have people who devote their lives to the care of livestock and the production of our food, feed and fiber. And maybe I can catch another ballgame along the way.