The Saga of

This true story does not include the many factors that determine the unkindness that exists
wherever living things are raised in confinement, be it a barn, classroom or prison.

There are few scenes that convey contentment and peace more than a herd of cows grazing or lounging on lush pasture. However, if a few of those kindly, innocent looking cows have horns and you move them into a barn with its corners and congestion, you will witness the most sadistic behavior. Those with horns will corner and gore whenever possible, obviously enjoying being able to dominate, terrorize and inflict pain on others. Cows, in a herd, know exactly where they rank in the pecking order and which ones would delight in ramming a horn right through them, given the opportunity; however, those on lush pasture are peaceful, because no one can be cornered.

One winter, soon after the cows were given access to the barn for feed and shelter, the bellowing of cows being cornered and gored by the half dozen with horns was more than I could stand, so I called a neighbor to saw the horns off (a very painful operation). After dehorning the large, big boned Charolais, only Red was left. Red was a small Milking Shorthorn with only one horn. Her other horn was broken and hung down harmlessly. Her sides were scarred, for as the smallest she was always on the receiving end, at the bottom of the peck order. After years of abuse, Red was a beaten, battered, picture of despair so we decided to spare her the pain of removing her one usable horn. However, as the only horned cow in the heard, Red became the most sadistic tyrant and spent the rest of her life gaining revenge.

We are all products of a confinement system (the classroom... complete with congestion, corners and those with horns). Each year we graduate another class, many of whom have been cornered and gored for 12 years. Many will try to spend the rest of their lives trying to gain revenge. In the classroom, whether we were the gorers, the gored, or sat quietly, hoping not to be a target, we endured an atmosphere that was anything but pastoral and peaceful and we, like Red, have all been scarred.

Dick Gallien

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