Poor Homesteader Maneuver again

In most ways this blog belongs on my equine
rescue blog, and it will go there, too, but
anything that happens on this homestead is
surely part of the daily life of
its want to be homesteaders,
and therefore, noteworthy.

As everyone who visits this blog
can derive I am concerned about
the treatment of animals.
Sometimes I get concerned that people
feel I pursue this too far and leave
a gap where concern for people should be,
but I think that they are both tied together.

While I cannot go out and save children from
abuse or take them in, as much as I would love to,
I can easily change the life of a horse. Would that it
were so simple to change the life of a local child.
Still, by reporting neglect and abuse towards animals,
you do change the lives of people because I assure you,
if anyone doubts it, those who neglect and abuse animals
are threats to children and all mankind.
They will do the same to human beings
and usually already are.

Case in point and the start of this story:

2 years ago in July, we drove out to
Pritchard, WV in Wayne country due to an
ad on craigslist for a starving Clydesdale cross for
$125; we purchased him.
We placed him in an approved home in
Virginia some months later once he was at
a healthy weight.

The same family lived in squalor, totally
filth. . .folks unfit to care for man or beast, in fact.
They have other horses starving there at the time.
We had only room for one.  He was hundreds of
pounds underweight, needing training and had
never been wormed or had his feet trimmed.


Tonight this same family, father, mother, grandmother,
grandkids and great grandkids were all having a family
evening at the horse auction.


Cattletsburg Horse Auction in Kentucky is nothing more
than a ramshackle meat sale, for the most part.

The owner is a meat buyer.

All sorts of low class horse
traders show up and sell of horses twice a month,
and 80% or more go that night to the holding pens
to be readied for transport of Mexico or Canada for meat.
The trip and process is gruesome and unregulated.

A friend mentioned she was going to go since
she might be looking for a horse,
and oddly, though I usually know
I am too much the activist to show up at
such a place, I told her I wanted to go.
I explained to by dear Farming husband
that is was likely I would bring home a horse.

He was not happy, but
the fact is, I have a
"Do the Right Thing" motivation
I cannot be moved from.


The sloppy, muddy hall these horses encounter
 is filled with "traders"
and self proclaimed "horse folk,"
which are, for the most part,
bringing their horses to a death sentence quite happily.

Folks stand around talking about horses,
having a great time and have not a consideration
in the world for what they have done to the horses
so unfortunate to be owned by them.


This hell-hole sits 15 feet from a train track, and when the trains
go back, the horses whinny, scream, jump, tremble and trip.
This goes wholly unnoticed by the horse tradin' folks.


This time, most horses were well fed.

Some of the only horses were underweight,
and these were very thin, young
and unhandled. They were mostly owned by the 
family mentioned already.


I noticed a large, beautiful draft mare and
several spotted draft mix horses in a pen.
They really caught my eye.

There was a sweet QH type mare that 
stood by the fence and let me pet her more eagerly
than any horse at the sale, and I thought to myself,

I will buy her when she comes through.

I saw a lovely little Palomino pony shaking and
attempting to escape the train only 15 feet or
so from the pen she was in,
and then I saw a group of yearlings,
very thin and obviously never handled,
owned by the fine family above mentioned,
in another pen.


There so many,
I had no idea how I would choose only ONE!


We crowded into a smoke filled auction room
when it was time to run the horses through.
I looked down and saw the family
I rescued the Clyds cross gelding from.
They had a small infant,no older than 4-6 months,
in a car seat beside them.
While it was no more than 50 degrees inside,
the baby had no blanket and the parents,
obviously teenagers, sat smoking away in a room already
filled with smoke,and as they brought the group of
scared colts and fillies these people had not
handled or fed through and sold them for as little
as $10 a piece, their feet never trimmed,
having never known affection
and their ribs visible from any distance,

I thought how clearly the treatment of their horse
reflected the negligence and abuse
of this little baby. This is to say nothing of the
older kids with them, all dirty and
exposed to smoke and worse.


An owner of a starved colt we recently had rescued was there, as well.
The girl who starved this little colt into a body condition of 1,  until he could barely walk,
 I did not see her buy another horse,
 was there and
could easily have purchased another
one to starve and abuse.


Most horses that went through went for about $150 dollars,
some went for as little as $10,
and many went for $40-$60.
Only a handful brought over $200.
I estimate 80% were purchased by Buyer #1,
the owner and meat buyer.
The owners stood in the ring after
riding the horse for potential buyers above
and around, and they did
not blink an eye when
Buyer #1 would win the bid on their horse.

Not a single owner was moved by this being the
new "owner" of the horse they
had brought here.


I watched these horses go through and although
I wanted to bid on each one, I knew

I could only buy one, and it is difficult to choose
which horse gets a chance,
gets to live. . .

Then they brought in a white mare. . .

I had taken a photo of her earlier in the evening,
and I suppose it stuck me that
with all that was going on, how she just
stood there looking very hollow
and very alone among the many horses
tied beside of her.

The auctioneer stated she was a
Quarter Horse Mare about 10 years old.
Some yahoo that works for the stockyards rode
her bareback and turned her
around and around in the little area below.

The only bid was from Buyer Number #1.
The guy in the red shirt.
The meat buyer, and I asked my friend
quickly for her auction
number and help it up at the last minute.

She was now mine for the price of $125.
The meat buyer did not counter.
She was a large mare and heavy, but he
had a pen full already, and
the auction was only half over.

Before I knew it, the whole deal was over.
I never saw the dark, thick mare
from the one pen come through.
Neither did the  Belgian mare. . .or the spotted
drafts.

I went and waited through the
 lines to pay. I noticed the family that brought
in the 5 or 6 horses, the family
I first described to you.
They were collecting the money for
 the horses they had bred and starved
and brought here.
It could not have amounted to more
 than $250, and they have purchased
 more horses to take home, breed and one day
return to the stockyards.

Their little infant was sitting in a carseat screaming
outside as the grandfather chain smoked and let the
little baby freeze in weather well into the 30's.
He did rock the seat back and forth a bit,
for all that is worth.
This was 11pm.


I went into see the mare I had saved after paying her fee.
I saw the main lot of horses, the one with the draft horses and
the mare I had planned to buy.
I asked the boy working inside
why they weren't ran through.


"Oh, that is the kill pen.
The owner bought them as soon
as they came in today.
They don't get to go through."

I asked him how I could buy a horse out of the pen as
 I looked at the
dark eyes of the sweet mare
I had planned to save.



I asked if he could check to see
what it would take to buy her.

Buyer #1, the man in the red jacket,
came buy and poked her with this
cattle prod and said, "$450" and walked on by.
He had paid not a dime
over $150 for this mare a few hours before,
and after letting horses go through
for $10, I could never justify buying
this mare for that.

I asked how long would she be there,
how long did they all have,
hoping I might alert someone to them plight.

He said,

"They all leave tonight."


I could not save her. I could not save them.

Every horse above is on its way to
a holding pen and then to slaughter now.
There were at least 35 horses there tonight
bought for slaughter.
But I did save number 0493


 Farming fellow came with the trailer as a
yahoo loaded a Donkey into the back of a small
pick up inside of a wooden box.
They put a tie down strap
across his back to keep him from jumping out of the
truck bed and the old fellow actually stopped
and patted the spotted Jack that sold for $45 lovingly.


Goodness, do these people not realize what they are doing?
However, that little Jack is likely going onto a much better
fate than those soon to be loaded into the semi out back and this trailer
than pulled in right as our gray mare stepped right up into our own.


So I saved one. . .

One white mare


Who oddly enough, I believe, has ended up a mix of our favorite breeds:
Quarter Horse and Arab

It is not economical or in the way of homesteading,
but that "Do the Right Thing" feeling I get
. . .I cannot shake it.