My Heaven, Cow Heaven

First Cut

I live at the foot of the Western Slope of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. Snowmelt provides an amazing amount of water to the Gunnison River Basin, as is evident by the acres and acres of hay pastures and small herds of grazing cows. And a few horses. A few thousand humans are scattered across this landscape, which provides a natural and spectacularly scene of pasture and mountains.
The valley of the North Fork of the Gunnison hosts a surprising population of artists, organic farmers, vintners, amid happy cows munching on red clover, alfalfa and grass. Less visible, yet as happy as the other bovines, goats, pigs, and chickens have found a good life here.
As have I. Everything I need to nourish body and soul: they grow peaches here, for one. The landscape is astonishingly beautiful. Organic farming, always a plus.
And this is cow heaven. No feedlots here, no concentration of a large number of animals on a small piece of land.
This is good.
I want my future beef to be happy, well fed on grass, and gently ‘processed.’

Animal Screams

Fortunately for me and the ranchers, a few very small meat processing facilities are located in the valley. Small is good. I loathe and despise the Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, where cows are mired in manure and urine-saturated pens and fed a mixture of grains, hormones and antibiotics. But this is not happening here in Cow Heaven. I gaze out on these pastures of cows and grass, idyllic in the full height of summer glory. And it is good.

Pigs+to+slaughterThen I heard the screams. An animal in complete, shrieking terror being offloaded into a slaughter house that I had assumed by it’s very smallness would fulfill the destiny, the very birthright, of cattle born in this valley. A respectful peaceful death…

Mere words are so very flat and lack the dimension to describe the dreadful horror of this animal’s last experience as a living creature. It was unbearable. How is that we humans are so cruel? To our food, each other, the landscape, the Earth?
I’m tempted to become a vegetarian, perhaps to cleanse and absolve me of this horror. But I don’t think it’s wrong to eat animals. It’s not wrong to eat anything. But it is wrong to torture our food before we eat it.

You are what you Eat

Who are we, who eat GMO corn-fed, pharmaceutically engineered flesh? Shot full of adrenaline and fear in the moments before it’s death, the animal will be cut up and packaged.

We will eat it. Far from the scene of it’s life and terrified death, the package does not resemble a living animal, whose screams are silent, but the aftermath of fear lives on in us.


Author: Mary C Simmons

I am curious about nearly everything. And I love freedom. And Art.

5 thoughts on “My Heaven, Cow Heaven”

  1. I’ve loved our friendship, Leanne. The way you shine a light on the darkest paths that seem to lead only to despair.

    You illuminate the healing way here — which is the consciousness behind the choice to eat this meat, acknowledging and embracing the suffering of the animal in its last moments.

    I am inspired away from a hopeless shrug that things are what they are, toward a compassion to the Earth and all the organisms, rocks, water and sky that sustain us.

    thank you thank you thank you….


    1. So many signs and signals in the world asking humans to “wake up!” and reach into our immediate experience where the universe story will come to us in every moment, energetically and sacred.

      Mary, I have often thought about how we connected and felt amazed that we have remained connected. There have been periods of silence but never distance. It was as if, long ago, maybe even before we were born, there was a recognition, a resonance, a shared truth. How to explain it? Impossible when we are both all and one.

      Keep well, Friend. Your life is the way.


    1. I never had to hear the screams before. In the days before humans farmed out farming to corporate interests, I can’t imagine that people killed the animals they raised so heartlessly.

      Larger operations evidently have ‘humanitarian’ rules that require them to deliver an electric shock to the animal’s brain, so that it can be forced through its paralyzing fear into the slaughter chamber.

      People have said for awhile that eating red meat leads to aggressive behavior. I’d bet not…the death terror during the animal’s killing permeates its flesh.

      Maybe the ‘inhumane’ treatment of animals we eat also leads to heartless behavior towards our own species? I know of no other animal that tortures its food the way humans do.


      1. You pose cosmic questions, Mary, and I don’t have answers. Sometimes I choose to eat meat. Sometimes I make choices lower down the food chain– chicken, fish, vegetables. I try to take responsibility at each meal so I draw my choice into consciousness. Mostly I think of the human disconnect with the natural world and how to move my consciousness from consumption (the use of something) to communion (an act of sharing) so sharing in the animal’s death I know one day I, too, will die so others can live. It is, IMO, through assimilation of other living beings that we remain in communion with the whole cosmos, every bit of this planet alive because of the sun.

        “You will discover that your body was the whole universe, and the universe a single body…The fact is we die so that others may be born…That’s Evolution.” (Ernesto Cardenal, Cosmic Canticle).


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