Thursday, October 01, 2009

Dirty Jobs' Mike Rowe on Lamb Castration, PETA, and American Labor

Here's a video I came across that I found fascinating. It made me realize how out of touch I am (and perhaps most of us are) with... well, aspects of reality, I guess -- what we expect to be true and what really is -- and finding joy in life and satisfaction in work.

It's long at about 21min but you can probably judge whether it interests you by the first several minutes. At once I greatly envy all the stories Mike must have, and yet... I have to draw the line somewhere in terms of new experiences, and I think it is here. :) Enjoy.


MamasBoy said...

I think I'll stick with the rubber bands, even though it makes me wince with pain imagining what it must be like... even though the evidence before contradicts my feelings. I just don't think I could bring myself to bite the scrotum off my goats. Also, when I've castrated my goats in the past using the rubber band method, they are typically up and walking around right away, even if they aren't running and jumping. Perhaps it is different with sheep, or perhaps it is the combined pain of the rubber band on both the tail and scrotum that does them in. It certainly isn't a fun job. I've only done it a couple times, and I can't even think about it without imagining it being done to me.

I also liked the guy's reflections on work and satisfaction in life. I think, though, that even pig farmers are following their dreams in many ways. They are raising animals and working with their hands, out of doors much of the day. That sounds like a dream job to me (until the crappy weather sets in).


Scott said...

I found his comparison of the risky jobs to the OSHA standards compelling, and at least partly agreed with his idea of a "war on work."

Agreements: There is a declining emphasis on manual labor, which is too bad. We need these workers, and I find the lack of respect for blue collar jobs to be both wrong and bad for society. My ideal would be a society where all types of work are respected and anyone who works can make a living. (Don't ask me how to get there, because I don't know. :) )

The example of the crab boat (getting you back rich, not getting you back safe) was really interesting. It was interesting to think about the humane regulations as not accomplishing what they were supposed to in the case of the lambs and OSHA regulations getting in the way of a successful crab voyage. The tension comes for me here:

- If a group of people wants to take incredible risks in their work, and all people freely choose this, I have no problem with it. I might not like the value of fortune over life, but it's not really my business.

- But say there's a sailor on the crab boat, hypothetically, that is only there because it's the only job he can find. That person needs the OSHA protections. The regulations at least in part are to address the imbalance in power between employer and employee.

That doesn't disprove Rowe's point, but that's a point of tension for me.

Kevin said...

Hey MB,

First hand knowledge is far better than a video. Thanks for sharing!

Yeah, I wonder if the testicle biting is absolutely necessary or if there is some device that could be used for the surgery. At least that's what I would be vigorously arguing if I were facing that job. :)

It's good to know that your experience doesn't match Mike's, and your explanations for that sound reasonable. Maybe if you do it right, surgery is best, but in terms of reproducibility, I'm not sure which would be best or least painful for the sheep.


Kevin said...

Hey Scott,

Thanks for joining in! :) I basically agree with you and the point of tension you highlight. I found it fascinating, but I don't really know what to do about it.

While watching it, I was also impressed by how we project our own sense of happiness and acceptable risk/reward. We look at dirty jobs or dirty people around the world and want to help them because we figure that if we can't imagine ourselves being happy in their shoes, they must not be happy.

But what if they are happy? It's such a strange thing to not be able to imagine it. But that failure of imagination is a good reminder to me of the importance of liberty.


Anonymous said...

In the rabbit world, there are breeders who can't bear the thought of killing anything or doing any sort of violence. They don't butcher rabbits for meat, and if one needs to be put down they get someone else to do it for them.

But sometimes there are baby rabbits that need to be put down--such as "peanuts" with two dwarf genes that are unable to survive and will die a slow lingering death over the first several days, or babies that were accidentally trampled or half-eaten by the doe.

So some of these breeders, who can't bear the idea of hurting a baby rabbit, will put them in a plastic bag and put them in the freezer. Alive.

"It's painless," I've been told. "The cold just makes them go to sleep and they die peacefully."

There's a woman on one of my rabbit discussion groups that tried this once and the next day found the frozen baby rabbit completely on the opposite side of her large freezer.

They don't peacefully go to sleep and die with no pain. They suffocate and/or freeze to death. Not a quick or humane death by any means, IMHO.

Another person puts them in a bucket of warm water with a weight on top of them, walks away and comes back later. "The warm water just makes them go to sleep," she says. Not exactly. It's called drowning, and is NOT considered a humane method of dispatch.

On the other hand, those who are educated in humane dispatch usually use methods that are a lot more immediate--cervical dislocation, blunt trauma to the head, decapitation, etc.

Bashing a kit's head against a hard surface or breaking its neck is maybe a lot more difficult and unpleasant for the humans, but it causes a lot less suffering to the animal than putting it in the freezer and walking away.

The way that is easiest and less distasteful to the person is not necessarily the most humane for the animal.


Kevin said...

What a great comment, PK!

It is counterintuitive that the violent and brutish option may be more humane, and the gentler option more cruel. I am fascinated how our increased sensitivity can actually lead to distorted sensibilities because we lose sight of reality and protect our own feelings rather than retrain them.

Thanks for the insight into the wondafuw worwd of wabbits. Those tid bits you shared are exactly what interests me about Mike's show. You gave a glimpse of reality that we are all connected to, but that I am also so often out of touch with.


P_K said...

Yeah . . . I don't like the fact that eating meat means animals die, but I actually feel better about it being a part of it and KNOWING it is done right, with no unecessary suffering or maltreatment involved. I went out this fall and watched the cattle and sheep being butchered at the farm. One of those sheep and half of a cow is now in our freezer.

Sometimes it completely changes people's opinions of me when they find out that I butcher rabbits for meat. They can't imagine that I could ever do such a thing, and they are shocked and horrified. Yet they don't hesitate to eat meat from the grocery store.

Some of those animals that become grocery store meat were raised in conditions so unhealthy that they need to be pumped with antibiotics just to keep them alive long enough to butcher. They may not have been fed a biologically appropriate diet that would be healthy in the long-term for that species of animal. Many lived their entire lives without ever being able to stretch their limbs or turn around with ease. A lot of them were loaded onto a crowded truck and transported long distances with no food, water or sometimes even protection from the elements (not to mention protection from each other), and then handled and butchered in a way that caused a lot of stress and pain before they died.

When I get home-grown meat out of my freezer, I know that animal lived a healthy, well-cared-for life with good food, a clean home, quality food and loving care. It then was calmly soothed and petted, handled gently in a familiar place, and went from calm and comfortable, well-fed and happy, to dead and experiencing no pain in about 2 seconds flat.

And all this was done by someone who cared for their well-being and treated them with respect and kindness even in their death.

It's unpleasant being the one to do the deed, or being close enough to the situation to feel responsible and know the details of how it's done. But in my opinion, it's very much worth it.

I probably eat a little less meat now. But I feel more connected and appreciative of the meat I do eat, and I feel better about it from an ethical standpoint.

The more I do this, the more I appreciate the idea of being thankful that the animal gave its life so I could eat, and not wanting to waste any of it.

Shabbeer said...
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