Let me begin by  telling  you a story  from my childhood.

My Home Town
My Home Town

From age eight to nearly seventeen I lived in a small town and attended  Farnham Elementary School in  the Eastern Townships, Quebec, Canada. The teachers taught grades one to eight with two grades in every class. I loved the school and most of the teachers and delighted in the once a year Science Fair, even though I am not at all science oriented. Science was the name given to a fair that covered all areas of education, so any project chosen was usually okay. I can’t for the life of me remember what any of my projects were (littlest sister would probably know), but I do recall one of my brother’s projects.

My Brother and Mom
My Brother and Mom

School was not my brother G.’s favorite place to be and so when it came time for the Science Fair, he struggled with picking a project that might interest him. He just did not want to participate and I don’t think he was given the option not to submit anything. I am not sure how it came about, but someone in the family came up with the idea of a poster about muskrats. We are talking about dead muskrats, specifically their pelts. You see, my brother had a 12 gauge shotgun and used it at the family place of business ( a marsh farm) to hunt, to shoot and to kill muskrats. At the time, I thought it was normal that my brother should have a shotgun at such a young age-maybe 12 or 13 and that he should hunt muskrats for pleasure. I was happy for him that he had a hobby that he really enjoyed and at which he excelled.

Muskrats
Muskrats
Muskrats
Muskrats

The project idea was that my brother would hunt, then kill, then skin, then cure the muskrats, then display them for all to see. Along with this display would be included a description of skinning and curing muskrat pelts (euphemism for the skin and fur of dead nonhuman animals). No doubt my mother helped out with the written part of the project. She always helped us out.

I remember my brother being pretty proud of the finished product, so he grudgingly agreed to go to the Science Fair to stand beside his work and to answer questions if they came up. There was a great deal of interest  surrounding this display of dead muskrats nailed to a piece of plywood. But that is not all there was. There was also a distinct, unpleasant smell wafting up from the skins of these poor beings. It was the smell of death, the smell of improperly cured pelts. All of a sudden, parents and children alike were avoiding my brother’s project and the growing space around him and his project was becoming increasingly embarrassing. Pride quickly turned to shame and I remember my brother gathering up his work and heading out the door, with my mom quietly supporting him.

Muskrat Odor Concealer
Muskrat Odor Concealer
The Decision Makers
The Decision Makers

Once home, he refused to go back. He was  angry, understandably so, at having been forced to participate in the first place. But then, one of us came up with the bright idea of annihilating (covering up) the smell of putrefying flesh. What about my mother’s Chanel #5 perfume? We thought that if we doused the skins with enough perfume, they would be acceptable to the masses for the remaining two days of the fair. My mother immediately deemed the cause worthy of   the sacrifice of her expensive perfume. We laughed as we completed our mission.

I am happy to say that the next evening the project passed the nose test, even though the smell of Chanel was, shall we say, a tad overpowering. Interested people once again surrounded the table where G’s project was displayed and he stood there proudly, his hobby and his efforts vindicated.

This story became a happy part of our family lore and it was told on many occasions to family members and friends alike. Truthfully, I have not thought about it in quite a few years, but it came back to me as I sat down to write a post about fur farming in Canada.

You may recall that I recently posted about an undercover operation that cited the barbaric treatment of foxes and minks at a fur farm in Quebec. Sometime later, many of the unfortunate residents of this farm were released, no doubt by a nonhuman animal advocate frustrated at the lack of protective action taken by the Canadian Government. Now comes word that the negligent owner  is facing 6 charges of cruelty against the non humans he is incarcerating and mistreating for their fur. Astonishingly, the government has chosen not to rescue these beings from the nightmare in which they live.

Foxes in the Wild
Foxes in the Wild
Fur Farmed fox
Fur Farmed Fox

According to news reports, these charges are the first of their kind to be levied in Canada. Where they will lead, I have no idea. I presume, like many others, that this is a good first step in the cause of nonhuman animal rights and agency over their own lives. But, and this is a big but, the foxes and minks are still living in deplorable conditions, destined for death and out of the reach of help from those of us who care. In my book, their rescue is the first thing that needed to happen. The farmer would have lost his means of livelihood, as well as received a powerful message about his unconscionable conduct. I hope that this still will take place.

 

Annie’s Vegan View

Our view of childhood memories may change as we grow and change.

Indoctrination begins at birth and is a process by which we learn and absorb our culture and its rules.

Children  should not be taught , whatever the reason, that using non human beings for our own purposes is okay.

Using kindness and compassion when we show our children the way, is the way!

Choose  veganism for all beings, for yourselves, for your children and grandchildren and the generations to come. 

May all beings be happy and free.

Anne
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Fur Farming and My Brother’s Muskrat Project!!!

10 thoughts on “Fur Farming and My Brother’s Muskrat Project!!!

  • November 15, 2014 at 7:32 pm
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    I remember the comfort of my mother’s food, and never challenging what we were eating, although I would have said I loved animals as a child. My favourite stories were all about animals. I read Black Beauty over and over and wept at the cruelty and suffering in there. I was always crying over animals who got hurt or died in films and books. I loved the TV series ‘Lassie’. I wanted pets, and wasn’t allowed until I was eleven when I got a hamster. I ate pigs and lambs,realising at some level what they were, but I never spoke up, never articulated what I felt, I just accepted that if Mum gave us these foods to eat, it must, somehow, be ok. I remember the comfort of fish and chip suppers – the treat that they were. I never once thought about how awful it could be to drown in air on the deck of a trawler.

    Recalling all this, and how long it has taken me to finally understand that eating animals is the start of everyone’s wrong turning in life, I see that we all grow up desensitized to the violence on our plates, and the older we get, the harder it is to change our habits, even for someone like me, who cared for the environment and went on demos against the Canadian seal hunt in the 1970s.

    But I did it. I became vegan at the age of 58. I am nothing special, If I can change, anyone can. But remembering the past helps me understand the struggles of other people who are also securely stuck in a mind set that was given to them from babyhood. It’s a stranglehold that keeps us from seeing the truth of what we are actually doing to other animals, even when we think we love them. I do not reflect happily on what I did in the past, to countless poor, suffering creatures as morally important as any Lassie or Black Beauty, but I can’t change any of that, I can only go forward into the future, living differently. And that I am very glad to do.

    Reply
    • November 18, 2014 at 3:03 am
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      Your comment really touched me. It sounds a lot like me, even down to reading the books. Although I could only read them up to the parts that made me cry and then I never read them again. But could remember them vividly – couldn’t get it out of my mind.

      I was in my 40’s when I finally became entirely vegan. Seems like a lot of us take a long time to get here, but thank goodness we do. Thank you for sharing your story.

      Reply
      • November 18, 2014 at 7:55 am
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        Hi Krissa,
        We may have come to veganism later in life (I was 58), but I am thankful that I did. Like you, I try to concentrate on the positive side of “getting it”.
        My daughter and grandchildren are plant based and vegan(except for the little guy who is too young to understand what vegan means) but my little granddaughter speaks her truth and it is the voice of the future. There will be more and more little ones like her and young people, like my daughter, who live a life of kindness and compassion toward all beings.
        In the meantime I will keep sharing, highlighting and advocating. many thanks for your support.
        Anne

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        • November 18, 2014 at 2:00 pm
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          That’s wonderful about the younger generations in your family, Anne. 🙂 And I really enjoy your blog very much and think that you have a great way of sharing what it means to be vegan. You’re not only a voice for our fellow creatures who can’t speak or write for themselves, but for us vegans who have a hard time to put our thoughts and feelings into words (you’d be surprised how long it takes me to get the wording on a lot of comments ‘right’!). ha ha… Keep up the awesome work!

          Reply
          • November 18, 2014 at 5:36 pm
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            Hi Krissa,
            Thanks so much! I am glad that my website is relevant. It continues to be a learning experience for me as well.
            Many thanks,
            Anne

  • November 16, 2014 at 7:17 am
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    Hi Carol,Welcome to my website and thank you for commenting and sharing your story. I, like you, came to veganism later in my life. I was also around 58, so have a long history of eating nonhumans. It is interesting to note that, as a child, I did not like milk, cheese, fish, lamb, veal and was not that keen on beef-all euphemisms, except for lamb and fish , of the hidden cruelty in farmed animal industries.I think it is important to focus on the positivity of the change we have made and the fact that we provide a presence which can be ignored less and less. I love being the pebble in the shoe of human consciousness (or lack thereof). Many thanks for speaking your truth.Anne

    Reply
  • November 18, 2014 at 2:57 am
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    Considering the charges being filed against him are the first of their kind, that’s a huge step. It’s so sad and almost mind-boggling that they really are the first…and this is 2014. 🙁 … Your story sounds very much like the way my mom’s side of the family grew up. They were in rural Kansas and all grew up with guns from a young age, hunting. And farming. I haven’t seen any of them in decades, but that part of the family tree are still living that life.

    A few days ago I signed yet another online petition against fur. If people had any idea what is actually involved, I don’t know if they’d still wear it. Just like with the idea that if folks were forced to spend some real time on farms and in slaughterhouses, how many would never think of eating “meat” or “dairy” or eggs again…. Ignorance is not bliss and especially not for those who suffer because of human ignorance.

    Thanks for the post. The last paragraph is so powerful and I agree completely with your ideas about this. One of the hardest things is knowing that they are beyond our reach when we want so much to help and they need it more than we can imagine – even knowing what we know. So let’s hope. Maybe this will be the beginning of getting help to as many of those souls as possible.

    Reply
    • November 18, 2014 at 8:04 am
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      Hi Krissa,
      Interesting info about your family. Thanks for sharing. I am not really from a hunting family. The hunting was a kind of outreach activity for my brother, who did not like school at all. The place of business was a vegetable farm.
      I guess my point is that another form of activity needed to be found for my brother. It is not okay to hurt someone for the benefit of another.
      I too sign petitions. I believe that they highlight the issue of cruelty and ultimately people will become aware of what is going on. Fur as clothing needs to be removed from its current definition as a status symbol and returned to what it really is-a symbol of all that is cruel and abhorrent in this world.
      I am glad that you were able to connect with this post and welcome the opportunity to dialogue with you. It is supportive to me in so many ways.
      Many thanks,
      Anne

      Reply
  • October 21, 2016 at 8:44 am
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    Hi Anne!
    I really enjoyed reading this. It is so easy to see how we have all been conditioned to grow up thinking that harming animals is okay. If our parents show us something is okay we believe them. I shudder when I think of the things I used to eat when I was growing up. I remember my mum used to have a metal mincer machine that she would attach to the table and even then seeing the minced bloody meat come out of it made me cringe but she made me eat it. I also remember the dreaded, “liver and onions” night. It was disgusting and it tasted horrid, but we all had to eat it because we were told it was good for us. Another vivid memory from my childhood is my mother giving us all a spoon of cod liver oil every night before bed; again because it was good for us. We didn’t question it. It took me until I was 14 before I became vegetarian and I said I wanted no further part in it. I think I made the connection much earlier than this but at that age you just believe what your parents tell you. It took me until age 42 earlier this year to become vegan. I wish I had known sooner what goes on and experience a lot of guilt and shame over this.

    I have always felt a close relationship towards animals. My mum told me that when I was 5 I made her bring a dead hedgehog home that I found in the cemetery. I couldn’t accept that it was dead and wanted to put it in front of the fire to warm it up and “bring it back to life”. She said I wouldn’t let it go and refused to leave it there so she bundled it into a carrier bag and we took it home. I do remember it. I remember how upset I was to discover that animals could die. Like the other comments above, I too loved to watch Lassie and Black Beauty. I particularly liked a programme called, “The littlest hobo” about a little stray dog and its adventures. I don’t know if you had that in Canada or if it was just a UK thing.

    Thanks so much for the stories

    Rachel

    Reply
    • October 28, 2016 at 10:03 am
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      Hi Rachel,
      I disliked most animal flesh and secretions when I was young – eggs, milk,cheese, organ meats, bacon, fish, and the list goes on. I was also allergic to wool. I was vegan the making whay back then.
      Thank you for sharing the story about the hedgehog. Little children can be very intuitive and kind, before that gets shut down by society and its rules. Yes, The Littlest Hobo was a favorite in our home.
      Take care.
      Anne

      Reply

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