I recently read a history of American agriculture and I liked the following paragraph so much I decided to share it here. Discussing the differences between the large factory farms of today and the traditional family farm, the author wrote:
Such huge operations do not match nostalgic memories of family farms, where livestock played an indispensible role. Then, the ties between animals and family members were close, in a sense personal. Cows had names. Chickens flocked around the wife who scattered the cracked corn. Against all expert advice, local farmers in my boyhood community insisted on keeping roosters for the pleasure of the hens and thus sold fertilized eggs and, in some cases, would eat no other. After a year, hogs that had been lovingly fed and cared for faced a necessary slaughter. But in my community no one would do what was best for the meat–stun a hog, hang it by its hind legs, and cut the jugular artery in the throat to let the beating heart effectively remove the blood. That seemed too cruel. Instead they shot the hog in the head to minimize its suffering, and only then slit the throat. In my home, my sister and I cried when we heard the shots, and my father could not bring himself to do the shooting. He hired someone to do it. It is this type of farming on a small, human scale that many people identify with the true “family farm.” They see it as more a way of life than just a means to gain profits, or as a form of artful engagement, rather than a job.
Paul Conkin, A Revolution Down on the Farm, p. 152.