A 70 foot spire towers above Meadowcreek valley. No one has yet climbed the spire, but a view from the cliff behind it puts the fields of Meadowcreek in perspective.
The few acres of open fields are almost overwhelmed by the forest around them. The forests are continually trying to encroach on the fields we use to produce food. We are continually “beating back the jungle.” Every day we appreciate the work of past residents in maintaining fertile fields where we can create sustenance. The sandstone spire towering over us as we work reminds us that our entire valley was once a flat plain which eroded down leaving the spire on top and a few fertile fields in the bottom.
Our respect and awe for traditions and history is also stimulated by the animals we care for. A few years ago we bought a batch of baby chicks. As they matured, we tried to pull out all the males but one. We missed culling one and ended up with two. One rooster is all you need in a flock of chickens. If you have two, they will just fight. And fight they did–until one killed the other.
This series of fights had made the surviving rooster hyper-aggressive. We had some young puppies at the time from a breed which takes no interest in chickens. However, the rooster decided his duty was to keep the puppies away from the hens. One day I came home to see the puppies cornered in an open shed while the rooster patrolled the entrance.
As the puppies grew they got tired the the incessant bossing of the rooster and started to bat back when the rooster threatened them. Every day the rooster was more bedraggled. Finally, the puppies won and we had no rooster.
The rooster had been trying to defend his hens from the puppies who had no interest in his hens. In doing so, he had stimulated the aggressiveness of the dogs and showed them how much fun it was to play with chickens. So the dogs played with the chickens until we had lost every last chicken. Then, their interest in chickens stimulated, they went after the neighbor’s chickens.
All the chickens in the neighborhood suffered because one rooster was hyper aggressive and saw an enemy where there was none. The dogs could have been co-protectors of his flock, but the rooster turned them into enemies.
Ever since we have made sure to only have one rooster in a flock. No need to stimulate those attack instincts.
The spire makes us appreciate the geologic history of Meadowcreek, so our animals make us appreciate our own social history. Living surrounded by a wildlife reserve, we have to protect our farm animals from predators. Man has always had to protect his family and his animals from predators. In some regions of India and Africa, wild predators are still a threat to farm families. Killing wild predators has always been a necessary task of man.
Today our urbanized society is trying to stifle those instincts. A lion is killed in Africa and his hunter, a dentist, has to go in hiding due to death threats. A new top predator has emerged. This new predator is the sophisicated urbanite determined to dominate the old top predator, the white male hunter.
We don’t kill any of the wild animals at Meadowcreek, but we respect the history of our species. We know there is an instinct inside all humans to destroy predators. The coyotes howling near us at night remind us of the reason for that instinct.
That instinct won’t go away. Why not use it to help protect wild animals? That is what African farmers have done. They have created game reserves to protect wild animals and profit from those who would like to view them and, maybe, hunt them.
My dozen or so trips to Africa have shown me that the only place where wild animals are safe in Africa is in these game reserves. And the game reserves only exist because rich people want to view and hunt the animals.
Why can’t we just accept and use the natural instincts of man. Why do we instead embrace this latest fad of hating hunters? Our roosters would have been much better off if they had let the dogs alone. Game reserves are the only way wildlife is being preserved in Africa today.
But even the most fiercely protected game reserve is no match for the voracious appetite of the Chinese for rhino horns and other parts of wild animals. The righteous anger of animal lovers makes sense directed at such poachers who are destroying whole species. But the dentist patronizing a game reserve is playing a part in preserving the species.
We don’t like killing wild animals at Meadowcreek, but let’s be practical. If we want to save wild species in Africa, game reserves are the only proven way and game reserves won’t exist without high paying customers.