There is a lot to love about winter when you are a farmer. The down-time, cooler weather or needed physical rest are great, but one of our favorite aspects of wintertime is the opportunity to learn from other farmers at conferences. Every year we attend at least two conferences for grass farmers, the Vermont Grazing Conference in Farilee, VT and the Winter Green-Up Conference in Latham, NY.
Both conferences were great and always get us back into planning mode. This year I was a amazed at how much we have learned over the past six years and left both conferences with a renewed confidence in what we are doing and how much knowledge we have acquired with only the fuel of passion for this lifestyle.
At the Vermont Grazing Conference Chris and I were able to once again see Dr. Temple Grandin. There are few people who are able to invoke such intense respect and awe like Dr. Grandin. Grandin is unique in her field (animal behavior) in that she does her job with a major handicap...autism. The amazing thing about Temple though is that her autism has proven to be the opposite of a handicap, a true gift.
Temple's battle with certain aspects of her disease have led her to important discoveries in animal behavior, most noteworthy being the importance of being in tune with animals' senses.
Temple spoke to us first about livestock handling facilities and their design which she has had a significant influence on industry-wide. She illustrated how animals see the world, what frightens them and keeps them calm, and how to humanely ease the handling and eventual slaughter of animals.
Later in the day Temple spoke to us about animal behavior and humane treatment to animals. At the end of her talk Chris and I were able to ask her a few key questions about working with our herd of cattle and our bull. Chris even got Temple to flash us a broad and genuine smile, not an easy feat!
We are so grateful to have had the chance to see Dr. Grandin again, she is truly inspirational. Most of all we are thankful for all of the important contributions Dr. Grandin has made worldwide in animal science and the humane treatment to animals.