Ever woke up thinking today is the day to face a fear?
The day of the dairy farm and apiculture excursion, I felt unease because I have always feared bees. I did not fear the bee, but the sting and the unexpected physical pain which I have never felt before.
Arriving at La Selvatana, the family owned dairy farm in Campllong Catalonia, Spain, walking out of the bus and onto the fly-infested, cow manure smelling, open farm felt…well, interesting.
I have never visited a dairy farm before. Anna, the owner of the farm, began our tour introducing us to the calves. There are many different diets such as vegan and vegetarian; some follow these lifestyles to defend animal rights and others for personal reasons. PETA shows how animal farms neglect and abuse their animals for business. Visiting Anna’s organic dairy farm gave me a different perspective: the cows were treated as five-star hotel guests. They have everything to live a great life. Anna treats the cows as if they were her children, and watching her talk about and to the cows, it represented how connected she is to her animals.
The first thought to come to my mind about the cows is the cleanliness. Anna explained to us farm work can be dirty but when it comes to milking the cows, sanitation is very important. During a small tour of the room where cows are milked, Anna explained how they sanitize and make sure everything is working properly for the cow’s comfort. I did not know it is critical to understand the cow’s anatomy and how the udder has protective valves to keep bacteria from entering and spoiling the milk. At the end of the tour, we had organic milk and yogurt and they were delicious and a symbol of the hard work Anna has put in.
Later we headed to the bee farm, amidst my freaking out. When we stepped out of the bus, I was very anxious, imagining bees around me and got scared. Ramone, our bee tour guide, explained how there are different types of jobs for honey bees. After putting on protective suits I was relieved about being close to the bees, but not fully comfortable. After wearing the suit, I kept checking for exposed skin, worried if there is any way a bee might sting me.
After the tour, I learned to appreciate bees for everything they do. If it were not for bees, a sustainable planet would not exist, as dramatic as that truth sounds. Ramone explained how bees are slowly dying which is highly problematic. Recently, scientists accumulated compelling evidence towards a class of insecticides called neonicotinoids. These chemicals are widely used in commercial agriculture but can have lethal effects on bees. Other aspects adding to the toll include pesticides, invasive parasites and a general decline in the quality of bees’ diets.
Both Anna and Ramone repressed mother nature. They both care deeply about their products and more importantly, their animals. The world needs more people like Anna and Ramone. I believe there are many farms who neglect animals and only see them as an investment. This excursion has made me understand why some people choose not to support certain businesses and products.