I read a news article last week reporting that a group representing People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is petitioning the Illinois Department of Transportation to be able to erect a roadside memorial. This memorial would be built at the site of a traffic accident where several head of livestock died when the truck that was hauling them, overturned. PETA, in their words, wants to honor the dead animals and bring attention to the dangers that exist to farm animals in the United States.
If it weren’t for diminishing the importance of memorials that have been placed to honor PEOPLE who have lost their lives in highway accidents, I’d say let them waste their money on such a foolish enterprise. Lord knows the several thousand dollars they would spend on this folly would only mean they would have that much less to spend trying to destroy the livestock industry of which I am a proud part. But, this article did get me to thinking…
At various locations around my farm, I probably need to honor animals that have lost their lives in service to me and my family. Animals that have given the ultimate sacrifice so that I can have a home to live in, a vehicle to drive and the means to send my sons off to a seemingly eternal pursuit of higher education.
Under the old elm tree south of the house, I could construct a nice memorial to the three cows that died when lightning struck the tree while the cows were standing underneath. I could also build an elaborate monument down at the pond, recognizing the Holstein steers that perished a while back when they fell through the ice attempting, I suppose, to learn to ice skate, even though there was a nice, big hole I had chopped for them just a few feet from their eventual tomb.
A nice statue could be erected at the site where an old, white cow happened to be in the wrong place, at the wrong time, when a windstorm toppled a dead tree onto her. Or, maybe even a group memento to memorialize the dozen calves that froze to death in last winter’s blizzard. Of course, I’d have to build part of that honor in the living room of my house, since that’s where two of them met their maker despite the all-night vigils performed by my wife.
Then, so as not to offend my entire cow family, there would have to be markers placed at:  the ditch where the crippled cow stumbled and landed upside down, the spot in the field where another cow choked while consuming her own afterbirth, the feeder calf that lodged his head in a forked tree, the twin whose mother left him, and a multitude of other weird, freak-of-nature accidents that simply happen on a working farm despite every precaution and safeguard we caretakers attempt.
It would cost me a fortune to build a fitting memorial to each of the bulls, cows and calves that have met unfortunate and premature deaths on my place during the past 30 years but, unlike PETA, I don’t have an endless source of financial backing from well-meaning, yet naïve benefactors… which leads me to this plea.
I figure I would need about $100,000 to construct all the statues and monuments necessary to be on an equal footing with PETA’s Illinois highway memorial. If everyone will send donations to me, I promise to start construction as soon as the goal is reached. Of course, until that goal is met, I’ll need to utilize part of the donations to pay the CEO (me) of my newly minted charitable organization. Also, money will have to be paid to the board of directors (my wife and sons), the legal department (my cousin), and the planning committee (another cousin). But, please believe me, the donations will make you feel wonderful – like you are really helping all the animals of the world.
Jerry Crownover farms in Lawrence County. He is a former professor of Agriculture Education at Missouri State University, and is an author and professional speaker. To contact Jerry, go to ozarksfn.com and click on ‘Contact Us.’


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