I went to an agriculture college after finishing high school. There’s a saying that goes “It takes all types to make up the world” and I’m pretty sure they were all there!
One of the first people I met was Adair.
She had a friendly face, gentle kind eyes, and a welcoming smile.
And she was a little odd.
We were immediate and firm friends.
Adair was from a life of privilege, though you’d never pick it. Her parents doted on her, she longed for nothing.
Adair was at ag college to learn about farming so she could run the farm daddy had purchased. By farm I mean under 100 acres in the hills behind the Central Coast of NSW.
From the start, Adair had a different view about animal production for food. She was already vegetarian, and would go vegan later in life.
Adair never said ‘I don’t want to know’. She wanted to know everything. Even when the lesson included some distress to the animal, she was there. She did question the why’s and what ifs, but I thought that was great. I had always struggled with castrating male animals, cutting lambs tails off and intensive pig and chicken farms. It was nice to have someone with the same ideas.
But you could explain the reasons behind these practices, and in most cases she’d accept it.
We would do a lot of very strange things together.
One of our favorite things to do was go into town after dairy duty in two day old dairy clothes.
Another was to put her mums maternity dresses on with our work boots or better still rubber boots and go to the pub.
We were always there for each other. She defended my mood swings, I defended her views and vegetarianism.
After college, she went back to the farm and basically isolated herself. She did have a few friends, most of them living an ‘alternative’ lifestyle. I did keep in touch for a while, but my work made it near impossible. This was the time before mobile phones.
A lot of years later I found her on Facebook. I was so excited to find her. Of all the people I’d met in my life, Adair had been one of the few to encourage my eccentricities. I needed that acceptance again.
The first thing I noticed was she’d become an animal rights activist. In my naivety I thought it was great, and wondered how I could get on board.
It wasn’t long, after reading her posts, I figured out not only did I not want to be involved, I wouldn’t be accepted anyway.
We continued an uneasy friendship for a while. I asked her to clarify some activist positions. She tried to tell me my chosen career was terrible. But we still got on.
Until one day.
She posted an absolute lie. She said drinking milk causes arthritis and brittle bones. I stated that of all the health issues the elderly dairy farmers I know have, they weren’t among them.
That was it for her. She followed the usual activist line and told me I’m a cow rapist and I force my cows to be pregnant for financial gain, that I rip baby calves off their mothers and murder the boys, and that I personified everything wrong with the world and I should hang my head in shame.
The Adair I remembered with an open, questioning mind and morals, not that much different from me, had turned into a hate mongering member of an agroterrorist organisation hell bent on stopping the use of animals for food production.
I was devastated. Absolutely devastated.
I cried and cried.
It was like she had died.
I knew we’d never talk again.
I knew I’d never see her again.
That was about 12 months ago. I still have days…
Adair is the person who’s changed the most. And I miss the old Adair dearly.