Category: At Home
Being Intensely Allergic To Your Pets Is Hard Work
Owning and looking after 6 creatures that have the capability of setting off a huge allergic reaction at any point, is almost a job unto itself.
I don’t mind dealing with the stigma of being a ‘crazy cat lady’, it’s something that I’ve almost taken as a badge of honour. If anything, I’m the very limit of that term – many people have called me crazy to surround myself with animals that can physically cause me harm by simply being near me. They’d be right, if I didn’t love them as much as I do.
It’s important in life to surround yourself with people and things that make you happy.
A long time ago, I found out that I was most comfortable in the company of cats. I came from a family that did not hold with keeping pets. Both my parents were host to a number of severe allergens that could be set off at the slightest contact. These ranged from the every day (dairy and wheat) to the more bizarre (my Mother could not come into contact with water for the first 10 years of her life).
My parents dealt with these allergies well, however they did not have the time to raise myself and my two brothers (along with our range of allergies and conditions) as well as allow us to keep pets.
I first discovered that I was allergic to Cats when we visited a distant relative in the South of France.
Aunt Marygold was a strange old woman. Wrapped up in layers of blankets and covered in Cats, her villa in Bordeaux was cutesy, stiflingly hot and filled with the allergens that I soon discovered were toxic to my body. My parents assumed it was something we’d eaten at a restaurant on the way over. They’d seen allergic reactions before, experienced dozens more of them, and knew the symptoms weren’t life threatening.
As I rolled about on the floor with the half dozen cats that Aunt Marygold kept, the itchy tightness of my rashy skin, the wheezing breaths, all melted away in my mind – I was happy with the cats.
It was only after we left my Aunt’s that the symptoms began to subside and I parents successfully put two and two together. By then, however, it was too late. I was besotted by cats and wanted nothing more than to own 6, just like my lonely Aunt Marygold and live with them in an eternal happiness.
My close relationship with Allergy Control during my childhood, coupled with my own frustrating set of Allergens, led me to take close interest in Biology as well as Chemistry. I became obsessed with discovering the cure to my symptoms, so that I could one day own the precious half-dozen feline companions that would complete my life.
I’m still searching for the cure now, but I was far too impatient to wait to get the cats. Dusty, Jane, Horace, Bruce, Teddy and Jasper are the best friends that I have ever had. I understand that it makes me crazy to say that and I do have other human friends.
But, no other living beings have given so much joy as my furry, lethal cat-companions.
Dairy Cows Tread A Fine Line Every Day, Without Knowing It
If Dairy Cows, and other such creatures (whose yields are relied upon day after day), were granted an increased amount of consciousness or awareness – the pressure they would be under would surely be too much for them.
Although I’ve spent many years living on a Dairy Farm in both my home country of Bavaria in the 80s, as well as more recently with my wife in Dorset, I’ve always had mixed feelings about the relationship between a farmer and his cows. At an early age, I took a cue from my parents – as most children do.
From traditional Bavarian stock, my parents knew nothing but livestock management and dairy farming. They had both come from Dairy farming families, their marriage creating quite the local storm, as their union essentially ended a business rivalry that had existed for decades. Judit and Hal were two star-crossed lovers, who had seen each other from across a crowded showroom.
The first time I met my wife would later mirror that oddly charged scene.
Of course, when my parents met, in 1950s Bavaria, life was a little different. In a time before the popularisation of culture and the proliferation of television, a man’s job and farm were his life. By default then, the farm was emblematic of the entire family’s status and the source of their pride.
As such, when farmers came together for auctions or shows, the presentation of their livestock (and their respective families) represented everything that a man was. At these events, pride was at the forefront and tempers could run high, as sales and bids were decided based on surface traits. However, these events were also a rare chance to socialise and intermingle with people from around the area.
In the dusky corners of the cavernous sheds, where hundreds of cows calmly trundled in procession, Judit and Hal met and talked for hours, sharing their passions for animal care and the great outdoors.
The contradiction between my parents’ sincere love for their creatures and the ruthless view of each animal as a commodity was something that would often confuse me. It’s something that I’ve learnt to come to terms with in the last few years. Running a farm with my wife and relying on the animals for our income does change the nature of our relationship with them.
The 80 or odd animals we keep here in Dorset are relied upon to return on the value that we expended in purchasing them. As much as we can care and nurture their development, if they do not supply us with enough product to sell – then we have to make the hard decision to either sell or butcher them.
I’ve had moments of intense deja vu in the last year or so, as my three kids have started to grow up a little and begin to understand the nature of our business.
Trying to tell them why a certain cow is being led away from the rest is a challenge – but it’s a truth that all farmer’s children must learn in time.