The horse had spent the afternoon rolling in the mud and knocked over his water rubber tub (10-gallons) and someone could say he was neglected and filthy and denied water intentionally. They wouldn't see his body condition, just-trimmed hoofs, or the fact he has 2 acres of field to run and enjoy. They would just see a horse that looks like a mess. The rabbits had not been fed since morning and their water crocks needed refilling, so they must never be fed or watered, right? The dogs were inside, the sheep's water had run low, the place needs to be raked and woodpiles restocked. You get the picture?
And that person could break the law and trespass on my property and snap photos. They could accuse me of neglect, and slander me online and the whole time they'd holler I had no anti-tresspassing signs on the front lawn and their constitutional right of free speech meant they could say whatever they wanted. All this based on one afternoon in early spring.
I just finished evening chores and if someone walked around now I'd get a friggin award for their care and condition. A gorgeous horse just brushed with perfect feet, great hay, and water overflowing. They'd see the romping free range space for a flock of birds and healthy lambs running in the field as their mothers chew on a pile of second cut goodness. They'd see happy, pregnant goats with trimmed hooves eating minerals and grain with their red bucket filled to the brim. They'd see new chicks in the brooder with paste-free butts. Why? Because at this moment everything is perfect. Twice a day this place is perfect, morning and evening chores. The rest of the time it is a farm.
A farm - like your kitchens, changes all day in appearance and usage and performance. If someone broke in from child services and you hadn't gone grocery shopping yet and there was dirty dishes in the sink and pizza take-out boxes by the door they could snap photos of your private property and say you had failed as a parent. You failed to ensure proper care and nutrition of your household and child. Didn't you know that mold could grow on those dishes, and the toilet wasn't flushed and had urine in it, and there was nothing planned for dinner and the floor had mud on it...You must be a filthy, horrible person. They could type that up, take photos and show evidence of poor planning and slander you and take away your children. But we all know that if that happened thousands of families would be outraged and rally and say that this was is insane and idiotic.Yet, if you raise animals in 2015 and the place doesn't look like a County Fair exhibit 24/7 you're a deadbeat, animal abusing, criminal.
I hate that that fear filled me. I hate that this is all true and neighbors right in this state are dealing with criminal charges because a dog bowl froze in February. I hate that this is what it is like to have animals and be a public person in this modern world of iPhones, anonymous comments, and ignorance of livestock and their care. Most of all, I hate that I felt I had to write this in case some crazy person snuck into my barn when I was teaching strangers about brooder temperatures and flock health.