The reason for writing this, is that 20 years ago we heard a neighbour make the same comment and then, after that statement, we took note of their behaviour. It did not set a good example. It seemed, back then, an excuse to justify their actions at the time and we forgot about it. Then just recently we came across the same remark elsewhere in reference to the disposal of a house cow no longer able to produce milk to the abattoir after many years of faithful service.
I suppose one way of commencing this is to try and establish what "Everything must pay its way" means. This is a general term and doesn't specify a time frame, a level of contribution or the currency. Nor is specific about species.
For how long does an animal have to provide milk or eggs or affection before it qualifies for a easy life in retirement for its very few remaining years?
How much milk, how many eggs how many licks of the hand?
And to whom does this apply? Just the house cow and the hen, or the house cat who no longer catches the rat. We don't seem to ever include ourselves in this rating scheme. If we did, we wouldn't have a population problem. But for some reason we see the human species as above all others.
Why are we always making life one long economic imperative? We talk about taking responsibility for the life cycle of our purchased goods as a way of reducing consumption, waste and pollution in order to benefit the environment. And so, when we choose to have a house cow or a hen, we should take on the responsibility for its entire life not just the bit that is convenient to us.
Even the act of taking away a cow's offspring because it makes it easier to milk is abhorrent. What pain does that mother have to go through when separated permanently from her newborn. And they do suffer loss and grief.
At Elgaar Farm in Tasmania, the farm's cows retire and stay on the farm and their calves stay with them during lactation and they still manage to run a very viable operation.
Is it just that it's inconvenient, takes something away that we want i.e. grass, money for feed, our time? Is this now just about me not we on this planet? Is it that we can't share our windfall with others and particularly non humans?
Not only do we stuff up the planet but we stuff up the lives of its other inhabitants.
Can't we just share our lives with the planet's other inhabitants and just take a little of their surplus as we need it and allow them a quality of life as well. How much is enough? How little effort are we prepared to lower ourselves towards?