Readers Respond

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

AWAYSIS impact

From JASON HAVEY / King's Pointe Manager

I would like to personally thank all the residents of Buena Vista County for the support they have provided the AWAYSIS project and to all of us here at King's Pointe Resort.

The summer has proven a lot about what this project has already done for the community and what it will continue to provide for years to come. None of this could have been possible without the vision of community leaders and the support of everyone in Buena Vista County. It has been exciting to speak with local business owners and hear of the increases in business they have experienced since the resort has opened. Just as exciting is to see all of the cars in our parking lots from out of county and out of state.

Just think - without the AWAYSIS project all of these people would be having fun and spending their money in other communities. It is truly remarkable what Storm Lake is becoming.

All of October we plan to show our appreciation to the community for all of the support they have shown us over the past year. We are proud to be a strong part of the community employing over 100 local residents which swells to close to 200 over summer. Thank you to everyone from all of us at King's Pointe!

Ode to hamster & farms

From LAURIE JOHNS / Iowa Farm Bureau

We had a funeral for a hamster this week. No, seriously. One of my 11-year-old's hamsters got out of its cage and one of our cats, well, ate it (part of it, anyway). So, my husband fashioned a coffin out of a juice box; I dug a hole with a garden spade and my daughter lovingly buried 'Lila's remains out by the fairy statue in our backyard.

What made this whole situation so surreal was that this happened on the very day that it seemed the whole world was talking about animal welfare in Iowa.

By now, you've heard about or seen the undercover video of hogs being beaten and abused and newborn pigs being killed by a callous, menacing hog confinement employee. Farmers across the nation have quickly swooped in to let a concerned public know that 'no'; this should not and does not go on at their livestock farms. That's a relief to people, whether they eat meat or not.

Let's face it; more than ever before-we are a nation that cares about animals. We are also a nation of people who are removed from the place and the production methods of the food we eat. A hundred and 50 years ago it wasn't that way because if you wanted food to eat, you had to grow it, raise it or shoot it yourself. Now, we not only have grocery stores, Big Box stores and convenience chains-we have pet store chains. As we have become removed from food production, we have embraced the 'humanization' of our companion animals. A dog used to live on a farm and serve a purpose -- to protect and herd livestock. Cats were there to protect the grain (and the home) from vermin. None slept on the beds.

Today, pet store chains sell tiaras for cats, dog sweaters, Halloween costumes for both and hamster habitats galore! I'm right there with my daughter, wondering what our dog will 'wear' for Halloween to surprise the trick-or-treaters at our door and buying 'toys' for our cats. Of course we won't go back to our 'practical pet' days where dogs and cats had jobs but no names.

But no farmer worth his weight in salt wants to see even those animals meant for food production mistreated. I'm a few years removed from the farm these days. But I learned about animal welfare on my family's Century hog farm; we learned that animals that are well-fed, well-treated and respected are more trusting of humans. Pigs would come running to the gate when they saw us approach; my brother and I would give them 'treats' of dandelions and I could swear I saw their tails wagging. Of course I knew they weren't 'pets', but we took care of their needs before our own and made sure they ate "dinner" before we sat down to ours each night. It was respect.

So while I'm sure my late Dad would not attend a hamster's funeral, he would smile nonetheless at the thought that a beloved juicebox finds eternal rest in our backyard. Many other Iowa farmers believe the same; regardless of size or purpose, all life deserves to be treated with respect.