The Benefit of Having Animals, and Cow 'Sorting'

Submitted by xtramelanin on May 6th, 2018 at 8:18 PM


Appropos of OT season, a buddy sent me an article about having livestock or pets when younger, helping to deal with stress better, later in life.  I have linked the article below, but some quotes are here:

German researchers recruited men under 40 whose childhoods fit one of two starkly different patterns. Either they had spent the years before they turned 15 in a city of more than 100,000 people and had never had a pet in their childhood home. Or, they spent those years on a farm that raised livestock.

And some of the findings include this:

In their responses to questionnaires as well as in measures of acute physical stress, the study's 20 country boys clearly felt the heat of the social challenge more strongly. Their levels of cortisol — a "fight or flight" hormone — spiked higher, and they reported higher levels of anxiety.  But the young men who had grown up petless in big cities showed a more sustained immune response to the social challenge.

However, before anyone gets a too idealized notion of rural living, and farming in particular, lets talk 'Cow Sorting'.  This is what you do when you are 'sorting' or dividing up a herd, generally getting ready to keep some, take others to market and/or maybe put some in one field or another.  Yesterday's cow sorting with the neighbor included carrying a steel gate around to deflect cows, fortunately sufficient to defend against a spooked bull who weighs a literal ton, and to encourage many other smaller critters (700-1200 lbs) to go one way or another in tight quarters.  All of this in an ankle deep soup of cow scat and lots of rain water.  

Cow sorting led to 'cow chasing' this morning, as one steer in particular thought he was Cool Hand Luke and escaped.  He is back after quite a rodeo involving all the sons, a tractor, the neighbor, a gator, some hockey sticks, etc.  But that's not a story you'd be interested in.

Anyway, here's the link:

So  my questions to you are:

1.  Did you grow up with animals, livestock, farming at all

2.  Think the study, in general, might be accurate?





May 6th, 2018 at 8:24 PM ^

In my opinion, domestic and wild animals can create a happiness in one's life that can relieve life's stress. I come home after a stressful day at work and I am instantly having a better day watching my pets run around and play. I will go to the Zoo and instantly the animal environment relieves any stress in my mind. I love going on Isle Royal Expeditions because the environment and wildlife are very peaceful up there and that peacefulness spreads into my mind and body.


May 8th, 2018 at 12:23 AM ^

Heck yes, I try to communicate to people as much as possible how much we have lost "nature" and "wilderness".

From medical studies, to psychology, to neuroscience, they all show how just being in natural environments helps our hormonal, immune, and psychological systems (and conversely how cities literally harm them).

Human beings have been domesticating animals for over 10,000 years.

Also we've lived in the agricultural world (non-industrial) world for over 80,000 years.

Those habits, affinities and skills don't just change overnight.

And modernity is so freaking weird, each decade brings massive upheaval of old ways.

We're still anatomically modern humans which have been around for 200-300k years (believe it or not), so things like nature, animals, "the outdoors" (lol, absurd when you really think about it), and exercise (also absurd when you think about it), are so natural to our well-being.

Modern life has absolutely removed us from much of our connection with nature (and of course, helped us avoid much of the negatives of the natural world as well--but we've clearly thrown out the baby with the bathwater).


May 6th, 2018 at 8:24 PM ^

In my opinion, domestic and wild animals can create a happiness in one's life that can relieve life's stress. I come home after a stressful day at work and I am instantly having a better day watching my pets run around and play. I will go to the Zoo and instantly the animal environment relieves any stress in my mind. I love going on Isle Royal Expeditions because the environment and wildlife are very peaceful up there and that peacefulness spreads into my mind and body.


May 6th, 2018 at 8:24 PM ^

In my opinion, domestic and wild animals can create a happiness in one's life that can relieve life's stress. I come home after a stressful day at work and I am instantly having a better day watching my pets run around and play. I will go to the Zoo and instantly the animal environment relieves any stress in my mind. I love going on Isle Royal Expeditions because the environment and wildlife are very peaceful up there and that peacefulness spreads into my mind and body.


May 6th, 2018 at 8:25 PM ^

You skipped the part that makes the rural setting seem like a benefit: even though the rural group spiked cortisol higher than the city boys, "...this response in the country boys waned after five minutes, [while] the city boys' immune systems stayed on high alert for at least two hours. And the urbanites were less able to tamp down their stress-related inflammatory response with the release of anti-inflammatory chemicals."

This is crucial - I thought the first part made the rural group seem more reactionary and likely to do something stupid when under pressure, but the second part implies that they also get past it quicker. 


May 7th, 2018 at 7:52 AM ^

I think that growing up in a rural setting and experiencing what some would incorrectly call the simpler life is a big part of the equation.  I don't have an answer for this, or even an opinion after growing up in the city, but I don't think it can be ignored.

On a personal note, I was in the Michigan Band and went on a road trip my freshman year to Wisconsin.  We went a day early and performed at the Whitewater High School game on Friday evening.  It was freaking cold and there were more of us in the band than at the game.  Afterwards, the high school band parents split us up and we stayed at local houses for the evening.  I and a few others stayed at a dairy farm.  The farmer asked if we wanted to get up early and help milk the cows.  My fellow bandmates responded with a quick, "Hell no!" and i reluctantly went along.  I regret that decision to this day.  I still haven't experienced a dairy farm and wish I had added that exent to my life.


May 6th, 2018 at 8:27 PM ^

Had a dog when I was really little and someone stole it. I was never able to have another until I was a fully functioning adult. They are the best and not sure what it would be like to be without a dog. I also have a rabbit and fish. The rabbit is super cool and thinks it’s a dog.

I think the study could be accurate, but not sure cause I think there are too many other factors that need to be considered.

swan flu

May 6th, 2018 at 8:29 PM ^

Don't know about the study, but I lived in four big cities before I was 18 and now I crave change, like I get anxious if things start the same too long

Cali Wolverine

May 6th, 2018 at 8:30 PM ^

...but have always had a ton of animals. My MGoDog always is happy to see me when I come home...can’t ask for anything better than that! Definitely relieves stress.


May 6th, 2018 at 8:43 PM ^

Grew up in a podunk cow town. Grew up in a family of farmers but by the time I was grown the livestock was sold and the land was leased. It didn’t prevent me from working on farms, bailing hay, pick rocks, pulling weeds and helping neighbors out though. All work that I liked as a kid and would still like as an adult. Parents have horses and various farm animals so I get my fill when I want.

I love dogs but just can’t have them or cats in the house due to family members with pretty bad allergies.

If I had all the money in the world and still had to pick an occupation it would probably be farming. Loved being around it when I was a kid and miss it as an adult.


May 6th, 2018 at 9:40 PM ^

That’s good stuff. Those are memories your kids will never forget. I still remember the spring cattle drive to the pasture / milking pen a couple miles down the road. My uncle finally got sick of chasing stray cattle so he bought an old school bus’ tore out the seats, made a ramp and loaded them onto that thing. It’s one of those stories people look at you when you’re telling and just shake their heads. Tails out the window...cow shit down the side of the bus. Somewhere in the family there is a picture to prove it. Classic. Lol.


May 6th, 2018 at 8:56 PM ^

I grew up with a few cows, chickens and rabbits, and pigs.  Just a hobby farm.  I thought I hated it, but as an adult, I've ended up raising pygmy goats (keeping two to three dozen at a time), plus the usual farm dogs and cats -- and one orphaned pygmy goat who is now a pet.  It was a pretty good supplement to the homeschooling curriculum.


May 6th, 2018 at 9:41 PM ^

yesterday with the poop soup and the skittish critters.  the bull was skittish too, but fortunately not mean.  he took my 'suggestion' with the metal gate, which was really good.  if not, it could've gotten ugly (and messy).  

also, what do you do with the pygmy goats?  wouldn't they all basically be pets?  can you eat/milk/fur them?


May 6th, 2018 at 10:17 PM ^

We sell them, but only occasionally as pets, because we don't remove the horns.  Most of them actually are sold for meat; there's a small but very appreciative middle-Eastern community that provides regular business.  A few are sold for milk, and we've got a man coming to look at a couple of males next week for breeding.


When I refer to the orphaned kid as a "pet", I mean that she was bottle raised in the living room, sleeping in a playpen, and she considers us her parents.  She won't be sold.


I remember slogging through the manure as a child in boots that were too big, rounding up cows who didn't want to go where they were directed.  And I remember using the dry patties as bases when we played baseball.  You don't slide into home!


May 6th, 2018 at 9:27 PM ^

It's the pigs and geese that are highly interesting and entertaining. Although I grew up near fruit farms, as my backyard was both an abandoned Welch's vineyard and orchard complete with creek and our family garden, I ate local to table without choice :>), the real lessons were from working family livestock farms in Michigan on the maternal side.

My aunt Faith for example raised flocks of commercial geese that were supervised by Brutus The Goose who, among other behaviors, herded us small kids around honking, pecking and flapping just as if we were subordinate geese. He kept us in flock. We hated that ba$tard but never killed it despite spending our days shooting at practically anything we could hit to include box kites we'd fly and shoot after dipping our ammo in different colors of paint. We also hunted a lot and ate what we shot, arrowed or trapped. (I don't care for trapping at all, I witnessed too much cruel murder with that practice.)

Pigs I love to this day and I hesitate to eat them although as kids we did experiment feeding bacon to other pigs and they didn't register any objections. They will maneuver you into a hierarchy and herd and nip you into place unless you learn how to firmly and cleverly push back, literally with your knees and willpower because pigs are always testing you. Pigs are scary smart, sentient and emotional, in some ways like humans and in many other ways brilliant still yet uniquely pig-like.

I'd liken what I eventually developed via the livestock farms to a sort of disassociative sociopathy. My friends and family weren't keeping the animals around as pets or friends. We killed them or sold them off to be slaughtered. So I learned early to make artificial, one might argue, distinctions between which living beings might be my buddies for awhile and those to die on Monday.

That changes perspective, and I don't believe urban kids have any clue in this regard. But it's strange because, although I developed a deep and genuine appreciation for all life forms, I happen to be an urban survivalist living in Chicago. Among other survival implements like water storage and puro, medicine and food, I have a small semi-automatic arsenal and in any rioting or insurrection comparable to Baltimore or Ferguson etc., I have the ability, expertise and willpower to mow down 500+ criminal arsonists or other invaders within minutes and then to sleep soundly after enjoying a beer or two.

It's what I mean by "disassociative sociopathy" because even soldiers who killed in combat but were raised in urban environments would likely have problems with the destruction of life while folks who spent a lot of time as children on livestock farms probably wouldn't suffer after effects from their killings -- even of human beings.

An odd phenomenon, love of life and ability to detach and dispatch life all rolled into a bundle and this is something those raised urban/suburban cannot understand I suspect. 0.02


May 6th, 2018 at 11:59 PM ^

Nor will everything you find even on the dark webz provide you with reliable information. It's a journey, try to enquire and prepare without becoming paranoid in the process. Topics you will want the answers to won't be addressed commonly, for example, your purchasing battleship armor plate (the thick hardened steel sheets that cities drop over holes in their streets) to have cut locally and formed into safe spaces and firing positions and which will stop government .50 cal HDEP rounds inter alia. Or what fire extinguishers give you biggest bang for the buck in terms of extinguishing molotov cocktails/gasoline fires. How to keep razor wire under cover until you need it, then secure it in place. Buying anti-microbials from vets and aquariums etc.

Here's a beginning point. And I have no financial or other interest in the company General Ecology, however, I vouch their water purifiers including BaseCamp and FirstNeed Elite are the best available anywhere. Start with water storage (polyethylene) barrels and puros and then fuel, electrical generation, food and ultimately self-defense. Meet up with locals similarly interested. Good luck, urban survival is quite doable for up to six months or more -- it's bugging out, at least immediate aftermath, that is questionable.


May 7th, 2018 at 3:48 AM ^

I can't just let your comment stand. I hesitate to get into this discussion, but sometimes remaining silent is wrong.

I'm referring to what you said about being an "urban survivalist", and your admitted "disassociative sociopathy". You actually seem to imply that city folks are missing out, or at least "clueless" because they aren't sociopaths. Wow.

By self-description, you are a sociopath; by your later statements, you sound possibly psychopathic as well.

What you implied you might do in an event "comparable to Ferguson or Baltimore" is terribly disturbing. Good gracious, man - it's NOT cool to say you have the willpower to blow away 500 human beings! Seriously, you need help.

Based on an admittedly less-than thorough search, it appears 1 person died in Ferguson, and 0 in Baltimore attributed to the uprising/riots (excluding Gray/Brown, of course). Yes, there were injuries (14 in Ferguson, many more in Baltimore, including 20 police officers) and of course property damage, looting and arson.

Murdering 500 people is an entirely different, horrific magnitude of violence. 

Which leads me to your contradictory, very disturbing statements "I developed a deep and genuine appreciation for all life forms", and "I have the ability, expertise, and willpower to mow down 500+ criminal arsonists or other invaders within minutes, and then to sleep soundly..." So, you'll hesitate to harm a pig, but have no qualms about murdering people you deem to be "criminals or invaders". 

Unless this was just internet tough-guy talk, you, sir, are ill. It's frightening that a person with your state of mind has a "small arsenal". For the sake of everyone in Chicago (including many of my friends and family), please get help.

I'm sincerely not trying to pick a fight. Your words are pretty scary.




May 6th, 2018 at 10:01 PM ^

Gravel road with horses next door kind of place. An acre of garden vegetables, a stocked pond and chickens were good for veggies, fish and eggs when we needed.
Plenty of pets then. Can't do that now due to allergies. We scratch that itch with a saltwater reef/fish tank. Pretty cool.

That'd be too much land and work for my family to keep up now but we love the idea of it. Maybe in retirement if the wife's and my health hold up.

If she predeceases me early, I'll probably get a trailer or boat and set off to travel aimlessly for a while.


May 6th, 2018 at 10:23 PM ^

this general premise has been known for a long time. I was shocked that this was PNAS track 1 bc this idea has been well established in the field.

I’ve seen data suggesting that there will be some cancer susceptibility / check point responsiveness papers coming out in the next couple years that are also due to rural lifestyle / animal exposure, so stay tuned for that


May 6th, 2018 at 10:29 PM ^

Family always had a couple acres of vegetables, fruits and pumpkins that everyone pitched in for. I worked on a smallish vegetable farm for 4 full years and have on and off when they need some extra help the last couple. They had 3 labs plus chickens and geese. I enjoy what I do in construction, but I'd quit in a second if I had the money to farm for a living.

The Fan in Fargo

May 6th, 2018 at 10:35 PM ^

I grew up on a farm/ranch. I am way more relaxed in the country than I am in any town or city. I'm in Fargo now but I lived in Phoenix. Way too chaotic. I do however still help my old man in the spring with his baby calves and getting the moms and babies out to the green grass in a different plot of land or pasture as we call it. It's pretty fun seeing the little ones running around on a day like today. Watching them battle eachother in the sun. I always said I'd never go back but I cant imagine liking a big city or bigger town with all of the creeps and assholes for the rest of my life. People aren't meant to be crowded like that in my opinion. That being said, if you have a thousand acres of farmland paid for and some grassland for cattle or horses, there's no better life than that to grow old with. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to finish my Bud Light!

American Hotel

May 6th, 2018 at 11:17 PM ^

we had to put down our Golden retriever a few weeks ago. I'm still depressed. My wife thought the best way to get over it was to get a new puppy. So we did, but I'm just not feeling it. Of course, that may be because it's a different breed and a much smaller dog, but I just haven't warmed up to him yet. So I guess my question is, what's the ideal grieving period before getting a replacement dog?


May 7th, 2018 at 2:22 AM ^

any more than there is such a thing as a replacement kid. You can get a different one, but it’s not a “replacement.“ It’s just it’s own new thing, and you’ll always have the grief about the one you lost. Painful, but also perfectly OK. Pain-free lives are for wusses.