There is a saying, “If you make it illegal to look at the mountains, then everyone is a criminal.”  I cannot find who said that, but it is becoming a closer reality every day.  In other words, as more laws are made, more people become criminals by breaking them.

When I lived in Las Vegas, NV, every month, I volunteered to drive to pick up raw milk for everyone in our little co-op.  The problem was, it was illegal to obtain raw milk in NV, so I drove to neighboring AZ, where buying it was perfectly legal.  It sounds simple enough, but before I could do that simple thing, I made at least a dozen calls to officials to ensure I was acting legally prior to volunteering.  They told me how to be legal, and I complied, but they warned that what I was doing fell into a grey area, which meant it was left open to interpretation by any official who questioned me.  If, at any point, the person in charge of the offices to which I spoke changed, then the interpretation could potentially change.  Now, a couple years later, I no longer live there or drive, and transporting raw milk across state line is now considered illegal, no matter how, or for what purpose, it is done.  So, currently, if you live in NV (or any other state) and wish to carry raw milk with you, even if it’s for your family, you could potentially be charged with a civil crime if you cross state lines.

I have dairy goats.  I go to the expense and effort to own, care for, and milk dairy goats because it is easier than trying to skirt the law to get raw milk–something we feel is crucial to our family’s health.  In CO, I am allowed to give away milk to allow people to try it, particularly if it is in my own home.  However, I cannot sell a jar of milk or it would mean breaking the law.  In our future home state of IL, however, once I have that milk, I can sell it to someone willing to drive out to the farm and get it.   However, I cannot put it in a bottle for them, or it would mean breaking the law by becoming a “bottling plant.”  To avoid this, the customer has to bring their own container, and pour the milk from the farm container into theirs.  Until recently, in my former state of GA, you could legally sell “pet milk”, but to ensure no human would drink it, you had to mix a blue dye into it to make it unappealing to humans.  Go figure. 

We have learned to slaughter much of our own meat–including goats, chickens, turkeys, and rabbits.  We find many people are interested in this topic, as they raise their animals for meat, but don’t know how to get meat out of it.  However, after a few phone conversations with officials, I discovered that, while I can legally sell a live animal, and slaughter it free of charge, I cannot sell the animal once it is dead, and I cannot charge a cent for the time involved in the harvesting.  It is far too easy to cross that line and become a criminal. 

I bought a couple goats and someone gave us a donkey.  This is something that happens on a regular basis here (and, I imagine, in most states).  However, what many people do not know, is that before a goat can be moved, even within the state of CO (or IL), it is supposed to have a negative scrapie test.  Equines and cattle must have a brand inspection.  Did you know that?  Unfortunately, neither do most new livestock owners, who go and innocently purchase animals, but who unknowingly break the law by not meeting those criteria.  

 Winter is coming (it’s here in CO).  If you have rabbits, and allow their water bottles to freeze over, according to the Debe Bell case below, that’s a neglect issue!  It doesn’t matter if your temperatures are in the 20’s half the time, and you change out the water bottles several times a day.  Oh, and do you happen to have horses turned out in paddock with no shelter?  It doesn’t matter that they aren’t turned out during inclement weather and have tons of trees for shade.  Technically, that could be a charge of animal cruelty.  Shelter is mandated by animal control and welfare organizations. 

That last paragraph probably sounds especially ridiculous.  Sadly, crazy as it sounds, farmers are being charged with criminal activities for just these types of things, all over the country, and on a regular basis.  Country, not world.  This is the United States of America, and most of her citizens have no idea how their freedoms are slipping right out from under them because they aren’t educating themselves.  They don’t know what’s happening every day. 

Did you know a family in the midwest who ran a dairy farm was recently raided?  Along with their personal computers (used for homeschooling), dairying equipment, and personal records, the officials also took the raw milk in the family’s house fridge.  They were told it was illegal, even though the family drank it themselves and did not sell anything out of that fridge!  Another family dairy was raided, and the cheese building was quardoned off.  The family was not allowed to access the cheese stored in the aging cellar, that they had made, for the purpose of feeding it to themselves!!

In two seperate and unrelated incidences, a man in GA and a woman in MI, were both fined for growing vegetables in their yards.  They were simply trying to be a little self-sufficient, but as it turned out, his land zoning didn’t allow for large gardens, and her HOA didn’t want to see tomatoes in the front yard. 

Oh, you’ll love this one…. did you know that, according to the FDA and USDA, if you pack meat and some chopped fruit or veggies into a cooler to take on vacation with you, for your family, you, too, become a criminal the moment you cross state lines?  Yeah.  Apparently, the governing officials have decided that meat inspected and approved for sale in one state, is not approved as safe in another state.  Furthermore, once you slice into a carrot or celery stick, and chop a few apples, that food becomes a bio-hazard.  Un-certified meat and bio-hazardous material is illegal to transport across state lines.  As if that wasn’t bad enough, because it is now an unpermitted bio-hazard, it is illegal to feed it to your own, private family.  It is even illegal to feed it to your chickens and pigs!!  Oh, but don’t worry, you can still eat plenty of fast food while on the road.  You know, those greasy unidentifiable chunks of fried “meat” known as chicken nuggets, and a dark colored drink that contains not a single natural ingredient except water?  Yeah, those are OK to feed your children, because the FDA says so, and the fast food chains stand to profit, thereby bringing in revenue for that state you are driving through. 

In fact, in IL, it is currently illegal to feed our animals the way we do here in CO.  There is actually a written law that potentially makes it a criminal act to feed ANY animal, to include chickens, goats, and pigs, any item considered “trash” or animal parts.  Yes, that means that feeding Athena her BARF diet, giving our veggie scraps to the goats, and feeding any leftover whey, milk or meat to our future pigs will potentially be against IL law, depending on how it is interpreted!

Honest to goodness, I am not making this up!  Just this week, on an organic farm in NV, an uninvited USDA inspector showed up to a private party hosted by the farm family.  All the perfectly safe, healthy, organic food that was being prepared for the guests was “illegal” because it was freshly picked from the farm (and neighboring farms), and uncertified and uninspected.  Thus, with guests waiting for the meal, the inspector forced the family to dump the food into trash cans.  The family asked if they could just eat it themselves, after the event, to prevent waste.  The inspector said no.  They asked, in the interest of at least preventing total waste, if they could at least feed it to their farm pigs.  The inspector said no.  In fact, to ensure they wouldn’t do so after the inspector left, she threatened to call the police and more officials and have all guests escorted off the property (from a perfectly legitimate private, invitiation-only party, mind you) if they didn’t pour bleach all over the food in the bins.  The farm family complied, almost in tears the whole time.  By adding bleach, they couldn’t even compost it!  They were now forced to dump several bags of formerly-perfectly-good-food into a landfill.  Talk about a real party pooper!  Here is the whole story, which I highly recommend you read:  http://www.farmtoconsumer.org/quail-hollow-farm-dinner.htm

Recently, about 100 miles from us, just outside Denver, CO, a rabbit breeder was raided.  Debe Bell was a 4-H leader, and raised several breeds of rabbits for show, angora fur, and meat.  She also boarded rabbits for 4-H kids who lived in HOA communities and apartments that didn’t allow them to have rabbits for pets.  She was well-liked and well-respected, and considered by many to be an expert in the rabbit realm.  One day, police and agriculture officials, as well as a rabbit-rescue organization, showed up, and confiscated all of her 200 or so rabbits, leaving her with a court date and charges of animal neglect and cruelty.  The rabbits they took included those rabbits owned and boarded by the 4-H kids. 

Now, I saw a number of the photos released as “evidence” of the cruelty charges.  Granted, she had a lot of rabbits.  Granted, some of the cages and the barn were dirtier than I would prefer.  In fact, I would call them filthy.  But, I didn’t see a single rabbit that looked malnourished, dehydrated, or any way unhealthy.  Furthermore, some of the “neglect” photos were pictures of the undersides of Angora rabbits that had a couple of fur mats and some urine stains–something very common to the angora breed in almost any type of living environment.  Even the vets that checked the rabbits out stated that they were in “surprisngly good health” for their situation.  Just for the record, that was their way of saying that there wasn’t a single sick rabbit in the bunch.  In addition, they took “dead rabbits” out of her freezer–and charged her in their deaths–despite the fact that she had personally and humanely slaughtered those rabbits intending them to be meat for her own family. 

The worst part, however, was that the rabbits were all divided up among rabbit rescue organizations.  Within a few days of the raid, the rabbits were spayed or neutered, and being placed for adoption for around $80 in some cases.  Here’s the clincher….Debe didn’t have a court date to try her case for several weeks!!  Since when can anyone raid a farm, no matter the legitimacy of the situation, and have the right to permanently alter the animals, and then place them in new homes before a person gets their day in court?!

There is a better solution, according to a city in Washington state.  They recently just banned rabbits entirely.  Seriously, not a single rabbit is allowed in the city, no matter the purpose.  I’m curious how they explained that to the local wild rabbit population, and who got the pleasant job of telling every child in town who owned a little pet house bunny that it had to go?

It isn’t the ideas that are crazy.  It’s our modern day laws.  I find it interesting that most of the FDA and USDA employees are very closely affiliated with companies like Monsanto, dairy farmer unions, and cattle rancher unions.  In other words, those making the laws have vested interests in keeping the organic and small-farmers under tight control.  It’s about money and power, not health as they’d have you believe. 

Well, this post has gone on long enough.  I beg you, though, to please educate yourself.  Don’t be one of the majority of Americans who are fighting for more laws, or just allowing your freedoms to slip away.  My father and husband dedicated their entire careers to preserving those freedoms, and it doesn’t look like that fight will stop once we retire from the military.  A really good place to start gathering info is http://www.ftcldf.org/.  Peruse that sight for a bit, and you will learn all sorts of things about the freedoms being snatched from innocent people every day.  Then, if you have time, get active somehow.  Support your local farmers.  Contact your state representatives.  ?Just do SOMETHING before we can’t do ANYTHING.

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