Before  jumping right in today I have to confess to being a new comer in the world of blogging. As such, I was not aware that the first blog to appear is the latest. In my narrative I tend to continue a thought the following day so please read my first posts before my latest.

I am now walking on thin  ice with this rant, and in a global warming environment. I had better watch my step. Wouldn’t want to end up having the kind of bad day that my cat Lucky Luciano had the other day. But what the hell. You only live once. After all, the title of this site is Stephen Overbury UNLEASHED, not on a leash. Well, perhaps some of the expressive ideas could be modified. Like, instead of “content so fresh you could slap him,” some might think, “content so fresh you could shoot him.”

I mean, that’s the thought that came to mind on one chilly Remembrance Day when the banging on the front door did not stop.

Who the hell, I thought, then I heard another Wizard of Oz voice. “OPP. We’re here with the OSPCA and we have a search warrant .Open up or we’re coming in.”

Talk about having a bad day. Please don’t repeat this rant at home. I tend to be the nervous sort of person, the kind of guy who drinks lots and lots of coffee while watching the TV crime show,
“Law and Order” as recreational therapy, that is when my Bell satellite occasionally  works.

When I opened the door the thought surfaced that this was not happening.

Then the voice of the OSPCA and the reality check.

“We have a search warrant to search your property. Please step outside.”

By now, dear reader, you are gathering a certain sense of irreverence about my personality. Even then I tried diffusing the situation with a little old fashion humor.

“Couldn’t we do this another day. I’m real busy today.”

No sir, it was TODAY.

And if I kept up my rant I would be handcuffed and led away.

It wasn’t just the site of so many police cars and a huge animal trailer  filling up my driveway, mind you. After all, living in the countryside alone can get a tad bit lonely and seeing a lot of cars lined up changes that feeling You might even think you ARE wanted. No more lonely days. Heck, there was even  a photographer on board snapping pictures left right and centre. I asked this strange pose if I could  accompany them but they politely declined, choosing instead to leave me outside poorly dressed on this rather chilly day.  With a group of friendly police officers. Back then I was still looking for a new tenant and part of me thought that this would be my lucky day. Perhaps one of those nice gun slinging officers would want to take up my offer.

“So, tell us about yourself,”  one OPP officer offered. He was trying his best to make a nervous wreck of a guy feel relaxed.  Big mistake with me. I should have worn my warning t-shirt: “Help. I’m with Stephen Overbury and he won’t stop talking.” You get the idea, I nearly put the poor policeman to sleep because I never stopped a sentence. I just kept going on and on, just like now.

You  might be wondering how this rant fits into the picture of FREE FARM,  especially a Nov. 11th post when we honor those brave souls who tried to ensure we have a healthy society, one that incorporates  freedom of speech. Here’s the skinny:

If you do things in an unconventional way, especially in rural Canada, you tend to stand out. There is an expression. “No good deed goes unpunished.” If you try helping out injured animals you had better keep a low key, at least I found that. Take for instance the time I found a deer bleedng profusely in front of my barn door. I called a local vet who came over and told me he  could not help through the clinic but in an  under the table arrangement  he would help out by removing the rear leg of the deer. It looked as though the doe had been shot or hit by a car and the leg was finished. I spent a great deal of time and money doing my best to allow this deer to heal and even had the offer of a licensed sanctuary willing to take this deer away once the leg healed. I made the mistake of posting a mention of this on a small American chat site and next thing I knew the provincial wildlife police, again with bulging guns, showed up. This was on another farm I was on. I was asked where the deer was as they wanted to shoot it. This is the Canadian way. You can hunt or out of compassion put an animal out of its misery type of thing but unless you have lived through the tortuous political turmoil of obtaining a legal licensed sanctuary permit, you cannot tend to wildlife. Full stop. As it happens that poor doe had to be euthanized after the vet informed me the second rear leg was also finished. He got me, charging me an arm and a leg (literally) only to complete his assessment of giving me the real diagnosis. But only after my check had cleared.

Do you detect a certain anger in my voice about vets? Let me say without them, I could not possibly keep  my farm and domestic animals healthy. They are a vital component to my existence. But having said that there are, like everything else in life, good vets and those who you might think twice about using. With the abundance of animals on my plate I have seen it all.

One instance had to do with a cat named Midnight. He was suffering from a mouth disease and it was impossible to administer pain killers and medication to treat his condition. The fix for that life threatening situation was an operation of inserting a tube into his throat  which allowed a painless way for me to feed him and he is now a happy camper.  Eventually I encountered a new vet with rather strong ideas who wanted to put my cat through what I felt was an unnecessary and dangerous followup operation of placing the tube in a different location. I disagreed and we got into a rant as it were. I would not be shelling out thousands of dollars into his pockets and putting Midnight through another  risky operation. This vet then sent me a letter of termination, something Ontario vets are required to do, telling me to seek vet care elsewhere, which I gladly complied with.

But in what I thought was a mean spirited way, he dug the knife in even further. He made an
anonymous complaint to the OSPCA, the provincially sanctioned pit bull regulatory agency responsible for ensuring the well being of animals. That’s where the story of the raid fits in.

The first part of this nightmare was somewhat pleasant. A rather soft spoken beautiful officer in an unmarked car appeared in my driveway.

“Odd place to park,” I began. “May I help you?”

She smiled a very disarming smile, you know, the one you think of when you hear the Louis Armstrong song, “When You’re Smiling.”

Well, I was smiling. Then.

Not when the raid came down. During the first visit that  nice police woman calmly explained someone had lodged a complaint against me over three animals, two cats and my steer, James Naismith. The complaint said I was guilty of animal neglect. I offered to bring the cats into her car, and to introduce her to my 3,000 pound healthy cow but I was told there was no need for this. Instead, she wanted a grand tour of my house and farm. I asked her if I had a choice and was told of course. I asked her if I refused to show her a rather messy state of affairs at that point, would I be raided. She made me feel at ease. “Of course not. You seem like a nice caring guy.” As I had just read an article in a local farmers magazine urging anyone in this situation to refuse an inspection for police officers unless they had a warrant, I refused.

Big mistake.

I was given three ominous forms which demanded I have those animals inspected by a certified vet and if any medical treatment was recommended that I comply, followed up with a return call to her and a signed letter from the vet saying I had done just that. I complied by the next day but the officer in charge did not return my calls. Instead, on that memorable Remembrance Day, she re-appeared without that wonderful smile and  with a warrant in hand forcing a detailed inspection. I could go on and on and turn on the “poor me” routine, the injustice of it all, but suffice it is to say, if you are running any sort of animal care facility you are subject to various levels of government interference. I could have set up a blog and ranted. Instead of behaving like an oak tree, I chose to be, in the traditional Japanese spirit, a bamboo, which bends with the wind as opposed to defiantly fighting the actions of the OSPCA. After reading three hundred horror stories of farmers challenging the OSPCA and going bankrupt doing so, I thought it best to step around this approach. Their inspection gave my animals a complete bill of health, but they had concerns about how nervous I was. Silly me, bristling with those guns on their holsters and actually feeling a little bit uncomfortable about this injustice, eh?

Why even mention this? Because whoever takes over has to have an understanding of existing rules and regulations and prepared to follow these rules to  the core. I no longer even think of rescuing a wild animal. I may have food on my property but to do more is highly not recommended. By the way, a follow up visit by the OSPCA saw a softer nicer Stephen Overbury who prepared cake and coffee for those hardworking law enforcing staff. I was ready for an open house then.  And I complied to all of their suggestions to make the barns more ventilated.  Things work better when you are a bamboo, especially in these neck of the woods.

Keep on reading these posts. You will be amazed…