By Published On: 7 July 2011653 words3.3 min read

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Bessie

By Brandon Hopkins, Guest Contributor

Her name was Elizabeth, but her caretakers always affectionately referred to her as Bessie. She thought about calling attention to this a few times, but ultimately decided to leave it be, as doing so would only cause unnecessary alarm and confusion, and she supposed she was happy to be given an endearing nickname. Bessie never wished to upset her caretakers. They treated her so graciously: all the food should could eat (despite her original diet being much different, but again she was not about to take issue with food when it is free), her own little apartment (no matter how small and cramped she was, at least she had a place to call her own), and even a little earring (though it had a tag on it that consisted of characters she could not recognize). Elizabeth was happy with her circumstances and never thought them meager or unfair.

The only real complaints to which Bessie ever thought about calling attention were the machines. She was often prodded from behind by an uncomfortable metal shaft, which left her feeling uneasy and sore. Sometimes she would speak up against this invasion of her private space, but her cries went unheard or at least unanswered by her caretakers as they continued to allow this device to do its deed. All Bessie could do at that point was sigh and accept her fate. The discomfort aside, it was a small price to pay for free room and board.

When Bessie felt the other machine on her, her sense of personal violation increased. A cold, hanging pouch was attached to her breasts and forcibly removed the milk from them. She wondered how her caretakers could have known she was pregnant (as she herself was shocked at this discovery, being single her whole life). She wondered, too, why her caretakers would need the milk, as surely they did not drink it themselves. And why they would be so rude as to take her child’s nourishment from her without her permission. She would have happily given them some if they had just asked.

But no one ever asked Bessie anything, and over time she began to question the motives of her caretakers, even beginning to refer to them around the building as captors instead. She was sure that word was much more appropriate now. But despite her growing discomfort and the intrusions into her personal life, Bessie could not argue with them.

They took her child after the agonizing birth in her small cramped space (they did not even provide her with separate quarters or privacy for the delivery) and Bessie decided that was the last straw. She was determined to explain to her caretakers-turned-captors the atrocities they were committing, and was even baffled that they seemed blissfully unaware of their crimes. She would set them straight the next time she saw them. But they never returned. The next day, someone else came into her building and stood at her quarters, grabbing her nametag and spouting a few words to her in a language she did not understand. She was then ushered out, all the while trying to explain the injustices done to her, but the new person ignored her as the others had. Finally Bessie saw a different building across the yard, and thought surely that was where her former caretakers were, and as soon as she got there she would be allowed to express her grievances and have the whole matter settled.

Editors note:  The picture is not of Elizabeth, it is of another- one who made it to safety.  Her name is Iris and she lives in Watkins Glen, New York at Farm Sanctuary.

By Published On: 7 July 2011653 words3.3 min read

Share This Story!

Bessie

By Brandon Hopkins, Guest Contributor

Her name was Elizabeth, but her caretakers always affectionately referred to her as Bessie. She thought about calling attention to this a few times, but ultimately decided to leave it be, as doing so would only cause unnecessary alarm and confusion, and she supposed she was happy to be given an endearing nickname. Bessie never wished to upset her caretakers. They treated her so graciously: all the food should could eat (despite her original diet being much different, but again she was not about to take issue with food when it is free), her own little apartment (no matter how small and cramped she was, at least she had a place to call her own), and even a little earring (though it had a tag on it that consisted of characters she could not recognize). Elizabeth was happy with her circumstances and never thought them meager or unfair.

The only real complaints to which Bessie ever thought about calling attention were the machines. She was often prodded from behind by an uncomfortable metal shaft, which left her feeling uneasy and sore. Sometimes she would speak up against this invasion of her private space, but her cries went unheard or at least unanswered by her caretakers as they continued to allow this device to do its deed. All Bessie could do at that point was sigh and accept her fate. The discomfort aside, it was a small price to pay for free room and board.

When Bessie felt the other machine on her, her sense of personal violation increased. A cold, hanging pouch was attached to her breasts and forcibly removed the milk from them. She wondered how her caretakers could have known she was pregnant (as she herself was shocked at this discovery, being single her whole life). She wondered, too, why her caretakers would need the milk, as surely they did not drink it themselves. And why they would be so rude as to take her child’s nourishment from her without her permission. She would have happily given them some if they had just asked.

But no one ever asked Bessie anything, and over time she began to question the motives of her caretakers, even beginning to refer to them around the building as captors instead. She was sure that word was much more appropriate now. But despite her growing discomfort and the intrusions into her personal life, Bessie could not argue with them.

They took her child after the agonizing birth in her small cramped space (they did not even provide her with separate quarters or privacy for the delivery) and Bessie decided that was the last straw. She was determined to explain to her caretakers-turned-captors the atrocities they were committing, and was even baffled that they seemed blissfully unaware of their crimes. She would set them straight the next time she saw them. But they never returned. The next day, someone else came into her building and stood at her quarters, grabbing her nametag and spouting a few words to her in a language she did not understand. She was then ushered out, all the while trying to explain the injustices done to her, but the new person ignored her as the others had. Finally Bessie saw a different building across the yard, and thought surely that was where her former caretakers were, and as soon as she got there she would be allowed to express her grievances and have the whole matter settled.

Editors note:  The picture is not of Elizabeth, it is of another- one who made it to safety.  Her name is Iris and she lives in Watkins Glen, New York at Farm Sanctuary.

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  1. Leah May 15, 2012 at 5:19 pm - Reply

    This is so moving.

  2. Ann LaGoy July 13, 2011 at 5:15 pm - Reply

    Brandon, this is a really well written essay. Perhaps what prompted KD’s writing on perspective? Not often one reads the atrocities that happen on factory farms through the voice of it’s victim. Thank you.