To market, to market, to buy a fat pig,
Home again, home again, dancing a jig;
To market, to market, to buy a fat hog;
Home again, home again, jiggety-jog;
To market, to market, to buy a plum bun,
Home again, home again, market is done. ~Nursery Rhyme
Written by: Heather Clemenceau
The St. Jacob’s Market resides on the same premises as the Ontario Livestock Exchange (OLEX). The dichotomy between the ways of the Mennonite farmers (the market is in the middle of the largest Mennonite population in Ontario) and our modern lifestyle is evident everywhere in the market.
On the days that I’ve visited, there are always tourist buses in the parking lot. The market, and the Village of St. Jacob’s shops a short distance away are a popular tourist destination, especially for those wanting clothing, rustic crafts, summer sausage, apple fritters, and other prepared foods catering to food tourists. Tourists also enjoy photographing the locals in the long, plain dress of the Anabaptists.
Not only is the market a contrast between old and new, it’s a contrast in the modern versus biblical view that animals fall under the dominion of man for his exclusive use, and that they therefore don’t reason, they don’t feel, nor do they form social bonds. Anabaptists are traditionally pacifists and separatists, yet they often treat their animals as a cash crop, particularly in the example of puppy mills, which are common within Mennonite and Amish communities. Their buggy horses are often angular and very worn looking, and in October, OLEX will see many buggy horses at auction that the Mennonites don’t want to feed over winter. Clearly, arbitrarily assigning animals rights (or in this case, lack of) by citing religious traditions is flawed.
We think that the days when Rene Descartes saw animals as irrational beings lacking in consciousness are ancient history, but in the livestock area of the market, animals are still treated as having no physical, emotional , or social needs. The food and craft areas of the market are very busy and full of bright colours – vegetables, clothing, jams etc. but the livestock market building is deplorable and hopeless, filled with stressed farm animals and horses, many of them stereotypically pacing in their pens. Here many of the animals are often very overcrowded and placed with others who were not formerly part of their social group. It’s profoundly at odds with herd animals’ nature to be closely penned or penned with other strange animals with whom they have no social hierarchy. Close to the end of the day, before they are to be picked up by kill buyers, the cows and bulls are herded into one pen, and there they appear even more stressed – bulls mount cows and other disagreements ensue.
Most people from the market area or the Village of St. Jacob’s don’t venture anywhere near the livestock building, and they likely wouldn’t cross the “biosecurity” warnings on the doors, especially if they have their cherished family dog with them. Unlike in the tourist areas, pictures are not welcome here, because no one wants the outside world to see the dire conditions that exist for the animals. This is why activists and those with smartphones aren’t welcome in the OLEX building.
While the people bringing horses and other animals to the auction are to blame along with some of the handlers who occasionally hit the animals, the consumer is also to blame in this abysmal system. Yet the consumers don’t come into this building, because they don’t want to be made aware of the atrocities committed here and they certainly don’t want to be made to think about where the majority of these animals are going after the market closes for the day.
What the Tourists See…
The Livestock Market at OLEX…Out-Of-Sight and Out-Of-Mind For Most Everyone
And a Happy Epiloque for Two OLEX Mares…
Sold to a kill buyer, they landed at NYNE (Need You Now Equine). There are no words to describe groups like NYNE, who do not rescue horses in the orthodox sense, but sell them off kill buyer lots for a profit. Nevertheless, these two mares, bonded as you can see in the kill pen in a photograph taken in August, are shown in the second photo at NYNE being offered for sale for $1,200 apiece. Finally, an update was posted on Facebook advising that they have evaded slaughter and were placed into a new home.