The noisiness of the lambs

Barbara Pearl Houten calls it the silence of the lambs, which is catchy, but not entirely accurate. But it is done in a good cause — saving lives.

Not human lives — nine animal lives. As a vegan, Houten, 67, sees a life as a life. She believes in the universal desire of every being to live and to be free.

Barbara Pearl Houten and her late son, Jason

Speaking of her late son Jason, she said, “I raised him to be a vegetarian, and when he came home after his first term at Antioch, he was vegan. So the student was the teacher.” Houten has been vegan ever since.

She was referring to Antioch College, a well-known very liberal arts college in Yellow Springs, Ohio, known as a bastion of blue liberalism in an otherwise red sea of Trump supporters, says native and resident Dave Chappelle. Yes, the comedian.

Antioch is so woke it never sleeps. It is the last place you would imagine to be on the wrong side of a controversy over the humane treatment of animals, but there it is. 

Center City resident Houten wants Antioch to straighten out, and she is not alone.

Here’s the controversy: For the past few years the college has used lambs to “mow” its lawn. The lambs are quiet, they don’t give off noxious exhaust fumes, they present a pleasant, pastoral air to the campus. They are adorable lawn mowers.

At the end of the grass growing season, in October, Antioch slaughters its lamb lawn mowers and feeds them to the students in the dining hall.

How’s that for gratitude?

It is repugnant to Houten, to PETA and others who see it almost like eating a pet. An online petition that says Antioch is teaching that living things are disposable has gathered almost 80,000 signatures, asking the lambs be spared. Houten asks you to sign it. 

Houten wrote to the president of Antioch asking for commutation of the mutton death sentence, saying she would find a sanctuary for them. She pleaded to save the lambs as a memorial to her son, who died at 23 in a 2002 automobile crash. “He would not condone this, he would condemn this,” she told me. 

“The death of a child is catastrophic,” Houten said. “I have never found a way to honor my son’s memory,” and she said this is something he would have liked. “I beseech you to cease this cruel and misguided tradition at the college under the guise of sustainability,” she wrote to Antioch College President Thomas Manley. 

In a separate letter to Manley, PETA President Ingrid Newkirk said the college prides itself on being progressive, but “the school is putting its students on a path to insensitivity.”

PETA offered to pay all costs of getting the lambs to a sanctuary and would “donate the same amount of food that the lambs would have provided in the form of healthy vegan meat for the students.” (The “meat’ would be plant-based, of course.) 

PETA has not received a reply, said PETA senior strategist Faith Robinson, who in a phone interview stressed that eating meat is not healthy.  

I reached out to Antioch for comment, and to find out how long the lambs would be on Death Row. A spokesman responded with an email that directed me to other sources, said the animals were sheep, not lambs, told me sheep have been deployed since 2014, but declined to reveal “when the sheep will be removed from our pasture out of an abundance of caution with regard to the safety of our community and others.”

In a generic, two-page news release, Antioch spent considerable time attacking Dr. David Nibert, a Yellow Springs resident who teaches sociology at another university and who stirred up the controversy, said Antioch.

From online research, I learned the college sees the use of the lambs as part of education on its own organic farm. Students get practical experience in sustainable and ecologically appropriate agriculture as they grow vegetables.

The thing is, lambs aren’t carrots or peas or lettuce. 

They are friendly, they are cute and they have friends.  

Antioch has not heard the last of this.

30 thoughts on “The noisiness of the lambs”

  1. On its website, under Statement Regarding Sheep on Antioch Farm (UPDATED), Antioch claims that its cafeteria serves “ethically sourced meat from our farm,” among other food.

    But the only menu item available to the public is a Crock of Shit.

    1. Bob – the only problem with the electric mowers is that they don’t leave “fertilizer” on the soil when they are done [lol]!

        1. There is an abundance of fertilizer in Washington, D.C., freely provided by a prolix Congress. Hasn’t helped that part of the country at all.

  2. Yo, Jim – right to the point! On the same theme, libertards can speak out of both sides of their mouths with the best of them. So can repubs for that matter, But this is specifically a case where, likely, a few of the more radical said “let’s do this,” and so it happened, without thoroughly thinking it through. It certainly happens all the time, including with our illustrious current President, but for some reason, the more Left an institution becomes, the less it tolerates other’s views.

  3. Something like 2% of people in the US are vegetarian, fewer are vegan.

    What exactly is the point here? Students should be denied their right to eat meat? Or is it that the college should not raise its own animals?

    Sad that this lady’s son died, but it has nothing to do with what’s on the menu at a college. Kids are killed at school and we can’t even get common sense gun legislation moving in this country.

    This story is naval gazing at best.

      1. My mistake. I can see how my mention of guns veered off course, so let’s look again without that reference, OK Jim?

        What is the point here? Somebody’s son dies tragically, so his former college should never serve meat again? Is this a critique of raising food outside of the corporate agricultural complex? Or maybe we are just falling for clickbait “journalism.”

  4. I eat pure carnivore diet. I rarely eat lamb. Thank you for posting such a stimulating article. I must get me some. I’m going to get a rack of lamb or some lollipop chops. Maybe a Gyro Salad, extra meat and extra tzatziki. Leg of lamb w/mint ragout. Not Baaaaaad 🐑

      1. Wow sensational journalism much? The fact that now David has been banned from Antioch college which takes up over half of Yellow Springs and who knows, lawsuits might ensue…And you leave a reply on someones statement of how they eat meat and you choose the words you did by hoping they don’t choke. I’d be ashamed of myself if I were you but then again I realize we are all not the same on this world. The FACT remains, you simply can not force people to become vegetarian. So with that FACT, where else could humans get their meat source from other than in their own back yard? Organically at that? BUT when it is out in the open people want to butt their nose into others business. I’m sure you and most naysayers have never been to Yellow springs nor Antioch college and know nothing about it. So, with all that said, please continue to bash, post, persuade, and try to give your opinion on this issue. By the way, Antioch college will not change their farm to table operation. I think the ironic part to all this is that the head of the farm and the kitchen at Antioch college are both vegetarians but please by all means, carry on.

        1. Show me the part where I said anyone should become a vegetarian. My reply to the dope was brought on by him shitting on other peoples’ sincere beliefs, which I do not share.

  5. She raised her child to be a vegetarian? I raised my sons to be God-fearing, honest, and hard working. And to always serve their steaks rare.

    1. She did.. And then Jason chose to became an ethical vegan.. My utmost respect to this young man that was lost way to soon.. .

  6. Sometimes, in sufficiently mixed company, I will the announcement that I have just joined P.E.T.A. And that usually grabs a few to attention, or stares. Then I tell them specifically what this acronym stands for: “People Eating Tasty Animals.” Most of the time it garners laughs, some groans, and once in a while a lecture. In one ear and out the other…

  7. I’m reminded of a cartoon I saw recently. A couple are dining and the woman says to the waitress, “We’re vegans and we don’t consume alcohol. What do you suggest?” The waitress says, “Eat somewhere else.”

  8. The fact that David is using this deceased person to use as a campaign strategy is pretty disgusting. He has been asked and asked to stop and he won’t. He’s even been told several times by college administration that they will not be changing their farm to table operation and yet he still continues down this path by using any leverage he can. This article is the lowest of low anyone could use.

      1. Sir, you are simply misguided in your opinion on this issue. What Antioch college does is none of your business nor David’s. Unless I am wrong in the fact that you have any affiliation with Antioch or Yellow springs. If I am wrong, forgive me. Death threats have been made, David started all of this, the college responded and told David, they will not be changing their operations. If you are vegetarian, I applaud you. My daughter at 5 years old is leaning towards no longer eating meat. I would never pressure her either way. David is a bully, a fool and has caused a lot of uproar at our small college and our extremely small village. All the food that is served in our kitchen at Antioch is all organic, including any and all meat. Meat is never the first course. If they didn’t serve meat from small farms, where would they get meat from? Factory farms? Due to the fact that you CANNOT force people to be vegans or beyond. PERIOD!

        1. You shouldn’t force animals to have their throats slit
          You’re the one who’s forcing your beliefs on others

  9. When faced with a decision ask yourself ‘ What would trump do ?” ….which side of this disagreement would Donald Trump be on ? To kill the lambs and eat them or send them to a sanctuary ?

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