Character Building

Deer hunting is a great time of year to have children experience the joy that comes with survival.

Taking a two-hour hike through the woods, falling in a freezing swamp, possibly getting lost but getting back on track.  Finally arriving at the house with boots full of swamp water, soaked and shivering to jump straight into the sauna. And then, once thawed, telling stories of deer jumping up out of the bushes closer than they’d ever seen, helping the hunters find a down deer, and the pride that came with knowing they helped the hunt.

Sure, it was cold, and hard and painful but they did it and that comes with it’s own special joyIvy and Clara

Don’t believe me?

Ask them about helping on the deer drive. They’ll start talking a mile a minute about the terrors of the hike – but they’ll be smiling.

Also we processed the six deer from yesterday’s drive today and  I didn’t include a single dead deer or meat picture in this post.

You’re welcome. 

A Questionable Decision

I, like every other mother out there, on occasion, make questionable parenting decisions.

This year, for the first time in many years, we raised broiler chickens. Big, fat, white chickens that eat a ridiculous amount and are ready to put in the freezer in just nine weeks. This last weekend, the nine weeks were up.Jane with chick

“You guys are butchering 45 chickens on Sunday?!? What are you doing with the kids?”

The answer, the many times I was asked, was always nothing. They’d be home, able to be in the middle of the action or in the house, which ever they wanted.

It wasn’t the answer most people were expecting.broiler chickens

Now, to be fair, I’m sure half of the people who asked that question know the difficulties involved in trying to get any task done with three kids on hand, and it’s true, many times when we do big projects we find friends for them to play with or grandma’s to visit.

The other half have probably never been a part of butchering chickens or if they have didn’t have kids hanging around at the same time.broiler chicken

But we have always felt that this is a thing the girls should be involved in so we kept them home and they were still sleeping when we got up to start the process.

All three trickled outside still in pajamas to check out what was happening.  And while they left from time to time they spent most of the morning with us.

Jane, the girl who was very concerned that we were going to eat those cute little chicks the day we brought them home, helped John with the beheading by saying a nice goodbye to a few. She was more at ease with it than many adults I know would have been.John and Jane chicken butchering

Clara got a lesson on how to gut a chicken from her grandma and did the last bird all by herself. She’s six. She’s pretty much amazing.Grandma Mary and Clara chicken butchering

And while Ivy wasn’t as interested in being hands-on, she listened with rapt attention to the anatomy lesson grandma and Great Gramps gave her and now can identify all the internal organs of a chicken, and knows what they all do. I’m sure she does because they quizzed her and I heard her pass with flying colors.Grandma Mary and Ivy chicken butchering

Jane is excited for her Dad to grill her a chicken to eat. Clara is, rightfully, proud of her gutting experience. And Ivy, when asked, cheerfully told me all about how the gizzard is her favorite organ because you can cut it open, it looks pretty and it’s neat.Grandma Mary and Clara chicken butchering

I, like all the other parents out there, make plenty of questionable parenting decisions. But I’m confident that this wasn’t one of them.

Princess Jane

Jane is in a no holds barred, girly, princess, ballerina phase.Jane grinds meat

She refuses to wear anything but dresses and skirts.Jane grinds meat 2

She begs for makeup and nail polish.Jane grinds meat 3

She spends her days twirling and dancing in frilly dresses.Jane grinds meat 4

And she helps grind meat.Jane grinds meat 5

Like a true princess she never got anything on her dress but she could use lessons in decorum. I hardly think yelling, “Are we havin’ TACOS!?!” is befitting of royalty.

It Was Time For The Roosters To Go

Recently I posted about having too many roosters. Today I wanted to elaborate a bit on that part between having too many roosters and new package’s in the freezer.

Bare with me it won’t be as bad as it sounds.

Roosty with hens

…it was time for all the roosters to go.

And so, in an activity not usually reserved for Easter weekend, John and I butchered the extra roosters while the girls watched. The kids said goodbye to the pretty ones and pointed out the mean one that should go first. They drifted in and out, asked questions, refused my offer to share in the plucking and before it was all cleaned up they even learned a bit about hearts and intestines, lungs and gizzards.

We have been butchering our own chickens (and deer and an occasional turkey, duck or lamb) ourselves for their entire lives and so I didn’t have any concerns with the older girls, they’d been through this all before. But this was Jane’s first chicken butchering experience that she was old enough to really take in so I kept a bit of a closer watch on her. Perched on a stool through much of the process she gave a few birds one last pet before I handed them off to John and his axe. She asked a few questions, played with a few feathers and eventually left to play with Ivy who had declared the whole process, “Boring.” Perhaps it was because she was introduced to the scene at the tender age of two or perhaps it was because the rest of the family was unfazed but Jane seemed to take it all in stride.

A few nights later Jane was having a bit of trouble settling down to sleep. And by that I mean she was popping out of bed like a Jack-in-the-box every 45 seconds with a new ridiculous request. Having exhausted my entire line up of lets-go-to-sleep-now tricks I tried to give her a little pep talk about everyone who was sleeping.Your sisters are sleeping, the dogs are sleeping, the cats are sleeping…

Me: “…The chickens are sleeping, they are good chickens. I said “night ladies” and closed the door and they aren’t going to get up they are just going to sleep in their coop all night.” (Yes, I know, look who’s being ridiculous now. It was ridiculous sounding and ridiculous to think it would work – which it didn’t. Clearly I was desperate!)

Jane: “Then why Dad knock them?” (I’m sure you can see where this is going but it took me a bit.)
Me: “Knock them?”
Jane: “Yeah, why Dad knock them?”
Me: “What do you mean?” (A long day, it had been a very long day.)
Jane: “On the table with a knife.”
Me: “Ooooohhhhh! When Dad killed the roosters?”(Now that I’ve finally caught on I’ve immediately started to worry that perhaps she was not as okay with the process as I thought.)

Jane: “Yeah.”
Me: “They were naughty roosters.”(I’m still grasping at straws as well as panicking thinking that not only have I traumatized her with chicken butchering  but now she’s never going to go to sleep! What have I done?!?)
Jane: “Cause they were peckin’ me?”
Me: “Yup.”
Jane: “Those naughty roosters soup?”
Me: “You got it!”
Jane: “Okay.” (Phew!)
Jane happy with her answer curled up under her blankets and stayed there for three minutes before she came downstairs with a new problem.Jane with a question
I’m starting to despair that my two year old will ever learn to stay in her bed and go to sleep but I’m proud to say she knows just where her soup comes from.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Unexpected

Weekly Photo Challenge: Unexpectedbutchering deer in greenhouse

We just discovered an unexpected perk to the greenhouse.

It’s the perfect place to process deer.

I have helped turn an ugly carcass into nice little white packages to put into the freezer in many dark basements. I have boned shoulders in very cold garages. And I have even attempted not to make a mess of a few kitchens while completing the final packaging.

But until today I have never, ever done any of it in the sunlight.

Possibly only those of you who have stood on the solid block of ice that is masquerading as a cement floor, tried not to lose a finger as you felt your way though the process in the dim light or ran buckets of water back and forth from the house, inevitably spilling some on your already frozen toes, can understand the luxury of it all.  Plenty of counter space, hot running water, hooks in the ceiling for the gambrel, sunlight, and then when the sun when down and it got a bit chilly- a nice big heater to keep it above freezing.

Unexpected and delightful- I’m never setting up shop in the garage again!