Bonding time grows during harvest season
Look all around this area and you'll see that it is harvest time. The almonds are drying, the peach season has drawn to a close and the walnuts in the back yard are starting to fall. In fields nearby, we watch giant harvesters come in and transfer grains from field to truck.
Harvest around our place looks a little different. We are better at raising animals than we are at raising crops. Now is the time for us to fill the freezers and prepare for winter. As usual, our projects are a family affair.
It is true that a trip to the beach will gather up more excited participants. Any announcement of a field trip is greeted with happy children slapping together PBJs and stocking the van with water bottles and beach gear. Sure, we always manage to forget a jacket, and we pack too many cookies, but these are minor inconveniences, easily overlooked.
Butchering day doesn't get quite the same level of excitement around here. On a recent Saturday morning, the crew was ready, if reluctant, to tackle a few ducks that have been free ranging around the farm.
Those ducks recently decided that my front porch was a great place to sleep, which meant a horrendous duck poop welcome awaited anyone who ventured out. As we'd raised them as meat birds, I figured that their chronic mess-making was a sign they were ready to meet the freezer.
Bella offered to take care of Sicily and to make lunch while the rest of us worked outside. I could hardly argue with that stroke of luck.
Sophia and Olivia volunteered to help with plucking, one of the more tedious jobs. Max and Atticus also offered to help in this area, and they lasted a few minutes before they discovered that they needed to defend those of us who were actively working.
Their tools in trade were swords fashioned from sticks and imaginary bows and arrows. If the zombie apocalypse ever does materialize, my boys will be prepared to come to my rescue — as long as they aren't on a tree-climbing break.
Thus defended against all potential foes, we began the job we never enjoy. Somehow, though, the time together provides an opportunity to bond. The weather is changing, and the girls have stories to tell. A strange serenity descends as we move through our assigned tasks.
Interspersed with conversation, the kids pitch questions about the ducks. We pull out a trachea and an esophagus, and I get to explain the function of each.
"I have one too, right, Mom?" asked Max. I use his question as a springboard for a conversation about swallow function and airway protection. I can't help it; that's what a speech pathologist does. We talk about the function of each part as it relates to the ducks and how we are alike and different in our anatomical construction.
One of us usually ends up cutting open a gizzard to see what the ducks have been eating. Once we found a 2-inch screw in amongst the rocks and grass. The kids try to understand how the birds use the rocks to grind the food using the muscular action of the gizzard.
As we continue, more questions arise about anatomy. All the kids say "Eww" and make a face when I explain the multiple functions of a cloaca, and that ends their curiosity for a while.
Butchering days are tough, but we get through them. These memories, too, will last a lifetime, and the kids know they are making a contribution to the family. When I see them step up to help even with the unsavory tasks, I know that our family is rich indeed.
Rose Godfrey is a speech pathologist and homeschooling mom in Meridian. Her homeschool blog can be found on the Appeal-Democrat website at appealdemocrat.com.