Everyday Learning Experiences
Recently a friend of Connor’s stayed over, and the understanding was that things on “the list” had to get done. There are many things that need done, even on holidays or when company is here. People can help, or watch or withdraw. As Connor and I were laying out what needed to be done this day, I looked at his friend and asked if he was squeamish.
“No, not really. <long pause> Why?” I looked from him to Connor and back and said “There’s a rabbit we need to dress out for the freezer.” He was curious, if a little hesitant at first.
The first few tasks were done and Connor dispatched the rabbit. I went out to supervise the cutting up, which he can do but two teen boys with a knife, I though probably a little supervision was good! The friend held the back legs on a gate while Connor cut the hide to take it off. The hide was set aside to scrape and salt, making no waste of the life if possible. Connor showed him the lungs, liver, heart, and he noted the small pockets of fat on the shoulders of the rabbit as he worked. The unused innards went to the compost bin, although some toss them in the chicken pen (chickens aren’t vegetarian!).
The feet were removed, the dressed carcass washed off and put in the refrigerator to chill. Comments by the friend were interesting – he was amazed that we knew how to do that. He was amazed at the relative ease of the hide separating from the rabbit (and I stressed when a rabbit is treated roughly, remember how easy that is torn away and damaged). He wasn’t repulsed by it, and noted that the rabbit didn’t appear scared and died really, really quickly. “It didn’t get scared or thrash or anything…it was just…gone.”
Today he got to see breeding, and he’s observed the youngsters, and seen a rabbit panic when they reached in the pen and she started screaming. He learned horsing around in muddy digging areas gets messy when falling in. He’s helped move leaves, build beds, shovel and water.
For all the teasing, he’s someone I’d let watch the critters if we have to leave for some reason. He’s learned about creating life and taking it. He’s learning to think of more than himself and what it takes to get dinner to the table. OK that might be a few more lessons!
Life lessons can come from ordinary moments, like dressing a rabbit, or moving a young opossum away from the birds (safely, without harming it or getting bitten!).
There are many funny moments, much laughter, hard work, down times and attention to detail needed. Two rabbits had a touch of ear mites, and the boys treated the rabbits and carefully checked others.
They may never raise rabbits the rest of their life. On a small scale, the actual realization that an animal dies to provide meat, seeing it happen and not wasting it is powerful. Whether a rabbit, a steer, a hog…it’s tangible. No doubt there will be some that will be horrified. Remember this folks – it’s better they learn to respectfully take a life for food than not care. It’s better they learn what goes into it and are busy doing that than burning buildings or stealing or destroying your property. It’s better they learn to make compost than make meth. It’s better they learn to salt hides than bully classmates, get a blister or two from a shovel than a bullet from being at the wrong place at the wrong time and talk tough but act respectful.
Life lessons. Memories. Experiences.