08 November 2012

Kid Friendly

Bet you didn't know goats can be trained to beg for sweet feed.
A few weeks ago, my sister and her family came for a visit for our annual trip to a local pumpkin patch.  Basking in the warm sun, Evelyn spotted a sweet dog.  When I asked if she liked him, she shyly nodded.  "Daddy said we can get one next year," I affirmed.  Before we could walk away, another mother overheard what I'd said and adamantly shared her opinion.
"Who's going to take care of a dog?  Is your husband going to do it?  Because you certainly have your hands full already."

I could barely contain my smirk, thinking of the two horses, two cats, two goats, three sheep and flock of chickens waiting at home.  What's one more animal?
Jenny strolled over and we started joking with the lady, leaving her a bit flustered but on good terms (you see, Jenny just had her third daughter too.  We're both nuts I guess).  The woman's comment got me wondering if my collection of animals is simply a selfish reason to force my love of animals on my children or if there's something else for my kids to learn from our critters.
Our girls have ridden everything from horses to rams, camels, donkeys, cows and elephants.
It's probably a little of both.

There are certainly plenty of lessons to be learned from animals, especially critters who are both farm animals and pets.
Every day, we go out together and make sure they have fresh food and water and are dry, warm and healthy.
We've seen our share of death when Jelly Bean and Aloysius and various other poultry were eaten by some cunning predator.  Our favorite cat RJ had an untimely death and Magnus' twin brother Cardigan died young from a tetanus infection.  Our neighbors cows are raised for beef so it's no mystery where our hamburgers and steaks come from and more than once the cats have drug in their prize after a hunt.  The death of an animal is always a somber event but my girls understand it's part of life because they've witnessed it first hand.
Along with death, we've also been blessed to see the birth of animals like Marny, Milly and Murphy and someday I hope to breed Dancer.  In the spring, there are plenty of bird nests to peak in and we've watched the chicks grow and fledge in a matter of weeks.
My girls certainly aren't afraid of poo and know how to get their hands dirty while working hard.
Helping shear Milly.
And probably most importantly, the animals are all kid friendly (well, most animals, haha!).  They are some of my girls' first friends, freely teaching them about love, compassion and patience.  There's just something special about bonding with an animal.
Sure, I've got my hands full but I like it that way, children, animals and all.

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