We love living the homestead, self-sufficient, traditional family lifestyle. We love the fact that we can, if we choose to, insulate ourselves from the world in a multitude of ways. From inflation, (by raising our own food, etc.), to an artificial life lived by most kids today through, video games and Iphones, to the drug scene. We can teach our boys to be "real" here on the homestead and to learn about life in a safe environment.
They have been able to learn the seasons of life by helping in the garden, by planting tiny "dead" seeds into the warm moist ground, and then watching in fascination as in a few days that seed sprouts and becomes a tiny plant, which they water, hoe and weed throughout the summer. By fall the plant produces an abundance of food for our family to enjoy over the winter. Then, there is sometimes the disappointment of an early frost that kills those hard grown plants before the fruits of our labor can be realized.
They have experienced the joy of finding a nest of half grown wild kittens, and the sweet reward of having those kittens seek them out, jump to their shoulder, and ride there as they do their chores.
They've experienced the first thrill of watching winter arrive with big, fat, fluffy snowflakes lazily drifting downward. They've felt the disbelief of that snow not stopping from October to nearly May and having to wake up every morning with the knowledge they would be spending yet another morning shoveling snow. But also the joy of the unexpected bonus of being paid for that new skill by helping a neighbor shovel snow off their roof.
A few weeks ago another experience was added to their lives. We have always taught them to respect life. Even if a life has to be taken, it is done respectfully and humanely, with the knowledge the animal has had the best, happiest, healthiest life we could offer. And of course the results are thoroughly realized by counting it as one more thing we have produced for ourselves.
They hadn't yet had to deal with death happening for "no reason." Well, a few weeks ago we lost a future diary girl. I went out in the morning to milk our cows, and found one of our milk cows in labor. It was one that had just been dried off in preparation for her calving the middle of May. I did a bunch of fast reading and research, to see what else I needed to know in hopes of saving a premature calf. When I brought the cow in to check her, I did find a live, but very small calf. She was six weeks early, way to early to live without advanced medical care. We tried our best to save her, but there was just nothing we could do. When I talked to the vet later, he said reassuringly that a calf doesn't really have much of a chance at all if it is more than two to three weeks early, and even that is risky.
So we started our morning by burying a gorgeous little heifer calf. For some of the boys, it seemed a blip on their radar, others were heartbroken. But it is springtime, so it is hard to be sad for too many days; when the sun is shining, the birds are back and singing in the morning when we go out to milk our cows. We still have the hope of one more baby to be born within, expectedly, the next few days.
Everything Has It's Time: Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven:
A time to be born, And a time to die;
A time to plant, And a time to pluck what is planted;
A time to kill, And a time to heal;
A time to break down, And a time to build up;
A time to weep, And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, And a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, And a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to gain, And a time to lose;
A time to keep, And a time to throw away;
A time to tear, And a time to sew;
A time to keep silence, And a time to speak;
A time to love, And a time to hate;
A time to of war, And a time of peace.