Posted by: rivettingkatetaylor | August 21, 2008

Life and death on the farm

The wonder of natural birth came home to my children yesterday – with the birth of triplet lambs courtesy of Brownie, one of our pet ewes.

Sadly, there are now only two, but Sarah and Lachlan were very impressed with their speedy arrival in the paddock. Fortunately the inevitable question about the human equivalent wasn’t forthcoming, but I’m preparing my response.

Life and death is easy to explain on a farm. Just last weekend the kids were helping Thomas kill a mutton for the freezer (these are ram lambs who are never pets). They are fascinated by the process (I won’t gross you out with the details but it involves stomach contents and heart valves) and love eating the end results (roasts, chops etc).

A couple of years ago Sarah’s pet lamb died just before pet day. Unperturbed, she asked if we would have it for dinner (we didn’t). When their cat was run over on the road we had a beautiful funeral procession to the hole in the shubbery where a hastily-hammered cross marked Marcella’s final resting place.

They have heard the frantic squeak of a mouse as it is captured by Puss and they have seen the remains of birds and rabbits on the back door step (and too frequently in the living room).

These minor incidents all serve to train our children for more serious incidents in “real life” like the death of their beloved Poppa last year (they were too young to remember the death of Pop in 2002). Poppa is sick. Ok. Poppa is very sick. Ok. Poppa is dying. Oh. Poppa is dead.

But there was no tears and hysterics, which Poppa probably wouldn’t have appreciated anyway. We told the children he was dying and he did. They miss him. They talk about him all the time, but he’s dead. Fact of life. It sounds unfeeling, but for them it has obviously been healing.

I feel for everyone who loses someone important in their lives. I just heard this morning about a lady who was a regular at the golf club I have joined. But I don’t know her because she was diagnosed with cancer at about the same time I started. From all accounts, she is fading away and I feel for what her family is going through as they prepare to say goodbye.

It has been a week since I wrote the last blog – I have been out and about gathering lots of information, interviews and photos and now I am supposed to be doing something with it all. The time to start doing that is right now – see earlier post on procrastination!


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