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Posts Tagged ‘free range kids’

A Hog Story

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

Pig Wrestling

Before I tell this story, you have to understand one thing. That is that my son, Jake, is not like most twelve year old boys. Well, not the twelve year old in today’s society. He is more like the twelve year olds of the American past.

Jake is only happy in the great outdoors. Hunting, fishing, ranching, are some of his favorite hobbies. Well, they are not even hobbies; they are his life. It is what he does.

Jake is the epitome of a free-range kid. His dad and I value his life-skill learning as much as his academics. And, he has thrived learning survival skills, carpentry, all about guns, car repair, etc. Therefore, Jake is self-confident in these areas. As I continue my story, I think a little too confident.

While at the new ranch with my boys, I decided to winterize the camper stationed out there by undoing the water hose to allow the water to siphon out. A big cold front was on its way and I did not want the water lines to bust. At first the hose would not budge and I left my boys, Jake and Andrew, at the camping site while I drove to the tractor parked in an adjoining pasture to retrieve a tool.

When I returned, I did not see my boys. Unconcerned, I unfastened the hose with the help of the tool. I heard a squeal past the brush unmistakably of a hog. We have a trap over there so I was again unconcerned.

“How many did we catch?” I called out to Jake. I did not hear a reply, but continued to hear the high-pitch squeals. I watched as the last drip of water fell from the hose.

As I straightened up, I saw movement in the brush. There is a dry creek bottom between the camping site and the trap which is full of yaupon, bushes, and trees on its banks. I saw the bright orange of Jake’s shorts and heard the squeals drawing closer.

As Jake reached the top of the bank, it all became clear. Here was my son holding the back two legs of a wild piglet, driving him up the creek in wheelbarrow fashion. Andrew followed behind with his face beaming.

“What in the world?” I asked.

“We caught it bare handed!” both Jake and Andrew exclaimed in unison.

Before I could respond Andrew added, “And it was trying to bite us.”

I shook my heads and said, “You think?!”

I looked at their shirts. Jake was wearing a Batman t-shirt and Andrew was wearing a Superman one. I think the superhero mentality went straight to their heads.

Jake killed the pig and cleaned it by himself. It is the perfect size for the pit. Well, we had to have a conversation about the dangers of their decision. Where was the mama sow is the most pressing question.

I don’t think they will do it again. Since then, Jake has killed more wild hogs, but he did it safely with a gun.

As moms we pray for the Lord to keep our children safe. The majority of mothers in the United States are thinking cars, child predators, bike accidents, etc. Mothers out in the country are adding snake bites and apparently now injuries sustained in wild hog attacks.

Never a dull moment for me. As my dad would say, “Welcome to the ranch!”

Secret to Raising Healthy Kids

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

In March, I wrote an article, “Free Range Kids,” which talked about how my children are being raised in an environment relatively different than most young children in the United States. They work in the garden, collect eggs, feed pigs, milk goats, ride horses, go swimming in ponds, and explore the ranch. They come home sweaty and have dirty fingernails by the end of the day.

Despite all the dirt and allergens they are exposed to, they are very healthy children. They are rarely ill. We have been fortunate to only see the doctor for well-check ups or for the occasional injury. I cannot remember the last time any of them were on an antibiotic or prescription medicine.

Then in July, I read an article entitled, “Farm Life Grows Healthy Kids,” by John Maday for Drovers Cattle Network. Scientists actually studied the differences in health between children raised in the city and those on farms. The findings are fascinating. Farm kids are healthier overall. Researchers think that this is due in part to city kids living in an overly sanitary environment.

Mr. Maday writes, ” Farm kids on the other hand, grow up with regular exposure to dust, pollen, animals, manure and perhaps, raw milk. Thus the farm environment encourages development of a more robust immune system compared with hygienic city life.” However, the researchers do not know for sure the reason that farm children are healthier because there are too many factors that attribute to good health.

Maday goes on to conclude, “Maybe it is early exposure to pathogens and allergens, maybe it’s good farm cooking, or maybe it’s due to honest hard work in the great outdoors. In any case, farmers and ranchers who have always believed they are raising their kids in a healthy environment now have more evidence they’re right.”

I think that fresh air, adequate sunshine, good water, and healthy foods play a big role in one’s health. Farm and ranch life is a good environment, in which to raise children. I knew that already, but it is nice to read it in print with scientific research supporting the findings. Maybe the next time I see a mother chasing her toddler around the park with hand sanitizer, I will encourage her to let her child get his/her hands dirty. What do you think? I’d love to hear your opinion.

Free Range Kids

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

Andrew riding a very low pine bough like a horse with Isaac's help.

Andrew riding a very low pine bough like a horse with Isaac's help.

I realize that all things are relative, but to most people, especially urban dwellers, my children would be classified as “free range kids.” My family is very fortunate to live on Cross Creek Cattle Company in rural Grimes County. The ranch itself lends itself to a child’s playground. All that is required is an imagination.

Acres and acres of open pasture, wooded pastures, dry creek beds, and many ponds all offer different venues for fun. My children love to hike. They love to observe the flora and fauna, especially now in the spring time. Wildflowers are in bloom, dewberries are beginning to form on their thorny vines, and baby animals are emerging from their hiding places. The woods offer cool, shady place, including trees to climb and places to play hide and seek.

A string of bass.

A string of bass.

The dry creek beds are fun places to play various games, especially if you have a stick “gun” with which to shoot. Running down and up the banks are also fun and great exercise. We allow our children to go fishing in the ponds without supervision with the exception of our youngest two boys, 5 and 3 respectively.

The ranch with its horses and cows also offer a different kind of entertainment. My older children are great riders. They are allowed to ride on the ranch whenever they get the notion. The cows are not near as fun as the horses. However, Jake, especially, loves to stand in the middle of the herd watching the calves play. They are curious creatures and will soon come up to him. If he moves slowly, he can usually scratch their foreheads and/or touch their moist noses.

Sheltered by the safety of the ranch, we have no “stranger danger” to concern us. My children are like the children of old, playing outside limited only by a few rules and their imaginations. Their faces are lightly freckled and tanned in the summer. Their bodies healthy and rarely ill. The bottoms of their feet are callused and never notice the sharp points of the rocks on the road. They have great imaginations and play well with one another.

They also know this ranch like the back of their hand. Therefore, their heart strings have rooted deeply in this land just like my brother and myself, and like our father before us. Cross Creek Cattle Company is more than a family-owned and operated ranch; it is where our heart calls home. It is where members of our family bring their children to enjoy a free-range childhood; regardless of where they live the other days of the week. It is where my husband and I choose to live while raising our family, knowing full well that we wanted to have “free range kids.”

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