Animals & Pets parenting personal stories

Life, death & kids…

Country life is full of life and death encounters. It’s one of the great perks of farm living in my opinion. Some would disagree I suppose but either way it brings perfect “teaching moments” for the kids.


Take today for example, we awoke to a gruesome/ fascinating discovery: The back legs, tail and uterus of a dead mouse on the floor. The mouse was pregnant, like 4 babies were identifiable. We could have cleaned it up and tossed it out before the kids noticed but we have a very science minded child- so we picked it up and put it aside for looking at.

“Aw…” Everly remarked at the babies “but it’s good they aren’t taking over our house!” she added. She’s right, baby animals are cute and it’s sad when they die but a house full of rodents is NOT a good thing. Our cats live in the house with a job to do. They earned their keep on this kill.  If you want to see it you can here- most of my facebook friends seemed disturbed so I opted NOT to show it here.

Later, when we went out to feed the livestock the girls spotted a dead cardinal in the grass near a waterway. “Can we take this inside to study mom?” they asked me. They know not to touch without asking first. This dead bird had some decay and possibly disease by the looks of it, so we opt to look at it where it was, without touching.

Back when the below freezing temperatures and snow were here their daddy brought home a few dead birds that likely froze to death over at the farm shop. One was a woodpecker two were common grackles that we studied and identified using our bird books.

The girls drew diagrams of their birds and labeled them. They even plucked a few interesting feathers to glue to their observations page.

They love to get to see birds up close.


New life

A “peep” sang out from our poultry incubator in the living room this morning, we have eggs that are due to hatch. The girls ran over and really looked at the eggs. One had a small crack and the longer we looked the more we noticed!

Turns out three eggs are in the process of hatching early. I keep hatch records so I was jotting notes down and the girls decided to join in. Adalyn drew pictures of the eggs and colored them in accordingly (we have some easter egger chickens). Everly documented the date, time, titled her journal entry and labeled/ colored the eggs on her observation page. I smiled at the sight of their self driven activity.

Being mindful of teaching moments and really letting them become immersed in both the good and bad of farm life has really been working out.

Of course, we didn’t just expose them to gruesome death right away. We eased in with the topic, first when our pet bunny died, then as we saw death around us (an elderly neighbor died, we saw a dead squirrel in the road, our dog was run over, chickens died, turkeys needed slaughtering, we tried to save orphaned lambs, newborn calves needed warming and bottle feeding, etc).

I think being so sheltered from death makes it seem more devastating (for kids and adults). What do you think?


<p>A city girl turned farmer. Yes women do farm ;) Owner and operator of direct to consumer, Ryder Family Farm in Southern Illinois.<br /> Wearing many hats I'm also a mother to 3, a wife, a yogi, a farmer, a 4-H & Girl Scout leader & hospitality manager.</p>

One thought on “Life, death & kids…

  1. I fully agree with you. Obviously I was a farm kid and was not sheltered about death. It defiantly helped as I got older.

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