A Raccoon

It is an interesting gift to raise children on a small farm.  There are obviously innumerable joys in wandering the rows and snacking as we go.  To see Abigail, our one-year old, stretch and plead in my arms to snap off a broccoli shoot to munch on tickles my soul.  And to have Olivia lead tours of the chicken coop, expertly demonstrating to visitors how to feed the hens a  kale leaf through the fence, makes this farmer nearly burst with pride.   Some of the little ‘realities’ of farming often cause me to pause ever so slightly to think about how things look through their young eyes.  Namely, our control of bugs.  It didn’t phase me at all to squish a destructive (and quite probably mean spirited) caterpillar in my hand. but after you have read the Eric Carle classic ‘The Hungry Caterpillar’ to your daughter forty-seven times you develop a little sensitivity.  Luckily Olivia has not shown too much sensitivity as she has helped me feed a few of the little rascals to the chickens. I have also walked  an ethical tight rope by explaining that most of the caterpillars on our farm don’t become butterflies at all, just drab dusty little moths (I know, I  know that’s a terrible line of reasoning!).   However this week we sought to turn around the negative reputation of caterpillars when we found an ‘infestation’ of swallowtail caterpillars in our carrot patch.  Instead of (ahem) murdering  them, we have given them all the carrot tops they can eat inside of a two-liter bottle.  And to check that Olivia was paying attention to the Eric Carle classic, Kristin asked her what the caterpillar is going to become soon.  “A butterfly” she responded. “Yes, but what about before it becomes a butterfly?”  Olivia paused a moment and said, “a raccoon!”

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