My latest piece for Irish Country Living
Here on the farm there are many things we take for granted when it come to our children.
For instance, they readily accept that animals pass away, when you have chickens it is a lesson they need to learn early on because something as simple as a dirty look can cause a chicken to pop it’s clogs and I couldn’t be dealing with outpourings of grief if they mourned the passing of each one. They have their favourites, but life has taught them not to get too attached.
Another aspect of life that farming has taught them about is conception and birth, they are witness to many, many covers during the year, and will report on whether it was a ‘good cover’ or not depending on the duration of it…no pressure on our stud males with a team of mini farmers analysing their best moves!
And when it comes to giving birth they know the procedure, they will report on contractions and are not at all phased by it.
This knowledge is gleaned from the ordinary, everyday happening of life on a farm. There has been no red faced, ham fisted, faltering explanations, questions get asked, they get answered and they witness life from conception through birth and sometimes death.
I forget that this isn’t the way for a lot of children, and this was very much brought home to me recently when we had 16 children, aged from 8 down to 5, here for an end of year party. On this particular day one of the alpacas decided she had had enough, it was time to unpack her cria and so she did.
Once we spotted her in labour I thought it best to give her some space, 16 children can never be quiet, no matter how hard they try.
And then the questions began…how does the cria get out?
Our 3 year old looked incredulously at them…’out her bottom of course’ he answered breezily.
The look of absolute horror on some of their faces was enough to tell me that the is was news to them, big news and not exactly welcome news.
There was some whispering and some disbelieving looks but the arrival of ice cream was enough to distract them, is there any situation which can’t be rescued by the arrival of a Loop the Loop?
Time passed and Mr Farmer arrived home and eventually my four mini farmers had had enough, they wanted to see if the cria was born and there was no stopping them.
We trekked back to the field and there to meet us was the alpaca with her cria partially delivered. It was a head first presentation and so the vet was there to assist. If any of the children were unsure as to where baby crias came out they knew for certain now. Thanks to some manouvring by the vet, accompanied my more expressions of horror from some children, the cria was delivered safely, to an audience of newly knowledgeable children.
Once she was on her feet and dried off they all had a little cuddle with her.
On our way back to house there was great chat about what they had seen, and then came the question…but how did it get in there? It took almost a rugby tackle from me to prevent my 8 year old from giving the answer.
‘Anyone for face painting’ I bellowed and the moment passed, the distraction worked, and the question was deflected.
Home time came the the children left, a little wiser than they arrived, their eyes opened somewhat to the natural cycle of life.
I’m sure bedtime was interesting that evening as little brains whirred with questions and bigger brains struggled to find the appropriate answers!.