We had the goats disbudded two days ago. I fought with it, but ultimately decided that it was the best thing for everyone involved. I offered Eli the chance to come with me. At first he said he would like to come. I described to him what was going to transpire and he was okay with it. He asked to bring some crayons and paper so he could work on his comic book. Sure.
When we got home from a crazy day, I brought up YouTube's search for goat disbudding/dehorning videos. I chose one video and let the kids watch it. Eli looked at me and said, "Are they going to do that to OUR goats?" Yes. "I don't think I want to go, momma." No problem.
I didn't want to hide what we were doing to our children. It is also instinctual for me to want to keep my children safe from the "horrors" of life. However, I think it is important to let Eli, especially, in on what is going on with our animals. We mentioned slaughtering our chickens in a year or so and Eli was a little freaked out. This is a product of him not really understanding where his food comes from. It doesn't come in Styrofoam plastic-wrapped containers naturally, kid. I don't think I really understood where my food came from until middle school. At least that's when I remember being weirded out by it...when a friend's family was serving cow tongue for dinner. That's when I tried squirrel stew, too. Oh, the memories. It was at that same time that I plucked feathers from chickens hanging upside down from a clothes line. I learned a lot from that friend's family life.
As a society we have a tendency to want to shield our children from the realities of life. There are some realities that they should be kept from seeing. Where our food comes from isn't one of them. What happens to to providers of our food in order to better all our lives isn't one of them.
The goats are doing well, by the way. They are spending more time outside - out of their warm indoor pen. They are sneaky little ladies, though...