Kids in perspective

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George McLaughlin, one of the homesteaders at Homesteadingedu wrote an article that he asked me to share with you all. Sorry that it has taken me a while to get this posted. We’ve been battling for the lives of some sick kids lately. Here is the article:

Kids in Perspective

Kidding season has arrived! Our family both looks forward to it, and… dreads it. We have a love hate view of the arrival of all the baby goats, and, any other ruminants, at this time of the year.

They’re so cute, what’s there not to LOVE?! They’re adorable. They’re entertaining. They are totally dependent on us too. Cuddling a kid while feeding is really therapeutic in some ways. Plus, this activity makes for some precious photos!

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There are some real challenges to the arrival of kids. They are often born when we would very much like to be sleeping. Sometimes their birth is drawn out. One day when we were still fairly new to goats, we had a doe appear to go into labor around 4 PM. Most of the family sat out there, in the barn with her, in 20 degree weather, until nearly midnight, as we observed her contractions. Wrapped in blankets, we were still FREEZING cold! Finally, around midnight the doe got up, looked around at us, as if to say, “Well, thank you for the company,” stretched, yawned, and… went to sleep. The kids didn’t arrive for another day or two!

Kids poop a lot. Sometimes they catch one off guard. Fairly frequently one will be bottle feeding a warm, snuggly kid only to discover that “the warm” wasn’t just body heat. Kids leak, spatter and spill milk all over their caretakers. I usually set aside some work pants, just for chores, and, during the days of kidding, those pants go into the laundry, not because they look stained and dirty, but rather because they STINK!

As kids get older, they pass from the cute and cuddling stage, to what we call “the obnoxious stage.” They become more demanding. They have almost no manners. When hungry, if they don’t have a bottle stuck into their mouth, they often bite! The other day I wore dark trousers and a navy blue sweatshirt while bottle feeding the kids. When I went back in the house, my wife laughed at me, commenting that I had little muddy hoof prints all over me, as well as bits and pieces of hay!

I don’t mind the cold. I even tolerate rain and sleet pretty well. But there’s something about being out in “it” for several hours and then coming into a warm house, after dark. Within minutes, I have lost all desire to go back outside. Yet, when we are caring for kids, it’s often precisely that time when I need to carry out a bucketful of bottles and spend the next half hour, or more, bottle feeding! Kids are inconvenient!

Yet, in spite of all the disadvantages, we would be really sad not to have kids born on our farm every year. You see, we have a small dairy. We even raise most of our own meat. We earn an income from animals we sell. On almost a yearly basis we even sell a milk goat in milk, often to someone who is just starting out with dairy. Without kids we couldn’t do any of this. Whenever we have kids, whenever I work with them I can’t help but think “these are the future.” They represent future prosperity, for me, for my family, and also for others. They represent the future of our herd. Particularly when I consider a new little doe, I think about the many potential gallons of milk and production that she represents. Kids are simply worth the expense and inconvenience!

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There’s an analogy to be drawn between these kids and “the other kind” of kid: human kids. When I consider this, apart from the potential “product” of the two differing kinds of kids, everything else is analogous. But with human kids both the negatives and the positives are exponentially greater.

The Great Shepherd happens to LOVE children! We should too.

3 Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward. 4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one’s youth. 5 Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them; They shall not be ashamed, But shall speak with their enemies in the gate.” Psalm 127:3-5

Even if we are not at a point in life to bear them, I believe the Lord would have us to support and encourage those who do, as well as pursue that which promotes their well being.

The inconvenience of raising children lasts much much longer, and it is much more than raising livestock. The commitment required is much greater! Human kids can encourage or discourage us so much more than “goat kids.” The cost of raising human kids is immense. The stakes are much higher! Yet the potential for good is also far greater. It requires much diligence, expense, pain and inconvenience. Yet, in most cases, the rewards are greater, both for the parent and for society. There is a biblical proverb which states: “Where no oxen are, the trough is clean; But much increase comes by the strength of an ox.” (Proverbs 14:4) Simply stated, the idea is “Where there is no mess, there is no profit.” This principle is true in animal husbandry. It’s true in regard to human families. And, it’s even true in regard to other things, like business ventures.

I don’t believe it’s coincidental that the Lord chose a shepherd to write the psalms. Caring for the flock and herd, one can learn a whole lot both about life and God’s own heart.

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