Preparing the meat that we raised together as a family.
July 11th 2016
This is our fourth year of running our backyard rabbitry. Our rabbits are cared for and loved. We have a great admiration and respect for the animal. Before we butcher our rabbits my children have learned to say, “Thank you for being here for us and for making us stronger, we will not waste your meat, you are now a part of us.” The children do not have any problems with the harvesting of the rabbits they help raise. They are excited and feel like they are contributing to the family. We believe this makes them more confident growing into the people they will become and more respectful to the environment they are growing within. There is something that has changed within us since we began raising our own meat. There is an understanding that is gained by being responsible for the lives that we end so we can continue. We are tighter as a family because we shoulder the reality of understanding how much dies to keep us alive. Past experience in sharing these particular endeavors that we engage in as a family lead me to believe that many of you reading this may find it unsettling, to say the least. We only ask that you try to understand that we are choosing not to participate in factory farmed meats. The meat that we harvest and eat in our house has been loved or, if hunted, has lived a real life.
We hope our latest family blog post finds you doing well and in the present moment with an open mind.
For the past several months we have prepared for tomorrow. We sold our home, we temporarily moved in with my parents, we dove head first into the off the grid world, we prepped the land, and worked together to figure out solutions to any foreseen issues that are likely to arise from a life of living in the wild.
We were excited together, scared together, doubtful, and hopeful - depending on the day of the week or the task at hand, but we are here.
Tomorrow we are making the big move to our homestead where we will be living completely off the grid in a 26 foot trailer for the next year or so, while our forever home is being built.
What does that mean? No hook up to city power - only our generators, battery banks, and solar panels. No hook up to city water - just yours truly hauling hundreds of gallons of water from town to our land several times a month. No hook up to city gas - just refillable propane tanks. No hook up to city sewer - just our trailer’s black water tanks.
Mindfulness will be key, as everyday tasks such as brushing our teeth will become a creative lesson in water conservation.
In spite of the challenges, I’m ready to be humbled by the rawness of it all. I’m ready to lay the foundation of a life changing dream.
After dinner tonight, Lindy said it may be a good idea to journal our thoughts about our first weekend living on the homestead full time. It’s an easy task at face value - I have a thousand thoughts racing through my mind. Who wouldn’t? Yet, at the same time it’s a difficult task because time out here is best spent doing something necessary - it’s hard work living with no city sewer, water, or power. Time not spent working is time spent driving or time spent sleeping. Nonetheless, I write because if it’s worth doing - it’s worth remembering.
The days on the homestead start early. Nature’s subtle nudge out of bed comes in the form of frigid cold. Our temporary living arrangements lack the insulation of a modern home and I am reminded of that as I start the generator at 5:30 in the morning while standing in my boxers to prevent Lindy and the kids from suffering my fate by firing up the furnace. That task at dawn feels like my duty, and if I can provide my family with an added level of comfort beyond our somewhat primitive arrangement – then I have started my day a hero.
Mother Nature has ripped the covers off of me with her biting cold and for good reason: it’s time to work. The physical work around the homestead is far more enjoyable beneath the blanket of the morning fog. The midday sun is no time for shoveling gravel, moving boulders, or other homestead improvements.
Yesterday, I spent my morning trying to figure out how to move my large, heavy BBQ from one end of my property to the other without a truck. Today, I spent half my day trying to find clean water for our trailer on a holiday weekend. After a local business shelled out almost 25 gallons of water to me for free, I loaded it into Lindy’s 2007 Toyota Corolla that she bought back in high school and drove it down sketchy unpaved country roads to get it home. At last, we can bathe.
The evenings on the property come early as well. As soon as the sun drops below our west ridge, darkness sets in and the only ambient light is moonlight. The unfamiliar rustling of surrounding bushes and a lack of visibility urge us indoors.
Bedtime rituals with the kids are simple, but meaningful. A story by flashlight, a few minutes with a sticker book at the kitchen table, an animated recap of the day’s adventures.
Lindy and I haven’t figured out nights yet. We sit on the couch in the dark, tired and accomplished. We whisper our entire conversation because of the close proximity to the girls who are asleep in our family bed.
Tonight we talked about giving the kids a bath tomorrow and taking our first shower in three days and how to best conserve water in the process. We stink - but we don’t mind. Oddly enough, I just smell work and earth - there’s a rawness to that and yes, I am aware that I sound crazy. Tomorrow, we have big plans to locate a safe indoor portable heater and track down a more reliable water source.
I really think this lifestyle has us on track for something great. The mere fact that I am writing tonight, rather than sitting mindlessly in front of the television leads me to believe that I am correct in my assessment.
Things There Should be More of in Young Adult Fiction (imho)
1. Catholic characters who aren’t the bad guy/don’t need to be taught a lesson about tolerance.
2. Genuinely cheerful, happy, and well-adjusted characters.
3. Twins who aren’t exactly alike/‘as opposite as night and day.’
4. Big families!
5. Homeschoolers who aren’t total social rejects.
6. Native American/First Nation/Australian Aboriginals in modern day fiction.
7. Sibling platonic love conquering all.
8. The Amish. (Because seriously, what becomes of them in apocalyptic/post apocalyptic/dystopian futures?)
9. Eugenics as the evil doctrine. (Which is the 'science’/viewpoint that certain folks are less desirable than others, such as racial/ethnic minorities and disabled folks, and should be eliminated from the gene pool.)
10. People who turn into animals other than wolves.
11. Bratty younger siblings that turn out to have a good side.
12. Good reasons for odd hair colors.
13. Overweight characters who have goals/problems other than eating/overeating.
Racism in schools is pushing more black families to homeschool their children
Homeschooling, common among white Americans, is showing an increase among African-Americans kids, as well. African-Americans now make up about 10 percent of all homeschooled children in this fastest-growing form of education. However, the reasons for black kids to be homeschooled may not be the same as for white kids. The research shows that black parents homeschool their children due to white racism.
Racism is far from being a thing of the past. Institutional racism and individual racism still persist and are largely responsible for the persistence of profound racial disparities and inequalities in many social realms. Schools, of course, are no exception, which helps one understand why racism is such a powerful drive for black homeschoolers.
The attitudes and actions of white teachers (who make up 85% of all public school teachers) were questioned by African-American parents. They consistently portrayed white teachers as overly critical, unresponsive, unqualified, insensitive, offensive, mean, hypocritical, and using double standards. Indeed, many white teachers seem to bring into the schools the many racist stereotypes and attitudes that have been ingrained in them, in particular the notions that blacks lack in intelligence, or are notoriously lazy and bent on criminality.
Black students account nationally for 34 percent of all suspensions. In reality, harsh school punishments have become one of the primary mechanisms through which the school-to-prison pipeline operates, pushing large numbers of black children out of school and into the “justice” system to feed the prison industrial complex that has blossomed over recent years.
Despite the fact that the law does not forbid people to receive an education, regardless of race, tho they found a way to get rid of black students - they literally treat like dirt and supplant them from educational institutions. It’s disgusting. Children are forced to suffer from idiotic stereotypes and prejudices from the childhood. In fact, they suffer because they aspire after knowledge and want to get an education.
Unfortunately, if you are Black American who wants to become an educated man, your path will be doubly difficult! Is this fair?
I believe in ADHD. I know it’s a real thing. I believe in medications – almost too much, if you know what I mean. (*Winks, points at Ambien, Zoloft and ibuprofen in the bathroom.*) And no one explicitly said, “Hey, maybe your son has attention issues,” followed by air quotes, because that would have been weird and also illegal.
All I knew in that moment was that my kid didn’t thrive in the classroom and we had the resources to give homeschooling a try. For the next five years, we covered the exact same subjects as a traditional school, plus crazy stuff like Latin (stupid), French (double stupid), and Shakespeare (9/10, will try again.) One year, we did this thing where the kids could spend Fridays studying whatever they wanted, so my son studied the Battle of Midway for a month. We still incorporated the fine motor stuff that you see in elementary school – coloring, cutting, and glue eating – because I wasn’t a total idiot and I knew these were skills a kid is supposed to learn. The only thing that changed in his education was the pacing and amount of attention he got. We connected with homeschool groups and had playdates and used actual guns to shoot people who questioned whether or not my kids were socialized.
The previous sentence was an untruth. They were play guns. I’m going to come back to the socialization question in a moment.
“A consistent point of tension across all these examples is whether history classes and their accompanying texts are misleading kids with Eurocentric interpretations of the actors and events that have shaped the human experience. “Research finds that the overwhelming dominance of Euro-American perspectives leads many students to disengage from academic learning,” wrote the author and teacher Christine Sleeter in a 2011 report promoting the academic and social benefits of teaching ethnic studies in schools.
The critiques are certainly growing in prevalence and reach, and they’re resulting in all kinds of phenomena. Earlier this year, Jessica Huseman wrote a piece for The Atlantic about the rise in homeschooling among black families, a trend that experts have in part attributed to the skewed teaching of world history. Schools “rob black children of the opportunity to learn about their own culture” because of these curricular biases, Huseman wrote, citing Temple University’s Ama Mazama. “Typically, the curriculum begins African American history with slavery and ends it with the civil-rights movement,” Mazama told Huseman. “You have to listen to yourself simply being talked about as a descendent of slaves, which is not empowering. There is more to African history that that.
And it’s not just the black-white dichotomy that’s driving these controversies, of course. Tucson, Arizona, remains caught at the center of a legal battle over the state’s ban on a Mexican American Studies class—a clash that’s helped fuel a movement to bring ethnic studies into schools across the country. And in a piece for The Atlantic last week, Melinda Anderson wrote that some schools have started to teach children a more nuanced version of Christopher Columbus’s role in America’s founding.”
In the spring and fall of 2010, I interviewed 74 African-American homeschooling families from around the U.S. While the size of my sample does not allow me to claim that it is representative of the whole African-American homeschooling population, it was nonetheless large enough to allow me to capture the main reasons why black parents tend to homeschool their children.
Eurocentric curriculum and teachers’ attitudes When it comes to schools, there are at least two important areas of concern: the curriculum and teachers’ attitudes and behaviors. School curricula continue to promote a worldview developed by Western civilization. This wholesale Eurocentric orientation of most schools’ curricula, in a society that, ironically, is becoming increasingly brown, speaks volumes about a pervasive European ethnocentrism — that is, the notion that every one in the world thinks and does or should think and do like Europeans. Peggy McIntosh, an anti-racism activist, often cites a list of things she can take for granted as a white woman. Her list reflects the nature of the curriculum that students grow up being exposed to. As she says: “When I am told about our national heritage or about civilization, I’m shown that people of my color made it what it is;” as well as “I can be sure that my children will be given curricular materials that attest to the existence of their race.”For black people, as I found, it is a totally different experience. Indeed, while European culture and thought are implicitly presented as universal and Europe as the only place from which great ideas and discoveries originated, Africa and African-descended people find themselves quasi-excluded from the curriculum. As one of the fathers with whom I spoke in Atlanta succinctly articulated, “All we learn about is their stuff, and we know nothing about our stuff, our history, our culture.” This results in a general school-sanctioned ignorance about Africa and its descendants and in a disdain for the black experience, as I found through my interviews. Eventually, this becomes a pervasive and potent form of institutional racism.
Racial stereotypes harm black kids Furthermore, the attitudes and actions of white teachers (who make up 85 percent of all public school teachers) were questioned by many of the African-American parents with whom I spoke. They consistently portrayed white teachers as overly critical, unresponsive, unqualified, insensitive, offensive, mean, hypocritical, and using double standards. Indeed, many white teachers seem to bring into the schools the many racist stereotypes and attitudes that have been ingrained in them, in particular the notions that blacks lack in intelligence, or are notoriously lazy and bent on criminality. Studies of the impact of negative white teachers’ attitudes on the school experience of black children reveal that there are two areas where teachers’ unchecked prejudices have been particularly visible and tragic: the over-referral of black students to special education programs and to the criminal system. African-American students are more than twice as likely to be labeled cognitively “deficient” than white American students. Although they only make up 17 percent of the student population, they nonetheless represent 33 percent of those enrolled in programs for the mentally challenged. What appears to be a false and incorrect labeling, has a dire impact on the ability of black students to attend college and achieve social mobility.
Harsh school punishments
Likewise, black students account nationally for 34 percent of all suspensions. In reality, harsh school punishments have become one of the primary mechanisms through which the school-to-prison pipeline operates, pushing large numbers of black children out of school and into the “justice” system to feed the prison industrial complex that has blossomed over recent years. Certainly, the parents I interviewed were very much aware of and concerned about the “traps” set by many public schools for black children. One mother in New York poignantly declared, “I say America does not love my children. You know the statistics about prisons and all that. They have a plan for my children, and I am not going along with it.” Given this state of affairs, it is hardly surprising that a growing number of black parents, frustrated with a school system that is quick to criminalize and disenfranchise their children, turn to homeschooling as an alternative. Thus, for many black parents, homeschooling equates with a refusal to surrender their children to a system that they see as bent on destroying them. For them, it is an act of active and conscious resistance to racism.
African-American homeschooling By taking the constant threat of harassment and discrimination out of the picture, homeschooling provides African-American parents the space and time to educate and socialize their children for optimal personal development. I found the home education is planned and delivered primarily by mothers, who stay at home, or work from home. This mother-led home education process is commonly observed among homeschoolers. In general, two strategies are commonly observed among black home educators: imparting self-knowledge and self-esteem through positive teaching about Africa and African-Americans. While finding ready-to-use educational materials can be challenging, most parents reported creating their own materials, by drawing from different sources, such as books, documentaries, the internet, field-trips, etc. Many go out of their way to provide exposure to black people who have achieved greatness in their domain, for instance, literature, science, or history, in an effort not only to educate their children about their history and culture, but also to instill racial pride and confidence in them. In other words, many black homeschooling parents engage in racial protectionism, so that they will have the self-confidence and knowledge necessary to face and overcome the hurdles that white racism appears to place in their path.
I work as a nanny/tutor/mother’s assistant/what-have-you for a homeschool family and today when I got to work 13yo Otis, whom I have been helping with his creative writing, presented me with a Lord of the Rings Christmas fanfiction in which the Fellowship have been somehow transported to modern-day New York! He wrote it especially for me as a birthday present!
Favourite lines include:
“Gandalf had a t-shirt that said ‘I heart NYC’, Boromir had jeans and a leather jacket and Frodo and Aragorn had normal clothes”
“‘No! If these little green fellows attack my sleigh I won’t be able to fly around the world to give presents to all the little girls and boys!” said Santa.”
“‘Boromir it’s too dangerous by yourself!’ yelled Aragorn, 'YOU WILL DIE!!’ ‘It’s in my contract, I’m sorry,’ and Boromir was stabbed to death by the Orcs.”
“Soon the sleigh was up and running and Santa and Frodo gave gifts to everyone in the world and also Middle Earth.”
“[…] they put Boromir on the tree as an ornament.”