10 December 2013

My chicken, his curry

I tried, I really did, to keep my old brown shaver going. We've had her for about two years, and she's been the most magnificent layer, giving us almost daily eggs even through her second winter. But a few months ago, her egg shells began to grow thin, then petered out completely. Her shell gland had given up the ghost, leaving us with sloppy egg innards in our nestbox. After three or four such messes, the eggs stopped altogether.

Her big red comb shows she's still hormonally fine to lay.

(Yes, I had supplied extra grit, and I saw her eating it, but it was to no avail.)

She was chicken number five in a coop and run that was straining to cope with the number of greedy, pooing chickens. She was giving us nothing in return for her keep, and worst of all she was a bully to the three young brown shavers. So I made the call.

A friend works with a Fijian Indian man who had said he was happy to take chickens off our hands - for the table, you understand. I phoned him and quizzed him. Yes, he knew how to kill chickens quickly and humanely. Yes, he would butcher and eat her. He can't bear our bought chicken meat - it's bland and watery, he said, and is no good for currying. The old, strong, slow-grown meat is far preferable, apparently.

So I delivered her on the day of slaughter, in the finest eco-packaging (i.e. tucked up in a cardboard box). I was relieved not to have to do the deed myself this time, but still felt quite shaky knowing I was catching and transporting her to go to her death. In the event, he was such a nice chatty chap, picking me a bag of fruit from his home orchard, that I wandered out of there without a second thought!

I'm glad she's met such an environmentally friendly end: the curry pot. Apparently she tasted great.

8 December 2013

not being good

I don't want my children to be 'good'. I never tell them they're a good boy or girl. They certainly hear about it when they're kind, generous, imaginative, thoughtful etc, though.

What people often mean when they say a child is being good is that he or she is obeying an authority figure. Sometimes that is the right thing to do, and sometimes it's not.

I think what we really want our children to learn to do is the right thing. After all, did Nelson Mandela live his life being a good boy? To many people he was a terrorist!

The Nazis were being good boys doing what Hitler told them to. Throughout history there must have been millions of times when terrible things were done in obedience to authority. Those people needed to do the right thing, not be obedient.

We only have 15 years or so to teach each child what the right thing is in a multitude of different circumstances. So when I tell my children what to do, I always explain why, even though it takes extra energy to do so. I'm not always going to be there, so they need to know the reasons behind the choices available, rather than blindly obeying.

I don't trust whoever might be doing the telling when I'm not there. Which one day will be pretty much all of the time.

(What 'right' things are today's terrorists trying to do? Oh, people are complicated, aren't we?)

3 December 2013

Candy doll time

We've been in the thick, colourful, energetic fog of a Christmas ballet production. It had an icy theme - ironic considering it's summer time. When it comes to Christmas in New Zealand, there's still a chunk of it that harks back to the 'old country'.

We're out the other side now, and almost a bit sad about it. There were many hours of rehearsals, many hours of waiting while others danced, much awestruck watching of the big girls dance en pointe (what kind of ancient torture is that?). Much consoling and pleading: you can go backstage without me in the wings, my brave girl! Mama wants to watch from the audience for at least one performance! 

By the time I got to do that - and not without a last-minute burst into tears by Anna, and urgent words from me about being brave and strong, followed by yet more wiping off black tear trails of stage makeup from her eyes - I got to watch.

It was magical. It was especially so for me, because I knew how much work had gone into it. I admired the dancers, and especially their teacher, so much! Of course when Anna was on the stage I only had eyes for her. My girl with her perfect timing, her tireless smile, her ability to be in front of the others so that those who needed to copy her when they forgot their steps could do so. I was proud of her.

But best of all was that she conquered her fear of being up there without me in the wings.

Actually, no. Best of all was the seemingly endless hours we spent together at rehearsals. It was lovely.
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