• “Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple. Dr. Suess

Saturday, March 9, 2013


On the farm, when I was a child, I spent a lot of free time 'investigating' the yards and fields outside. Mostly these were fenced with 3 or 4 strands of barbed wire. I was a small child. I could easily crawl underneath, or slide through, the wires. My father taught me not too and some of the sweetest moments of my life were spent standing quietly by a fence observing nature. I have seen wonders: a new colt wobble to its feet and suckle its mother, an ant negotiate the maze of grass stems to a berry, a chicken scratch and peck for its food, young calves frolic in the sun, a shimmering blue green fly buzz from place to place, and a ewe birth a lamb.

On the other side of the wires were cattle and horses. Both were much larger than, and a significant danger to, a pre-school child. Dad pointed out that to me. He was convincing but not threatening.

Dad helped me understand that animals do not think or reason like people do. The animals might not mean to hurt me but they would not know that I would not hurt them. They might be afraid of me. That astonished me. As my father reasoned with me, I could understand why. I had seen our small terrier chase the animals, nip at their heels and bark ferociously at them. I had seen them try to kick or bite it. I had even seen an old bossy cow, with a new calf, charge a meandering cat that came too close.

I had seen cattle tromple things. When they moved as a herd they could even ignore a fence and just flow over it like it did not exist. If the lead cattle stopped the others just kept pushing and if one fell it might be unable to regain its feet as the herd surged forward over it.

A horse stepped on my foot once. My father often mounted his horse and then bending down, grasped a child under the arm, and swung the child into the saddle in front of him or behind him. As he leaned forward to pick me up, the horse shifted her weight slightly and when she put her hoof down again my foot was underneath it. She almost immediately moved again as Dad continued his fluid motion and pulled me up, but I knew horses were so big that they didn't really notice me or necessarily recognize me as a person. I was very wary of horses.

My father taught me the animals needed the sharp pointy barbs on the wire fences to help them remember to stay away from the wires and be safe. I knew to not go on the roads where cars might run over me but horses and cows, and other big animals like deer (quite common in our area) often wandered onto roads and were injured or killed by cars or trucks.They needed fences (and deer were so silly because they just bounded over the fences and got killed all the time)!

Dad explained to me that I could choose to go in the pastures with the big animals but why would I? I had a brain. I could think and I could choose to be safe. My father is a persuasive and inspired person. If you let him think for a moment, he can explain almost anything. His most common discipline was reason - he would take time to carefully explain and demonstrate, to his children or workers (and anyone that might need to know something), what ever we needed to understand for safety, well being morally and physically, and for productivity.

I don't need fences with sharp barbs.
I have a brain.

I also have a heart.
My Father in Heaven teaches much like my dad.
He warns, and prompts my heart and mind.

And then they let me choose.