"Hey kids! Come see what I found!" is a pretty normal utterance in our house.
I'd like to say that what follows involves harmless and fluffy animals.
But it normally doesn't.
Instead it often involves worms. Bugs. Snakes. And even rodents.
This morning, it was a baby mouse.
Mice are a problem on a farm. They get into your feed no matter what you do to try and stop them. And unfortunately, due to some severe cat allergies that my husband has, we don't think we can solve the problem in the old traditional way.
This baby mouse had fallen into a bucket and could not get out. JB sat on a chair in the living room as each child, and yes, even the mom, came and took a peek at the little mouse.
(I've been working on not being squeamish.)
(It's really a waste of energy when you live in the country.)
After a few minutes of ooohing and aaahhing over the little mouse (who was most likely responsible for getting into our bird seed yesterday) JB headed back outside.
(Sidge always follows anyone who is going anywhere outside on the farm.)
Let me pause for a moment to talk about Sidge.
All of our children seem to like our new home. They like the farm. They enjoy seeing the animals and being free to roam.
But Sidge loves living on the farm. He breathes it, and it is almost the only thing he talks about. Anytime someone is going to do farm work, he wants to tag along. On your way, he leads the conversation with question after question that goes like this: "What's your favorite animal? Do you like wildlife? What's the best part of being a farmer? What is your favorite job on the farm? What animal is your favorite to take care of on the farm?"
Yesterday, when we were done feeding the chickens, I told Sidge I was heading up to the house.
"You can stay here a bit by yourself if you want."
Sidge was sitting next to our laying chicken tractor, sticking long pieces of grass through the tractor for the chickens to eat. He looked up at me and said, "I'm not really alone if I'm with the animals."
Sidge is also one of the most tender-hearted and sweet little boys you will ever meet. He can tear up from happiness within a second. He often "happy cries." When a visitor leaves, he takes it hard. When Mr. Shane fixed Abigail's new bike yesterday, he turned and said, "It just makes me so happy to see Abigail back on her bike."
My sweet boy.
Anyways... so back to the mouse.
JB and Sidge began loading up feed to take down to the chickens in the pasture. While JB scooped out feed, Sidge stood over the bucket, watching the mouse.
"What are we going to do with the mouse Dad?"
JB paused before he said, "Well Sidge, I'm not really sure. Mice are a lot of trouble for us here on the farm. And if I let this one go, there will be more baby mice and more feed that they get into."
"So what are you going to do with him?"
"Well, I think the best thing might be to put him in with the chickens. Chickens are omnivores, and if we do that, the mouse will die for a purpose and the chickens will get some good food."
Sidge scrunched up his nose and said, "I don't really want to do that Dad."
"Well it really is the best thing to do. But if you really feel strongly, you could take a walk with that bucket all the way into the woods and let the mouse go up there."
Sidge thought for a moment. "Maybe you and I could go together?" he asked.
JB shook his head. "I have to go out and feed the chickens before church. If you want to save the mouse, you'll have to do it yourself."
Sidge thought another moment, picked up the bucket, and took off for the woods.
Later, in the van on the way to church, I asked Sidge about his choice. "I talked to the mouse all the way up to the forest," he said. But then his eyes filled with tears.
"Why are you crying?"
"Because," he began. "I forgot to say good bye to him."
"Oh don't worry," I said. "That mouse knows you saved his life."
"You think so?"
Sidge gave a resolute nod, and smiled. "I did the right thing," he said.
And I smiled.
And teared up a bit myself.