"Sara Kate, let's go fix the fence and get your silly horse back home," I said to my fourteen year old. Her horse Farah had ridden the gate down and tore up the fence in another place in the same day. She had gone to our neighbor's pasture where she seemed to be perfectly content with the cattle and small pony that were there. "Dad, I want to go too," ten year old Eli said. "Me too, Dad! I want to go!" Aydan, our five year old shouted. "Okay, you all can go. Tell Mom that we will be back by dark," I said as I pulled on my boots.
I sent the kids over to Joe's to retrieve the horse while I found some barbed wire to mend the back fence. By the time I had started, the kids came back with the wayward mare. There were lots of question asked as I repaired the fence which took a while. Then we turned out attention to the gate posts which had been pushed over enough for the gate to come off the hinges. "Okay, kids, I need some rocks," I said as my children went in search of rocks. "What are you going to do with the rocks, Dad?" Sara asked. "Well, we are going to apply the laws of physics that you can't read in books. We are going to use the rocks and this punch bar to make these gate posts stand up straight and solid again," I replied. "But how?" Sara asked. "Just watch," I said as I placed some of the rocks against the leaning post and pounded them into the ground with the punch bar. "Listen! Geese," I said as I looked skyward. We stood in awe as we watched the geese high in the sky. The st!
retched as far from the north to the south as we could see against the evening sky. Ten's of thousands of the big birds filled the sky in a never ending mass. Sometimes the formations of flying geese were several hundreds wide and at other times only a few lines of geese stretched out of sight. We kept working on our gate posts and then re-hanging the gates which had to be done before it got too dark to see.
"Dad, why do the geese fly like that," Sara asked as she gazed skyward at the vast numbers of geese overhead winging their way north. "They are drafting. The front goose cuts through the air which flows over and under his wings which causes a dead air space behind him. The next goose can fly with much less effort and each goose in line does the same thing. Another goose will relieve the lead goose after a while. They are conserving energy. When you watch a NASCAR race on television, the cars are doing the same thing. They have taken the knowledge of the goose and applied it to race cars. The car behind the lead car uses less gas and actually sometimes the back draft caused by the front car will pull the next car right up against their bumper," I explained. "Wow, that is cool Dad," Sara replied.
We finished our job in the last minutes of daylight and the geese were still flying. We could see them as they flew past the evening star. The full February moon was rising in the east while an awesome winter sunset painted the sky with brilliant oranges and differing shades of blues with stars twinkling overhead.
The kids and I had enjoyed a great evening while working on our farm and we discussed the fact that farmers and ranchers spend many long hours working and it was not unusual for them to make their way home in the dark after a long day. There had been no complaints from the kids that they were not on the computer or watching television. Instead, little Eli said "Dad, it has been an awesome day! Can we do it again tomorrow?" "Of course we can if you like," I replied. "Dad, this is why I am not playing sports this time in school. I had rather be on the farm taking care of the horse and building fences or what ever we have to do than to be playing some game." This caught me by surprise, but then again kids never cease to amaze me as they grow and learn about life.
This is what Wanda and I have discovered during the years of doing foster care with many troubled children. The great, wonderful outdoors is great therapy for kids of all ages. They don't necessarily have to be hunting or fishing, they just have to be outside to take part of the natural world and experience nature as it happens. Chasing a butterfly or grasshopper can help the painful past fade away, giving the innocent children a break from a troubled life. I strongly suggest that you take your children outdoors to help them experience nature in any way you choose.