Category Archives: Life Skills

Bye Bye Bunny

            Saying Goodbye To A Pet

Saying “Goodbye” to a beloved pet can be a difficult for children.  Depending on the circumstances, whether the pet is given away or dies suddenly, children can have a range of responses.  But parents can help the process of grieving and acceptance go easier for the child.  

We have given away, and sold, many animals in the past.  We used to live on a farm, and though we had lots of animals, some of them in particular were “extra special”.  If an animal died suddenly, it was hard for the children, and for us parents, to deal with.   Also, the children would always become quite attached to our bottle fed goats, calves, our horse, our dog, kittens, our beloved turkey, and special favorite chickens.  Selling them or giving them away was a sad time for everyone.   It has been 3 years since we said goodbye to our farm animals, and though the children have moved on for the most part, our whole family still grieves the loss from time to time.

We currently have dogs and a bunny rabbit.  Having a pet to care for is a really good experience for the whole family.  It teaches many life skills.  It teaches responsibility.  It also helps with character development.  There is a lot about animal science, and life in general, that children can learn when it is hands on, and observations are daily and more real to everyday life. Having a pet to care for daily really helps children understand this much better. 

About six months ago, we sold a year old puppy dog to someone who just happened by and asked if we would sell one of our dogs.   The kids did not have time to process what was happening, and after the puppy was gone, it was very sad for the children.  They grieved for weeks.  In many ways it brought back the pain of saying goodbye to their animals on the farm.  It was hardest on our oldest son, and for several days, he cried quite often over it.  For the past year, he had walked the dog twice a day, fed it, watered it, and taught it to play fetch.  It was special to him, and somewhere along the way it became “his” dog.  Even though we kept in touch with the new dog owner, and got several updates on how the dog adjusted to his new family, it was still hard for my son to move beyond his grief. 

I realized I did not handle this situation as well as I could have.  I did not prepare the children for the emotions they would feel and go through.  This sale happened fairly suddenly for him, even though they knew all along that we would sell the puppies, they had become attached and loved their dear pets, and needed more time to know who was buying the dog and have a chance to say goodbye ahead of time.  So learning from experience, I decided I would go slower if we sold more puppies, and I would try to help the children process their feelings and information as much as they can ahead of time.

Our family recently made the decision to give away a beloved pet, our bunny rabbit.  This could have been traumatic for the kids.  Thank God for time, and for learning from past experiences.  It went much better than when we sold the puppy dog.  

We decided to give away our bunny rabbit for several reasons.   First, we only had a small cage for the bunny rabbit.  We kept it in the living room.  And being in the living room, he was right in the middle of life everyday.  The kids observed his habits, how he ate, drank, slept, pottied, etc. daily.  The observed his feet, his movements, his curiosity, etc. daily too.  He was a daily companion and soft and cuddly to pet his fur.

He was well cared for.  They fed and watered him everyday. 

He often needed his small cage cleaned, or it would make the living room smell unpleasant. (I am pregnant and the smell would sometimes just make me avoid the living room altogether, though it did not seem to bother the others).

When it was time to clean his cage, we would take him outside and let him hop around in a small dog fence.  The kids would take turns getting in the pen with him and petting him.  Then we would wash out his cage and re-bed it with new bedding, and bring it back inside. 

Overtime, we came to the conclusion that we should find a new home for the bunny for several reasons.  The cost of caring for the bunny, buying a constant supply of feed, hay, rabbit chews, and new bedding, was something we decided was not in our budget.  Another factor for our decision was the small cage it lived in.  We had hoped to buy or build the bunny a larger cage, and be able to keep the bunny outside, but that did not happen and we did not see it happening anytime soon.

Another local homeschool family was looking for a bunny rabbit to give their son for his birthday.  They already had a huge multi-story pen outdoors just waiting for the right bunny to call it home.  Their son is a teenager and wanted to raise rabbits.  This seemed like a good place for our bunny to go and live and make another child, actually several children in their family, a good pet.  


We discussed this with our kids for about two weeks while the other family processed also whether or not they wanted our bunny.  When they made their decision that they wanted this rabbit for sure, our children were well informed of what was going to take place and had plenty of time to process the information. 

On the day the other family was to pick up the rabbit, we took him outside and placed him in the small dog pen in the grass.  Each of the children took turns climbing in the pen with him and holding him, petting him, and saying goodbye.  No one was rushed.  It was a slow process and the kids could take as long as they needed.   Even three of our neighbor kids came over to say goodbye too.

Finally, when they were ready, they came out of
the pen and played with their neighbor friends until the other family arrived to take the rabbit home with them. 

They said goodbye one more time, and it was over.  They had time to process their emotions, and though it was sad, there were no surprises.  Acceptance came much easier this time.

“Bye Bye Bunny.”

How do you help your child say goodbye to a beloved pet?  Leave a comment below, thank you.

This post will be linked up with
No Time For Flash Cards
Science Sunday
ABC and 123
Raising Homemakers

Please share.

National Hunting and Fishing Festival

We attended the Pisgah Forest National Hunting and Fishing Festival on September 24th.

The first thing we did was stop at a booth and picked up a map showing us where all the activities were, and they gave us bags of free fish food, and some camo backpack gift bags, donated by a local church. 

Inside these camo/hunting type gift bags were snacks such as trail mix and beef jerky, hand warmers that hunters use in cold weather, a bottle of water with a scripture label on it, and a new testament bible.  The kids were thrilled!

The next thing we did was feed the fish in the hatchery.  Pisgah Forest Hatchery raises two kinds of trout: 

Brown Trout,

and Rainbow Trout.

We were all given bags of free fish food and the children had so much fun feeding the fish. 

Daddy had fun too……

Each tank had fish grouped by sizes.  Some tanks had babies, some juveniles, and some are adults ready to be released into the mountain streams.

OK, don’t laugh!  My husband thinks it is great fun to get the camera away from me and take some “end of the pregnancy” pictures.  Only three weeks left until my due date.  I feel like a duck carrying a watermelon.  I waddle like a duck too!  I wish I had worn a more flattering outfit, or something….. But what are you going to do?  He said it was only fair to include this picture, because I take so many pictures of him.  I am really looking forward to holding our new baby soon, and hopefully getting some of my girly figure back.  So stay tuned for some healthy mommy, post delivery stories!

The next activity the children did, was practice casting fishing poles and catching rubber fish with a rubber bait.  It was more fun than it sounds. 

The children could cast out their line with the bait on it pretty far into a grass field.  The goal was to get their baited line as close as they could to the fish in the grass.  Then if they placed it just right, as they slowly reeled in the line, the rubber bait would catch hold of a raised lip on the fish and “catch” the fish if they were lucky. 

Then they were to reel in the fish the rest of the way and unhook it, then throw the fish back out into the grassy field for the next cast.  This was really good practice for casting and aiming their fishing lines.  After a couple of tries, they really got the hang of it and captured several of the fish.

Next, we headed over to the shooting range.  It was set up with bow and arrow activities and bb gun activities.

The targets for the bow and arrow were a bear and a deer.

Even my four year old got hands on experience with the instructor, learning how to shoot the bow and arrows.

My eleven year old son is a natural at shooting the bow and arrows.

He got off some great shots, and on his last shot he hit the kill zone bullseye.

The targets for the bb guns were bullseye paper targets.  The kids really enjoyed the shooting range activity and learning from the various instructors.

The next activity was an indoor laser shooting range.

Next, the kids took fly fishing lessons and practiced aiming their line into the hoola hoop in the grass.

And they learned about making fly baits and jigs with feathers, hooks, and more.

And watched skilled fishermen fly fishing in the river.

Next, the kids went into a hunting and trapping area.  There were several booths set up.

At this first booth, the kids learned about taxidermy, and various animal structures.

Then, this fella gave a demonstration on using different kinds of duck and goose calls when hunting wild ducks and geese on a lake.   He also shared about rabbit hunting with his hunting dogs, and h
is experiences wild hog and deer hunting.

At this booth by Haywood College, the children matched the foot prints with the scat, or poop, of the animal that it belonged to.  All of these animals can be found in the forest and it is important to know how to read the signs (scat and tracks) left behind by the animals. 

At this booth, they learned about trapping, skinning, and tanning hides.

At this booth by the Forestry Department, they learned more about animal skins, and bones.

They were each given a deer jaw bone to take home with them.

Then these local hunters gave the kids a lesson on how to determine how old the deer was by looking at their teeth.

Next, we tried some delicious deer stew.  It was made with ground deer, water, potatoes, carrots, thyme, salt, milk, (and maybe other delicious seasonings I have forgot), and cooked for 6 hours on an outdoor fire.  It tasted better than any gourmet soup from a restaurant, and was full of great nutrition.  Our chef was a deer hunter and had caught the deer himself and had a local butcher grind steaks for him to use in this delicious recipe.

We also enjoyed Italian spiced, deer smoked sausage, which disappeared faster than I could snap a picture.  It looked just like polish or smoked sausage from the store, but it was made at home with the loving and skilled hands of a deer hunter.  The kids loved it!

We had a great day with hands on learning at the Pisgah Forest National Hunting and Fishing Festival.

Hunting, Fishing, and Gathering is a part of our human heritage.  Our family wants to preserve and pass on this heritage to future generations before the knowledge is lost due to modernization, or outlawed due to activists who don’t value this heritage. 

Having life skills to know how to acquire food, the opportunity to actually go out and hunt for it, and to know how to prepare the food for consumption and survival, are valuable life skills.  Only until the recent two or three generations (less than a hundred years), have men and women not been dependant on hunting, fishing, and gathering to provide for some of their daily or seasonal food needs.  Modernization of our foods and farming, has caused many to become ignorant of the skills that the human race needed since the beginning of time, to hunt and fish to feed themselves, and their family.  

Thank you Pisgah Forest Education Center, and all the wonderful volunteers, for helping to preserve this hunting and fishing heritage through this fun educational program.

How do you teach your kids valuable life skills and survival skills so they will know how to gather or hunt for food if the need arises?  Please leave your comment below, thank you.

This post will be linked up with
No Time For Flash Cards
Science Sunday
ABC and 123
Raising Homemakers

Please share.

Boys and Arrows




Life Skills & Survival Skills 

As part of our Thanksgiving Unit Study, we studied some of the survival skills the settlers knew, or learned by trial and error.

Here are some of the life and survival skills we looked at:

Ability to adapt to a new environment.
Ability to find and use water.
Ability to hunt for food, both vegetation and animal.
Ability to raise food.
Ability to store food.
Ability to cook food.
Ability to make shelter that provides safety in various weather conditions.
Ability to medically treat accidents and illnesses and survive them.
Ability to defend themselves against predators.
Ability to defend themselves against enemies.

Some of these skills they learned in the previous land they came from.  They brought a limited amount of basic tools with them on their journey. They were skilled at using these tools.  But they faced new challenges in the new land, and needed to learn some special skills to survive there.   Help came from their neighbors, the Native American Indians, who taught them many new skills or how to adapt the skills they had, to survive in the new climate and land they now lived.  This opportunity and ability to learn survival skills is a big part of the story of Thanksgiving and the history of our great country.   So this season, it is a perfect time of year for children to see and learn to use skills that were a part of our history, and bring the experience alive for them.

To be honest, these are all basic skills we still need today.  Even though we depend mostly on the grocery system for our food, and construction workers for our shelters, and doctors for our illnesses, and the military and police for our protection, to some degree we still need to learn a lot of these skills ourself.

If a hurricane, tornado, earthquake, ice storm, power outage, quarantine, act of terror, or some other horrible event happened and interfered with our food delivery system, how would your family survive?  How would you find food?  How would you find water?  How would you take care of yourself and your loved ones in a survival situation?


Our modern food system has only been on the scene for a short time, about 50 to 100 years, and even less for some of our modern food conveniences.  It is important to help your children understand what was it like to get their food, including water, grains, produce, milk, salt, and meat 100 years ago, 300 years ago, and even 1000 years ago.


In case of emergencies, it is wise to have at least a three day survival ration set aside in your home.  A survival ration would include basic food and supplies, and you should have a longer plan incase the event lasted longer than three days.   Many good sources recommend a four to a six month supply.   In recent history (just the past few years) whole communities ( thousands of families) have had to survive without power during ice storms, tornadoes, and earthquakes, deal with contaminated water during floods and hurricanes, and lack of basic resources.  Could your family survive this winter if the power went out for a week, and the roads were frozen over making it unsafe to drive, and the stores were closed because there was no power and no customers?

Now I am not saying you would have to hunt for meat during that three days or week.  However if the problem lasted longer, in the bitter cold of winter, a fresh deer could mean the difference of nourishment and going hungry in some situations.  But I am saying that learning basic survival skills is a good thing to do.  It helps you to have a “plan B” if normal daily life should get a “hic-up” in it and normal life became not normal for a few days.

This may sound ridiculous to folks who have only lived in the city, never experienced power outages, and had stores with in easy access all their life.  But if you have ever lived in a true rural situation, where it took several miles, maybe even an hours drive, to get to a grocery store, you would understand how life can be hard if you don’t have a modern system of grocery stores, refrigerators, freezers, electricity, and so on to help you survive.

You might be asking yourself, how in the world can I teach survival skills to my kids?  Well, cooking and self care skills during times of natural disaster, or economic collapse are not much different than the skills you need when you go camping.   Ask yourself these questions, what would you need to have and to know If you planned to go camping for a week?
Shelter and a way to keep warm and dry.
A way to get safe water.
A way to get nourishment for your body.
A way to treat an injury if one occurred.

Survival skills are important to have.  The last few generations don’t understand this, and very few have the skills needed to survive without modern conveniences if they had too.  Take the time to teach your children a few survival skills to help them get through a disastrous time in life if they had too.   You will need to judge for yourself when you think your children are ready to work with items such as fire, pocket knives, or other equipment that could be dangerous if used in correctly.   I will post links to several sites with good information and videos at the end of this article. 



How Leaning Life Skills and Survival Skills As A Child, Helped Me As An Adult:


I was privileged to have a lot of different experiences growing up.   When I say privileged it wasn’t because we had any money.  No, life was quite the opposite, we were poor.  But life was full of a lot of different situations, and I learned a lot of survival skills to help me get through this life.   Making opportunities out of tough experiences, to learn and grow through difficult situations, well I think that is a special privilege.   Going through these things and surviving made me a stronger person.

Here is my two cents on living through difficult times.   I see it as you have three choices:
1) You don’t survive
2) You survive, but you also break and become addicted to things to help you cope,
3) You cope and get stronger, and with God’s help, overcome the hard times to be a better person.

That is the choice I made as a young girl.  I made a decision around age 8 years old, that with God’s help, I was going to overcome every situation in life, and use it as a challenge to become smarter, stronger, and survive.

There have been times in my life where I was in a survival situation.   Having provisions set aside, and knowing basic skills such as how to start a fire and cook on it and keep warm, meant a huge difference in our comfort level.

Many times as a child and as an adult, I have survived in tornadoes and had to stay in cellars, basements, and storm shelters, with no power or water at times.

I have been in ice storms that left us with no power, no heat, no water, the roads were shut down, and the local stores were closed.  This has happened to me several times, and one of those times my husband was out of town and I was pregnant and had three young children.  No family to rely on, just pregnant me and the young kids.  Could have been a disaster, had it not been for a little know how, and a little preparation ahead of time.  That time, thankfully, we did have an emergency generator for our barn.  So the kids and I had to sleep ( I promise I did not sleep as I was to scared of spiders in the dark) on the ground, huddled together,  barely warmed by an emergency generator powering a little heat to the barn, and it gave me one outlet to use an electric skillet to make something warm to eat.

But other times, when I didn’t have such a luxury, I have cooked over an open fire, or on an outdoor grill ( be sure to have a full propane tank for the grill, even though its winter and you don’t plan to cook on it), and to keep warm we used either a fire (dangerous with young children) or a portable gas heater (can be dangerous from carbon monoxide, but when it is zero degrees outside, you have to weigh your options and your risks).    I have taken water from streams before and had to use it for necessities when we had no power to our well pump.  I have had to pull food from the pantry and cupboards to survive for a week, when there was no working stove and no open store available to get food.  I have prepared a fire outside to boil water or cook food.  Again, I just want to drive this point home, it is wise to always keep your gas grill or charcoal grill with plenty fuel on hand in case of an emergency power outage.

A great skill I learned as a child, how to raise and butcher meat, was carried into adulthood.  On our farm in Indiana, a big part of the fall season for us and most of our neighbors, was to harvest meat for the coming year.  We butchered meat ourselves and we also hired the local usda butcher to do our cows.  We had several of our cows butchered each fall and sold the extra meat we did not need for our family.  We had a great reputation and lots of orders for our beef.  



My husband, Mike, also hunted, especially over the Thanksgiving weekend, when those days were set aside special just for hunting.  Most of the men we knew hunted during this time of year.  Here is a picture of a deer he shot in the heart, and then gutted before taking it to the butcher to be processed for freezer storage.  The butcher would process the meat into 1 lb frozen packages for our freezer.  We would have several cuts of steaks made, ground meat, sausage, smoked sausage, and ham.  We would also later make our own jerky from some of the meat.  I would ask for the heart and liver to be put into 1lb packages also.  I would have some of the bones saved for making broth.

Mike has hunted in both Kansas and Indiana and always hunted with a rifle, a shotgun and a muzzle loader.  He used to harvest one to two deer a year.  He would have the local butcher process the meat into 1lb packages for the freezer.  We ate this meat once or twice a week all year long.  The ground meat made the best taco’s.  We had the whole deer ground except for the tenderloin we had cut into steaks and we had 4 rolls of deer summer sausage made each season too.  I would never let them add pork or lard to the mix.  Just straight deer.  Oh it was the best you have ever tasted, so lean and delicious.  We always took a plate of this to holiday dinners.

Here is a picture of deer summer sausage, honey comb, and bottles of our favorite flavors of Black Cherry and Tangerine Knudson Spritzers.


This is me around 20 years of age with my catch of fresh fish.  Fishing was another skill I learned as a young girl.   Wish I still looked 20, ha, ha.


Passing Life Skills On To This Generation:

Well it has been both easy and hard to teach some of these life skills to our children.  Our years on the farm till 2008, was a good start.  The kids learned to milk goats and cows, to raise beef cows, chickens, sheep and goats, for food, and how to help in the garden.  In the garden they learned to help till the soil, plant the seeds, weed, water, and harvest.   Three of the children were old enough to learn to mow the grass.  One son learned to help operate the tractor.  The older three rode in the cab of the tractor while baling fields of hay and while feeding bales of hay to cattle in the pasture.  The children learned to collect fresh eggs everyday, and what happens if you collect one from a spot you forgot to look in for a while, Pee-U!  They learned to feed and water the animals and give them hay each day.  They learned to help build and repair fence and pens too.

When they weren’t learning during chores, they were learning and practicing during play.  They learned to jump hay bales and play king of the mountain.  They played on their fort and swing set.  They practiced digging for China in the garden.  They loved to look for fishing worms and get them ready for dad to take everyone fishing.
They practiced casting their fishing rods in the driveway.  Look out!!  They rode their bikes up and down the drive way and surrounding hills.  They built ramps to ride their bikes on too.  They would throw a rope over a tree branch to swing on it or to climb the tree.  They rode the goats like a horse.  They chased chickens.  They would lay down in the sheep and goat pen and play with them.  They would run and race the baby cows in their pasture.  They stole mom’s ripe berries off the berry bushes before she could harvest them.  They even played with dad’s mower with supervision.  Dad let them race the mower, and do donuts in the driveway.  We also took them fishing in our pond when we had time to sit back for a while.  They all love to fish as much as I do.


Since moving to North Carolina, we have been able to fish several times at Lake Lure and a couple times at Orchard Lake Campground.   Mike has really wanted to go hunting, but we know no-one to let him go on their ground.   He misses it like crazy.   He has been to the local shooting range a few times to practice with his gun, and he has recently taken the oldest, James to teach him gun safety and practice hitting the target.

He has also been wanting to learn to shoot a bow and arrow.  It is a life long dream of Mike’s to hunt with a bow and arrow, though he always found the concept a bit intimidating in the past.  He hadn’t been around anyone to learn the skill as they used one, and from all his friends had told him it was very difficult.   But deep in his heart he still wanted to learn it and master it.

Our son James has asked for almost three years if we could get him a bow and arrow set and teach him how to use it.  He too, wants to hunt a deer with it.   For his 9th birthday, we got him a plastic learning set from Back To Basics.  It had suction cups instead of arrow tips on the ends.  This was a good place to start, but it was a little young for him, and he eventually lost interest in the set.

In part of our reading for homeschool, James read a book about two brothers from the 1860’s who learned how to hunt for food and used different survival skills.  They had to survive in a new land for eight months alone, with out their family.   They learned to fish, make fish traps, hunt for food, make small animal traps, use a spear, use plants as medicine and food, and defend themselves from a bear.  The book is a great read for kids and adults.  It is called “Cabin On Trouble Creek”.  This story really motivated James again to want to learn survival skills and renewed his interest in wanting to know how to shoot with a bow and arrow.  

This fall, Mike began to research using a bow and arrows and details about buying a good starter set.  He bought James a real bow and arrow set, and a target block to practice.  Here are pictures of their first time to use it.  James’ arm was so sore after a few times that he could hardly continue to retract the bow.  Right off the bat, James had very good aim, he just needs to build up endurance and the strength in his arms to repeatedly pull back on the bow.  Mike also worked with the younger brothers, John and Joseph, in helping them learn the basics of holding the bow and aiming the shot.


Mike plans to work with the boys a half hour several times a week after work.  This will be a good activity for all of them to do together as they learn about a survival skill and learn about becoming young men.  I hope once they master it in practice, they will have the opportunity at some point to use it to hunt a deer.  I know the joy Mike would feel to achieve this childhood dream.


 Here are several links to help you teach survival and life skills to your children.

Bow And Arrow /  What it is and its history

How To Shoot A Bow and Arrow

Spears / What it is and its history

How To Hunt With A Spear

Here are some e-how survival videos by a guy who was a boy scout and now teaches wilderness survival skills.  These are great for kids to watch (how to make a spear stick, how to cook with hot rocks, and much more)

How to build a Camp Fire

How To Cook With A Camp Fire and How To Use Safe Water

How To Go Camping In Your Back Yard

A little funny, but gives you a simple idea of how you could practice setting up for an emergency if you needed to.  Keep all your camping or emergency gear in one place and that will help to minimize frustration on where stuff is located.  I heard one person say they easily can move everything they need in less than 15 minutes because they have it all in one place.  Wow, in an emergency like a power outage, that could save you loads of time and headache.

Here is a beginners guide to go camping.  Use this list to make your own list of what items you would want or need in your emergency supplies

Governement List to Make an Emergency Kit

Where to buy tools and supplies

What to do if the power goes out in the winter

How To Make A Power Outage Bearable

Here is another good article written by Possum Hill Farms, called Homesteading in America.  The article is about why it is important to know survival skills and reduce our dependence on commercialism.

Scripture passages are from

 Genesis 21:20
God blessed Ishmael, and as the boy grew older, he became an expert with his bow and arrows. He lived in the Paran Desert, and his mother chose an Egyptian woman for him to marry.

Genesis 27:3
So take your bow and arrows, then go out in the fields, and kill a wild animal.

Psalm 127:4
Having a lot of children to take care of you in your old age is like a warrior with a lot of arrows.


What are some ways you are teaching life skills and survival skills to your children?
Please leave a comment and let us know.




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