Where there is livestock, there’s dead stock. Most farmers and there families are familiar with this saying.
For other people though, it can come as a shock that animals die. I can’t actually believe this but it is true.
Sheep in particular have some kind of inbred gene that just makes them want to die. All the time.
The urge is so strong that farmers often find ewes in ditches or drowned in ponds.
They can also die of shock quite quickly and, if something spooks them, can go down hill rapidly.
We try to be pragmatic with the children about death.
Something died earlier this year. I can’t quite remember what it was-either a chicken or a chick, I think.
The three-year old asked me what had happened and I tried to sugar coat it for him. He is only little, after all.
The conversation went a bit like this:
G: “What is wrong with that chicken, mummy?”
Me: “Erm, I think it must have been ill, love and has gone to sleep in heaven.”
G: “Is it dead?”
Me: “Yes, love.”
I actually laughed. He knows way more than I gave him credit for, that boy.
From then on, when something died I just kept it simple but more often than not, it is G who spots the death first and shouts “Mummy/Daddy! That chicken/sheep/ chick is dead.”
Indeed recently, a sheep died (she had a death wish and just dropped dead) and the two boys were absolutely fascinated by it. The sat there with the sheep for a good half an hour. G discussing with his brother what may or not may happened to the animal (at one point dinosaurs were involved).
I suppose it is a good thing that they are so open with death. Children from non-farming families may only experience death when it happens to someone close to them or a family pet.
When the knacker man arrives to take the dead animal away, guess who is first at the window to have a look?