Nathan and Carter took the morning off from market to hunt the opening day of deer season. They've not been able to do that in years, and the excitement on their faces to wake up at 4:00 am could easily be lost on me if it weren't for paradox.
Nathan grew up fishing and hunting. I'll never forget one of the first times we were visiting his parents in Hart county, and his dad got up from the couch, picked up a gun, went outside, killed a bird, and came back inside to dress and fry it up. He was hungry and bird sounded good, simple as that.
I, on the other hand, get nervous around guns and it's taken time for me to get acquainted with them. The thought that an animal is living it's best life one minute and dead the next has always made me sad. Ignorant bliss provided by commercial agriculture.
Raising our children to be safe around guns, to respect the harvest of animals, and to appreciate both their life and sacrifice has been a significant lesson for me.
At one point, not very long ago, Nathan and I were living on an extremely tight budget with four kids to feed and one with severe food allergies. Store-bought meat wasn't an option, for price and additives, and it was the hunt that fed us. I learned to wait in anticipation that they'd come back with deer or crappie or rabbit. I found myself learning to freeze, process, season and can wild game.
That time in life gave me an entirely different viewpoint on sustainability, resiliency, and hunger that I will always be thankful for. Kentucky is rich with knowledge and natural resources that I hope we will protect.
Now, as we have access to the beef, pork, and chicken around here that doesn't make it to market we find ourselves with friends and neighbors who depend on this deer meat like we once did. I can think of others who not long ago, were hungry and needed food, and the lessons found in the hunt and meal gave them just what they needed to find new success.
Nathan’s smiling because he had the chance to hunt this morning, thank you Leslie and Elizabeth, and harvested 3 deer that after we take our part he will share with neighbors that will be overcome with thankfulness to receive them.
Some lessons and gifts are priceless.
This is a portrait of Michelle Howell, a hardworking farmwife, mother of five, author, and advocate. On the left side of the bust you can read text from the poem “Anyway” that was on a wall of Mother Teresa’s home for children in Calcutta, India. “If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.” “The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.”
Leslie Nichols, Artist