John O’Meara writing about family time outdoors …
Every week on my farm I try to find an activity to do with my children that saves us all money…and that is enjoyable.
It usually means turning off the TV and the computer, putting down the phone, and looking for something productive to do out on some far corner of the farm.
Many people think that time with your family means going on an expensive vacation far away.
That can be fun.
But a simple life with plenty of time outdoors can be much better.
From an early age, my son Jim expressed an interest in bow hunting, so we found some reasonably priced used bows and got started.
Now, Jim – aged 12 – and I are marching through the back edge of our farm. He has his arrow notched and a sparkle in his eye.
We are looking for Canada geese and hares.
A good place to hunt is on the edge of the woods. That’s where our pasture meets the forest.
It’s here that my son spends most of his time…getting to know his farm.
Getting a hare or a grouse with a bow is no small feat. It requires patience and a certain slowing down…a different way of being than what is common for modern 12-year-olds.
Walking on the edge of the beaver pond – surrounded by towering cedar, tamarack, spruce, and fir – Jim and I get our compound bows ready.
As we get closer to the actual beaver dam, six graceful geese loft themselves out from a hiding spot in the marsh grass and soar over our heads, heading for a nearby potato field.
They rise above us quickly, surprise us, and get away. No goose for roasting that night.
But our adventure goose hunting was multi-purpose, like many activities on my farm.
Jim was having fun…and the hunting excursion gave us an opportunity to evaluate timber on our farm and walk the property lines while soaking up one of the most beautiful northern Maine fall days I have ever seen.
A traditional skill like this also offers the opportunity to find a neighbor or someone nearby who is more experienced and willing to pass down knowledge.
We have such a person who lives nearby, and they’re always willing to help Jim or me when we have questions. Through our pursuit of this hobby, we are making connections with our neighbors.
Jim scouts out the edge of our fields pretty regularly – searching for hare, grouse, and deer. He hasn’t got anything yet this season, but he has gotten to know almost every inch of our farm.
He also knows about grass, can handle cattle well, and knows livestock better than most adults.
He says that he enjoys bow hunting because it’s out in nature. He likes the quiet…a place and time where there is no trouble.
When he taps on my door to let me know he’s off on a hunting trip at dawn…I know good things are happening in his life.
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