Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Salt Licks

One of the many things I love about Home Ed is the sense of connections. We have just started reading 'Heidi' as a chapter book; in one of the first scenes of the maligned Grandfather, his goats run to him as he tempts them with salt. This reminded us of 'Caddie Woodlawn' and the prank she played on her cousin who was so keen to 'salt' the sheep. Deliberately failing to warn the unsuspecting visitor of the sheeps' eagerness for salt, Caddie and her brothers allow her to attempt to hand-feed the animals. She is overwhelmed by the over-enthusiastic ruminants and all of her buttons, of which she is very proud, are eaten in the melee. My middle son reminded me that Pa Ingalls, in 'Little House in the Big Woods' "had made a deer-lick, in a open place in the woods, with trees near by in which he could sit and watch it." In a touching moment, Pa is too overcome with the beauty of first stag, then a bear and finally a doe and her yearling fawn in the moonlight to shoot any of them and Mary and Laura have bread and butter for their supper.
We spent a few moments on the internet last night looking at a story of a boy chased by a deer which just wanted to lick him, reading how to make a deer-lick, finding out that animals need salt for bone, muscle and antler growth, looking at salt-licks to buy for wildlife or for 'small furries' and discovering the Norse legend of the divine cow Audhumla licking Odin's grandfather into being. Then we e-mailed our friend at Bushy Park to find out how the resident deer herds get their salt.
I am not sure, nor do I care, which part of the 'curriculum' this would fall into, nor could I ever have set this as a target or planned it. But I learned something new, in a context which means I am unlikely to forget it, and the children did too. That, I am sure, is what education is all about.

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