Accidentally Educational

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Yesterday, Keats accompanied me on a small trek across three counties to visit the vet.  It was supposed to be “snip” day for Robin Hood and Little John.  Little John got a pass, but will have to return in a few months for a more invasive process because he is a cryptorchid (sigh.) We knew his condition heading into the appointment, but didn’t realize the vet would want to give it some more time before performing the surgery.  Anyway, this is probably too much information in the goat health department, but I wanted to explain why only Robin is pictured recuperating on the back seat of the van.

When Keats and I headed out for this appointment, I had no idea what to expect, having only taken dogs and cats to the vet in the past.  The vet we saw typically does house calls, but the fee for her to come out to our area is pretty high, hence the drive on our part.  She essentially had a mobile clinic in the back of her truck, and performed the surgery there.  She explained everything she was doing, and was completely comfortable with us watching.  I was really impressed with her manner, and with the way she cared for Robin.

I waited in the van with Little John because he is a baby, and cries if he’s left alone for two seconds.  I also knew that there was no way I wanted to watch the procedure on Robin.  The combination of cutting, and blood, and private parts is definitely not my thing.

Keats, though.  Keats watched!  I kept reminding him to sit down if he started to feel funny.  The only move he made was to shift to get a better view.  I was nervous for him, because I think that I would actually pass out if I watched something like that.  I can’t even look at any of the scene surrounding having my own babies, and that is despite the fact that five of them have been born at home.  I guess I can deal with pain, just not the sight of blood or parts.  Robin was anesthetized, but I was still afraid he would cry out.  (He didn’t.)  With hands that were literally shaking, I was able to knit two rows from start to finish before the vet called out to me, “He’s all done.”  I braved looking at that point, and even took a few photos to share with the family back home.  Be thankful that I’m not sharing them here!  We don’t want this blog becoming that educational, right?  (Ginny, could you please just write about flowers and pretty things, or maybe some knitting?)

Before yesterday if you asked Keats what he wants to be when he grows up, he would have replied, “A professional baseball player or a violin maker.”  Today he would probably add, “Large animal vet” to that answer.  And that makes me feel so thankful that he was able to gain that little peek into veterinary medicine, and that despite the fact that it was a pretty unpleasant procedure he observed, he was fascinated rather than grossed out.  And you know what I’m thinking, right?  I’m totally wondering whether or not he might be able to accompany the doctor on her rounds someday:  the ultimate homeschooling experience.

Sometimes homeschooling really stresses me out.  But on days like yesterday I am just really grateful to be able to place my kids, even if accidentally, into the path of things that might just become passions for them.  And as my three boys are getting older, I find that this is exactly the way my mindset about education is shifting.  I am less worried about the conventional aspect of their education, (though they still have to do their math and English, etc.).  I am far more concerned though with paying attention to their strengths and weaknesses, the things that they get excited about, where their interests truly lie.  I am wondering how I can get them into places where they can obtain hands on experiences, experiences that might shape their futures.  Because I would love that they end up with jobs they love one day, jobs that do more than just pay the bills.  Don’t we all hope for that?

(And yes, Keats and I stopped to smell the flowers along our way.  He and I are very good at doing that together.)


  1. Hey Ginny.. Just a random photography question. How do you carry your camera with you? Do you have a recommendation or could do a blog post on the type of bag you use to carry and what your essential equipment is? Do you just take it with you everywhere in preparation for catching moments? Just curious what is the easiest way for me to start having my camera more accessible wherever I go or even at home without little ones damaging it or a big bulky bag? Thanks so much!

  2. I find that children surprise us with their talents and interests. My daughter doesn’t blink an eye when she sees blood and I cringe. (and panic…). So glad that all went well and I think you have a helper for the next time to see the vet!!

  3. That’s so cool!! I could totally see Keats being a veterinarian. And that would be amazing if he could accompany the vet on her rounds!

  4. My son, who is in vet school at UW-Madison, says there are jobs for large-animal vets, but that it’s a job that involves a lot of injuries. You won’t find a large-animal vet who doesn’t have a torn rotator cuff, or so they say at the vet school.

    I love that you are able to expose your kids to so many things. I had no idea that my son was so interested in animals until he was in his 20s!

  5. Jennifer Bauman says:

    I loved reading this, it’s like a peak into our past. My son became interested in becoming a large animal vet because of our goats. He was the official vaccinator and hoof trimmer & later worked at the clinic. Now he has his own large animal mobile practice. But I think making violins would be WAY cool too!!!!!!

  6. Lisa G says:

    A special adventure for you both. My mother commented once that is was a challenge for her to spend time with each of her 3 children as the got older. What a gift the share this trip together. Perhaps once her can drive (yes Ginny–it’s coming), he can work with her as an intern.

    Hopefully Robin is recovering nicely and Little John is happy to have him back in sight.

  7. loved reading about this! Great to seek to help your kids figure out these things! :)))

  8. I would love to see the pics you didn’t show! I find if fascinating even though sometimes I can’t take it. And as for Dr. Pol. NO. I think he is highly disrespectful to the animals. His manner is far to rough. That is not what Keats needs to learn.

  9. What an amazing experience for him. I think you have a future vet there!

  10. Homeschooling! Farm animals! Knitting! One of my favorite blogs 😉

  11. Homeschooling gives us room to let God work. Love those sacred moments!

  12. Hi Ginny, it’s really scary. But I spoke exactly about it yesterday with my husband …. My daughter was able yesterday to look at a dentist … and she was thrilled. I am grateful if we are able to help our children in the right direction … I share your concerns and dreams for your children!

  13. I love this. I wanted to be a vet for the longest time! I can’t remember if Keats is big into reading, but he might enjoy the James Herriot books if you think they would be suitable.

  14. So fun that you are looking to fuel the passions of your kiddos! Have you ever heard of The Incredible Dr. Pol? It’s a show on Netflix about a large animal vet – it’s fascinating! My husband and I love watching it because he is such a character, and it’s great to see the different medical treatments and diagnostic techniques he uses for farm animals. Your son may enjoy watching it!

  15. chantelle says:

    Kinda random…but has he watched any of the show Dr. Oakley Alaskan Vet….or something to that end? They’re all on youtube and seriously awesome!

  16. Good for Keats! As a veterinarian myself, I would definitely encourage him to pursue his interest in this profession. However, I would also like to point out that most of the young veterinarians I know are graduating with about $100,000 to $250,000 in student debt, between undergrad and vet school. I was lucky enough to graduate 18 years ago, before the exponential rise in vet school tuition and fees. Unfortunately, this is definitely a factor to consider, combined with the rapidly shrinking veterinary job market in recent years. But if Keats decides this is his dream, then by all means he should go for it. Vet school admissions offices love to see lots of animal-related experience throughout the high school and college years, especially large animal, since very few applicants have anything other than small animal experience.

  17. I loved your last paragraph. I have younger kids (baby to 7), but that is my heart for them… to give them the opportunity and ability to do something they love and to do it well. I hope and pray that I will be able to follow through when the time comes to help them explore.

  18. I love it when kids (or anyone, really!) find something they really love to do. It’s the best feeling in the world. And when you can make your job out of it, it’s even better. I’m like you, though, I would not want to watch that. I’m sure Robin was glad you kept him company instead ;-).
    PS. I’m from the Netherlands (but currently studying in the US) so I had to comment on the picture of the sign. Nice! Have a good weekend, Ginny.

  19. Jennifer says:

    I know you are juggling so much and one more thing is probably too much but I wanted to suggest 4H. We are involved with 4H and its awesome. We are in NY so things are different but I would also think maybe a bit the same! It allows kids to follow their passions and helps connect them with others who have the same passions. In NY there is a weekend where the kids spend time at Cornell University exploring career options. They stay in the dorm, eat in the dining hall so they get some college experience too! An adult we met who is a 4H alumni said they wanted to be in veterinary science until they went to the career explorations for that and decided it was not for them! We have yet to attend that event but it sounds very in depth with people already in the field. Not quite as good as job shadowing but maybe help narrow the field a bit.

  20. Yep this is one of the best parts and most memorable parts of homeschooling. I am pleased we homeschooled and it let our kids learn who they are and what were there passions. We also found many people were open to well behaved children being given such as opportunities as Keats did yesterday.
    Love Leanne NZ
    Ps our kids learnt about the birds and the bees from animals we had on our place and other children learnt that visited if matings just happened to be happening…

  21. What a great day for you two. And I can’t believe that Keats watched – for any male to see that procedure, it would be painful! Love the violets!

  22. After reading/seeing some more awful social/world news I NEEDED to see your precious goats and the flowers, and to be reminded of the good and beautiful in our world which you and your family show so well. Thank you!! I had a hard enough time getting my cat accepted in my senior housing apartment, I guess asking for a goat would be really pushing it. But oh my, would we three have fun!

    haven’t posted much but am starting to get really attached to this wonderful community of friends. Everyone’s responses are a delight to read as well. Thanks for the “heart-medicine” everyone.

  23. I love the idea of job-shadowing for kids. I remember doing it when I was about 15 with a favorite teacher from when I was younger and I eventually became a teacher myself. Shadowing a vet would be so interesting too. I often think that my son would like to spend some time with a vet; he’s only nine but he’s very interested in animals. I’ll look into it when he’s a little older, maybe.

  24. I do not think that I could watch either. It took me 3 births before I could gather the courage to look at my placenta. I just don’t do blood particularly well.

    Isn’t it exciting when you can hone in on one of your children’s interests? I am hoping I manage to be able to do that more and more as my children grow.

  25. I think Keats job shadowing the vet would be fantastic Ginny, you should go for it and talk to her about it. If I remember correctly, isn’t there a vet school in Ga, that is suppose to be
    one of the best?

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