This is my story about growing up with animals as a young girl. I grew up in a little suburb in Hunter, Utah. At the time, it was all part of Salt Lake City, Utah. I have two little stories that involve my parents, so I will first introduce them a bit. My mom grew up on a big farm in Idaho. She was one of ten siblings. My dad came with his family to America from Norway when he was 14. They were trying to escape religious persecution there and come to Zion.
I was very bashful and shy during my elementary and jr. high school years. So, I spent most of the time at home, not really getting out and playing much with other kids. Luckily, I was allowed to have as many pets as I wanted. Over time, I had cats, dogs, rabbits, fish, mice, and pollywogs.
One cat followed me everywhere. Another cat would come from a corner of the yard and run to me when I called, then jump in my arms. I had a little dog that I would be with when it was raining outside. We had a little two wheeled hitchup trailer for the car behind the house, and we’d sit under it together while the rain fell around us.
I had two pet mice; Mickey and Minnie, who quickly had many babies that had many babies and soon there were too many to fit in the cage, and we had to sell them all to the pet store.
When we went camping as a family, I gathered little black polliwogs that would soon turn into frogs and climb out the empty ice cream bucket that we kept filled with water by the back faucet.
For fish, I had guppies, black mollies, neon tetras, and goldfish. And, then there was my beloved rabbit PJ. For some reason the way she looked reminded me of pajamas, so she got the nickname PJ. She had black ears, was all white except for a black spot on the back.
When she mated with a neighborhood rabbit that looked similar, she’d have a batch of babies. And that was a lot of fun to see their hairless tiny pink bodies when born and watch them grow into cute fluffy bunnies.
One was white with black ears and lots of black spots on the back. I called that one Ladybug. I enjoyed taking them out of the pen and letting them run around in the backyard, up the grassy hill, into the rock garden with many different flowers.
She had a batch of bunnies once or twice a year. And, we’d give them away when weaned. One year, we didn’t give them away. Then, we ended up with seven grown rabbits. It was winter, and we kept them in the garage in a long pen. One day, we left the garage open while we were gone.
When we came home, the cage was knocked over with the lids open, dead rabbits were everywhere. Some big dog or dogs had gotten in and killed them all. The next Sunday, we were having “chicken” dinner. I could tell it looked different and asked what it was.
My mom said it was rabbit. She had skinned all the rabbits and stored them in the freezer. Then, she had cooked one or two up for dinner. I couldn’t eat any of it. Those were my pets, friends that I loved.
Looking back on my mom, it seems kind of humorous now. Who would even want to take the skins off of a dead rabbit? It’s gross to think of how she could deal with touching bloody dead bodies. She could also prepare a chicken, pluck all the feathers and such. Yuck! And, this leads me to the next little story about chickens.
My parents went to Israel for a month to visit the holy land. I was the oldest of two brothers and two sisters. We lived on the farm of my grandmother for one month. I’ve had first hand experience with cows, wild cats, a skunk, and wild mice.
We had a lot of fun at the haystack, the tree tire swing, the ditch, the old stinky barn, and the basic surrounding countryside. Before we drove home, my grandma took us into town to buy some flats of baby chickens.
She gave us about 30 baby chickens. When we got home, my mom built a huge cage for them all. It was a lot of fun to see them grow. But, the neighbors complained about the noise when they were grown. So, I guess it was time to kill them all. (No more clucking and cock-a-doodle doing for the neighbors)
This became my dad’s job. Now, just a little history about my dad. He only went hunting once. He was behind a bush with a gun right in front of a big deer in the clearing. He could have shot, but something inside of him didn’t let him do it.
So here he is with an ax and a big tree stump taking one chicken at a time, holding them at the feet and swinging them around in a circle before dropping them on the chopping block and chopping off their heads.
They would run around headless for about ten minutes it seemed. After killing a few, he was so repulsed that he ended the project. Consequently, my mom had to hire someone to kill them for her. Blah! She was one tough lady.
I grew up loving my vegetables and whole wheat bread. I hated the taste of milk, eggs, hot dogs, bologna, and pot roast. I enjoyed my animals and lived in my own little idyllic world of backyard nature with five fruit trees (cherry, peach, plum, two apricot) and a big garden. There was a lot of grassy area to play on.
My mom is 78 now. I’ve converted her to being a vegan and she is off all her heart and nerve medications. She’s still very industrious and does awesome gardens in the little trailer park where she lives. My dad is not so vegan, had prostate surgery, chemo and now has the beginnings of Alzheimers and is age 78. He’s very spiritual, but I can’t convince him or his wife to be vegan.
I grew up loving animals. I would normally have let my children have pets too. But, my husband doesn’t allow pets in our little 1000 square foot house or yard, because they stink. However, I find joy everyday if I see a hawk flying or perching, ducks flying or on the ground, and many other animals. Wherever I see them, I enjoy taking some time to watch them. I feel a connection to them as living beings deserving respect.
I’m spiritual, so I hope you don’t mind if I end with a little scripture. It’s a Joseph Smith Translation of a verse in the Bible. (Genesis 9:11)
JST Gen. 9:11 And surely, blood shall not be shed, only for meat, to save your lives; and the blood of every beast will I require at your hands.
Notice that the numbers to that verse are 9:11. It’s kind of symbolic isn’t it? Think about all the needless killing of animals, and then all the killing of people. Are there consequences? And, when will it all stop?
I hope that one day we can all live in peace with each other and the beautiful world of nature around us. I believe that things will get better, and we will eventually have that.