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Friday, March 15, 2013

Backyard Farming and a Culture of Guns

by Uncle Dale

My backyard farm and a .22 caliber rifle has been a good place to teach my children respect and safe handling of firearms. They have experienced the satisfaction of sighting in a rifle and grouping 20 bullets (.22 shorts) from the tube magazine around a bull’s eye. I look forward to teaching my grandchildren to shoot. When not in use, my guns are secured in a safe.

I have used a rifle to dispatch that possum that killed my hens and the groundhog that destroyed my children’s patch of beautiful pumpkins. On a Sunday afternoon, when the neighbors came to me with the dilemma of a severely suffering pet dog and no veterinarian available to relieve that suffering, I was able to solve their problem although I am grateful there was a veterinarian available to put down my own pony and pet dog. One day my son called me from the goat farm where he was working. A big buck had got hung up in the limbs of a bush and broken both its front legs with the bones protruding. The farm owners were not around and he didn't know what to do. I went over and solved that problem to the gratitude of the farm owners upon their return. It was not without grief that I assisted my neighbors or my son’s employers. I did not feel bad about killing the possum or the groundhog. I wish I had gotten that fox that killed my turkeys.

When I was a child and shot my first sparrow with my new Daisy BB gun, I learned immediately that I did not share my hero Teddy Roosevelt’s love of killing animals and I never shot another animal without a reason for shooting it. However, I did feel an intense satisfaction when I killed and dressed my first rooster ring neck pheasant for the dinner table. I always wished my father had taught me the real skill of putting barbecued venison on the table and I will likely never have that opportunity nor teach my offspring this ancient art. I enjoy the kick of a shotgun, that sharp crack in my ears, the smell of spent powder, and the vision of an exploding clay pigeon.

Through endless debates in my mind, I have resolved that I could never shoot another person to protect my own life, but I could do it to protect my wife, child, or grandchild. I pray to Heavenly Father I never have to test this tenuous resolution. With my backyard farm being more than minutes away from a peace officer, I have prepared for that worst contingency and I didn't need Joe Biden or the National Rifle Association to tell me how to prepare. The current gun debate is ravaging our country and I wish that common sense could prevail - the common sense that can be gained from experience on a backyard farm.  
My children with their Henry Golden Boy lever action .22 rifles
 (Sarah was not a round for the photo)


Tree Hugger - Suzan said...

Very well said and I completely and totally agree!! There is a purpose for everything and anything can be abused - sadly!

Dree said...

If you have the space to raise a pumpkin patch, have a pony, and shoot clay pigeons, you don't have a backyard farm. You have a farm.

My kids shoot BB guns at cub scout camp, not in the backyard. When I was a kid (in a more-suburban, less urban, larger-lot neighborhood) kids and a pet (and squirrels) were injured by an 8-year-old who was shooting squirrels with the BB gun his grandfather gave him. In his own backyard--because the world did not end with his yard, though he didn't realize that.

I cannot imagine shooting a gun of any significant power in a backyard. That's very very dangerous and irresponsible.

Dale Johnson said...

I was raised on a farm - 600 acres of potatoes and wheat. What I have now is a backyard farm. Backyard farms come in all sizes - large and small; and in all locations - open and secluded. I completely agree that firearms would be irresponsible on many backyard farms.

Mary Ann said...

"Uncle" Dale... I always find your posts so very interesting, and after a lifetime of abhorrence of guns, I have come around to your way of thinking quite recently. I'm going to have my husband (a hunter when young) read this tonight, he'll find it right up his alley... and as I said, I have come around to this belief, too.

The Dancing Baker said...

I just want to thank you for this post and sharing the voice of the farmer. I wasn't raised in a "gun household" but I come from a family of small time farmers and my boyfriend is a hunter. These people are responsible for what they do, they shoot out of respect or necessity (in the case of putting down animals), there is a sense of gratitude and honor as well....I think the farmer's voice is something folks don't necessarily consider in the gun debate.

I pray for a commonsense approach to all of this...there are a great many folks who utilize firearms safely on a daily basis - and to hinder their way of life because the system is broken is not fair.

Lana88 said...

Great article! I am enjoying reading/following your blog. It is always good to have a gun around sometimes to take care of things that need taking care of swiftly and humanely. People don't realize sometimes how humane using guns can be, especially on a farm!

Check out my blog if you get a chance and leave a comment with any feedback you may have. I'd love to hear it! I'm just getting started.