Feb 15, 2010

Oh dear! (decomposing)

Thanks to a Hummer whose front bumper was stronger than a bounding deer, we've been treated to a real-life demonstration lab of decomposition, ecosystems and the circle of life for the past 3 months. Every day on our ride/walk to and from school we pay honour to the remains of Jane Doe on the side of the road, sharing awe and a bit of nausea at how nature reabsorbs and redistributes living matter (even ours, presumably).

In the early days we saw her whole body splayed halfway down the ditch, back end already ripped open (by raccoons?) to expose the unshat poo inside her. A while later the bugs had softened her up enough that it was the birds' time - intense negotiation and time-share dining by eagles, ravens and crows who would flap away just slightly away as we or cars passed, then descend back down en masse.

Week by week her body has slowly become less, bones occasionally removed (we found one foot behind the neighbouring hill), skin disappearing, inner poo gone, meat eaten away. The smell has varied from cover-your-nose-a-hundred-feet-down-the-hill to a soft tone that only the boys can detect.

What a beautiful life-lesson treat to live in a place where we could witness this entire cycle. The next step in this natural learning will be to take a direct part in the death moment - killing and plucking and eating our attack-prone rooster Goldfeather. The deer experience hasn't always been easy - we had to suppress some vomit response, talk about why she died, whose responsibility it should have been to take care of her, how we could have processed her meat for our own freezer had we found her in time, etc. The next step of actually taking a life will be another huge step toward taking our right place in the circle of life.

Our final involvement with the deer will be, at Galen's teacher's request, drying some of her bones to use in their upcoming class play. On the off chance you'd like to help out or try it yourself, here's how easy it is:

1. Use a fine-toothed saw to cut the ends off all the deer bones to expose the marrow. Clean out as much marrow as possible with pipe cleaners. Place bones in your pot, cover with water, and boil for 45 minutes or until all marrow have come out of the bones. Leave toe bones and small foot bones intact when boiled, with the exception of a 1/16-inch diameter hole drilled in the top and bottom to allow marrow to escape. Allow bones to cool.

2. Clean bones again using pipe cleaners. Place bones in a plastic tub and cover with hydrogen peroxide. Check bones every hour until they are slightly whiter than you desire. Rinse well with plain water to remove all traces of hydrogen peroxide. Allow your deer bones to dry.

I wonder which cooking pot Sarah will let us use...

1 comment:

  1. Hey Rick,
    if you have time there is another easier way...
    Take a woden box and add to it cornmeal enough to cover what you are wanting to preserve withthe cornmean, and leave it for at least one month-voila done!
    This works for birds wings with a lot of flesh attached, deer bones etc...
    Times may vary-but it is a good method~