Before You Blast the Beetles…

by Stefani on 5-September-2008

Well yes, there's a great deal to say about hunting isn't there? 

In another time, in another place, I might get into it… the reasons we've made the choices that we have, what we think it will mean to our children's character, their outlook on their place in the world, the relationship to the food on their plate, their sense of time and place, but really… that would be a far too long post, and frankly I do so enjoy this happy little place of mine where we moms go about encouraging and inspiring each other. I'm not altogether sure I want to go all controversial. 

Maybe that's a cop out, but I think really I'm just too weary to pick a fight. I love the busy, loud, crazy mess that is motherhood, but it wears me out. I come here  for fun and to relax… to share and laugh a while with you, not to debate. It's not my style. 

I will say this though about rushing to judgement… look to the beetle. 

See, in between bouts of looking up for dove flying overhead, my men were also looking down, studying deer tracks, insects and, much to their delight finding a pile of bones. 

Dem Bones

They collected bits of this and that to bring home, and study more closely. 

Nature Journaling

They scrawled and diagrammed in their nature journals. 

They pored over field guides and tried to determine, just what mushroom this might be, and to whom those bones once belonged. 


(a young deer, we think) 

My men are truly and utterly fascinated with all creation and they understand (as far as a seven year old is able) the cyclical nature of their place in it. They get that lives are being lived out all around them and that those lives intersect in all kinds of ways. I think, for so many reasons, that their experience of hunting (in the gun-toting sense) and hunting (in the naturalist sense) are both lending so much to the men that they are becoming. 

But back to that beetle…

Interestingly, in all their sorting and classifying, we came across the seed pod of a Mimosa tree. 

In our reading we discovered that there is a certain little beetle that lays her eggs in a cut that she makes in the branch of the Mimosa. She then spends eight hours cutting a circle into the bark all the way around that branch. 

In time, at just the right time actually, the branch will fall off. 

So, her babies are high and protected early on, and then when the time is right, they are near the ground where they will feed and grow. 

Brilliant little critter right? But poor tree, yes?

Come to find out, no. Mimosa trees with no beetles live to be about 20-30 years old. Those with the beetle can live to be centenarians! The beetle is not hurting, but actually HELPING the tree.

We had a good talk then, about things not always being as simple as they might seem, and how important it is to ask more questions, study more closely, learn more before you leap into action and wipe out all the "beetles" in your path. 

Just think how much kinder the world would be if we all took that simple lesson to heart. 

Have a wonderful weekend friends!
Danielle September 5, 2008 at 6:42 am

You know, I think ambivalence about such a loaded issue is fine, as is not feeling up to sharing all of your thoughts. I am not a hunter myself, but I have slaughtered my own chickens, and with that experience gained a sense of reverence for what is required to support my family’s omnivorous lifestyle. We have also been very open with our son about the place of extra roosters in our lives, as well as what happens when chickens (and by extension other things)die.

I love the picture of the arranged bones. I think we lose something in our modern aversion to death. Your post reminds me of how I want my children to view the world around them, and what opportunities there are to teach them every day.

Joy September 5, 2008 at 7:03 am

That info about the tree is fascinating. I can’t help but think as I was reading about the Native American view towards hunting (which my husband also holds in the Christian sense) in that they thank the Great Spirit for the animal they are about to find and kill, and then the animal is treated with respect even in death, and every last part of the animal is used. I know very few hunters that are all crazy about killing animals…most have a profound respect for the animals they hunt. Being a city girl for such a long time, I couldn’t understand it all at first. But now I do. Of course, I have to with my three boys and my amazing ‘country-boy’ of a husband. 🙂

And gracious…just think of how much the kids learned being up close and personal with those bones. I bet they understand anatomy so much the better now (as much as a seven year old can). Pretty cool. I’d probably be right there next to them ooohing and ahhhing in the microscope.

(Funny that it would take a hunting post or three to make me de-lurk! he he he)

Cassandra September 5, 2008 at 7:09 am

Thanks for the info on the beetle! Very intriguing indeed how nature works. I second what Joy said on the hunting. It comes from much deeper roots. Thanks, as always, for sharing! Have a nice weekend with your family…

Katie September 5, 2008 at 7:25 am

I hadn’t clicked through to read any comments in awhile, so didn’t realize that people were getting feisty about your hunting posts! 🙂 I agree that it’s so unfortunate when people can’t engage in civil discussion and learn from each other. Getting upset about hunting in particular seems kind of funny to me, because unless someone is a vegetarian, I don’t really see how they can object to hunting. Where do they think the grocery store chickens and steaks come from? At least the animals your men killed were living out in free range, and not spending their lives on a factory farm! And what an awesome experience for your boys. Kudos to you and your hubby. 🙂 And yes, I love that info about the beetles! So fascinating, the way that creation was designed to work together. Thanks for these posts!

Linn September 5, 2008 at 7:32 am

I love interesting nature tidbits like the beetle’s story. My aunt was always good at explaining things like that to me. Your boys are lucky boys to have you as a Mama.

Sarah Jackson September 5, 2008 at 7:34 am

I love the mysterious ways that nature works. I think it’s admirable to interact with other animals, even through hunting, in a way that shows respect and reverence for the earth and our co-inhabitors. While it’s not a choice I make for my family, it’s one I can respect for the lessons it can teach about nature and our place in the cycles of life. Knowing you, I’m very comfortable that they understand the proper place of hunting in our environment.

I haven’t read yesterday’s comments and I’m hoping you didn’t have too much negativity. I, for one, appreciate your nuanced view on hunting and am using it to inform my own.

Stefani September 5, 2008 at 7:37 am

Thanks y’all. It’s nice to have a posse like you 🙂

Katie… actually if we’re going to get technical, even vegetarians don’t get away with a completely impact free eating lifestyle.

Imagine a biggo thresher roaring through a field of wheat. In that field are inevitably insects, spiders, lizards, frogs, snakes, birds, voles, mice, rabbits and who knows what else. They lose homes, and they lose lives in the name of bread. Eating is a messy business, regardless of what’s on your plate.

Joy, yes, my men learn to clean, cook and eat what they kill. They are planning to host a barbecue for family after season is over. It’s interesting that you mention the native american view of hunting. The husband and I have been watching the HBO series “Into the West” and came across that very thing… the reverential link between the Lakota and the Buffalo that they hunted. It’s precisely the attitude toward nature we’re striving for.

molly September 5, 2008 at 7:38 am

i’ll have to go out and inspect our mimosa tree for signs of beetles 🙂

yes, i’m one to shy away from controversy too. really, it’s my own damn business what i think, what is right for my family, etc. if only we could all accept each other for the way we are rather than trying to change each other. i think we’d all be much happier with ourselves and with each other.

Katherine September 5, 2008 at 8:13 am


I would also like to mention that hunting is s on the wain in this country. And while I am a bleeding heart liberal, I also understand just how much money and fight and time the old guard of hunters have invested in protecting wild lands and wet lands all over this country. Yes, because they hunt and fish there. But more importantly, because they love, respect, cherish, and need that land and those creatures to stay and stay wild.

I worry what will happen if the hunting tradition falls away. We can not afford to lose ANY group of citizens who are passionate about protecting our wild lands.

So, Blue Yonder and The Wild Boys, THANK YOU FOR HUNTING. 🙂

With love and respect, Katherine

Katie September 5, 2008 at 8:37 am

Oh, yeah, Stefani – that’s right! I had forgotten about that. I read about that in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle – sounds like maybe you have read it, too? Such a great book, I recommend it.

That’s a great comment from Katherine above, too – I hadn’t thought of that. Hmmm, there’s so much more to this issue than meets the eye…. as is often the case with most issues, I suppose! 🙂

Crystal September 5, 2008 at 8:37 am

Cool bones.

Janice September 5, 2008 at 8:38 am

You rock. Totally. 🙂 ((hugs))

cara September 5, 2008 at 8:42 am

Way to be a great mother to boys and let them flourish into manhood. I love your blog and your stories. I look forward to them every day and hope to be a fraction of the mother you are!

Baba September 5, 2008 at 9:59 am

Now you can make Dream Catchers usuing the tiny bones and a Display usuing the bigger bones. Cool Mom!

claire September 5, 2008 at 10:03 am

brilliant summary, your boys are lucky to have a mom who is makes teachable moments out of everything and we are lucky to be able to resd about it. Yesterday’s post was quite a teachable moment regardless of one’s views. I appreciate it!

Amber September 5, 2008 at 10:30 am

I almost left a comment on the last post but then everyone seemed to be getting a little uptight about the “hunting” so I didn’t want them to come hunt me down after 🙂
My dad took us dove hunting all the time when we were young – and yes, we went home and had them for dinner. Not my favorite thing to eat (dove) but at the time it was just fun to go spend the day with my dad doing something cool.
You are such a great mom and I love all the things you share about your “real-life” experiences. Not just reading about things in books but actually doing/discovering them – you’ve really inspired me to do more with my kids – thanks 🙂

Visty September 5, 2008 at 10:30 am

I don’t think weariness is what keeps you from rebuttal; I think it’s a maturity that comes from realizing opinions can not be changed, and there is no satisfaction in proving your point to anyone. When we are comfortable with ourselves and the decisions we make, we lose the need to justify ourselves. And then we lose the need to continually judge others for the decisions they make.

tipper September 5, 2008 at 10:40 am

The whole beetle thing is awesome. Can’t wait to share the info with my girls-who by the way both hunt with their Dad. He teaches them to obey all the laws, be safe, use what they kill (delicious) and be as humane as possible. In areas were hunting is on the decline-the animal populations are out growing their food supply-leaving starving and diseased animals. Personally-like you-I have no interest in hunting. And I’m not offended by those who choose not too-but at the same time my husband and daughters enjoy hunting and it literally helps put healthy food on our table.

Tanya September 5, 2008 at 10:41 am

Wow..I just went back and read the comments.
Some people really need to chill. I didn’t even think twice about the pictures I saw or what your cute boys were doing and I have two boys myself. We’ve never been hunting(fishing yes) but what’s the big deal?
Ugghh..this is the same reason I can’t find a church home …so much judgement, so little love.

sherrieg September 5, 2008 at 1:33 pm

Mimosa tree? Am I the only one on earth who thought the only mimosa was in the form of a cocktail? And what, pray tell, are those beetles called? That is one of those completely fascinating tidbits from nature which my husband likes to share with anyone who will listen. 🙂

elissa September 5, 2008 at 2:08 pm

wow. stefani, i am blown away by your ability to teach in every moment. even to teach the ones that, ahem, apparently don’t want the lesson. it is truly a gift! um. went back to read more comments from yesterday and i am blown away there too. i guess i have surrounded myself with open-minded, intelligent people and sometimes i forget how narrow-minded some can be. truly, what kind of world would we live in if we could not embrace the parts of people, blogs, books, movies, life that we love and use the rest to learn from and continue to shape our own beliefs? personally, as FABULOUS as i think i am, i think it would really stink to have a world full of me and more me. good for you for sticking to your guns. (sorry, bad pun.)

erin September 5, 2008 at 2:41 pm

i admire you so much. you know that, right?

Kelly September 5, 2008 at 3:01 pm

I absolutely love your blog. Actually I recently blogged about your blog being one of my favorites. You are a truly gifted writer and a truly wonderful mom. I appreciate that you share your life with us. Thank you! 🙂

melissa s. September 5, 2008 at 3:43 pm

i was proud of you yesterday, but even more so today. and also think hunting for food is more humane than buying from a feed lot. but that’s just me. happy weekend!

amy September 5, 2008 at 4:52 pm

Love this post, the one before it, and your admirable ability to move on.

Thyme September 5, 2008 at 5:33 pm

Wow, Stefani, Thank you! I’m eager to have a new conversation with my unschooling boys about this. One’s a committed vegetarian since gestation & he has a lot of questions about those that aren’t. Especially since he saw me start eating poultry & lamb. I always talk about the scene in Cold Mountain, where the blind goat herder is so extremely respectful of her goats & then she bleeds it while giving it a head rub. SO incredibly humane, loving, & natural. But this new stuff is really translatable to a 7 year old. And he loves your blog, always wants to know what your boys are up to. On Male Beetles- many species will cross paths, pick each other up & throw them as far & hard as possible, then keep walking. Testosterone IS a real thing…

Eren September 5, 2008 at 6:09 pm

Much love to you friend…smooch!

P.S. Zane says those bones are SO COOOL!

Jen September 5, 2008 at 6:20 pm

Oh, I so LOVE reading your blog! I wish I had the heart, the character, the patience, and the love that you have demonstrated. Not putting you up on a pedestal or anything, but a negative comment like you go would have made me turn tail and cry into the covers (I can’t stand it when people don’t like me!) Good for you that you were able to be so positive.

On another note – what kind of microscope are you guys using?

Hannah September 5, 2008 at 7:49 pm

You go, girl.

There are so many ways to divide ourselves from one another, aren’t there?

Love the mimosa tree example.

I think that Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma has a very intelligent discussion of hunting therein.

cielo September 6, 2008 at 1:01 am

Hello-Just wanted to say I LOVE your blog and what you have to say often inspires and calms me so thankyou.
Your photos also are beautiful.
I have 4 children and they are go-getters and sometimes I’m a little weary of it all-well at the moment- but I find my heartsong hum again and am reminded to enjoy them after reading your words and seeing your photos. Encouragment from one mama to another.
Thankyou again.

Amy September 6, 2008 at 3:19 am

Some wonderful lessons indeed. Look deeper. Don’t dwell. Less controversy. More being true to yourself.

I really look forward to reading about what’s on your mind. You have a beautiful way of expressing yourself.

Kelly September 6, 2008 at 6:17 am

I love this post. Actaully, I love your whole blog. You’re so darn cool.

I love the way you have approached and guided the boy’s research – all the rabbit-traily-ness, yet clearly directed study. I was wondering, as a newly homeschooling mama, if you have any book recommendations on how to study science this way. I’d love any tips from you.

Miranda September 6, 2008 at 7:02 am

I wanted to say, and I’m not sure anyone else did, congrats to you and your husband for teaching your children gun “safety.” It’s important for boys to understand that a gun needs to be respected and there is a time and place. What an experience for them!

You truly have a gift for teaching. Never let the critics keep you from posting about what is right for your family!

Thank goodness these critical people live today. They can go to the store and buy their food already prepared. What would they have done in the days where if you didn’t kill it, you didn’t eat?

Keep up the great work!

Em September 6, 2008 at 7:14 am

Wow, what a great post! I love that your boys are into learning about nature, and not bored to death by it – I really think that my daughter would love homeschooling if she realised we wouldn’t be sitting in the house all of the time doing worksheets or whatever! I LOVE your blog! Keep up the good work!

claudia September 6, 2008 at 8:14 am

You know ~ you go girl! I read the hunting post and today’s and the reality of it is ~ that’s just the way it is! God made men hunter/gatherers! I’m not crazy about guns either, but I do love a grilled ribeye! The beetle thing is a perfect example of how it all works out in the end!
I still follow a blogger who has inspired me in my photography, but sadly she’s an atheist. Do we all see eye to eye with people in our lives (or even family!) on every issue?
Thank you for sharing Your life here on Your blog and inspiring me through how you teach your children!
Thank God we have the freedom to choose. I for one am stickin’ around! 🙂

Stefani September 6, 2008 at 11:41 am

I just have to say htat I’ve been “lurking” around your blog for a few weeks and really admire your no fuss, no frills, laid back attitude. This really shines through in your mothering. I think with 3 boys you can’t be up tight all the time and protect them from every little boo-boo. I love the way youembrace the “boyness” and let them be kids. It sounds like they had tones of fun while learning a bit too and definitely something they would learn in the classroom!

Stefani September 6, 2008 at 11:52 am

Oooh, I just realized our names are spelled the same way. That doesn’t happen everyday!

lina September 6, 2008 at 6:24 pm

Hi Stefani, haven’t commented for a while but still lurk (shame on me) but wanted to add my two cents worth. Most of us who visit your blog come here because of your integrity, honesty and your great gift as a writer. Far be it from me to judge you or your family. You’ve got guts to put your stuff out there and, although your readers may not always agree with you, I admire that you’re keeping it real!

katiemae September 6, 2008 at 9:27 pm

I love this post like so many others have written and the one before because it is all so real. I love especially the message you share through the story of this beetle. clearly, you are teaching your children and many others so much about digging deeper and looking beneath the surface. beautiful.

brown robin September 7, 2008 at 5:15 pm

Oh, sweet Stefani! I just caught up with a couple days of your blog. As my sister would say, “stand tall, girl.” It is soooo o.k. and I hope that you’re not questioning anything about yourself or your family. It is so hard to be authentic in a blog. You succeed in a way that I think few are able to… and you tell a great story! I question myself constantly and censor myself in so many ways, including my blog. I’m proud of you that you don’t get caught up in the debate and censorship. I maintain… diversity is the beautiful tapestry that creates our country. There is so much ugliness, but the beauty is the diversity of spirit (and lifestyle) that is governed by individual’s love and openess. Ugliness enters in when folks choose to judge and condemn. They are stuck inside a box of their very own making.

heatherjane September 7, 2008 at 7:49 pm

Well, It’s been awhile since I’ve had time to comment and it looks like I’ve missed quite the party!!

I think I would feel the same way you do about your boys hunting if my daughter decided she wanted to be a cheerleader. I wouldn’t like it. But would it really be my place to tell her no?!

Ditto on the teachable moments and thanks for the profound Mimosa story. I really miss the Mimosas we had growing in our yard in Arkansas…but I had no idea this was part of their cycle.

You rock. For real.

molly September 7, 2008 at 8:38 pm

you do have a gift my dear friend, in finding a lesson in so many of life’s little details and moments. I can only begin to imagine the wisdom you are passing on to these boys.


Jonah Lisa September 8, 2008 at 8:29 am

Interesting. Oh well, at least no one called you names. I too sometimes get weary and just bow out of the big debates.

Huntings a toughy. My husband was raised in Europe by intellectuals–no hunting, no guns. I was raised in Texas by country people who, only one generation removed from me, ate possum and squirrel…or whatever they could shoot. My father already has a .22 for Huck–the one his father gave him when he was 10. Now, how do you deny that?

The Buddhist leaning Mom in me cringes, but the meat-eating, realist sees it differently. I think you’re right in how you focus on it. There are lessons to be learned fro it butthe key is not to foster a human being who ENJOYS killing. THAT’S the really distasteful part of it to me when I see it.

Not to mention living in many places in this country (Texas and Idaho being 2 of them) gun awareness is the safest way to protect your children since they can be found in most homes. Abstinence only education doesn’t usually work with guns and boys–and that is scary.

Oops long comment. 🙂
Keep it up, sister!

Kristy September 8, 2008 at 10:43 am

It amazes me at peoples’ intolerance.I have never and am very unlikely to ever to hunt with or without a gun. It doesn’t however mean I am going to blacklist anyone who does.
I love your honesty and outlook.I’m sure a little bit of controversy won’t hurt you one bit!
As parents it’s our job to guide our kids through whatever life brings them.If guns are part of that then it’s something you need to do.So well done. x

Stephanie September 9, 2008 at 6:35 pm

That’s fascinating about the beetle–I’ll have to share that with my husband who LOVES trivia and just knowing things!

Now how many parent would have thought of nature journals and researching bones? I never did. Way to go, Stefani!

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