As the project was cleaned up and the table, equipment, hands, arms, elbows, and sink were sprayed down several times with that good ol’ germ-killer, my children begged for vegetable soup for dinner. What? No BBQ ribs tonight? How about roasted chicken?

Thinking I had severely disrupted their curiosity for all things scientific, I wondered if dissection had been a good idea or not. As we progressed through the biology book, we did find lubber grasshoppers interesting and the starfish fascinating. But something stuck in our craw about that pellet. Somehow it just seemed gross and my children couldn’t get over their repulsion for the owl expulsion. Did I overreact in my own sputtering and gagging? Did I turn them off to the whole study of biology?

Reassurance was just around the bend, a few months later, as we drove home from a day of picking citrus fruit and interacting with several wild animals, a graceful egret, a lost seagull, and a personable, yet wary, hawk. No wonder Marjorie Kinan Rawlings found Cross Creek so enamoring.

A few miles down the road from the state park, just after asking the Lord if He had anything else special to show us, some white blotches caught our attention ahead on the left. As we approached, one of the blotches took flight right in front of our windshield, turning to look us in the eye. We were amazed to identify the creatures as enormous bald eagles munching carrion on the marshy bank.

Carefully turning the car around, we came to a cautious stop where the eagles had been dining. The birds were gone, but the large piece of carrion remained. When I opened the door of the car my quite-surprised husband said, "You aren’t getting out, are you????" Before I could answer, one child was bounding out of the car announcing "But Daddy! This is SCIENCE!" Even the squeamish sibling slinked out with inquisitive eyes glittering to see the large rib cage picked nearly bare with bits of fur and flesh still lying under it.

Getting as close as we thought disinfectant-deficiently safe, the children analyzed the fur, the skeleton, the position of the animal remains, and the surrounding environment. Unfortunately, the skull was not to be found and when I carelessly stepped downwind of the carcass I didn’t hang around to look very hard. The children’s enthusiastic conclusion: it had been a Florida black bear. My relieved conclusion: Getting grossed out gutting owl pellets prepares a family for the glorious discovery of gooey guts on the side of the road.

*This article first published May 6, 2006.


Suzanne Broadhurst, homeschooling mom of two iniquistive children, Grant and Winter Marie, resides in Jacksonville, FL, with her husband, Robert, who never quite knows what to expect on the kitchen table when he comes home at the end of the day.

This article was originally published in the Mar/Apr ’06 issue of Home School Enrichment Magazine. For more information, and to request a free sample copy, visit http://HomeSchoolEnrichment.com