I’ve always been a bit of a conservationist at heart. My friend Emily and I started an “Earth Club” when we were little and would do clean-up projects in our neighbourhoods. Just little things, like picking up all the discarded flyers around the mailboxes.
I collected bugs, both live and dead. My mom’s cousin Don had an extensive bug collection and would invite me over sometimes to look at it. He taught me a lot about collecting bugs. My collection disappeared when we moved to Utah. Weird how those things happen.
I loved animals and wanted to be a vet. I once used our thermometer on Midnight, our cat, because I was convinced that she had the flu. I realized that I didn’t want to be a vet when I saw a real vet working on a calf at my cousin’s uncle’s farm that had been gored by a buffalo. I almost died for that poor calf.
My elementary school once had us bring in donations to buy a section of the Amazon, or something. I thought it was the best thing ever. We also celebrated Earth Day quite openly at that school. And every class had a trash pick-up rotation, which I loved.
So while I don’t consider myself an activist— I’ve never chained myself to a tree or anything like that—I sometimes surprise myself by doing things like branding and/or ear-tagging calves or helping skin a badger. Those things are just a little out of character for me.
I’m not into guns or hunting. And I don’t love Alberta beef.
In short, I make a bad redneck. The first time I was offered “beef on a bun,” shortly after moving to High River, I took it, but I didn’t enjoy it. I don’t know what I was expecting because the name is pretty self-explanatory. It’s beef. On a bun. Not complicated.
I guess I just wasn’t expecting so much beef to be on the bun. I’m an “eat meat sparingly” kind of a gal and the amount of meat they put on my bun probably surpassed my yearly intake of meat for the previous three years combined.
“Holy Canoly!” I thought, “They really do love their beef!”
But this post wasn’t supposed to be about cows. Really I was intending to write about the time I helped to skin a badger.
I’m not even sure how the whole event transpired, to tell you the truth.
Maya was my absolute best friend at the time—I was at the age when you had to have a best friend—and she lived across the street from the Thompsons, a family with four boys. Their father, bug-eater Jim Thompson, not only was in to eating bugs, he was also somewhat of an avid hunter.
Of course, I’m not the best judge of this since I don’t have the foggiest idea of what being an “avid hunter” actually entails. All I know is that they had pelts decorating their house and once when they gave us a ride home from church there was a dead deer in the back of their suburban from their latest hunting expedition. That sounds pretty avid to me.
Also, once when I was over at Maya’s house playing, Luke came running over (with his best friend Derek) to see if Maya and I wanted to help skin a badger. We agreed, of course, so that we could show the boys how tough we were.
The fact that they had a badger to skin pretty much pins them as avid hunters, right? And the fact that they were stoked to skin it themselves?
I’m not really squeamish—not nearly as squeamish as Andrew is—but I didn’t find skinning a badger to be all that pleasant.
Pulling the pelt from the animal…nailing it to a board…covering it with a thick layer of salt…running it through the ringer.
It was an interesting procedure, but not one that we wanted to participate in fully so Maya and I were mostly silent observers, although I did help with the nailing and salting a little (so long as I didn’t have to touch the thing—I don’t touch raw meat, including hamburger). Poor Derek, on the other hand, had to leave; he was getting rather queasy over the whole thing.
In the end, a long while after our little part in the curing process was over, they had a beautiful badger pelt stretched over a wood frame. And it hangs in their house to this day, probably, although I haven’t been over there in quite some time. I’m just glad it’s not hanging in my house.