On the Saturday between Easter & Good Friday, I bought my son's 5 peking ducklings from TSC. I thought "My sons are 2-years 6-months & 1-year; they're old enough to begin learning about animal husbandry & the responsibilities of owning and caring for animals" knowing full well that M, my youngest, wouldn't do anything of any consequence with them other than possibly petting them or something. I wasn't certain that A would be able to handle it, so it was a small gamble, but I figured that if he couldn't deal with them, they got to be "old hat" or he stopped caring for them, I just butcher them and we have roast duck for supper or some such. However, my gamble seems to be paying off. Because A is doing very well with his new adventure. M, thinks the ducks are toys, so I can't let him touch them without supervision, but A has taken his job very seriously. I told him he must feed them every day, change their water, clean their brooder etc. and every morning so far except yesterday (because he had outpatient surgery yesterday) he has asked when it's time to feed & water the animals (chickens, ducks & horses), & helps me get the eggs from the chickens (both boys have been doing this for quite awhile now). Both boys are doing very well with all of this. I couldn't be prouder of them!
I also was recently informed by A that it is "Time to eat the roosters Mommy". LOL!! I didn't realize he understood when I was butchering the chickens last year! My husband & I had been sure to keep him back & away during the killing stage, but I had let him play in his sand box during all the other phases so apparently it sunk in more than I realized, and as he is completely chill about the whole thing I'd say it doesn't bother him all that much.
When he told me it was time to butcher the roosters, I told him "OK we'll butcher them once Mommy catches them", not realizing just how serious he was about doing it right then and there in that moment... so he proceeded to chase my roosters all over the barn for the next 10 minutes. I told him he shouldn't chase them, because they could hurt him, but he listens about as well as any normal, active 2.5-year old, so it took a little bit to corral him and get him to stop chasing the roosters. I did end up catching 2/4 & stuck them in the kill cage (I pen them up overnight so I don't have to worry about having a full crop to work with), but then the weather changed overnight. It got cooler than I really wanted to deal with for butchering so I let them go again. Their days are most definitely numbered though because I have chicks from last year which are potentially being bred with their father...
Also, I've been asked by a reader to post photos of my unorthodox way of butchering, so although my husband is squeamish about the thought, I may have to enlist his help in taking photos, because once I begin butchering, I tend to get rather covered in blood and feathers. Not the sort of thing that you want to be picking up a camera all the time, and perhaps if my husband or someone else helps me take photos, I can get some better ones than if I were to do it myself.