Book Clubbing in the Wild West: “Badge of Honor”

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The boys read a really exciting book this month:  Badge of Honor by Susan K. Marlow.  It’s the story of a young boy living in a mining town, when the initial Gold Rush has passed but lawlessness and hardship continue to prevail.  Full of excitement and adventure, it’s a wonderful way to learn about life in the Wild West.

True to form, we decided to see how many of those activities we could try ourselves.

Badge of Honor

At the beginning of Badge of Honor, Jem’s cousin moves in with his family.  A city boy, Nathan doesn’t know how to do any of the chores around the farm, and Jem is responsible for teaching him.  One of those chores was milking the family cow, and so we had a race to see who could milk our faux cows the fastest.  It was a lot of fun – and much harder than it looks!

Badge of Honor

Jem, the main character in the story, worked many jobs.  He did odd things around town to earn money and help his family – one of which was catching frogs for a local businessman.  We walked to a nearby pond to look for our own, but the boys had more luck tossing rocks into the water than they did finding any amphibians.

Badge of Honor

Jem and his sister find a hurt miner while out exploring, and they build a travois to help their friend back to town.  After talking about what this was, the boys split into teams to build their own. 

Badge of Honor

With the help of their pocketknives and some wild grasses, they were able to get long limbs into position, but nobody could tie the grasses quite tight enough to hold.  We discussed ideas for making them stronger –  by braiding them, by choosing the greenest ones, etc – and for other things they could use, like strips of cloth from their clothing – but we didn’t want them actually to destroy their clothing.  Having gotten as close as we could, and after seeing just how difficult that really would be, we headed home to tackle the next project.

Badge of Honor

After returning home, we tackled one more project:  frogs.  We weren’t able to catch any, but having found some frozen frog legs at a local Asian market, we decided to fry them up country-style and see if we liked them as much as those miners did.  I had previously soaked them in milk (as directed by a recipe that I found online) and then we added them to a bag of seasoned flour for coating.  The boys took turns shaking the bag, but a few of them were less than thrilled at the idea of touching ‘legs.’

Badge of Honor

The boys gathered around my grill and watched intently as they cooked.  A few couldn’t wait to try them, while others wanted no part of them.  One, an avid hunter, claimed that it looked like “frog legs and a butt,” and the others agreed – while laughing heartily.  Still, all but one tasted them, and I was left with no meat at the end.

Badge of Honor

My Little Man was quick to try them, which surprised me because he’s not always an adventurous eater.  Like the other boys, he announced that it tasted like wild, buttery chicken.  I don’t think we made any converts to frog leg meat that day, but we definitely had an adventure worthy of Jem and the Badge of Honor.

What are your kids reading right now?

Shared at:  Mommynificent

What are your thoughts?

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