Heads Up, Gentle Readers, for this blog entry contains the word “scrotum.”

Today the New York Times reported that the word ‘scrotum’ shows up on the first page of an award-winning children’s novel about a scrappy 10-year-old girl who hears another character say a rattlesnake bit his dog on the scrotum.

The word has shocked some school librarians, who have pledged to ban the book from elementary schools. But since this isn’t a censorship blog, or a blog about how it’s important for kids to learn the correct terms for body parts, I’ll move quickly into a farm story, which, as it happens, also contains the word ‘scrotum.’

When an animal is killed to feed us, I think it’s a good idea to use as much of that animal as possible. Big slaughterhouses do this for economic reasons, but I think wasting as little as possible is also the moral way to go.

Check out the above photo of our ram lambs. Notice the hefty packages between their legs. A few years ago, Melissa did too, and the wheels started churning. Farmers are always being urged to add value to their farm products.

“I think we should try making purses out of the ram scrotums,” she said one day.

“Whoa,” I said, “that project has your name written all over it. You go, girl.”

She imagined small purses decorated with beads and feathers, perhaps with a leather or crocheted strap.

She started trying this idea out on friends. Straight women and gay men roared with delight and said, “Yes, I’ll buy one! I’d pay $100 for one of those.” Lesbians frowned in confusion. “Carry a purse…but why? Made from a ram scrotum…but why?” We didn’t even mention it to straight men, as they tend to go all grim when testicles or scrotums come up in the conversation.

So that winter when she took the rams to the processor, Melissa asked for, and received, 18 ram scrotums. Now it was her task to empty them of their contents, then tan them. It’s harder than you think to find information on this process, even with glorious Google. She spent the winter scraping and salting and tugging these ‘bags’ until they were tanned.

One problem. Originally, the ‘purses’ were roomy enough for an orange, a wallet, comb, cell phone, pair of glasses, and a package of gum. But after Melissa’s valiant effort at tanning, some of the ‘purses’ had shrunk. Good luck carrying anything more than two quarters, a nickel, and a thin dime.

Obviously we have some work to do on this product before people start clamoring for Rising Moon Farm Ram Scrotum Purses. But as the rams continue to grow, one can’t help but dream of the wealth dangling between those two back legs. And since scrotums are now deliciously controversial, I might end up writing a children’s book about them some day.

4 thoughts on “

  1. This librarian was just discussing the same story with another librarian last night. Shame on those who think the book should be banned! We have this crazy idea that books–and especially award winners–are here to *teach*. (Excuse me. I nearly got carried away, there).

    I would love to be a proud owner of a sheep scrotum purse. Just don’t tell my husband what it is, ok?

  2. From north of Eau Claire…. Am thinking of you both right now, as I’m sure you’re trying to dig out from this past weekend snow event. I spent the whole weekend enjoying your book, and fell in love with your farm & your animals! I spent today reading each blog post you’ve written, just to get caught up, since the book. Keep up the good work! Brace yourselves for the next round of snow for the weekend, and best of luck with lambing just around the corner.

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