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Chicken Mania

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Levi & “Little Miracle”.

My husband and I have been very intrigued by the homesteading lifestyle for quite some time now.  We love the idea of raising our kids with the knowledge of how to live off the land and provide for themselves.  We were both raised in town and have very little experience with anything farm related so it has been a learning process for the entire family.  A few weeks ago a good friend was going to pick up some chicks and we asked him to bring us some as well.  He brought us 10 baby Rhode Island Reds.

They were cute, loud, fuzzy and they smelled “fowl”.  We immediately got busy trying to set up some sort of comfortable accommodations for our new residents.  I contacted a friend who is a chicken genius to ask for a few pointers on how to care for the little cheeping critters.  Well my friend and her husband jumped in the truck and drove 45 minutes to bring me a new feeder and waterer and a huge binder full of chicken wisdom.  In addition to that they also brought me a pair of Cochins!

Fat Sassy Momma & Mr. Gimpy

Fat Sassy Momma & Mr. Gimpy

A full grown hen and rooster which they lovingly refer to as “Fat Sassy Momma” and “Mr. Gimpy” (Because he has a hitch in his get-a-long).  I went from having no chickens, to having a dozen in one day and I really had no clue what do to with any of them.

Over the next few days my husband and I put together a home for our new additions and settled into a routine of feeding, watering, checking for eggs and making sure the babies were staying warm.  Things were going smoothly and the neighbors weren’t complaining too much about Mr. Gimpy crowing at all times of the day.  I thought that maybe I could handle being a chicken lady.  And then it happened…

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Taking care of the babies

The friend that had purchased the baby chicks for us had an accident and fell down a flight of stairs.  He was having trouble getting around due to the injuries and soreness from the fall.  My husband rushed over to help out and returned home with TEN MORE CHICKS.  These needed special care because while our friend had been injured, his larger hens had picked on these babies and wouldn’t let them get much food.  Now I was running a chicken hospital.

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Bella & the “Bock-Bocks”

It was chaotic but over the next few days we were able to put all but two of the baby chicks outside.  I am happy to report that all 22 are doing fine and seem to be happy and healthy.  We have discovered that dropping a grasshopper into their pen can result in 30 minutes of high spirited entertainment.  The chicks play keep away and our kids gather round the coop and cheer and giggle at the feathery madness.  We jumped into the deep-end of chicken farming and had to learn fast but we sure are having a fine time!

Jessica feeding the babies

Jessica feeding the babies

Many folks are not aware that it is actually possible to keep chickens if you live inside city limits. It is not only great to have your own source of fresh eggs, but it is a great educational experience. My kids homeschool and I highly recommend little projects like this.  If you keep chickens or are considering getting a few, I would like to recommend this website to you.  They have fantastic hen houses at very good prices and they are cute too! Shipping on all orders are free and you can get a great discount by using coupon code:TSCSHOPS.  Check them out!ChickenCoopMart - Chicken Coops

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Tricky Teaching

When I began homeschooling my oldest daughter I was thrilled with the way she picked up on every little thing and seemed to crave knowledge.  She loved doing her assignments and would often make up more work for herself even after she had already completed her tasks for that day. She practically taught herself to read and memorized information with minimal effort.  She wasn’t perfect.  She was sloppy sometimes and we would fight about that.  But overall she was an exceptional student and she spoiled me.  When her brother began Kindergarten last fall I was shocked at how different the two were.  Levi is very smart little boy. He has no learning disabilities. But their methods of learning new things could NOT have been more different.  Levi is all “hands on”.  He is not hyper but he is physical and he likes to move around and figure things out.  He is easily distracted and if he doesn’t see a “reason” for doing something then it seems pointless to him to have to do it. I began teaching him the alphabet and he was completely uninterested.  I explained to him that this was how you learn to read but he really didn’t care.  He tried it for a week or so and when he was not reading by that time he seemed to just give up.  He could sit and do first grade math all day long but if I gave him a page with letters on it he would just sit there…bored. I tried puzzles, alphabet trains, videos, songs, magnets, etc. but he was just NOT interested in putting the letters in order and repeating them back to me.

After a lot of frustration I decided to throw my conventional methods out the window and try something new.  I downloaded an ap on my iPad that focused on teaching the kids basic phonics.  The ap did not teach the alphabet but instead started with word families, sight words and sentence building. Instead of trying to teach him “how” the alphabet works and “why” we use it the way we do, I just started teaching him “how” to read. I was very skeptical because normally I would use the alphabet and letter sounds as the foundation for learning to read.  But, I stuck with it and he seemed to enjoy the different method. We stopped all handwriting.  We stopped practicing letters and their sounds.  We stopped singing the alphabet song. We stopped trying to recognize upper and lowercase letters.  We learned the “oa” makes the “O” sound and when he sees two eyes “oo” it makes the “OoohOoooh” sound like a ghost, and so on.  Today, after 67 lessons I decided to throw him a curve.  I presented him with a story reader and told him to read it to me.  He looked surprised at the challenge and sat up straight in his chair as though he was about to get down to business.  The look on his face was priceless as he read one page, then another, and another.  I just smiled at him  and said “You see how all those boring lessons paid off?  You were learning to read and you didn’t even know it!” He was SO proud! He read the entire reader and then begged to read another.  When he finished the second he started a third.  He is a reading machine!  He still has a lot to learn but then I suppose we both do.  I was as impressed with the teaching method as he was with all he had learned.  It just goes to show that you should not be afraid to try new things. Just because something has always been done a particular way, does not mean that there is no other way to do it.  If you have a child who is struggling with a particular subject don’t just assume that they are delayed or have a disability of some sort.  Don’t medicate them and set out to make the work easier for them.  Just modify YOUR way of thinking.  If you believe the kid can do it, so will he!  Try new methods and don’t be such a stickler for “the way you were taught”.

 

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Who ever heard of Plantology?

Licensed Plantologists

It amazes me sometimes how Jessica (9) will fight all day long with Levi (6) but at the same time can play so well with Judah (4).  You would think that she would prefer to play with someone closer to her own age.  Not so!  After endless days of observing these two, I have reached conclusion as to why they are so compatible. Judah thinks Jessica is so awesome that he will do what ever the bossy older sister tells him to. She can dress him up and tell him what to do or say and he will happily oblige.  A few days ago she marched him into the living room where I was and together they informed me that they were “Licensed Plantologists” and set forth trying convince me to let them go outside in this get-up to “catalog” the plants in our yard.  After some pretty heavy persuasion I finally agreed and for the next two hours they dug, planted, sorted, piled and plucked everything that resembled plant life.  Some may argue that there is no such thing as “plantology” and these two children were just wasting their time.  Personally, I like to think that inspiring their little imaginations is just as educational as studying a book on botany.  Who said learning can’t be fun?!

 

 

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Time For Twins!

 As a homeschool family we consider just about everything a learning experience. It’s so easy to make day to day tasks into educational opportunities.  With that in mind we decided to give our older two children some responsibilities of their own.  We gave them a set of female goat twins for their birthdays.  They are such cute little critters and so fiesty!  Jessica immediately decided that she wanted to name her little one “Heidi”.  Levi thought long and hard about his name and finally reached the conclusion that his little brown baby would be named “Seekie”.  Now we have quite a pair… Heidi & Seekie.  We have only had them for a few days but they are already warming up to the kids and if they see us in the doorway the come running to the porch.  I am looking forward to seeing the kids take care of these two babies.  Hopefully they will learn to care and nurture something that is smaller and weaker than them.  I think they are already enjoying the responsibility and knowing that these tiny gals are depending on them just makes them want to try that much harder.  

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