Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Last post of the year!

The girls are all geared up for a party. Emily did all the cooking. She made a pineapple upside down cake, BBQ little smokies, sliced apples and carmel dip, pizza squares, punch and green beans. (Not sure why the green beans got thrown in there). So, at 8 p.m. we all put on our PJ's, got a stack of movies and started our "girls party". I know I will probably be asleep somewhere between 10 and 11, but I am sure they will keep going strong.

My laptop is acting up, so I am trying to run a virus scan on it to see if that helps. It would be nice to start out the year with a faster computer. It is slow enough being on dialup (that is all they offer here).

Still no eggs from my molting chickens. We are now down to one egg. Not much you can do with only one egg.

Well, I am off to rejoin the New Years Eve party, so till next year.....

Happy New Year!!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Molting Chickens

Our chickens are molting. In December, which is rather strange. Usually they do this in the heat of the summer. So, for now, no eggs. Right now we have 3 hens with heavy feather loss, which is not good for this time of the year when it is cold.... Naked chickens running around in the snow....

Today we watched more of our science videos. Topics were matter and energy, animal facts & the food chain. We also did our reading comprehension and history, and worked again on our animal notebooks. We did not get English or Math done, but as the girls keep pointing out to me, they are supposed to be on Christmas and New Years break....

I have written some for a site called, and received news that the founder and editor, Susan passed away on December 21. She will be missed by her many readers. She always sent me such nice emails after I would submit an article or tip.

Our farm has a new resident. Unfortunately it is an unwanted one. We seem to have acquired a rather fat grey mouse in the last 2 days. She has set up residency in the house and spends a lot of time running from under JD's desk to under the love seat in the office. She has been trying to make a nest under the love seat, but I think she is rather upset with me, as I have now vacummed it up twice. Why is it they are cute when they are in a cage and not so cute when they are in your house? J.D. is allergic to cats in the house. My meowing at the mouse seems to have no effect, so tomorrow I will put out a trap or some Blue Death.

Our new water bill came in the mail today. This is now the 3rd one in the $30 range since I got my new washer. (Bosch front loader). It only uses 8 gallons per load, as compared to the old Kenmore top loader at 66 gallons for a full load. Our water bills used to be in the $75 and up range. Considering we also watered stock a few days when the ponds were frozen, I am happy with this water bill. To add to my delight, there is a notice on the bill that 94.6% of the coop customers will notice lower bills due to a lower rate change.

Monday, December 29, 2008

School work done!

After hearing I'm bored this afternoon about 100 times, we watched a video on the history of the railroad. (It fit in perfectly following a reading comprehension unit that we did last week about the Chinese and their role in building our railroad system.) Then we watched a science video about cats, and did a couple of worksheets about cats for our animal notebooks. Then we did a reading comprehension unit. So, we got in total 2.5 hours, in addition to mom's required 1 hour of reading daily. That was 1 hr of history, 1 hr of science, 30 min of reading comp and 1 hr of free reading.

I've attached a picture of Rebecca working on her science. To her, this is more comfortable than sitting at her desk or at the school table in the classroom (although it would break my back). I've often wondered if schools let their kids work in their PJ's in their most comfortable positions, if the kids would all get more work done. It does seem to work here at home rather well.

We have noticed a lot of racoon tracks again, so I also got a wire grate screwed over the last window of the chicken coop. Let those coons try and chew through that!

After being in the high 50's today, it has dropped back down into the 30's now. I am ready for spring, but I know mother nature is just teasing us. I noticed even the horses and dogs are sniffing the warm air.

Weird weather continues

Sunday morning we had ice covered trees and took the 4 wheel drive truck to church. It was slick in spots. Today it is in the 60's again, with mud everywhere. The chickens were glad to be set free from their coop. I have been keeping them in on the days when it is in the 20's or lower.

We took a break from most our homeschooling the past week, since we had company and the holidays, and today the girls are cleaning their bedrooms. They each have their own, so no one is to blame for their mess except for themselves. They are bringing me some snow boots they outgrew, so I will try to get those on eBay shortly.

This evening, we will watch some videos that we will count in our learning. I have a series from the library on inventors and animals. So we will watch those and return them tomorrow when we go to the library.

Our company is gone, and I am debating on giving the girls the rest of the week as a break, or resuming homeschool full time. I think however, that we will just do a little work. The public schools are still on break and I know I will hear that as an argument if I assign math!

My laundry soap making is all finished and put into containers. Probably next week I will make up a batch of automatic dish washing soap (powder). It too comes out to about a penny a load.

Our back pasture continues to be full of wild geese. Last week when we went into town we even saw a few pheasants. I have not seen wild pheasant since we moved here. I also keep seeing coon tracks around again. So far, they have not bothered the chickens. The last time we had coons it was helter skelter in the hen house. That is when JD started calling our one surviving duck "Rambo". He fought off the coons and has the scars to prove it.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Ice Storm

Yesterday it was almost 70 outside. In town it was 73. Today it is in the high 20's. Last night around bedtime it started thunder and lightening. We had rain, the temp dropped and it turned into freezing rain, then some sleet. Later we had hail, but the entire time the thunder and lightening continued. This morning we awoke to ice covered trees and bushes. Yet we still have puddles in the yard from the melted snow that aren't froze. Weird weather.

My soap jelled well overnight. I have a years supply on hand now for laundry. I still have a few more containers to fill and then I am done with that project.

The girls have had a light load with their homeschooling this week, due to the holiday. We have managed to watch several science and history videos. They have also done their reading comprehension and a little math.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Making soap

Tonight I started a batch of laundry soap. I should have opted to just make half the recipe, as I am short about 2 containers. (milk jugs will have to do) This will make about 10 gallons of soap. Enough to last me a year.
I have a front loading washing machine. I will use about 2-3 tablespoons per load.
We are on a septic tank. All ingredients are natural and do not harm the septic system. They are also easy on the skin. You can add scents if you want, but I don't.
I mix it up in my mop bucket. It will sit over night and in the morning it will be gel like. I will then fill containers half way with the laundry gel, and top off with hot water to fill. Cap well.
Before you do a load with this soap you do have to shake the container--it will sometimes settle.
If a years supply of soap scares you, you can make just have or a fourth. Also remember, you can always add more water if you didn't cap it good and it tries to dry out.

Merry Christmas from us to you!

I am a day late in wishing everyone a Merry Christmas. We had a house full of family, so I had little time to get on the computer. My parents came, and my brother and his family. All the kids had fun playing together. After they were done opening their gifts, they sang "Jingle Bells" to the rest of the family. One day my neice will be a hollywood star. You can say you saw her first on this site! (She has been in several plays and productions already, and does a great job!!) My nephew, Sam manages to hold his own being the grandson on this side of the family. However, he does have boy cousins on the other side, and some 2nd/3rd boy cousins on our side as well.
Tomorrow we have another Christmas planned at our house, as one of the older twins, Tysa, is home from Chicago. Considering the weather in Chicago right now, I think she is glad she is in Missouri.
Christmas night, when we went to bed we had 6 inches of snow. This morning when we woke up (which was after 10 as we were up late last night talking and eating, watching TV and eating, and eating...) we had no snow left, lots of mud and it was 50. This afternoon it got up to around 66.
This afternoon the girls and I went outside and did some work. We covered the windows in the chicken coup with heavy plastic before the next cold wave comes through. I also got one of the post in our weather station set in concrete. Hopefully tomorrow I can also get the other post set.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Christmas Program

The program, as usual, went very well. The musical was "A King is Coming". The plot was that the town of Rumersville was alerted that a king was coming, but they didn't know who it was. Some thought it was Elvis, some King Tut, some King Kong....but, instead it was Jesus. Our preachers wife, Jeanette does the job of director each year and is very good at getting the kids organized and it always falls together well.
(Elizabeth and Rebecca were in the play, however Emily was not. But she did help decorate and paint the set.)
Speaking of falls... my email has fallen apart. Don't know what I did, but all of todays incoming mail went into the spam folder.....I drug it all out, but too late and too tired to answer it all tonight. I don't know why it went there, but I sent myself some test mail and think I have it fixed now. I guess it was better than all going to the trash folder and being auto dumped.

Christmas Program tonight

Tonight is our childrens Christmas Program at church. They had their final practice this morning during childrens church. So, we are only home for about 3 hours this afternoon before we head back to church. That is just enough time to do chores, eat and bake cookies to take for after the program. Hopefully I will get some good pictures from the program to share with your later.
It continues to be cold and windy outside. I am to the point I am ready for spring. Of course the kids like it, because they like to go sledding.
I found out last evening that all my family is coming here for Christmas. Since JD has to work and can't go to Christmas at my families, they decided they would all come here. So, we have 6 coming for sure, and possibly more.
My parents at least (if not more) will be staying on-at least that is the plan mom and I had. Each time they visit I have my dad repair or install something electrical. So far he has put in 2 ceiling fans and repaired one. Next on my list is a few more outlets in our homeschool classroom we made in the basement and one for my downstairs stove. (I have a deep freeze, stove and refrigerator in the basement and has been such a blessing when canning, freezing or having company for dinner) I also need electric brought out to my chicken coop, but it is too cold to even think about that right now.
Rebecca was the one who ended up making our cookies to take to the program. She got both a home-ec cooking lesson out of it, and also a math lesson (she had to triple the recipe, and work with fractions).

Saturday, December 20, 2008

This is for Friday

I just noticed...Fridays entry is not here..So, I will put it in now. Maybe I can even figure out how to get it in the proper place...maybe..

Friday we worked on school work and then went to our 4H wrapping meeting. This party had been rescheduled several times due to weather. Our 4H group had adopted a family for Christmas. Everyone chipped in and brought the gifts and we all wrapped them together. Then we delivered them to the family. My daughters really got an eye full. I never made a comment to them, but they brought it up on the way home themselves. They had already been told that the family didn't have much money and that was why they were being adopted. But, they picked up on stuff during their visit, and quizzed me about it. This is what I heard on the way home.

"If they were so poor, where did they get the money for all those cartons of cigarettes they had?"

"Did you see their TV? It was a flat screen plasma and it was huge"
"Forget the TC, did you see how many DVDs and movies they had? They had more than the library has"

"Mom-why do you think they bought that TV instead of fixing the holes in the floor and walls. Snow was coming in through one of them"
"Maybe that was why they had the huge pile of dirty clothes (really huge-touched the ceiling) in the living room. Maybe it was covering up another hole"

"Did you see all those cats?? Boy did it smell bad in there"

But the killer was this one..."Mom, soap really doesn't cost that much does it?? and it doesn't cost anything to be neat and clean...I guess that is why mom makes us clean up our messes...we are lucky. I think they just had their priorities wrong".

Out of the mouth of babes..

It really was bad. Very similar to what you see on some of those TV shows.

Snowing again, and its no warmer outside

It has been snowing all day. Just a real light snow. The kind where you really have to look to see the flakes as they float and dance to the ground. Right now we are at our daytime high of 29 degrees.

We finally got the deep freezer my parents gave me two weeks ago unloaded from the pickup today. This is the second nonworking deep freeze I have collected for the purpose of storing grain and feed in the barn. Since I put the chicken and rabbit feed in the first one that I got a few months ago (found it on I have noticed a decrease of birds in the barn. It was a small freezer. This one we unloaded today is a larger freezer that will house the cracked corn and sweet feed. The small one I have now is holding both rabbit and chicken, so I need to find another small one so I can split that feed up. This system is working well to eliminate fee waste. It is also driving the chickens nuts. We have a few hens that in the past liked to spend the entire day in the chicken feed barrel sitting. At least 5 did this, as on the average day we would find 5 eggs in the chicken barrel. Can't blame them, who wouldn't want to sit all day surrounded by food.

The weather forecasters keep predicting an ice storm. We had one light one, and missed two that we were supposed to have gotten. We are about out of firewood (we have probably enough for a six hour long fire), so today we broke down and ordered some. I am getting a cord of oak, split, delivered and stacked for $150. That was not only the closest source, but also by far the cheapest source. Some in our area are wanting up towards $300 for a cord of mixed woods. Had we picked a different wood and went to pick it up, we could have gotten it for a low as $120. But for only $30 more to have oak, and have them deliver and stack it, it is worth it.

I had someone ask me what type of curriculum we use in our homeschooling. We actually use several. Our math is Saxon. Health, Science and Language are Abekka. For history we do a lot of history channel, free reading and some Abeka. Reading comprehension is from Instructional Fair. Our free reading and videos come from our rather large personal library and also from the Mid Continent Library.

We suppliment a lot with video and books. We are about to finish a unit on Pearl Harbour. We do have an old public school history book that I use as a guide, but it only devoted 2 pages to Pearl Harbour. So, in addition, we checked out videos from the library and a few books to go along with the books from our library.

In addition, we have several on going projects. Each girl has an "animal notebook" that she is making. Each week they are to add at least one new animal to their book and insert it under the proper classification in the animal kingdom. We also watch the weather and are making a weather station. We have taken storm tracker classes as part of our weather study. Each girl also has a voculabory book, and daily they have to look up their word, write the defination, and use the word in a sentence.

Often we overlap studies. In our *reading comprehension we may read a story about lake Superior. If that fits in with our social studies or history, we will use that one assignment for both history or social studies and our reading.
*Reading Comprehension is where we read a non fictional story or article and then take a short quiz at the end.

Of course we also supliment with homeschool classes at the library and with the internet. There are lots of free worksheets and such on line.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Gingerbread houses

Today we went over to another local homeschool families house and the kids made gingerbread houses for Christmas while the moms all visited. It was a nice group and we all had a nice time.

Acutally 2 of my daughters made houses. The 3rd opted for a mansion, which of course, collapsed on the way home. Right now she is repairing it. However, you can look at the picture and see for yourself where a good part of the icing is really going....(BUSTED). Instead of gingerbread, we used graham crackers which actually work much better and are less breakable and less messy.

The family had all sort of animals and pets, and they also had bees. Since I am wanting bees, if I don't find a honey man and try to wing it on my own, I can pick her brain. Last year was their first year and they did get some honey.

The public schools around here let out at noon, in anticipation of the latest ice storm that was to hit today. However, it is just now starting to spit down some freezing rain. (at 5:30 p.m.) Do you know the difference between sleet and freezing rain? Sleet is already frozen when it comes down. A peice of sleet actually is numerous layers of ice usually in a ball or oval shape. Freezing rain however, freezes on its way down, most often very close to earth or after it lands on trees or other surfaces.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

This is the beginnings of our weather station. It is one of our homeschooling projects that I mentioned in an earlier post. The poles will be straightened up and set into concrete in the center of the big tire. All our weather instruments will then be mounted on these poles. However, the snow is going to have to melt down far enough that I can at least see the holes we dug. Notice the puppy tracks leading up to the tire??? Instead of going around, she went up and over and down the otherside.
It finally stopped snowing at some point during the night. It still remains very cold out, and there is a sharp wind, so we are leaving the chickes inside their area today. They can still get out, but can not get beyond their small pen that is attached to their coop. So no free ranging for them today. When they get cold, I have noticed their feet and legs turn green. I suppose that is because their skin is so yellow, that it gives off the green color.

Rebecca's jewerly

This is some of the jewerly that Rebecca (who is 10) has made. She is selling these for $5.50 a pair and that includes postage. You can pay paypal to or mail her a check or postal money order. (email for the address) If she doesn't know you, she will wait for your check to clear before mailing them out. Notice that pairs 1 and 2 are safety backs. No two pairs are the same. Be sure to designate which pair(s) you are ordering (you can see each pair is numbered), and that they are from Rebecca's stock (as Emily also sells them). As they sell, they will be removed from her inventory as she an not duplicate them. As part of our homeschooling we focus on learning about business and careers. This is part of her unit.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

15 degrees and holding

It is cold. Very cold. I don't know what the windchill is, but at least it is not as windy as it was a couple of days ago. It has been snowing for over 24 hours now. We probably have around 3 to 4 inches. The snowfall has lightened up, but it is still coming down. Two 4H events scheduled for tonight were cancelled, a homeschool gingerbread house making party, as well as the public schools around here. However, homeschooling goes on!

The girls have been making snow cream. They got from a Caroline book (a series of books about Laura Ingalls mother when she was a child ). To make it, they get a bowl of CLEAN snow, and drizzle maple syrup over it and wait for it to harden. It comes out like candy.

We had to make a trip to town tonight. Our beagle puppy chewed through (as in two peices) a heavy duty electic cord between the barn and the chicken coop. It was plugged in at the time, and had the chickens heat lamp on it. For some reason the dog was not injured, and does not seem to have gotten burned. (I wonder if a dog has 9 lives like a cat??) S0, we had to make a trip in for another electric cord and an extra stock tank heater. When the weather is like this, we always try to keep an extra cord on hand. The cows sometimes chew through the cords on their heaters as well.

To get out, we had to take the 4x4 truck. Boys and their toys. JD kept slidding around while driving. The girls would ask is the road that slick or are you playing, and each time he would answer "a little of both". We met few cars on the road, but a lot of sand and salt trucks.

I managed to win an auction off of ebay. For some reason, no one has size 4 snow boots in stock. But we received a notice that they are in route, so the twins should be set (they had one pair between the two of them).

The girls have been busy making jewerly that they want me to post. So soon I will get those pictures on here.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Hunting for a honeyman

Last year I had it arranged for a "honeyman" to set up some hives here at this farm, and at our other farm in exchange for some honey. Then he disappeared. Later I saw online an obituary for someone of the same name, so it is possible it is the same man. It would explain why he never came back and why the phone number gave me a disconnect recording. Anyway, I am again searching for a honeyman. I have been doing some studying on bees, and I think we have a place they would like. This location has a creek in the back, 2 ponds, an orchard and vineyard, and lots of shade and clover. Our other farm also has water, shade and clover, but no orchard. If I were a bee, I would be happy here. If I don't find one, I am thinking of getting a couple of hives and trying it myself in 2010. It is a little late I think to enter it for this coming spring with no prior experience, and no equipment.

I have started the garden plan for next year and I am changing the rows to north and south rows. I think this will give a little better air flow, and I will be able to see down the rows from the house-so I can tell when a chicken is in the garden, and I can see through it to the pasture. I am not going to put my herbs in rows this time, but in raised beds.

I also have decided that I am going to put the strawberries in raised beds this next year up by the orchard. I am thinking of putting them near the grapes and blueberries.
Right now it is 9 degrees outside. Hard to believe just 5 or 6 months ago we were complaining of the heat and the kids were swimming in the front pond...

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Ice storm in progress

Today was not our typical Sunday. Normally, we get up, let out the chickens to free range and feed the animals. Then we go to church, come home, eat finish the outside chores and basically lounge or do a little reading before evening ycuth group.

However today after we got to church we found the ice storm that I thought was going to hit on Tues or Wed was actually going to hit tonight between 6 and 7. Same time as youth group and Christmas program practice. So, the decision was made to move up program practice to 3 and cancel youth group (no one wants 16 and 17 year old drivers on the ice if it can be avoided). The reports vary, but we could get between 1 and 3 inches of ice. Ice is not a fun thing on the farm. If the power goes out, we have no heat for the chickens and no heaters for the stock tanks to keep the water from freezing.

So, after church we went and did some shopping, which I hate to do on Sundays but had no choice. We could not find a heat bulb for the chickens, and are missing an extension cord, so got a new bulb, new heat lamp and another extension cord for the barn.

Then, back to church for program practice. While Elizabeth and Rebecca practiced, Emily and I along with several others painted the set. The program is scheduled for next Sunday evening.
Right now the girls are outside finishing up the chores in the barn, and I have some hot cocoa to finish making for them.
The first picture is of Double. The second is of Beauty (who is not broke to ride and probably never will be as she has an attitude) and Bandit. Double and Beauty are quarter horses and bandit is a warm blood.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Elizabeth and her cow

This is Elizabeth and Hershey, her cow. The mom is a shorthorn and the dad and angus. She plans to AI Hershey with angus. Then she would like to show the calf for 4H.
Right now Hershey is in "cow jail", the feedlot, as Hershey has an uncanny way of escaping the pasture. We 'think' we have found where she is getting out at...maybe. However, until that fence is redone, Hershey will remain in the feedlot. Hershey has an older sister 'Ms 54' that we also plan to AI to angus.

Ms 54 also has been know to escape a few times a well, but hasn't lately. Actually their mother used to and Ms 54 was born at the neighbors during one escape. So, maybe this escaping from our pasture is in their blood....
I have noticed that when the cows get out, they go to the neighbors. However, when the horses get out, they head straight for my garden and then they root their feet into it and refuse to leave.

Windy day at the farm

Very windy. The chickens are having trouble walking into the wind. Our little beagle looks rather funny as her ears are flying all about.

Orginally I had planned to set some quickcrete today into some holes we had dug for our weather station. But, as windy as it is I think it would all blow out of the bag before it hit the ground. I may try it though if the winds slows down for awhile. I only need about 15 minutes. We are setting our weather station a "homeschool project" in the front of the house. Ideally it is to be 20 foot from a structure or tree and be in full sun. It will have a windsock, hail pad, snow and rain guages, therometer, and other instruments will be added as we go along. Last spring the girls and I took a NOAA class, and I am now an official storm spotter and weather reporter. Notice I said storm spotter, not storm chaser. There is a difference. A storm spotter spots from a safe location, while a chaser chases the storm. Last semester I taught a weather class each Friday to kids. I had around 60. They really enjoyed the class, especially the boys.

I also need to set a light in the poultry house today. Yesterday we only collected one egg. Since the time change they are only getting 11 hours of daylight and that isn't enough to support egg laying. Ideally they need 12-14, so we will add our light. It will probably take a few days for the egg production to pick back up, but I have several dozen eggs in the frig so we will be ok egg-wise. When I was a kid we had chickens. My grandma used to visit from Nothern Indiana in the summer and sometimes at Christmas when it was cold, and often the chickens would not be laying during her visit. Grandma used to threaten to "squeeze the eggs out" of the chickens. I told the girls that and Rebecca was all ready to try it. I had to call her off!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Thriftstore and socialization

Yesterday after our trip to the library, we went to the thrift store across the street. I got the girls each a pair of jeans. The most expensive pair was $4, and one pair I don't think had ever been worn. I also got for $1 what appears to be a brand new flannel top sheet-twin sized in grey. (Apprently it was unwanted since there was no bottom sheet with it). I intend to make a couple of nightgowns out of it for the girls, following Wardeh's pattern to use the hemmed sheet as the nightgown hems. For better instructions, see her site,
She uses knit, but I am going to use flannel. However I am sure it will work. I rarely buy store bought patterns, but make my own out of a blank roll of newspaper. The last pattern I bought I paid over $14 for.
All our snow is gone now, so the girls are not too interested in playing outside. Instead their free time today they have spent inside knitting. I wish they would knit more, as they are all rather good at it. It is a little warmer out today, I noticed that when I was out earlier. I went to the barn to see if there was any possible way to unload a deepfreeze myself out of the back of the pickup. My idea was to get straps under it and left it out with either the front loader or the bobcat. However it is too heavy for me to get the straps under it. I guess I should have had the straps in place when it was loaded. I got it (thanks Dad and Tim for loading it!) from my parents barn. It is going in my barn to store feed in. I already have a smaller one for chicken feed and rabbit feed. This large one will store the cracked corn and sweet feed. Between the mice, racoons, birds, chickens and who knows what else, half of our feed disappears before the stock gets it. This should stop that problem for good.
I was asked to address the issue of socialization while homeschooling. For my family, that has never been an issue. For one, we belong to a homeschool coop which meets every Friday afternoon September - November and February - April. My kids also are very active in regular 4H, 4H horsemanship, youth group and church, church camp, science camp, girl scout camp, 4H camp, Girl Scouts, Library Discovery Club and JBQ (Junior Bible Quiz). They have been in plays, programs, bands, choirs and fairs. They also meet people while doing their "internships". They can interact just as well with adults as they can with children or babies. They also do some volunteer work at times at a local crisis center. Emily also volunteers on a regular base in the church nursery.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Homeschoolers at the library

This afternoons homeschoolers class at the library was "Christmas Around the World". Miss Suzy (a former homeschooling mom who teaches the class and works at the library) does a very good job with the kids. They learned about Christmas and the traditions that go with it in several different countries. Then they sang Christmas carols while she played the keyboard and ended up the class with the kids each making 2 ornaments.

Starting next month, Emily will be Miss Suzy's assistant in the Thursday afternoon class. She will also be shadowing some at the library for her internship. Emily has stated several times that she would like to be a librarian when she is older. She is a bookworm, that is for sure.

Why we homeschool

I have been asked over and over, why we chose to homeschool our children. Prior to homeschooling, my children were in a Christian School. However, then we made the decision for me to be a stay at home mom. Staying at home has had its advantages in several ways. Of course, the big disadvantage is the lack of my income. It didn't seem financially possible to continue to send the girls to a private school when I was home during the day. We considered the local public school and even took a tour of the buildings. However, that tour is what watered the already planted seed of thought to homeschool. So, here we are.

I have been told I am "controlling" my childrens environment. Yes, I suppose I am. I am protecting their right to pray in the classroom (as we pray in ours), and to say the pledges (the pledge to the American flag is no longer said the the local public school district), we say them to the American Flag, Christian Flag and the Bible. I am controlling the language they hear and the topics that are discussed. I've been told they will hear it sooner or later and that is true, but first I want them to be able to know that is wrong and be strong enough to walk away from it or change the subject. They are kids. Let them be kids without talking and acting like adults (wrong adults in my opinion). We also get to learn about the Bible. We learn abstance is our only option before marriage, not birth control or abortion.

We also have many chances to do things that aren't possible in a public classroom. For example, Elizabeth (5th grade) thinks she wants to be a vet when she is older. I have arranged for her to spend 1 day a month with my cousin at his vet clinic. So far, she has witnessed or helped with a dogs C-section, a cats hysterectomy, ear cleanings, shots, general animal care and more. Each of my children will do this type of "internship" with several businesses.

We have a chance to take more field trips. We visit places like KC Zoo, Science City, Shatto Milk Dairy, Lathrop Farmers Reunion and Antique Days, American Royal, the bank (and other businesses) and more. Usually we average 2 field trips a month.

We learn more at home. We don't have to wait for a new semester to learn a new subject. My girls can all sew with a machine (one has her own machine and the other two plan on getting their own also), knit, crochet, cook, bake, run the farm, and drive. Yes, they can drive the pickup and the big tractor. On a farm it is important that all can drive in the event of an emergency. Our cell phones don't work at one farm, and in the back portion of the other.
If one of my children doesn't grasp a subject, then we can keep studying it till she does without fear of holding up the rest of classroom. Or, if she excells we move ahead at a faster pace without fear of loosing the rest of the classroom.

Tomorrow I will write about socialization. That is another topic I am often asked about.

Most of our snow has melted. There are just a few patches of it here and there. Tuesday night the ground was covered, so JD had to put out hay for the livestock.

I am surprised that there are still bugs out. We put out feed for the chickens and ducks, but they ignored the feed and are still pecking the ground finding bugs and worms. Their favorite places are the horse arena where the ground has been disced to bare dirt and the garden spot. A few bold birds go into the pasture and the feedlot. Their laying has slowed down, and it is now time to put a light into the hen house to extend their light cycle. This will bring their laying back up. In order for chickens to lay, they require #1-proper age, which is 16-20 weeks old for most breeds, #2 They must have 12-14 hours of daylight in a 24 hour cycle, and #3 feed that is at least 16% protein (since eggs are made of protein). Free ranging works best, as bugs and worms are a much higher % of protein than the feed. Most of our birds are orphingtons, rhode island reds or leghorns. They are really easy to keep and fun to watch. For ducks, we do best with peking duck.

For now, I must close. The girls are signed up for a class at the library and it is getting close to time to leave. They take classes in Kearney on Tuesday mornings, and Liberty on Thursday afternoons. Topics very each week. Topics this year have included weather, various famous artists, history of various holidays, crafts, visit of some animals from the KC Zoo, Dave Ramsey for kids, money management, American Indian tribes, local history and more.

While the kids are in their class, I plan on starting some research on what to put in this years garden-I need to find what varietys work best in our growing zone.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

My first post

After having numerous people tell me I should start a blog about homeschooling and farming/homesteading, I decided I will finally do it. I am not a computer savy person, so this is a learning experience for me. So here it goes.

Yesterday morning it started snowing with a little sleet in it while the girls and I were at the library. Here at the farm, we have between a dusting and an inch, depending on how the wind blows. But it is icy in spots, bad enough for the girls 4H horsemanship to be cancelled. In the city however, it must be much worse and many activities have been cancelled. It remains below freezing, so the girls are having to change out the rabbits water bottles, and check the heaters in the stocktank and the chicken waterer several times a day. The temperature isn't expected to be any warmer tomorrow.

Right now my girls are on a semester break from our homeschool coop, but not from school. We finished up our coop semester with a winter program and will be on break until the first of February. Our coop meets once a week on Fridays where each student takes 4 classes. Most of the classes are taught by parents. Last semester I taught 2 classes in weather, and aided in a pregrammer class on the human body, and also aided in a class on scrap booking. The kids really enjoy the coop. Classes vary each semester, but usually include band, choir, various PE classes, sewing, watercolor, painting, french, spanish....tons of things. We have almost 100 families and over 300 kids in ou coop. Next semester I am down for 2 classes--US Presidents (we will learn about a new president each week), and American Indians. If requested, I will also teach the weather class again. It was a big hit last semester and I had over 60 students.

So, who homeschools?? Here is a list of a few famous homeschoolers:
Abigail Adams
Abraham Lincoln
Agatha Christie
Alexander Graham Bell
Amadeus Mozart
Andrew Carnegie
Andrew Wyeth
Beatrice Potter
Benjamin Franklin
Blaise Pascal
Booker T. Washington
C.S. Lewis
Charles Dickens
Charlie Chaplin
Claude Monet
Douglas MacArthur
Florence Nightingale
Francis Poulenc
Franklin D Roosevelt
General George S. Patton
George Bernard Shaw
George Washington
Hans Christian Anderson
Irving Berlin
James Madison
Jason Taylor - NFL
Jennifer Love Hewitt
Joan of Arc
John & Charles Wesley
John Jay
John Marshall
John Paul Jones
John Quincy Adams
John Rutledge
John Singleton Copley
John Stuart Mill
Joseph Pulitzer
Josh Layne
Leonardo da Vinci
Mark Twain
Martha Washington
Mercy Warren
Patrick Henry
Pearl S. Buck
Phyllis Wheatley
Rembrandt Peale
Robert E. Lee
Robert Frost
Stonewall Jackson
The Hanson Singers
The Wright brothers
Theodore Roosevelt
Thomas Edison
Thomas Jefferson
Whoopi Goldberg
William F. Buckley Jr.
William Henry Harrison
William Penn
Winston Churchill
Wolfgang Mozart
Woodrow Wilson