• My affiliate links won't hurt you, but they might help feed my kids. See my full disclosure policy in the main menu.

Let Their Grandparents Help

Mom & Dad Snowbird

This picture of my parents was taken yesterday.

But KT, you’re thinking, I thought you were from Indiana.

I am.  But my awesome parents are snowbirds.  Which means they skip winter now and run off to Florida.  Leaving me in the snow.  Checking their mail periodically.  In the snow.

But that’s not what this post is about.  Haha, you know I get sidetracked, but that time I did it Immediately.  Because look at all the sunshine in that pic.  Did I mention it’s snowing in Indiana?

Anyhoo, I am truly grateful for my parents.  Not just for what they’ve done for me, but for what they do for my kids.  When you homeschool, you often lean on that whole ‘it takes a village’ mentality, right?  Grandparents are the perfect people to turn to when you want to broaden your littles’ education beyond your own scope.

My parents teach my kids without even realizing they’re doing it.  Or maybe they do, but the Littles don’t.  My dad loves to work with wood, and each of my boys has built something with him over the years.  My mom loves to play board games with them, and if you don’t know how I feel about board games as an educational tool, this must be your first time here.  Welcome.

For instance, my dad is overflowing with business acumen.  Me?  Not so much.  A couple days ago, Middle completely melted my heart.  He was talking about his future video game design company, and all the things he’s going to have to do, and he said, “And I’ll have to sit down and talk to Grandad so he can advise me on the business side of things.”  I told him his Grandad was the perfect person to steer him on that course.  Middle wants to study business alongside all the techie stuff he’ll need in high school, so I imagine he’ll be having plenty of conferences with Grandad.

My mama has worked in law most of her life.  She knows the legal ins and outs of just about everything.  Littlest is very interested in law and every career that could be had in the field.  Mama is a font of information about that stuff.  She’ll be his person where that is concerned.

My parents are also really good about having the boys help them around their farm.  They have a different take on farming than we do, and they grow different things.  The Littles learn different techniques and ideas by helping them out.  My mama grows a mean flower garden, too.  Her thumb is so green it glows.  I love knowing the littles are learning from her, seeing how she does it, understanding the Feeling that goes into good growing.

My parents are very involved in local politics, and that gives the littles the opportunity to hear about and see how that works, which helps them better understand politics on a larger scale.

I think I could list the benefits of having these amazing people as grandparents forever.

Utilizing your own parents to supplement your littles’ educations is a brilliant way to give your kids even more.  It’s like having tutors who are the funnest people your littles know.  Everybody is good at something, so even if your it’s just that your dad is a good storyteller, have him tell your littles stories about his life, the important historical events he remembers, where he was when he heard about JFK’s assassination, his take on the Vietnam War, where he stood in the Civil Rights debate and why, how he felt when the Berlin Wall fell.  Me, I remember the exact spot I was in when I heard about Stevie Ray Vaughn’s and Kurt Cobain’s deaths, but I’m just not sure that’s as relevant.

As homeschoolers, we sometimes become hyper-aware that we can’t do everything ourselves.  So make sure you give your littles’ grandparents opportunities to provide teachable moments, too.  Your littles will appreciate it.

Mama, Daddy, I love you.  Thanks for always being there.  Thanks for joining us on this journey and providing all you do for these kids who love you to the moon and back.

Lovely readers, Happy Valentine’s Day.  You’re all my Valentines because you make it possible for me to do what I do.  I appreciate you.

Love wins,

KT

 

 

Winter on the farm

Our first seed catalog arrived yesterday.  And man, am I stoked.

Winter on a farm isn’t a time for too much resting.  There’s still a lot to be done.  For one thing, our animals don’t disappear with warm weather.  They actually require more work than they do in summer.  In the summer, we can let our chickens roam the yard, hunting bugs and worms.   It’s kind of awesome, because they keep the ticks and mosquitoes down.

snow day

If you’ve ever lived through a bad tick season, you’re feeling me.  Those little buggers are vicious.  And sneaky.  They’re like mini Viet Cong sneaking up on you in the jungle.  Or forest.  Whatever.

In the winter, though, if we want eggs we have to keep the hens penned up.  They have a nice, large yard to run around in, but most of the time they choose to stay in the cover of their building in a large crowd, staring out dolefully at the world and waiting for the slightest bit of cloud cover so they can go to sleep.  No kidding, those birds might be the smartest animals on the planet.  When it’s dim outside, they go to freaking sleep, by God.  Just sit and daydream about that for a minute, won’t you?

hens looking out

Because the hens are penned up, we have to feed them more.  We have to make sure they’re getting protein so they can create eggs.  Winter costs more than the heat bill, let me tell you.  We also have to keep a light on in the hen house for 14 hours a day, or those ladies will snooze all day and not lay any eggs.  Their water freezes, so we have to break that up.  Unless it freezes completely, then we have to search around for a second water trough and start over.  When it’s below freezing for several days in a row, you start to run out of troughs.   We should invest in one of those heated troughs, and (I swear) we talk about doing so every single winter.  Talking doesn’t really solve the problem, though.

A boy and his dog

A boy and his dog

 

Our miniature donkey needs a lot of the same care.  His pastures are winter-dead, so we have to provide him with hay and feed so he doesn’t sink in on himself and stand by the road, looking longingly at every car that passes with his thumb out.  At least he doesn’t need a light.  But his water does freeze.

Leo the Lop

In the winter, my free-range rabbits have to be put into pens so they don’t mate all the time and produce litters that die in the cold before they even get fur.  They’re a little easier, because we just use dog food bowls for their feed and water, and they pretty much empty them before freezing can happen.  But it breaks my heart to see them locked up like that.  They’re rabbits.  They should be nibbling grass, thumping, and digging burrows.

IMG_20150504_082657032

I don’t know if you know this, but doves mate like rabbits.  One of our females is sitting on an egg right now.  The baby won’t survive the cold.  They never do.  But we always give them a chance, because there might be that one that makes it.  We could put the egg in an incubator and try to raise the baby in the house, but song birds are harder to care for than chicks, and I honestly wouldn’t know what to feed the little bugger.  I keep asking them to stop mating, but they just coo at me condescendingly.  I think it means, “Yeah, right, lady.  Not on your life.”

I don’t know which one is the male.  So I can’t separate them.  They know that, and they laugh at me every morning when I feed them.

IMG_20150325_152457355

The red golden pheasants pretty much take care of themselves.  They have a beautiful aviary (built by the most beautiful man in the world), and they just hang out and flap their wings at me when I’m changing their water trough, letting me know I have no control over them and that I’m so beneath them they can’t even be bothered to attack me.  They are majestic birds with a lot of attitude, so I have to agree with them.  I mean, I can’t fly.  So they have that on me.

We have had winters when we raised cattle, pigs, goats.  They demand so much more when it’s cold outside and they can’t take care of themselves.  So winter keeps us hopping around here, even when we don’t feel like it.

burpee seed catalog

But the seed catalog… Oh. Yeah.

January hits, the catalogs start pouring in, and we start planning the spring garden.  We sit at the table together, Martin and I, and go through the catalogs, dreaming about what goodness we’ll grow.  It’s the best part of winter on the farm.   The Littles even get involved, as we decide what we’ll grow from seed and which yummies we’ll buy as seedlings from the local nursery.  We start looking at our soil, to see what nutrients need added where.  We plot the year’s design, so that we’re being sure to rotate things and to plant ‘friendly’ plants next to each other.   We get out graph paper and draw up several designs.  By the time we’re satisfied, it’s time to plow, then time to till.  The greenhouse goes up and I start growing the seeds we ordered.  And suddenly winter is over and it’s time to get all that goodness in the ground.

I can rest easy knowing the Littles are learning how to take care of themselves when the zombie apocalypse comes.  If you ask them, that could be any day.

Winter on the farm is expensive, both in finance and in work.  It’s different from the work we do in summer, and it’s cold, and breaking up all that ice is a pain in the ass.

But I wouldn’t trade it for the city.  Not even if they have heated water troughs.

Love wins,

KT