As we begin our first summer break, I am taking a bit of time to reflect. The school year is so very busy for me and often weeks go by before I get a chance to stop and just breathe. I enjoy that busy-ness, but I also look forward to the time when I can slow down a little and look at what we’ve accomplished, compare that with our overall goals as homeschoolers, and look ahead to how I want to proceed in achieving those goals.
In honor of this breather, I want to tell you why I love the onset of summer. It’s not just a time of slowing down around here, since we have a small farm, it is also a time of speeding up. Here are the things I most enjoy:
1. Getting outside from dawn till dusk.
This is the time of Great Unplugging for us as a farm family. We spend most of our days outdoors from May through mid-October, caring for our animals, garden, and woods. We refurbish pens and fences, plant, water, fertilize, repeat in the vegetable garden, keep our paths cleared in the woods, plant annuals in our flower gardens, make decisions about trees in the yard, and ensure we are providing homes, food, and the like for the wildlife. We do not have time or inclination for television or screen time (I mean, besides the obvious work I have to do on the laptop). My poor mama tried to reach me for a while by phone yesterday. She had to give up and drive over to our house because I was outside and my phone was… not. And I love that about summer. I think people tend to be far too attached to their phones.
2. Baby animals
We raise golden pheasants, doves, rabbits, ducks, and chickens. We have years when we raise a pig and/or a cow, and we’ve had our share of goats, but right now we’re concentrating on birds and smaller things. I can’t leave out the miniature donkey, but since he is a solitary guy, he doesn’t make babies. Unfortunately. I bet they’d be cute. Because the baby rabbits in my barn right now are so cuddly I turn into Elmira from the Animaniacs cartoon. I just want to grab them all up and squeeze them. Hard to make money that way, so I resist. The doves don’t stay little for very long and their mamas are super protective, so we don’t usually get a good look at them until they’re learning to fly, but it’s a precious thing to get to watch them learn. We’ve not had baby pheasants yet, but who can resist a fluffy, yellow chick or duckling? Not me. I bet you can’t either.
3. Five weeks with no schedule
Although I sometimes miss the structure of the school year, it doesn’t take me long to appreciate the loose, easy days of summer. My sister says our family moves through the day with a certain indescribable grace, accomplishing many tasks while seeming to have no hint of schedule. It Is kind of organic, the way we think about the things we want to get done in the morning, then move from one thing to another without worrying about time or how much we’re getting done. It’s so nice to sit on the front porch in the evening, look out across the pond, and realize how much we’ve accomplished.
4. Family camping trips
Even though we live surrounded by forest, it’s fun to load up the camper and go somewhere new. Camping is a great way to take a vacation on the cheap, and finding a site near a historical venue gives us a chance to turn vacation into learning time and make up for any snow or sick days we might have taken over the winter.
I’ve already posted about this, but I Love going fishing with my family. Fishing gives us time to really relax and enjoy each other and we take advantage of it whenever we find a spare hour or two.
6. Hanging clothes on the line
This is a chore that soothes me like no other. Getting to stand in the sunshine, letting my mind wander as I pin a load of laundry up, is a welcome chance to reflect every day. Besides, there is something about the smell of clothes dried in sunshine that has no comparison. It turns the chore of laundry from tedious to pleasant.
7. Getting to plan for next school year
You might hear me complain about this later, but I always love the novelty of doing new research and figuring out what I will teach the Littles about in the year to come. Right now, I’m deciding about Chinese history. There is A Lot of it. So I’m taking my time, trying to figure out how to divide it up. Do I pick a major event from each dynasty? Do I focus on philosophy? We’re doing art history and garden history next year on top of plain old regular history, so how do I incorporate those? And should I do music history? Call me crazy, but I love making these decisions. Especially since I inevitably learn new things myself while I’m planning.
Because I’m so excited about the planning stage, I thought I’d offer you a freebie that is an old standby for me. This book report form is what the Littles use to let me know they’re reading on their own and understanding what they read. Let me know what you think of it. I can always use input. Here’s the link:
What do you do with your summer that you’re looking forward to? I’d love to hear your plans.