Friday, August 23, 2013

Life Lessons...Connecting with the Natural World

We don't have a proper farm, by any means, but what we do have does give us a glimpse of living that life, by keeping chickens and gardening, with to possibility of adding to our "farm" in the future, keeping bees, and possibly having other types of animals. This allows us to be a part of something bigger and open up a whole other world for our children. Our world has become so detached from the natural world because of hectic lifestyles and the advances of technology.

In thinking about our school year officially starting up soon, I have been thinking about all the lessons that our children will have in all of the subjects provided in the books that we study in each year, and realized that what we are giving to our children beyond the books, is really beyond compare. I truly love our homeschool life no matter the challenges, setbacks, struggles; it is truly a blessing and a gift to be able to explore life with our children and learn and grow together, not only in knowledge, but also in faith, family, spirit, and community.

In living a "farm: life" we also give our children the knowledge of where their food comes from and keeping them in touch with nature and the importance of that balance.

This week we have new chicks hatching. Of some of the lessons learned in the process patience is the biggest.
Chicks take twenty one days to hatch...the waiting is horribly excruciating, even(especially) for me. We haven't learned to candle the eggs yet so we have been having to wait the whole twenty one days to see what happens.
Yesterday they began to come out of the eggs and so out of eighteen there are eleven.

 This clutch of chickens hatched almost two days late which added to the stress of hatching. The next biggest lesson is disappointment. Knowing that death is part of life and it is natural, it is still a very difficult thing to handle. Some eggs just never develop for whatever reason, but it is still so hard to sit and watch the unhatched eggs and realize that it isn't viable.

You move on, though because the next lesson is caring for something smaller than you. These little guys need lots of time and attention. They have to be fed, given water, kept warm, and kept clean. It teaches responsibility, charity, and dedication. Animals are also a great supplemental education tool for teaching science and math.

During hatching the kids and I have to chart the progress and make sure that the variables are at their best. It is also a game of percentages when the eggs hatch because you never know how many will actually hatch for what ever reason. The egg development and life cycle(we haven't figured out candling, but there are lots of pictures out on the internet of the development of a chick) is amazing and fascinating. The other thing that I came across recently in the science of hatching eggs is the genetic aspect. I loved this as a kid. It is amazing to me how the different traits being combined can create new and wonderful(or sometimes not so wonderful) differences in living things. One fact sheet that I found touched on a few of these things and it was great to share it with the kids.

Funny story that got me searching for information. One of the chicks after being taken out of the incubator and put in the brooder box, still only a couple of hours old and still slightly wet, stretched his neck, flapped his little wings, and let out this little "reeep". I knew instantly that I had to see if it was a girl or boy. So I searched for wing sexing and decided to try. From what I could tell according to the previous fact sheet mentioned he is a boy. I was amazed that at that age he was already showing rooster traits. I can not even begin to describe how adorably cute it was I wish I could have gotten a video of it. So needless to say having a mini farm is a wealth of investigation, exploration, and learning opportunity.

Do you have a hands on lifestyle for your children? What are some of the opportunities that you give your children a chance to explore with?

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Stuffed Zucchini Squash

Yesterday I came home from our local CSA,Yokna Bottoms, distribution with some great goodies; dragon beans, purple green beans, a variety of peppers, eggplants, a great big bunch of basil for pesto, but the highlight of this pick up was the cutest squash I have ever seen. They were eight ball zucchini squash. I picked out 6 that were about the size of baseballs intending to do something with them for supper since Friday night is one of our meatless nights(at least we try). So here is what I did with them. I should have taken pictures through the process, but forgot.

I scooped the inside out and chopped it up finely. We happened to have a barley pesto salad that I had made a couple of nights previously so I decided to use that and added the chopped zucchini to the barley, then I started going through the fridge to see what could be added and found some feta cheese, colby jack cheese, purple and white onions, and bell peppers. I chopped all the vegetables up finely, and added all the ingredients to the barley pesto. each zucchini cup was then stuffed with the mixture topped each with a pat of  butter and put in the oven and baked. The tops that were cut off were also saved and baked on a separate pan. I baked them for about 20 minutes.

 I served these with a salad that had cucumbers, peaches, and grapes(it's what we had in the refrigerator at the time). These came out really good, so good in fact my two picky boys asked for seconds and one asked for thirds. They were little gooey cheesy bowls of goodness. I will definitely be making these again. Just like so many of my other recipes, it will be very versatile and can be stuffed in so many different ways, I can't wait to try a new filling.

What would you stuff in the great little bowls?

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Another School Year is on the Horizon

So in the next couple of weeks we will begin our next school year adventure. This year we will officially have four of our five children in some type of learning experience. Our oldest will be entering Eighth Grade it is amazing to me that we are on the edge of High School, like the tide coming in and lapping at our feet. We are trying something a little different this year. This year he will be enrolled at a school, have support from teachers and a counselor, and he will be accountable to someone other than just us for getting his work done and assignments completed. Because of the idea of high school looming we want to make sure that he has transcripts and that his knowledge base is well rounded.

Our younger children will be entering the third grade, kindergarten, and pre-k 3. I am hoping that the focus of their year is full of adventures in learning and integrating lots of real life lessons that will back up the things that they learn in "books" this year. Charlotte Mason has a wonderful way of learning and teaching that I would really like to incorporate into their school year.

We will try to document some of our learning this year along with our other projects and happenings at the Zerangue Homestead. Lots of things happening this year and new changes coming up this year, with home improvement, farm changes, lots of garden expansion...stay tuned to watch us grow and change.

Oh and...our new addition!
No not another baby, we've adopted a dog.
Meet Scout

What do you have in the works for your families this year?