Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Learning Together: Applying knowledge to actual practice

In 2011 we've divided up some of our farm responsibilities among the children so that they each have age appropriate responsibilities.  The reality is that we have no clue what we're doing and so everything we do is something we have to learn to do from others or from by actually doing it.  It's always best to learn from others but sometimes you can't find the information you need when you need it and so you have to just try something and learn from what happens (or doesn't happen).

Our children have chores in the following areas:
  • Pierce is our Farm Hand and does Maintainance & Handy Man stuff
  • Abe helps with our Sheep
  • Sam helps with our Goats
  • Ruthie & Luci help with our Chickens
  • Jesse disposes of our Compost
So each month we'll feature a "Learning Together" post.  We've chosen to live on a small farm raising sheep, goats, chickens and a 1/4 acre garden.  These activities provide us with so many opportunities for teaching about life through giving ownership/responsibility to our children through age appropriate farm chores.  As we (JC & Marghie) learn what we need to do we can do it together with our children and then give them the opportunity to help provide for our family by doing it by themselves.  This gives our children a great sense of ownership and pride in their work.

Pierce's Perspective:
I've had farm chore responsibilities for about 4 years now.  My chores have changed quite a bit over the years.  When I first started I was responsible for cleaning out the cat's litter box, then giving food and water to the chickens, then raising broiler peeps to six or even seven pound birds for meat for our family and helping butcher them, and most recently taking care of the sheep & goats (feed, water, minerals, rotating pastures, milking and shearing). In the past four years I've learned a lot.  For example, when the skin under the sheep's chin sags it means that they are suffering from a parasite infestation.  I have also learned that a chicken has a little green sack that can poison all the meat from the chicken if popped while butchering.
Managing a small farm is hard work, and the reality is that there is always work to be done.  We've got our hands full with a small herd of sheep/goats, two farm dogs, thirteen chickens and a quarter acre of garden space.  While the learning curve is difficult at times as we learn together with our kids we're seeing the rewards far outweigh the challenges that we have to face.

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