Thursday, September 30, 2010

My Little Farm Hands

Last week the older two children were on vacation with my mom. You can read more about that on Kellen's blog, and Tim and I had a day off together for the first time in months. So, how do we enjoy our "almost" family time? By working of course.

There were too many roosters in the chicken house. For you chicken owners, you know what that means. For everyone else, let's just say that the hens were not happy. The roosters had to go.

Funny, when Kellen and Lydia left for Canada, Nolan was very excited to be the big kid in the house. It didn't take long for him to realize though, the big kid does more work too. Nolan and Vivian helped us pluck (a few of ) fourteen roosters. They weren't too thrilled about the wet feathers. I can't say that I blame them. What a mess!

Don't worry we did not over work the kids. They had plenty of rest breaks and play time.  What could be better than laying on a stack of feed lovin' on a kitten. The stuff childhood dreams are made of.

Now, that Tim's crazy schedule has come to an end and the entire family is home together more evenings and days, I imagine that there will be lots more family work projects. There is plenty to do around here before winter.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Farm Work Beats Housework

I've been procrastinating.

There has been a dirty task that needed my attention. I just didn't want to do it. The chicken house was in desperate need of a cleaning.

The chickens have a huge run and access to the woods. The layers take full advantage of this. They explore the full range of their territory thus leaving most of their droppings out there instead of in the chicken. When it is just the layers, the chicken house stays relatively clean.

The meat birds, however, are another story. They too have access to the large run and the woods, but they choose to spend the vast majority of their day situated as close as possible to the feeders. I bring a variety of food to them in the chicken house, but generally they are just too lazy to venture outside to find greens and bugs like most chickens do. So, as a result, these birds leave almost all their droppings in the chicken house. And boy do they make a lot of droppings, a lot of very stinky, gross, droppings. When we have a batch of meat birds, the chicken house really needs cleaned daily.

It had been a little longer than that.

Oh, I had lots of excuses. There was the selling and distributing of a small amount of hamburger. There was the fact that I started school with the younger two. There was work to be done in the garden, laundry to do, hot weather, and list of 100s of excuses that I made to not deal with that stinkin' mess out there. Today though, I determined, was the day to get it done.

It was hot today, around 95. I had other things that had to be done in the morning. So, I didn't get out there until after lunch. It was hot, but not too bad. The chicken house is in the shade and there are fans in there. It was stinky, but really you adjust. I dug into the task.

About half way through, I had a sudden realization that cleaning the chicken house wasn't really that bad. Why had I put it off?  I was pleased with how the chicken house looked, and with the fact that my garden was getting huge nitrogen boost from all the droppings. I realized, with some surprise,  that I'd rather clean the chicken house, than do dishes, laundry or pretty much any other cleaning in my house. Yes, I'd pick farm work, even shoveling stinky chicken poo, over house work any day of the week.

My house shows it.

When I have time to work around home, I invariably pick a farm or garden task. Really, I will pick just about anything over cleaning. Somehow that little revelation, while shoveling chicken poo, gave me a little freedom. I can't be everything. I can't do everything. I do what I have to keep some semblance of order and cleanliness in the house, but the animals and the garden are what I enjoy. They are what I'll choose any day. (Well, any day there isn't company coming over that is, or at least company I don't know well.)  And that is just fine!

In fact, it is a privilege to do work that I actually enjoy, instead of work I feel I am supposed to, or work I need to do in order to earn cash. It is a joy, and I need to stop beating myself up (and comparing myself to others) about the things I don't get done, and enjoy the blessings that come from the things that I do get done.

Now, I am hoping that one of my children discover they enjoy cleaning the house.

Monday, September 20, 2010

From Their Perspective

My kids never cease to amaze me. Admittedly, in the past few months of craziness with our adjustments here and the normal hectic fall schedule, I have not spent much one on one time with them as I would like. This week Kellen and Lydia are in Canada. They went with my mom to visit my Aunt Nancy. It is a great opportunity for them to spend time with family, and to see many interesting and educational sites.

But it is also good for Nolan and Vivian. I am amazed at how well the two of them have been playing together. It has been refreshing. It is also a great time for me to spend a little extra time with each of them. Something they both need, but Nolan especially who has been acting out a bit lately.

This morning we worked in the garden planting some fall crops. (A little late, but I'm hoping for the best.) We chatted, and they played, and they came back to plant a little more. It was an enjoyable morning. Conversations with a six year old and a four year old are funny sometimes, and sometimes their perspective on things catch me by surprise.

As we were digging holes, Nolan asked me where a friend of his kept his garden. When I told him that his friend did not have a garden, Nolan's eyes got really big and he asked, "But how do they grow their food?" I responded, "They don't." He was shocked, "Where do they get their food?" I told him that they buy it. For some reason, I don't quite understand, it was like a totally new concept to him. Really, we do go to the grocery store. We do buy food there, but I guess to him we've always had gardens and raised our own meat, and that is how everyone gets their food too.

I told Nolan and Vivian we would start school this week (finally.) Well actually I was just planning to start school with Nolan. Since she is only four, I really didn't plan on school for Vivian this year, but she is insistent that she gets to do school too, and how do you say no to a kid who wants to learn?

All morning Vivian was asking to start school. While we were in the garden, she asked about school for the 100th time. I said to her, "Isn't working in the garden school? Aren't you learning how to plant?" Truly, that is how I feel about school. Everyday really is school. Everyday they are learning about animals, plants, the Lord, cooking, cleaning, being polite, or a hundred other life skills that they will need later. In the elementary grades, I am primarily concerned that they learn to read, write, have basic math skills, but most of all learn to love learning. Though we do use books for some of that, much of our learning comes through everyday life experiences. Vivian, however, does not share my educational philosphy.

In response to my, "Isn't working in the garden school?" comment. I got a perturbed look and a firm, "No." I asked her what school was, and she responded, "You have to do papers." She might as well have added, "DUH." to her statement according to the tone of her voice.

So after finishing our lunch, which consisted almost entirely of food grown here, (How do families with out gardens eat?!) we are pulling out the "papers" and officially starting school.