Friday, March 30, 2012

"Home" School

When one is a homeschooler, you might think that they actually are at home a lot. This is not the case with this house of homeschoolers. We have the mixed blessing/temptation of  a very active homeschool community. I try hard to get a good balance of days at home and days out. I'd like to err on the side of days at home, after all we do have plenty of things to take care of at home, but more often I find myself with a calendar filled with activities. Many of those weeks happen when I have things planned, and then other things come up that are too good to miss, or that are out of my control. This was one of those weeks.

Monday the week began with sewing class. It was a basic introduction to the machine and stitches. The kids really seemed to enjoy it. I was thrilled that the boys wanted to take the class. Nolan asked to sew some more when we got home. Guess, I better clear the clutter away from my machine.

We went to the park afterward with friends whom we don't see often. It was a great day. 

 Tuesday afternoon we had band and guitar lessons. Wednesday we had a bug lab. The kids dissected roaches; very large roaches. It was kind of gross, but educational.

The kids (or at least some of them) will be showing Llamas with their 4-H club this year. Wednesday afternoon we went to get the know the llamas and match llamas to kids.

Thursday morning was standardized testing. Today we only had to leave to take Kellen to a birthday party. I tried to catch up from the neglect of the week, and wondered why I was so tired all day.

"Home"schooling huh?  Please don't ask me if my kids' are getting enough socialization. The better question is when do we open the books with all this socialization and education going on?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Animals - Bittersweet

When you've been around something sometimes you assume you know a lot about it. You know what assuming does right?

Dad was the pig farmer. Since he has been gone we've learned that we have a lot to learn about pigs. We've made mistakes that have cost us time, money, and pigs. We completely messed up our breeding cycle, and were at the point that we didn't care anymore when piglets were born, just so some were born.

I can't tell you how overjoyed I was to finally see this Monday morning.

This is a first time gilt bred to a first time boar. I wasn't expecting much. In fact, I was beginning to doubt if we were expecting anything, (we were off on when she was bred) until I finally started seeing the physical signs last week.

This first timer birthed 15 pigs. (Three didn't make it through the first night.) We expect to get at least 8 piglets from each sow. So, 12 is thrilling. There are a couple questionable ones left in the litter, but even those seem to be finding their way to a teat. They are feisty little things. I am watching them closely though.

This gilt was a bit skittish, and I wondered what she'd be like as a mother. She has been incredible careful and gentle with the piglets. She lays a long time for them to nurse. Much to my relief, she has been tolerant of me too. Mother pigs can be fiercely protective to the point that you can't even go near them or the piglets.

Sweet right?  Now the bitter part.

That is a vaginal prolapse. She could have a genetic disposition to this condition. She may have been slightly over weight. Regardless of what caused it, the best we can hope for is to keep it from getting infected (thus the purple from the Blue Kote,) and to let her raise up her litter.  We can't breed her again.

It makes me sad. This is a gilt we picked out of our own stock to keep as a sow. She has done wonderfully with this one litter, but this will be her last litter.

The bittersweet of raising animals. 

Friday, March 09, 2012

The Baby

Monday Vivian turned six. The baby of the family is six. It is bittersweet watching them all grow up.

My brother Jake was down with his kids, and it is always a grand time when the cousins are in for a visit. Per Vivian's request, we celebrated her day by making rainbow fruit kabobs. Before you get the wrong idea, we had chocolate peanut butter cake later in the day.

Before we had kids, we had grand ideas about the things we would and would not do as parents. One of the things on the do not do list was to let the baby be a baby. Well, that worked out great for the first three kids. The baby never had enough time to become spoiled because another baby always came along. And then came Vivian.

Oh yes. She is cute. She is very sweet and loving most of the time. She is a wonderful helper. She also is a bit high maintence. I call her the princess.

I am not sure if she was born this way, or if it is a result of her being the baby, but she is by far the pickiest of all the kids. She is picky about food. Only certain socks meet her standards, and those must be worn inside out. Tags need to be removed from clothes. Jeans are not comfortable. Car seats need to be adjusted just so. When it is time to go somewhere, the rest of us spend a lot of time waiting for her to get everything just so.

She is the only one to ever suck a thumb, and she still has that habit. She enjoys being the baby, and the only one who has actually said she doesn't want to grow up. 

She does have chores, and for the most part is willing to complete them. I realize though that her chores at 6 are far less than Kellen's were at the same age.

How did this happen?

Now, on the other side of six years of having the same baby, it is easy to see how these things happen. Life is busy. Sometimes it is easier to accommodate than to fight, especially when there are three older siblings to help accommodate. When something needs done, it is easier to have an older child to do it, than teach the youngest to do it.

But how do you not baby the baby with a face so sweet and cute?