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Give Your Kids a Chicken Education

There’s a craze hitting homeschool families everywhere. If you haven’t already joined in on the fun, odds are you know someone who has.

What am I talking about?

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CHICKENS!

Well, backyard chickens…specifically.

The craze hit our home last spring. After years of wanting our own backyard flock, we finally took the plunge and bought five adorable baby chickens at the local farm and garden. We purchased all girls (known in the chicken world as hens) and jumped in, quite blindly, with both feet. A year later, I’m happy to report it is one of the best decisions we ever made.

As I reflect on the past year raising chickens, I am amazed at how much my kids have learned in the experience. Chickens and homeschooling definitely go together. Maybe it is the Charlotte Mason fan in me, but I just love giving my kids hands-on science & nature experiences.

Here’s just a taste of what our family learned while raising our own little backyard flock of chickens…

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Chicken Basics:

We had to do our own research and basically learn everything on our own. We were the first in our area and in our family to take the “chicken plunge,” so we lacked mentors to help us find our way. From the internet to good books at the library, we researched about the care and feeding of our flock. We decided to raise our hens as organically as possible, so we talked about the ins and outs of antibiotics, organic feed, free ranging, and much more. We had to learn how to care for baby chicks indoors and out-of-doors, and we also had to design a space for them to live when they were full grown.

My children used their own money to purchase everything we needed for our flock to get off to a good start. They bought the chicks, the shavings, the feed, the waterer, the heat lamp, and even the box we raised the baby chicks in. It was a huge exercise in budgeting and in some cases, restraint. We couldn’t afford every thing we wanted, so we learned to do it ourselves or make our own in many cases. This chicken adventure turned out to be the greatest research project I could have ever designed… and it happened completely by accident!

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Chicken Coop Design & Building:

 

Besides being new to the idea of chickens, we were also basically broke. We had a very small budget to work with. So the kids and I hit the books double-time to find affordable chicken coop plans. We shopped the stores and priced materials. After much research, we chose to build our own chicken tractor. We took inventory of what things we had on hand and up-cycled those materials in building our chicken tractor. We shopped for lumber – that in itself was a HUGE math lesson. We measured, re-measured, cut, sized, and priced lumber until we almost gave up. In the end, it was a fantastic lesson for my kids in budgeting. The chicken tractor you see pictured above was built for less than $100.

The children helped their dad set up the coop in the backyard. It was a wonderful experience for everyone, and a great way to get my husband involved as he works very hard most days and isn’t home during our formal school hours.

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Eggs-cellent Education:

 

The kids learned very quickly that chickens require daily care and maintenance. But they didn’t seem to mind. They actually would argue (nicely) over who was in charge of letting the chickens out to free range, and who would gather the eggs once our girls started laying. I kept telling myself that the newness would wear off and they’d soon tire of the “farm chores” two times a day. It’s a year later and either the newness hasn’t worn off yet, or my kids just really enjoy taking care of their little pets. I think it’s the latter.

The kids have learned all about organic eggs and how to market and sell their eggs to others. We have collected egg cartons and are currently researching local rules & restrictions so that we might be able to sell our organic, free-range eggs at our small town farmers market. I’m sure when the time comes, we’ll have lots of arts and craft time designing logos and posters for our little egg business. (That’s entrepreneurship, economics, and more!)

Through trial and error, we’ve discovered many other things:

  • We learned about the birds and the bees. Or, the chickens and the eggs, as the case may be. Yes, we’ve had “the talk” about how hens eggs don’t grow baby chicks without a rooster. You’d be amazed at how many ADULTS don’t understand this concept. My kids have taught a neighbor or two about fertilized & non-fertilized eggs!
  • We have researched the pros and cons of having a rooster. So far, we’re not convinced we need a man in our flock. We are considering purchasing some pre-fertilized eggs for our hens to sit on from a local farmer this spring. It would be a neat way to watch chicks hatch and grow and would give our hens the opportunity to “raise their own” (even if it is a trick!)
  • We have nursed an ailing chick back to health, using only pedialyte and gatorade. We have learned basic chicken first aid, mainly through necessity. We have also buried a chicken and learned how fragile and fickle chickens can be. Yes, we even held a chicken funeral.
  • We learned how to clip the wing feathers and how to compost chicken poop. We learned that chickens really love strawberries and most produce – but don’t feed them orange peels! (Citrus peel is toxic to them.)
  • My kids have tried many new recipes ONLY because they know the eggs are fresh and come from our flock. We have gotten our kids to try and even like quiche. We now eat eggs more regularly. And nobody has bad cholesterol either!
  • All eggs are not alike. We have had some interesting shaped eggs come from our flock. We take pictures of them, catalog the unusual ones, and enjoy this new little hobby of egg collecting. We’ve even learned how to preserve an egg shell for safe keeping.

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If you’ve been itching to do something “different” in your science curriculum, I would highly suggest you give backyard chicken farming a try. You might be surprised at how much you learn and how fast you fall in love with those little feathered friends. But be forewarned: we now have chickens AND … a goat. Backyard farming is addictive.

Photo Credits: Lindsey Cox

 

 

 

Lindsey (8 Posts)


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How God Uses Stories

Rose Dobson was a twenty-two year old young lady when she decided that missions work was what God wanted her to do and Brazil was where God wanted her to be.

The Kayabi people she worked with did not make it easy for her. First, they thought that she was going to steal their words, so they taught her their language wrong as she worked to translate Scripture for them. Then, as she fought off various jungle diseases, she discovered that their headhunting days were probably not over.

Yet, despite all of these threats, Rose remained faithful to where God had called her. As a result of her translation work, and many adventures later, the Kayabi people now hold the Scriptures in their own language.

How does this apply to us as homeschoolers?

1. We must remain faithful to what God has called us to do. Our circumstances – difficult though they may be – should not determine whether or not we remain obedient to Him. Even when the three year old and five year old are fighting over the scooter, the baby is yelling for attention, the twelve year old is asking you to explain some complex math concept that you forgot how to do long ago, the seven year old is telling you she’s going to throw up again, and…well, you get the idea.

2. God uses stories to work in each of our lives. Hearing the stories and testimonies of other missionaries is what called many to the mission field. While on Earth, Jesus used parables to explain concepts to his listeners and Scripture is full of stories that God uses to teach us what we need to learn. So share your story with others. Don’t hide behind the desire to appear perfect or that you have it all together. Someone who is hurting needs a listening ear from you, but also needs to hear that we all struggle. Remember that God gives us the strength to continue.

“Moreover, it is required in stewards that a man be found faithful.” I Corinthians 4:2 (KJV)

What is God doing in your life today? It may not be easy, but it may be what He uses to challenge, encourage, and strengthen a fellow brother or sister in Christ. We are only called to be faithful.

For more amazing real-life, modern-day, missionary adventure stories, pick up a copy of Seed Sowers: Gospel-Planting Adventures (available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble).

(Photo courtesy of Rose Dobson)

 Gwen

Gwen (26 Posts)


A Word From Our Sponsors

Homeschool Products from Nest Learning
***3 FREE Complete Drawing Lessons from the SEE THE LIGHT 9 DVD/36 lesson ART CLASS curriculum that is used by many homeschooling families. Recommended for ages 6 + + http://www.seethelightshine.com/free-lessons/***

2012 Welcome Wagon for NEW Homeschool Bloggers

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Last year we had a FANTASTIC turn out for our Welcome Wagon so we decided to do it again!

Girl and Wagon by parrettfive, on Pix-O-Sphere
photo credit Angie

Every year the Homeschool Blog Awards has the category of NEW Homeschool Blog, but wouldn’t ya know it, when the time for nominating comes… we don’t know who the new bloggers are! And we REALLY want to help welcome them to the online homeschool community.

 So back by POPULAR demand, is our Welcome Wagon link up so we can get to know all the NEW Homeschool BLOGGERS who started their blogs AFTER October 2011.

We would like for all those new homeschoolers to link up so the community can come by and welcome you. Then when nominating time comes, folks can nominate your blog for the New Homeschool Blogger category.

To qualify to win the NEW category in the awards your homeschool blog must be new since October of 2011. Here is more information from the legal page:

GENERAL AWARDS RULES

Family friendly (G-rated) blogs only. Do not nominate a blog that has cussing (no potty mouth), photographic nudity (we aren’t talking about one image of some sculpture from the 1500’s in an art post), sexual content, or hostility toward other bloggers.

Do not nominate a blog that has nothing to do with homeschooling – nor a blog that is hostile towards homeschooling.

You can tell by reading someone’s blog posts about homeschooling if they are doing it or contributing towards others doing it. This is a general rule to weed out those who would nominate people that are…

…a blog that is from someone who has never mentioned that they homeschool
…a blog that mentioned it once in 2005 and never did again
…a blog that is negative about homeschooling
…a blog that is by someone whose great-aunt’s housekeeper homeschools and she mentions it in passing a few times
…a blog that is mainly about public school and community college and not really about homeschool at all

If you have kids at home and you haven’t officially started calling it homeschooling, but you are working with them to teach them at home, and you are considering homeschooling, you may still be nominated, as long as you meet the other requirements of the category for which you were nominated.

Also, if your kids are taking some college classes at a campus and then doing other homeschool work at home and you are discussing those learning moments or talking about what you did to get them graduated from homeschool up to this point, that qualifies, as well.

If your kids have left home, have all gone to college, and you spent the entire year just having fun and not helping them any more with education and your blog is mainly now about your new Lexus and the time you spend at Disney World, well . . . then that would be questionable.

We’ll leave the linky open until  October 1st and PRETTY PLEASE keep promoting this link-up so we can be sure all new homeschool bloggers have had a chance to get linked up. Be sure to use the Official HSBA hashtag for this season:  #HSBA2012 Share this post on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and anywhere else you have connections with homeschool bloggers.

*Additional Clarification on technicalities:

What if I blogged about homeschooling before, but closed the blog to start over and combined all my blogs into one? Am I still a NEW homeschool blogger?

Yes, we will accept this as a new homeschool blog. If it’s a NEW blog and has a new name, it qualifies.

What if I had my blog before October, but it was under construction and I hadn’t started blogging officially or even about homeschool yet?

Yes, your blog still qualifies. We understand the process of getting started with a new blog.

What if I was already a blogger, but began homeschooling later?

Yes, you still qualify. Many bloggers don’t get started homeschooling until later, yet it still qualifies since you’re a NEW homeschooler.



Lisa (61 Posts)


A Word From Our Sponsors

Homeschool Products from Nest Learning
***3 FREE Complete Drawing Lessons from the SEE THE LIGHT 9 DVD/36 lesson ART CLASS curriculum that is used by many homeschooling families. Recommended for ages 6 + + http://www.seethelightshine.com/free-lessons/***