When we chose to move to the country, one of my main aims was to teach the children as much as possible, through real life, hands-on experiences.
Recently we have been so incredibly busy with the renovations that I was wondering how much learning had been going on, outside of their book work? I paused today, when I realised that, without me trying to plan learning into their week (which I find hard, as I’m more of a winger than a planner), learning was constantly happening.
This week though, we sadly found blood in our chickens’ poo, that was following the loss of three of our new chickens in fairly rapid succession. Our new battery hens appeared to be a dud batch, but after a quick Google search (yes we are Google farmers), we found out the cause. It appears that our hens have coccidiosis. This is apparently normal for hens, but our weak and stressed battery hens had not become immune to it and have thus succumbed to the bacteria. Phil quickly found the right treatment, and hopefully our hens will soon be right as rain. This has been a great opportunity to learn a bit of science, whilst taking care of our lady layers.
Our piglets are doing well, but we have had to take special care of one of them. Wilbur, as he has now been named, was not thriving, after a week or so, his front right leg just wasn’t working properly, and so he couldn’t get to the milk. As the week went on he was not getting better and was rarely with the rest of the litter. We decided that if we didn’t do something, then he would die of starvation. We got him a bottle and some pig formula and very soon he was happily sucking. After a couple of days though, his mother must have sensed his change in smell, and we saw her pick him up in her mouth and throw him against the wall! We quickly picked him up, before he met with an untimely end.
We are keeping him in an old dog crate, lined with straw, with a heat lamp over him. He has milk four times a day and we also take him out a couple of times a day for a play and a cuddle. He is now thriving and his leg is healing and he’s now ready to start on some dry pig food. We’ve done some maths, by weighing him and his sibling, to compare weights, we’ve calculated his formula quantity and his mum’s dried food quantities, as she requires more food now her piglets are growing. The children are loving hand raising the piglet and are learning the responsibility of taking care of him. They have all understood that he is being raised for meat and thankfully they all seem ok with that.
We’ve also been discussing bringing in the pumpkins and the onions, to dry out in the greenhouse. This reminded me of Mr McGregor in the Peter Rabbit books, as Peter’s eyes watered when he was around the drying-out onions. I hope to extendthis activity to improve the younger children’s language skills, by reading the Beatrix Potter stories, which are full of wonderfully rich language, with words like ‘soporific’, which are sadly not found in modern children’s literature.
We are up to our eyeballs in building work, plaster dust and tradesmen’s radios blaring out from various corners of the house. Trying to keep Katie safe is a constant challenge, as she is just so curious! The main part of the build is complete, but there is still much to do. This week our kitchen will start to go in, which we are very excited about. Washing up in the utility room is quite a large extra task, and I shall be very grateful when we have running water in our kitchen and a dishwasher. We’ve really made the most of our new patio and have been able to have a few friends round for dinner and afternoon tea.
Much practical learning has also been gained, as the children are also being constantly exposed to all the skills of the tradesmen who are doing the renovations. They are often found shadowing the plumbers, joiner, electricians or builders and asking lots of great questions, often starting with why?! Thankfully all the workmen are extremely patient, and they even seem to enjoy the children’s curiosity.
Today we decided to try our hand at making Rosehip syrup, from our own Rosehips. We used honey as the sweetener, and it was generally popular. Apparently it has 20 times as much vitamin C as an orange, and should help to fight off the winter bugs.
I’m currently being reminded that seasons of life are not just dictated by the weather, but also the current situation we find ourselves in. We are currently in a very busy season but thankfully God is providing lots of natural learning opportunities, through his creation and through his gracious provision of our home, which is making it much easier to find learning opportunities around every corner.
During these busy and often tiring, but blessed days, I look out on God’s creation and remember,
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3 22-23