Archive for the ‘Homeschool’ Category

A Different Kind of Doula


When we’re not tending the farm or homeschooling the kids, we’ve got “real world” jobs.  My (Martha’s) passion is being a childbirth educator and a doula – Greek for “servant” – a woman who comes alongside families before, during, and after childbirth.  You can read more about what I do on my webpage for my business, “A Joyful Birth.”

So today, I was a different kind of doula. I was much more involved with the wet, cuddly newborn side of birth than I usually am as we welcomed baby goats on our farm. We are relatively new to farming, but I was struck by how many similarities there are in birth among mammals.

Momma Goat with Babies

These mamas craved safety and peace as all mothers in labor do. One of the mamas appreciated my quiet presence, reaching out to nuzzle me — and then after the babies were born, she gently butted me and told me to get out. Each mama “counted fingers and toes” on her baby, licking them dry from head to toe. They also encouraged their babies to nurse when they were ready, patiently giving them time to transition from womb to world. And, like I often see with human babies, they were ready to nurse at about the one hour mark after birth. Goats have a special vocalization that they only make to their new babies. Amazing how wondrous birth is!

I am blessed to have seen birth in its completely natural state (well, except five quiet family members watching) and will ponder the lessons from today to see how I can bring that to my human doula work too.

New Goat Babies!


This is just a quick post (you can check out our Facebook page for more photos) to announce that in the middle of this huge snowstorm, we took a break from other subjects for a biology lesson. We now have four brand new baby Boer Goats – 3 bucklings and a doeling.

We’re busy making sure they are all settled for a cold night, and will post more later!

Blessings to all,

The Flying T

Trail Walk in the Snow


The snow doesn’t slow down the kids or the horses too much.  This is in the middle of our snowstorm today – probably 6-8″ at the time of the walk, and now we’re approaching one foot.  Now it’s time to go sledding!

 

Into the Fire


We don’t have cable, dish, or satellite.  The previous owner left a huge arial in the attic, but we haven’t connected it to anything.

But on cold snowy nights like tonight, we still have multimedia entertainment, complete with picture, sound, and warmth.  To change the channel, we simply add another log.

IMG_4391(Photo taken by our middle daughter)

Prize Rooster


In our last post, we mentioned that David’s barred rock roo won “Best Standard Cock” in show in the open class.  Here is a pic of the proud chickenman and his bird!

David has these words of wisdom about showing well at the fair:

“You need to clean him well and wash his feet with a toothbrush with a little soap to get the dirt out.  Clean feet are important.  The judge may pick up the bird and look at his feet.  When you wash them, you have three containers.  One is soapy water, and you dunk him three times and get soap on his back.  In container two, you put water in it and dunk him three times.  The next one has vinegar in the water, and you put him in that and it makes his feathers all shiny and ready for the show.  Then you gently gently wrap him with a dog towel like he’s in a sleeping bag.  Then you dry him off.  Then take a little petroleum jelly to rub his wattles and comb and shanks on the day before the show to make them shiny so the judges are impressed.”

Mom’s disclaimer:  Be careful when you dunk the chicken not to immerse their heads – they can easily drown.

State Fair Time


Many kids had their first week of school last week, as did ours.  However, as homeschoolers, we can be a bit creative in how we spend those days.  Last week, from Tuesday through Labor Day, the kids hit science hard… animal science.  They did this through their participation in the Hopkinton State Fair in Contoocook, NH.  This was the capstone event after a year of hard work with animals, crafts, and other 4H and farm endeavors.  All that effort really paid off!

Our 8yo son’s big project this year has been his chickens.  If you’ve read our blogs, you know that he runs the egg business on the farm.  Since he is too young this year to show animal projects with 4H, he entered his barred rock rooster in the open class… and won best in show!  We’ll add pictures later of him holding his rooster and ribbon, but here are a few we’ve already downloaded.

Sister helping to get the rooster washed for the fair.

First Place!

His sisters also won blue ribbons for their duck pairs, with Hana winning “Best pair of ducks” overall.

Friday was the horse show, and Holly was blessed to have her coach, Janine, from Gelinas Farms volunteer to spend the day with her.  Janine’s biggest challenge was not helping with getting Zip ready (4H rules state that the kid does all the work), but she really helped out with last-minute coaching tips.

All that coaching made a difference, and Holly ended up winning Grand Champion for her class!

Saturday was the 4H goat show, and the girls really enjoyed doing that for the first time – they earned blue ribbons in several events, with Holly and Ruby edging out Hana and Samy at the end.

Sunday and Monday topped off the long weekend, with pack and obstacle courses, knowledge tests and a quiz bowl, volunteering at the 4H exhibits and food stands, and lots of feeding, cleaning, and talking to the public.  The kids had earned enough ribbons to fill their walls (and enough premiums to treat themselves and their animals to some new gear).  By the time we pulled out of the fair Monday evening, we were all ready for a rest!

Collapsible Goat Milking & Grooming Stand


Earlier this year, we found a great deal on Craigslist for an old metal double milking stand that has worked great.  Both of our girls can work simultaneously on their goats, whether clipping hooves, trimming hair, washing, or whatever.  However, with the county fair coming up, we realized that the stand (which is about 10′ long and probably a good 100lbs+) wouldn’t work for that.  We needed a stand that could handle a 200+lb Boer yet still fold up small enough to fit in the truck when our goat transport box was in the bed.

We found a good number of options.  There are some great portable folding milking stands available, and their prices reflect their quality.  The ones that fit in our budget didn’t look like they’d handle one of our goats for too long, and the ones that could stand up to heavy use were well outside our budget.

But I’ve got OK handyman skills, and woodworking and welding tools out in the garage, so I started to comb the net for plans.  I had to cut the metal ones out of the picture pretty quickly because of how expensive steel is right now.  The wooden plans I found weren’t quite what we were looking for.  I did find an interesting plan made from PVC, but though that might work well for a smaller milking breed, I think one of our does would make short work of it.  With the fair fast approaching, I still didn’t have an option.

That’s what graph paper, rulers, and pencils are for.  So, after a literal trip back to the drawing board, and another to Home Depot, we were ready to start.

We used plain-jane 2x4s and plywood for construction (with the exception of the legs, which I cut from pressure-treated lumber).  Total cost for supplies was about $45, including a pound of screws and two long bolts used as the pivot and adjustment pins for the stock.  Here’s the result, with Gracie locked in.

And here are the girls taking a break to pose while putting the stand to work as they trim Gracie’s hooves.

Because I tend to overdesign things (the kids were joking that if the hurricane in Florida moves North, they’ll use it as a shelter), it’s probably a bit heavier than it needed to be.  In fact, as I realized how stout it was, I actually took a few of my planned structural reinforcement pieces out of the plan.  The magic of the stand, however, is that it disassembles to pack flat – into a space about 3′ x 4′ x 10″ by sliding the legs and stock assembly out of the base.

The four legs slide out also.

The kids are in the process of painting and decorating, so this is how it looks right now.  I’ve still got a few tweaks to do (the stock is a bit too narrow and I plan to add a feed tray and some equipment hooks) but it’s ready for the fair.  It took most of a day to get the project from concept to paper to assembly, and we’re pretty happy with the payoff for the effort!