Posts Tagged ‘4H’

2015 Kids – Part 2


Our second of five pregnant does gave birth yesterday.  A traditional red-headed doeling followed by a similar buckling.  This is a bit unusual as more often than not, bucklings are born first.  Both were very-good sized, much bigger at birth than Jessie’s three surviving quadruplets.

IMG_8194Ruby is our “loudmouth” doe, and the doeling takes after her.  The human kids have decided to name her “Tweet,” after the T-37B trainer aircraft known as one of the loudest in the Air Force inventory (it was also known as the “6,000 dog whistle” and the “Converter” because it was the most efficient machine ever made for converting fuel into noise).

Tweet’s brother has been named “Hercules,” after the C-130.  Herc is a big boy, and once he dried off weighed 11 pounds and 12 ounces, more than a pound heavier than Tweet, who was on the heavy side for a doeling (10 lbs 6 ounces).

We still have three girls left to kid, and the barn is getting full and loud!

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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!

Unsung Heroes


We’ve lived all over the United States and a bit of time outside the country as well, and we’ve met a lot of great people from all walks of life in the process.  However, one group of wonderful folks we really didn’t get to know before we moved out to our farm.  Boy, have we been missing out!

These folks have been Godsends to us as we’ve muddled through small-scale farming, visiting us, training us, giving us advice, and even helping us teach our kids about agriculture.

Who are these amazing unsung heroes?  They’re the folks at the Merrimack County Cooperative Extension Office, the local branch of the statewide University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension!

How they get to all the things they do, I’m really not sure.  As we approach the first year on our little farm:

  1. A forester has walked our woods with us to help us with our forest management plan.
  2. A poultry inspector has tested our flock as part of the NPIP.
  3. The office has tested our soils and made recommendations for improvement.
  4. We’ve received advice on garden management and care.
  5. We participated in a seminar on goat care (and are starting another 5-week series)
  6. In the next few months, we are attending clinics on fruit tree pruning, gardening, forages and pasture management, and more.
  7. We’ve pored over the volumes of information available on their website, and used some of their curriculum to supplement our homeschool program.
  8. All of our kids are immersed in 4-H activities ranging from animal sciences to riding to crafts.

I’m pretty sure there are things I’m leaving out.  The bottom line is: EVERY one of these activities is supported to some extent (or entirely) by the county extension office, for a minimal fee if not free.  This is all made possible by the superb staff as well as a huge network of volunteers they coordinate.  We have been overwhelmed by how active and involved these people are and are indebted to them for their help.

Here is a video they produced to tell a bit more of what they do:

We have a long way to go at the Flying T, but we’d be much further behind without their support.  So, we’re taking this time to say THANK YOU to Deb, Nancy, Dot, Tim, Mary, Amy, and all the rest of the unsung heroes at the extension office that do so much with so little!

How about you?  Do you have an active and involved extension office, and how do you rely on them?