Sunday, May 19, 2013
We have entered our second week of our Poultry Project. Already our little chicks have grown considerably. They are fast getting their adult feathers, which has caused us to have to make some adjustments in keeping them safe and healthy.
We have had some beautiful warm days here with temperatures in the mid to upper eighties. Warm enough for our little chicks to spend some time outdoors in the sunshine. We put together this temporary pen for them made from four panels of wire and wood that we found in a pile of junk behind our tool shed. I don't know what the former owners used them for, but they work great for our purposes. Since it is open at the top, we cannot leave our little chicks outdoors unattended. We have a number of birds of prey in the area, and our little girls would make a tasty lunch.
In the off hours, our little chicks are indoors. They have already outgrown the little plastic box we had them in for the first week. They were beginning to peck at each other, and definitely needed more space. I did some research on the net, and came up with the baby pool solution. It has worked great. The birds are still not airborne, so covering it doesn't seem to be a problem yet. We added a layer of fine pine bedding, and they seem to be enjoying their new space. We also have been able to raise the heat lamp a bit. They will be weaned off the lamp by the time they are outdoors permanently.
Cute and curious. You can see their adult plumage coming in on their wings, tail and around the neck. They will be all white with black and white feathers on their wings, tail and neck when they are mature.
They seem to be pretty healthy, although a few of them had trouble with their back sides getting clogged up. They technical term escapes me, but I basically had to soak their little butts in warm water and remove the poo that was stuck on with a tooth pick. If their vents get clogged, it can be fatal. Not fun, but they seem to be doing well since then. I am the Poo Master!
Our chicken tractor is nearing completion. The girls will love their new space out doors. I am anxious to see how they will change in the next week. They are so much fun to watch! Our boys think they are a hoot. Any Chicken Run movie fans out there? It's all true, they really do behave like that. Who knew?
Tune in for Week 3!
I bet you are wondering what happened to me this week. I have spent nearly my entire week outside, in the garden. Everything is blooming and we have had the most wonderful weather.
I picked the first of our rhubarb crop yesterday. We love rhubarb, there are so many delicious things you can make with it. Here's my simple recipe for Strawberry Rhubarb Crunch:
One pound of fresh strawberries, sliced
6 cups fresh rhubarb, cut into 1" pieces
1/2 cup Pearl Tapioca
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup all purpose flour
2/3 cup raw old fashioned oatmeal
Slice strawberries and chop rhubarb.
Add them to the bottom of a 9 x 13" pan. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup tapioca. Drizzle with the honey.
Combine remaining ingredients with a fork. Cubing the butter makes it go faster. Work the dough until they are well combined and the butter is the size of peas.
Spread the topping over the rhubarb mixture. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes until golden brown and the rhubarb is softened.
This is one of those recipes that our entire family loves, thus I do not have a picture of the finished product to show you. One of these days I will stay ahead of my children in the kitchen. It's safe to say that when there isn't anything left to photo, it's a s a sure sign of a favorite food!
Thursday, May 16, 2013
When and if to teach music to your children are rather loaded questions. There is a wide range of opinions, many believe that early music training is important to education. I disagree. I definitely believe music is important, but later is better in this area.
I am a classically trained musician. I began my violin studies at age 9, as was the custom at the time. I also played piano and bluegrass guitar. Many of those who began studying with me in my 4th grade violin class did not continue through high school for one reason or another, and even fewer persued music in college. After years of regular practices and gradual advanced training, I felt I was reasonably well prepared for music in high school. There was a young man in our orchestra who walked in the orchestra room door for the very first time his Sophmore year and wanted to learn to play the string bass. I was sure he would never be able to cut it, but to my utter shock, he was able to play just as well as I could after only 2 weeks of study.
He could play just as well as I could. My eight plus years of study were in every way equal to his 2 weeks of study.
How could that be? It's not that the two instruments are that different. They are not. It's not as if he was an incredibly gifted student, he was not. Waiting until a child is older can make all the difference in the world for a child's ability to learn and be successful.
Years of struggle, or instant success. What would you choose for your child?
There is a wonderful book called Better Late Than Early by the Raymond and Dorothy Moore. It is a classic home school book. The authors tell story after story of how children of average intelligence seem gifted when you wait until after age 12 to begin teaching them certain subjects. Music is one of those subjects. The other subjects include things like math and reading. This concept will completely change the way you think of home schooling.
Two of our sons have struggled with dyslexia throughout our home schooling career. We also have two rather gifted children at our house. In every instance, waiting longer to teach them has been invaluable. Music is no exception. However, in my early home schooling years, I wasn't aware of this concept and our oldest son was put to learning music starting at age 8. He was a good musician, and by the time he was in eighth grade he was very successful. He was also rather burned out, and did not continue with music in high school. What a waste of time, money and talent. So, what went wrong? Why hasn't music become a life long passion?
Statitstics show that children who are forced to learn music early, tend to burn out in their teen years. I see so many kids being pressured to learn far to early. Suzuki is by far the most popular method, but there are others. Very few of these students end up with a life long passion for music.
Here's why: It takes a young child nearly a year to learn the simple basics like how to hold the instrument and the bow. The children are taught to play by memorizing a tune. Since most children do not read at this early age, they don't learn to read notes until later either when reading skills are introduced. Because the children are so physically immature when they start in these programs, they need to change the sizes of instruments every few years until they are fully grown. This results in re-learning to hold it, play it, etc.
In comparison, a child who is more mature and begins to learn to play when they are in middle school or high school has far fewer of these problems. Especially for a child who is in high school, learning to hold the same instrument would only take a few minutes. They are physically more mature, and would start and continue to learn on the same size instrument. Reading skills are well established and rapid note reading is a breeze.
In classical education, the grammar stage children ages 1-11, is when young children have the greatest ability to memorize things. Suzuki picked up on this, therefore they have the children memorize all their tunes. This memorizing does not come with any true understanding of the music at this age. Concepts like dynamics, phrasing and style are beyond the young learner at this early stage of development.
In the next stage of learning, the Logic stage which begins around age 11, in which children have the ability to turn memorized data into more intellectual understanding. They begin to develope the ability to analyize (break apart) and synthesize ( put together ) more complex information. Here learning music becomes easier. Parts of a symphony broken down, understood and put together.
Eventually, in the Rhetoric stage, ages 12 and up, the entire piece of music can be learned and fully understood. Abstract phrasing, full symphonic dynamics, style and timing are recognized at this level.
Isn't it easier to start learning here, in the Logic stage rather than in the Grammar stage when constant repetition is the only way of learning?
So why don't we teach our children this way in stead of caving into the pressure for early learning?
The system is at fault. They do not base their facts core curriculum on facts, but rather what the parents believe is best for their children. These are false assumptions, as home schoolers we are able to make our own choices based on scientific research.
Research has indeed proven how beneficial music is to the developing mind. The Mozart Effect as it is called, proves classical music is beneficial. Just look at this impressive list of benefits:
Improves test scores
Reduces learning time
Calms hyperactivity in both children and adults
Reduces errors in school work
Improves creativity and mental clarity
Helps the body heal faster
Integrates both sides of the brain for faster learning
Raises IQ scores an average of 9 points (per research University of CA, Urving)
Musical ability is stored in the right side of the brain. Music is relaxing, and allows the brain to work more efficiently. I have played in a number of excellent symphonies over the years. Some of the people in the symphonies were music teachers, or music professors. By far, the majority of the players were highly educated professionals who had a life-time love of music. They were doctors, lawyers, and CEOs. I do not believe this is a random coincidence. Music education helps the brain work more efficiently.
We have found the same is true in our home schooling. Music seems helps us do math. It helps us memorize our vocabulary words and relaxes us to listen to longer stories. It is especially important for our dyslexic children. Where one subject is a dyslexic weakness, music seems to be one of our more gifted areas. Sometimes there is even a massive educational learning ability gap between the two subjects. God surely has a sense of humor in this way. Our sons struggle to read and spell simple words, but can learn music quickly and it is not a learning problem for them. Thus, we have learned to focus on our strengths instead of fixating on our weaknesses.
How can you encourage your child to have a life long love of music?
All of our children spent time listening to classical music at an early age. Like in the womb. Seriously, this is where it starts. Use that Grammar stage to listen to all sorts of classical music. Learn the composers, names, dates of birth and important works. Also learn the instruments, their names, and their roll in the orchestra or band. Spend your free time listening to other classical works operas and ballets. We also enjoyed learning about the jazz era and the introduction of the jazz band.
When your child is ready for the Logic and Rhetoric stages you may consider exposing them to playing an instrument. Exposing and forcing to play are two different things. Just because you think junior should play the fiddle, doesn't mean he is ready to. It also doesn't mean he wants to give up all his free time to commit to it. Have your child use his earnings to pay for lessons and instrument rentals. You will find out how interested he really is very quickly. Don't worry if he is not ready to commit until high school. Many of the music professionals that I have known did not even begin to sing or play an instrument until age 14 or older.
If your child is truly interested in music, make sure he has a mentor in his life to encourage him. Musical artists feed on each other's passion for what they do. Support him in his passion.
Finally, what is your goal for teaching music to your child? I think most of us would agree that teaching a life long love of music is far preferable to a short learning flash in the pan.
Linking up over at Living and Learning at Home on Trivium Tuesday!
Monday, May 13, 2013
Mondays sneak up on me. I find that after cramming in sports events, shopping, church, volunteer activities, projects, visits with friends and family, that the weekend is over before I even know it's started. I also find that I am exhausted come Monday mornings because of it. Perhaps you have that problem as well.
Monday Give Aways always make me happy and get me on the right track for the week! Here we go..
This week's winner is Dianne!
Is your book shelf full yet? No? Keep on entering!
My shelf is getting emptier. I may eventually run out of books to give away. Then what will we do? No worries! I am sure I will find something!
This week I am giving away the following novels:
Classic stories your entire family will love. Great reads for the summer months!
Pearls of Lutra
From the Redwall Series by Brian Jacques
Our kids really enjoyed these books. To be honest, I haven't had time to read them, they are on my bucket list for sure! These are part of the eleven novel Redwall series, but I do not know the exact order, but I do not believe you have to read them in order. If you prefer to do it that way, I am sure the local library would have more titles available.
I am changing my rules this week, rules were ment to be broken right?
Follow me on Hometalk today and help send me to Lucketts Antique Market in beautiful Virginia!
Check out my Hometalk Link in the side bar, then leave me a comment telling me your are a follower. Have a great day!
I have been going through my old blog photos today. Among them, I found one of my favorite projects, The Planted Suitcase.
I had this suitcase given to me by my former boss.
It was all melted inside from being displayed in the store window. This made it a perfect candidate for planting.
A few holes for drainage,
a few colorful annuals,
made a great display on our deck for the summer.
At the end of the summer, I brought the suitcase in, added some antique table legs and re-purposed it as a table in my son's bedroom. You can read more about the Teen Bedroom here.
I am sharing this post over on Hometalk. If you are not following me yet over on Hometalk, you really need to do that. It's free, and there are so many great things you can learn!
Hometalk is a place for ideas. Anything and everything related to your home. Such as gardening, home improvement, and decorating. Got a question on a project? Get it answered for free on Hometalk! You can also post your own projects and tell people how you did it. Inspiring others is very rewarding!
I have been incredibly inspired by people's ideas on this site, it's been so much fun! I have been sharing my gardening projects with a great response! Thank you Hometalk! Here's a sample of my home page:
There are lots of pictures, and easy tutorial directions for all your home projects! You can create your own idea boards with a click of a button, clip and save ideas to your own board, or share ideas on Facebook and other social media sites. Best of all, you can ask the author questions and get answers on how the project was done. I have many projects selected on my idea boards that I can't wait to try!
Hope to see you over on Hometalk!
Saturday, May 11, 2013
Hi all, back in the kitchen after a whirl-wind week. How come the end of the school year is so complicated? There are all these banquets, award ceremonies, campouts and concerts. Even our home schoolers are not immune to the activity. My kids are beginning to wrap up their studies, and we hope to have more time for fun projects and trips to the park!
It's been a bit warmer, and our menus are changing to more of a summer-time fare. We love salmon at our house and this is one of our favorite recipes. I know what you are thinking, but I don't like horseradish! Neither do I, but I love it in this recipe!
I buy my salmon whole to feed our family of 6. I always look for wild caught fish, it is supposed to be healthier, and honestly, I think it tastes better. For this dish you will also need white wine, lemon juice, horseradish, tartar sauce, chopped onion and whole pepper corns. This recipe is inspired by the one on the back of the package. Defrost the fish in a pan of cold water until thawed before marinating.
Chop the onion.
In a medium size bowl, combine 1/4 cup lemon juice, 1/4 cup white wine, 1 tablespoon pepper corns, 1/2 cup chopped onion.
Marinade the fish with wine mixture for 1 hour. Then bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.
Remove from oven. Strain the solids from the liquid, reserve.
Combine the liquid with 2 tablespoons tartar sauce and 1 tablespoon horse radish.
Whisk over medium heat for 3-5 minutes. You may add 1 tablespoon flour to thicken the sauce if needed.
Then pour the sauce over the fish adding the pepper corns and onions. We love our salmon served with fresh asparagus and brown rice on the side.
Salmon is such a healthy meal, you can't miss with this one! Pass the lemons please!
Don't forget to register for this week's book Give Away on Anything Goes on Monday, I am giving away some great science books this week!
Thursday, May 9, 2013
Look who's here! Our feathery little friends have arrived! We are entering the world of Backyard Chickens as part of our home schooling. The best part is, I am learning too! I love anything cute and fuzzy, these little darlings definitely qualify. No critters with scales at our house, no way!
We ordered our little chicks through our local farm supply store called Farm and Fleet. We were fortunate not to have to pay extra for shipping for our live animals. With the bulk store orders, our costs were slightly less than if we ordered them from the hatchery ourselves. The store required a minimum order of 5 birds, which was fine since our township only allows 6 per household.
The breed we choose is the Delaware chicken. Delaware chickens are an old fashioned breed, they are beautiful white birds with black and white feathers on their wings, neck and tail. They are supposed to be supreme egg layers, even without a rooster. We shall see!
It cracks me up how they fall asleep on their feet. They close their eyes and sway back and forth as if they are going to tip over. They are babies after all, and babies nap frequently! It reminds me of our son James who fell asleep sitting at the dinner table when he was a baby. He went face down in his plate of spaghetti. Lights out!
For night time sleeping, we have discovered they like to huddle together and lay down in the bottom of their box with their eyes closed. I came in late last night to check on them, to my horror all of them were laying down in the bottom of the box. Naturally, I assumed we had killed them by frying them with a too hot light bulb so I screamed. The poor little darlings opened their eyes and ran around the cage in circles, shaking with fright. Needless to say, I now tip toe into my laundry room so I won't scare them all to death before they even make it outdoors. Apparently, they have very good hearing. Who knew?
For the time being, our birds are indoors until they get more of their mature feathers and can fend for them selves outside. From what I have read, it can take up to 4 weeks.
This little one is curious about my camera. Too funny! You should hear them chirp, they really do sound like they are talking to you!
We have them temporarily in a plastic box with a heat lamp on them registering 98-100 degrees. The first day they needed warm water with one table spoon of sugar per quart to get them to drink. With a bit of encouragement dunking their beaks into the water, they are able to drink. The food is scattered on the floor of the box so it's easy for them to find.
By the second day, the birds are able to eat and drink on their own. The bottom of their box is lined with paper towels and is cleaned daily until they get a bit older, then we can switch to a different bedding.
So far, it's been a fairly inexpensive project, the birds came from Cackle Hatchery in Missouri. The birds cost us less than $20.00. You can get them mail order, but with postage your costs may be slightly higher. The feeding equipment and food ran about $30.00. The main expense was the wood for our coop or tractor, which was around $200.00.
We are currently working on building our chicken tractor. I will post more on this later, but I can tell you we got our coop plans on Ebay. They are from Catawaba Coops which is the home school family that designed our mobile chicken tractor. They have a great website with lots of information on how to get approval for your Backyard chickens from the city where you live, as well as how to deal with disapproving neighbors, how to care for your birds and even how to raise bees. It's great to be able to support another home schooling family in their home based business!
Interestingly enough, we did not have to purchase a permit from the city to have the chickens because our coop is mobile. Permits are only required for permanent structures in our area. How easy is that?
Interestingly enough, we did not have to purchase a permit from the city to have the chickens because our coop is mobile. Permits are only required for permanent structures in our area. How easy is that?
If you are on not following me yet on Pintrest, I have a Pintrest page on Backyard Chickens. There are lots of chicken owners out there, and my oh my are they creative! Tons of tips and great ideas for keeping chickens. Check out my board here.
This is a real adventure for us, we have never had chickens before, but even my high school boys find it fun. I know they will love eating the fresh eggs we will have! I am also looking forward to learning how beneficial the birds are to our organic garden. More to come!
I am sharing on Trivium Tuesdays over at Living and Learning at Home today.