Catching up

The best way to start a new endeavor is probably NOT just to write a few posts and then let it sit for a few months and not touch it.

But that is what happened over here, as we were busy finishing up our school year, and exploring our new yard in the spring, while I’ve had some knitting orders and a few commissioned pieces of artwork. I’ve opened this page a number of times in an effort to post something new about what’s happening around here, but I haven’t quite gotten the words out.

So this post will catch up on what’s happening around our homestead. (Can I call it a homestead yet? At what point in the homesteading process is that allowed? I’m just going to go with it here, since that’s what we’re aiming for.)

First of all, homeschooling.

We’re officially done for this school year. Our first year is under our belts, and here’s what they think about that.

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You can’t see me, but I’m behind the camera doing the exact same thing.

I’m not sure what I’d call our homeschooling style. I know I had trouble relaxing into it and allowing the boys to follow their interests and find the approach that worked for them. Their learning styles and approach to schoolwork are completely opposite. I sort of wanted to take this year to feel them out and figure out what worked for them, and for me, as I’m also trying to care for a toddler and a preschooler. I suppose we ultimately ended up with a relaxed style, focusing mainly on reading and math.

I made the mistake of ordering a California Achievement Test from 1970 as our end-of-the-year assessment and had both of my boys upset as they were presented with questions about material that was unfamiliar to them in a format that was equally foreign. Rookie mistake. Since my boys are not very fond of writing, I figured that might be an easier way to assess them than attempting to pull together a portfolio, but I think I’ll be looking for a different approach for next year.  I’d love to hear what has worked for you if you have children who don’t like writing.

In the month of May, we read Farmer Boy together, and they loved it so much that we went on to read Little House in the Big Woods. They loved the stories of both families and how they worked so hard providing for themselves. Since it’s sort of the goal weFullSizeRender are aiming for here on our burgeoning homestead, I really liked them, too. It made them see things like learning to bake bread, raise chickens, and plant a garden in a new light. It made them appreciate how much work is involved, but also how much reward. It appealed to them in ways that I never imagined it would, and I couldn’t be happier about it. We used the books as a stepping stone for things like making our own butter, learning to sew, and making clove apples. We talked about the simplicity of gifts the families gave and received for birthdays and Christmas, and they had a new understanding of what really makes those days special. We are revamping our approach to household chores for the summer, as we read about all that the children in the books were responsible for and they realized how much less they do around the house. It led to some wonderful discussions.

As the weather has gotten warmer and spring finally decided to make an appearance in New England, we have been outside a lot, exploring our new yard and discovering what things live around us.

We found that we have oodles of wild raspberries growing at the edge of the woods, as well as wild lupines, which I’ve never seen before.

We have seen lots of wildlife in the yard, including frogs, toads, a turtle, interesting insects, and even a black bear!

We have been enjoying the beautiful lake that is just down the road from us and perfect for swimming, fishing, or just looking at while listening to the loons.

We planted our first vegetable garden and have been checking it daily to see what new seeds have sprouted and what plants have grown. Our San Marzano tomato plants have their first green fruits forming, and it was such an exciting discovery. (It actually works!)

And finally, we’ve been loving our chickens (and one we suspect may actually be a rooster). How they’ve grown! They’re not laying eggs yet, but they are quite friendly and we are having so much fun watching them. We let them free range in the yard during the day and there is not a day that goes by that my children don’t say, “I love having chickens.” I feel the same way. They’re so fun.

I’ve also found some fun new patterns for knitting, have been reading some wonderful books, created an Etsy shop to sell some of my knitting and artwork, and have been working on some commissioned art pieces. But I’ll save those things for future posts as this one is getting long.

That’s what’s going on around our home(stead). I hope you’re enjoying the transition to summer where you are.

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