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Homesteading and Homeschooling: A Perfect Fit

My family not only homesteads, but we also homeschool. I got to thinking the other day how very closely related these two "homey" things are.

Homesteaders are working towards self-sufficiency. They aim for self-reliance. They've moved away from the institution and are real live do-it-yourselfers.


 So are homeschoolers. 

 simon sew

Homesteading requires the ability to seek out answers for the many questions that come up. A homesteader quickly figures out what resources are at their disposal, and what ones they need to add.

 lots of cans

Homeschoolers need to be willing to seek out answers as well. They become experts at figuring out where to find the information they want, whether it's from a book, a person, a website, or an experience along the way.


As a homesteader and a homeschooler, I've been able to show my children I don't know everything. I'm always learning, always having to re-figure something, always having to try again. I can't tell you how beneficial this has been to my children. My kids have grown up in a household seeing that their parents are still learning, everyday, and that makes it easier for my kids to admit they don't understand something or need help or need to try again. 

Homesteaders aren't quite mainstream. We do things differently than "everyone else out there". And because of that, it is important to have a community of like minded folks that you can go to for help, support, or just general understanding.

The same is true of homeschoolers. We're not mainstream, and even though our numbers are growing, we're still a very small percent of the population.


Being involved with our homeschooling community helps us because we know we're not alone in what we are doing. Sometimes just having someone who can say "Yep, been there...done that...survived..." helps a ton.

Homesteaders and homeschoolers truly live a life of learning, and have opportunities to get their hands  and feet in the dirt of real life.

 dirty feet

How many times have you done something on the homestead that you knew you couldn't have learned from a book? I've lost count on this end, both as a homesteader and a homeschooler. And I'm glad for every single one of those lessons learned. :)

To read more about Amy's farm life, go to A Farmish Kind of Life. 

To read more about Amy's homeschooling life, go to The Hmmmschooling Mom.  

Why Kids Need History

I am blessed with children who really like history, and they are happy to attend things like Pioneer Days or Threshing Shows with me.


It is important for kids to know history. It is important for kids to see history in action when they get the chance.

 It helps explain how we got to where we are today. It helps show we've made improvements...

 washing machine 

But in some ways we've really complicated things.

 gas station 

History teaches. And it is important that our kids are exposed to that.

 buggy wheel rug
 Because showing and teaching our kids history means a small bit of it stays alive. 

 The sign on this tractor says "1912 30-60 Pioneer. 1 of 12 existing." This tractor is 100 years old. Many of the people who first used this tractor are no longer alive.

Every day, we are losing people who can share bits of history with us. Who can tell us how things really were from their own memories instead of us having to read some version of it in a textbook. These are the people who can tell us how things worked, how things smelled, what happened when things went wrong.

 tractor tire 

 Get your kids involved with history. Share a bit of the past with the children in your life.

 Kids need to know history, before the resources who can really tell us about it are gone. :)

Note: All pictures taken at Albany Pioneer Days (Minnesota), September 2012

For more adventures from our farm, visit A Farmish Kind Of Life.

The Great Corn Giveaway

The first year on a farm is full of learning experiences. Our most recent had to do with corn.

 corn 1
We planted our first tiny cornfield this year, by hand, in the sweltering heat of summer. That is a story in itself (which you can read about here)...but the real excitement came when it was time to harvest.

There's nothing quite like timing on the farm. It's a hurry up and wait kind of thing. And when things are ready, they are ready. You can't wait until your calendar is free to deal with make your calendar be free in order to deal with them.

And so it was with our corn. We couldn't wait to clamp our teeth down on the first cob of the season...

Until we were buried in corn. We ate corn until our bellies were full. We froze corn until our freezers were full. And still...we had far more than we'd use.

From our "tiny" corn field.

The problem with planting a whole bunch of corn at the same time is it will ripen at the same time. Which means it's ready. All at the same time.

Silly farmers.

So what do you do with a field full of corn and time running out?

You give it away.

 corn 2

Yes, we hosted the first annual Clucky Dickens Farm Great Corn Giveaway. We got on the phone and social media and told everyone we knew "come and get it!" If they were willing to drive out to the farm, we were willing to pick and bag.

And come out, they did. We gave away nearly 100 dozen ears of corn.

So in the end, we learned that we probably don't have to plant as much corn next year. Or at least, we should do a few plantings so it isn't all ready to pick the same week.

Then again, the people who attended our Great Corn Giveaway probably thought we did just fine. :)

Why Canning Jars Break

In farm life, there is always something happening to keep you humble.

I'm not new to canning, but last week I experienced something that had never happened before. When I opened my water bath canner to remove seven jars of fabulous dill pickles...three jars were floating.

Floating jars? What does that mean?

Upon carefully removing the jars, I discovered I had a mess on my hands. For I had one...

 jar 1 


 jar 2
 and three jars....

 jar 3
whose bottoms all popped off while in the canner.

I just stared into the bowl. Broken jars, and wasted pickles. That's enough to make a farmgirl mad!

I asked around to my farmgirl friends who informed me there are many reasons that jars can break in the canner, but it is most often because a) a cooled off jar was put into a canner that was too hot, b) a hot jar was put into canning water that was too cold, or c) the jar was already cracked or weak when put into the canner.

Well, darn it. Live and learn. Farm life keeps you humble, for sure! I know they say there is no point in crying over spilled milk, but I do think shedding a tear over wasted pickles is probably acceptable. :)

The Purpose of A Horse

Recently my husband confessed he wanted a horse. 

"I've always wanted a horse," he said. 

We've been married almost 12 years, and this was certainly news to me.

"What's the point of a horse?" I asked.

I, for the record, am not a horse person. My plan was to fill our farmstead with animals who would provide us with food in return for their feed bill, not simply look pretty while standing in a pasture.

"Seriously? You want a horse?" I asked again.

Yes, he wanted a horse. And some time later, the horse arrived.

 jasper stand
Jasper is an 11 year old quarter horse/thoroughbred who now lives in our barn. Jasper eats lots of feed. And hay. And harasses my goats. He's mowed my pasture down. He won't wear his fly mask. He and I have had words. I often ask him "My goat gives milk and my chickens give eggs...what do you give?"

He very clearly says to me, "I give rides."

 jasper ride 

Well, yes Jasper. I suppose you do that.

Even though I occasionally have words for Jasper, my heart has softened a bit towards him. You see, even though I still consider myself more of a chicken/goat/pig kind of gal, I realize I've figured out what the purpose of a horse is.

jasper jay
My husband likes Jasper. And Jasper makes him happy.

And that's enough purpose for me.

Can Hens Crow?

I am not new to the chicken raising world, and I’m usually pretty good at picking out the roosters from the hens.  

Except for this year.

Meet Vicky, the hen I had pegged as my favorite from day one.


Well, Vicky crows.

What are you doing? I asked. You’re a hen. Stop crowing! 

The more I yelled, the more she crowed.

Every chicken person who came to my farm would be asked “Hey, do think this is a hen or a roo?” Every single one of them answered, “Oh definitely a hen.”

Then Vicky would crow.

Crowing hens do happen. Sometimes it’s because there isn’t a roo present. Sometimes it’s a hormonal thing. Friends who have had chickens longer than I told me of a hen they had with huge spurs who laid huge eggs. Another friend told me of a hen who only ever laid one egg in her lifetime, but crowed all day long.

I’ll chalk our crowing hen up to a strange year at the farm. Our 2012 flock seems to be all out of sorts. We started the year with a certain home-hatched chick who, when it was three weeks old, decided to "mother" a batch of chicks we’d received from a hatchery. She'd sometimes nestle down on top of them and be their good and protective mother.


See her in there? That bigger chick in the foreground?

As it turns out, that "good mother" turned out to be a rooster.

vern roo

Go figure. Cock-a-doodle-doo.

cock a doo

It just goes to show you that there is always something to learn on a farm. And that’s definitely something to crow about!

Want to read more about my farm adventures? Check out A Farmish Kind of Life. 

Painting a Big Red Barn

The lovely barn which stands on our new-to-us homestead was built in 1918.


After we moved in, we figured that any barn still standing after almost 100 years deserved one heck of a makeover. So we gave it our all.

It takes many (many!) gallons of paint to spruce up a Big Red Barn, especially if the wood is thirsty. 

red paint

A paint sprayer came in handy and worked like a charm.

And the difference was quick to see.

The trim work was slower because it had to be done by hand.

Which isn’t bad, if you aren’t afraid of heights.

We're happy to say the barn painting is done, and Big Red is looking pretty fine for a 94 year old lady!


Barn envy, anyone?