Monthly Archives: January 2013

Baby Chicks for the Farm

Odd as it may seem, this is a great time to be ordering chicks.  In fact, I ordered our new batch of baby chicks for the farm on Thursday and I’m already counting down the days until their arrival!  Last year I waited until the middle of February to place my order, which, unbeknownst to me, was rather late for putting my name on the queue.  I had to wait until the end of April for my order to arrive.  In the meantime I made multiple trips to the farm store for materials and had to walk right past their cages of adorable little chicks without buying ANY because I’d already ordered mine.  So this year I was at the front of the line with my order!

Baby chicks for the farm

These are the adorable fluff balls that will be arriving at my home in February.  I order from Cackle Hatchery because they are in Missouri so the poor things don’t have to travel far and get to me in 24 hours.  They have a good reputation, more than 100 kinds of chicks to choose from, and friendly service but there are dozens of online stores.

Last year I tried five different varieties of chicken.  Because you can spend hours on the Internet playing researching different breeds I looked and looked for birds that would be good pets, be fine in Missouri’s winters and summers, and lay interesting eggs.   I have three Welsummer hens who are supposed to lay chocolate brown eggs, but in actually lay something closer to caramel.  They are still my favorites because they are so pretty!  There are three Light Brahmas, who are also favorites with me because of their personalities.  They are the first out of the coop in the morning, the first to explore farthest in the yard, the first to come running when I throw out a treat, and the hardest to get into the coop at night!  Then there are the three Barred Plymouth Rocks.  These girls are just typically chicken except for one with a funny floppy comb.  Since she’s so easy to ID I call her “Bertie.”  Last there are the four Buff Orpingtons.  I really love how pretty and fluffy these hens are, and they seem to be my best layers too.

Baby chicks for the farmI’d like to say this year’s selection were based on last year’s experience, but no.  They are mostly just more birds that I want.  I’m getting Silver Laced Wyandottes, because they are pretty.  We are adding Rhoad Island Reds, because Brett says we need a red chicken.  We’ve ordered Easter Eggers since none of last year’s survived and we want blue-green tinted eggs.  And then we’re trying Cinammon Queens because they were advertised as good winter layers.  So there you go, one breed chosen from experience.  I also wanted Bantam Silkies because they look so darn cute.  That’s the one in the photo above.  See?  Cute.

And if you’ve been thinking about adding chicks to the chaos at your house, stick around.  I’ll be breaking down the time and effort it took me to get started with my hens in next week’s post!

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A Monday Morning on the Farm

Farm Life

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Amazing Time Managment Tool!

Is your “To Do” list overwhelming?  Mine often is!  Some days are just jam packed or special events crowd their way into my schedule.  Those are the days I am so grateful I stumbled on this amazing time management tool!

Great idea for managing your time!


If you are the kind of person who likes printable, well, here ya go!, but one of the things I love best about this approach to time management is that it doesn’t take a lot of time!  In fact, where ever I am in my day I can stop and quickly organize everything I have left to do at any point and with only a few minutes.  All you need is to list the hours (in whatever increments you like– half hour, 15 min)  in reverse order down the side of a sheet of paper.  I do, however, keep a supply of these in THE BINDER, just ’cause I like ’em ;-).

Amazing time managment tool!

Then fill in any place to you have to be, such as soccer practice at 5:30.  When do you need to leave?  5:00?  5:15?  Write that down too.  Figure out what MUST be done for you to walk out the door on time.  Wash a jersey?  How long will that take?  Schedule that in with enough time to accomplish the task.  Do you want dinner in the crock pot by noon or will you make sandwiches at 4:30?  I use the boxes on the edge to make notes of all the things I MUST get done versus things I want to do.  Then I pencil them into my day by priority.

The sample at the top is from the week before my daughter’s third birthday party.  I don’t schedule everyday like this, but that week I made one for each day at the beginning of the week, making sure I made time for everything from cleaning each room to baking to decorating.  Boy was I glad I used this tool because otherwise I would never have left myself enough time to run to town for supplies or finish her scrapbook so it could be on display at the big event!  When I laid all the work out it was easy to see I wouldn’t have time to make the cookie pops I was on the fence about.

One more word of hard-learned advise, be realistic.  If it usually takes you 30 minutes to clean the bathroom don’t schedule for 20.  And make sure you leave room for the basics.  Making lunch.  Eating lunch.  That kind of thing :-).  Otherwise, enjoy your new, amazing time management tool!

Categories: Family, Homeschool | Tags: , | 2 Comments

How to Teach using Thematic Units OR How to Teach a Strong Willed Child!

Yes, we farm around here, but we alsoHow to Teach Using Thematic Units homeschool.  And since I’ve had a few requests to explain how I teach using thematic units, I’m going to continue the current Organizational theme and show you.  First, THE BINDER!

I bought this when school supplies were on sale and I love it.  In fact, I want more 🙂

I have 5 tabs inside, each labeling an important aspect of my daily life.  My first tab is “Calendar.”  This, of course, lists birthdays, appointments, monthly goals, etc., but I also write the theme for the week on each Monday, which helps me see when we should be learning about spring or Dr. Seuss’s birthday.  The key (for me) here is the more stuff is one place, the more I use THE BINDER, so add a babysitter phone number list, shopping list, whatever *you* need.

My next tab is “Brett” for organizing his homeschool curriculum, and this is where the thematic unit magic happens :-).  I made these cute pages with Photoshop elements and a digital scrapbook kit.  You can use mine or create your own using any simple word processing program.

Using Thematic Units printable copySchool Schedule 2

Using Thematic Units printable Using Thematic Units printable 2

As you can see, I list all the areas I want to cover. So after I choose the theme I just work on filling in the boxes with activities.  Pinterest is a great resource– I have a Kindergarten theme board and I follow several others who do as well.  I use a lot and just make the activities harder when necessary.  I Google themes, I check out library books, I use the same standard ideas and change them just a little to go with the theme.  For example, each week we journal something we learned about ______ (construction, ag history, pumpkins etc.) We often make a graph, use playdough to create something theme-related, do an image search to look at pictures, write a story, sort materials, diagram and label,  design an object using our collection of toilet paper rolls, boxes, craft sticks, pipe cleaners and whatever.  These kinds of activities save me a lot of time but still encourage learning through themes.

And here is the great part.  I subtitled my post How to Teach a Strong Willed Child because once these activities are filled in and I have completed the “to do” box I can let Brett make his own decisions about what we learn!  A little bit of control goes a long way with the child who must always be right and he’s still doing all the school work I want for him to accomplish in week, so what does it matter if he wants to graph first or read library books first?!  Plus I can choose topics he loves, which helps even more!

Yes, thematic teaching can be more work than teaching from a curriculum, but it is worth it!  Everyone learns better when they have the proper files and folders in their brain to categorize information.  Teaching with thematic units is a natural way to learn!

And if time management is a problem for you check back next Monday.  I’ll post my last in this organizational series about my favorite time management tool!

Categories: Family, Homeschool, Thematic Unit | Tags: , | 4 Comments

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