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Monthly Archives: March 2013

A Book for Your Tractor Lesson

You know that great feeling when you stumble on something great completely by accident?  I have it today!  We were at the library looking for books for school, which means I’m scribbling down reference numbers and chasing children’s books from all their misplaced places, when the title of this book caught my eye.

A great book for your tractor lesson plan!

Being “Daddy’s Tractor” of course, we had to check this one out.  And we’ll probably renew it too!  Its a whimsical book with bright illustrations and a bit of nostalgia for the by-gone era of small family farms.  Grandpa takes his grandson out to the old homestead, now fallen into decay.  There they find a forgotten (red!) Farmall tractor growing up with weeds.

A great farm book for a tractor lesson plan

Please note that Farmall is a predecessor to Case IH.  And if you don’t know what Case IH is, kindly refer to the photos in the blog title.  And for all of you cheering for green and yellow, just allow me this moment.  It is hard for all of us in ag to find truly good literature, but do you know how hard it is to find books with red tractors?!

But back to the actual point…  Grandpa tells his grandson all about the work the tractor used to do on the farm when he was a boy, making this book a fantastic addition to our History of Agriculture Theme Unit.

A great book for a tractor lesson plan

The author/illustrator is not a farmer (or even remotely connected with ag in any way) and it was not written to be a scientifically, historically, or otherwise perfectly accurate portrait of farm life, but I thought Michael Garland did a nice job and avoided any of the usual mistakes of drawing all roosters instead of hens etc..   And the story of how this book came to be, featured on the last page, is probably my favorite part of all.

So now you can be as excited as I am :-).

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Categories: Homeschool, Thematic Unit | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Farmers Taking Care of the Land

It’s true.  Farmers haven’t always done the best job taking care of the land.  Generally not on purpose, but because we didn’t always know what was the best way.  But we have learned SO MUCH in the last hundred, fifty, and even five years.  Modern farmers are getting better and better at taking care of the land everyday!

Farmers taking care of the land {daddystractor.com}

Terraces have been a big part of taking care of the land on our farm.  Here in northern Missouri the hills can be quite rolling, thunderstorms can be very severe, and ditches, gullies, and streams abound!  Terraces are rows of dirt made around the shape of a hill that stop the soil from being washed away.  In the above photo you can see the terrace lines through the snow.  They are made with a bulldozer, which carefully pushed the dirt into a pattern designed just for that field. It costs a lot to build new terraces, but they should last more than 20 years, making them a good investment for our future.

Farmers taking care of the land {daddystractor.com}

When the bulldozer is gone, however, the field is sometimes left in poor shape.  The heavy equipment crushes the dirt and leaves deep tracks.  Seeds can’t grow well in the hard, uneven dirt, so something has to be done.  That’s when Daddy (and Anna!) pull out this strange contraption.  Its a field cultivator.  The arrow shaped pieces of metal in the front stir up the soil and the spikes in the back smooth it out, ready for tiny seeds!

Farmers taking care of the land {daddystractor.com}

I took these pictures, however, because this is a sight you won’t see often on our farm.  A field cultivator leaves the soil nice and smooth, but it also leaves it loose and ready to wash away in the next thunderstorm.  Once the seeds begin to grow their roots will help hold the dirt in place, preventing washouts, but for a few months this ground is vulnerable.  We only use the field cultivator when it is truly necessary and then we only use it exactly where we need it.

Farmers taking care of the land {daddystractor.com}

Here you can see the tractor driving on the top of the dirt mound with the cultivator repairing the ground on both sides.  You can also see that Daddy and Anna are driving only on the terraces, not the whole field.

Spring (should it ever bother to arrive) is a time for lots of dirt work.  Follow us here on Daddy’s Tractor to see more of what farmers are learning about taking care of the land!

Categories: Science, Technology | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Can You Spot the Differences?

There are five insignificant differences between these two photos.  Can you spot them?

anhydrous originalanhydrous changed

Little differences can be hard to spot.  In fact it is possible for someone to change something so slightly that others don’t even notice it isn’t the original.

I was thinking of that this week as I wondered how to teach my children how Satan attempts to confuse issues by making the smallest of changes.  A misused verse of scriptures.  A common phrase attributed to the Bible.  A tiny sin.

Did you find the changes?

anhydrous answers

Categories: Science | Tags: , , , , | 6 Comments

St. Patrick’s Day, A Missionary’s Story Lesson Plan

I love St. Patrick’s Day.  I’m not really sure why.  But I do know that most of the St. Patrick’s Day celebration seems to revolve around things that are… not as “G” as I’d like them to be for my family.  So I did a little hop, skip, and jump when I read Teaching the Trinity for St. Patrick’s Day from I Have No Greater Joy.  That post and a few quick searches later and this is the St. Patrick’s Day lesson plan we’re working from!

St. Patrick's Day, a missionary's story

We checked out Patrick, Ireland’s Patron Saint from the library (even before I read the Trinity lesson plan!) and it was the perfect book for introducing the kids to Patrick the missionary.  Did you know Patrick was held as a slave in Ireland, escaped home, and later returned to share the gospel?

St. Patrick, a missionary's story lesson plan

Then we made shamrocks from bits of scrapbook paper by cutting three hearts and gluing them to a craft stick.  Its not in the photo, but we also added ribbons to them to make them pretty.

St. Patrick's Day, a missionary's story lesson plan

We talked about the shamrock shape and how St. Patrick might have taught the trinity with it.  Anna didn’t understand at all, but Brett was able to follow along enough that at least he understands there is such a confusing concept, even if he can’t yet grasp it!  We sang the song “God the Father” as posted in the Trinity lesson and that was a great hit.  It was so easy for them to learn!

At the end of the Patrick book is a short section on the legends of St. Patrick.  Brett enjoyed the story about the snakes (of course) and he loved the gross motor activity we created to go with it.  I had the kids take their shamrocks outside and chase pretend snakes out of the yard.  If there had been any real ones… well, they’d be gone too ;-).

St. Patrick's Day, a missionary's story lesson plan

The kids also enjoyed this video I found on Pinterest.

I bought some dot paints from Hobby Lobby last fall, and if you haven’t tried them, they’re great.  All the fun of painting (mostly!) without the fuss and mess.  When I saw this it seemed like a great idea for the preschool kids in my Homeschool Co-Op class.

St. Patrick's Day, a missionary story lesson plan

And then I used those same leftover bits of scrapbook paper to cut out shamrocks– two of each design.  One shamrock I glued to a paper and the other I left loose.  Tomorrow I’ll have the preschoolers match the paper’s designs, then Monday I’ll make it a math lesson for Brett by writing simple addition facts on the loose shamrocks and the answers on the glued down ones.  Hmm, or maybe capital letters with a lowercase match?  Might need more scraps…

St.Patrick's day, a missionary's story lesson plan

And this has nothing to do with missionaries, trinities, or Christ in anyway, but I couldn’t resist.  Remember that whole me just liking St. Patty’s thing?  Well, I also love Lucky Charms.

There.

I just admitted it.

Online.

I love them.

When I taught kindergarten I always bought one box for my class to sort the shapes and then I ATE THE REST!

Once a year.

But I haven’t taught kindergarten in six years.  So its been a looooong time since I’ve eaten Lucky Charms.  And I couldn’t resist.  Today we sorted the shapes.

It was so educational.

And tasty.

St. Patrick's Day, a missionary's story lesson plan

And then I gave them each a missionary penny.

St. Patrick's Day, a missionary's story lesson plan

What is that?  Well, a missionary penny is one SENT.  All people are sent to spread the gospel, some in foreign countries and under heroic circumstances like Patrick, but all of us are called.  Funny enough, the penny is also considered “lucky,” but plainly states “In God We Trust.”  We discussed that it is not luck but God who gives us all good things– which was important to me in a St. Patty’s Day lesson!

If you have other ideas for making Christ a part of the St. Patrick’s Day celebration, leave them below!

Categories: Homeschool, Thematic Unit | Tags: , , , , , , | 9 Comments

What Daddy’s Tractor Does in the Winter

So I’ve been rereading my recent blog posts and I’ve noticed they are all about chickens.  In fact, you may have noticed that the tractor has been entirely missing from “Daddy’s Tractor” for some time.  Has it been sitting idle?  Is it broken down or rusting in a fence row?  What does Daddy’s Tractor do in the winter anyhow?

Actually, Daddy’s tractor has been quite busy as of late!  For the last few weeks the tractor has been acting as snow plow.  Out here in the middle of nowhere the county snow plows take several days to get to our roads.  And even after they’ve been cleared the wind often blows across the open spaces, filling in the gap between the piles of snow on both sides of the road and blocking you in even worse than before.  So out come the neighborhood tractors.  Daddy, grandpa, and many other farmers use their equipment to help out all the families who live on these back gravel roads.  Its just one of the neighborly things that still happens in the country.

Daddy's Tractor does all kinds of jobs, including plowing snow!

The tractor has also been busy improving the quality of our fields.  Earlier this winter we redid the terraces in the field behind our house.  Terraces are a must on our rolling fields; they keep water from washing away topsoil so our fields stay filled with good dirt and streams stay clear of runoff.

Daddy's Tractor, what the tractor does in the winter

The snow actually helps you see the newly built terraces; the raised lines of soil are the first places the snow melts.

And more recently the tractor and skid steer have been working to rid a farm of the fallen trees and old fence rows and adding good topsoil where its needed.  They are also using the dump truck for this job, which is a lot of fun for Daddy :-).

The tractor also has the job of taking hay to the cattle.  One of the older tractors on the farm has a bale spike (observe) on the back so it can easily lift and carry those huge hay bales out to the field.

And its hard to believe, but soon Daddy’s tractor will be hard at work getting ready for spring planting!

Categories: Science | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

A Farm Lesson Plan; Who Grew My Soup

One of the great things about winter is going to farm conferences.  A few weeks ago we attended the MO Farm Bureau Young Farmer and Rancher conference.  Daddy and I learned lots from our seminars and speakers, but Brett probably had the most fun ;-).   He was finally old enough to join the grade school kids at the children’s seminars, provided by the Promotion and Education committee, directed by Diane Olson, Barbra Wilson, and Terribeth Spargo.  They came up with this fun farm lesson plan and Brett loved it.

The activities were based on the book, Who Grew My Soup, by Tom Darbyshire.

Who Grew My Soup, a Farm Lesson plan

Its a silly story with hilarious illustrations that look like something you’d create with an app on your iPad.  Basically this kid decides he’s not eating his healthy soup until he knows what’s in it.  So, because isn’t this what happens every time you declare war on vegetables, a hot air balloon (actually tomato) swoops down and carries him off to the fields where the soup was grown.

Farm Lesson Plan, Who Grew My Soup

Next they had the kids sort plastic food by plant part.  For example, the tomatoes in the soup are the fruit of plant, but carrots are the roots and corn and peas are the seeds.  This chart can get you started if you’re stuck with that one!

Farm Lesson Plan, Parts of the Plant we use for food

The kids also got to vote on their favorite kind of soup.  This, of course, would be a great thing to graph.  If we had more people (one hurdle for homeschooling!) I wanted to make a “live” graph where everyone used an actual can of soup to represent their vote and stack them on the floor as a bar graph.  If you try it, send me a picture please :-).

They ended the seminar by making their own Who Grew My Soup Mix.

Farm Lesson Plan, make your own soup

Ingredients
1/3 cup beef bouillon granules
1/4 cup dried minced onion
1/2 cup dried split peas (green and yellow if possible)
1/2 cup lentils (red and green for variety)
1/2 rice (white or brown but NOT instant)
1 cup tri-colored spiral pasta

Directions for Mix
Layer these ingredients in the order given into a 1 quart canning jar.  Pack each layer in place before adding the next ingredient.  Attach a gift tag with the following:

Soup Recipe
1 jar Who Grew My Soup mix
1 pound ground beef, browned and drained

Remove pasta from mix and set aside.  Place the remaining soup mix in a large soup pot.  Add 12 cups of water.  Bring to a boil.  Lower heat and simmer 45 minutes.  Add pasta and ground beef and simmer an additional 15 minutes.

Thanks so much to the P&E committee for such a fun seminar.  Especially when it comes to farm lessons, Brett prefers to learn from someone other than mom :-).  I mean really, what does she know about soup?!

Categories: Science | Tags: , , , , | 16 Comments

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