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Monthly Archives: July 2013

6 Steps to Consider If You’ve Ever Wondered How to Begin Homeschooling

It can be totally overwhelming.  Public school is mostly straight forward.  You sign the kid up, they assign you a bus number, your gargantuan task is getting them out the door on time.  But if you’ve ever wondered how to begin homeschooling your child you may be at a complete loss.

Well, there is good news and bad news.  The bad news is that you will need to make seemingly thousands of major decisions about your child’s life-long education by yourself.  The good news is you can watch the bus pick up the neighborhood kids while yours are still in their pajamas.

So, if you’ve wondered, here are a 6 steps to begin your homeschool journey.

6 Steps to consider if you've ever wondered about homeschooling  {DaddysTractor.com}

1.) Google your state’s laws regarding homeschooling.  I can easily find mine by typing “Missouri Homeschool laws.”  Look for a resource provided by your state– with a (dot)gov address probably.  At some point I highly recommend paying for a membership to HSLDA, (Home School Legal Defense Association).  They have a page for each state and all the laws and lots of other resources available to members.

2.) Find a friend.  Seek out homeschoolers either in real life or here in the virtual world.  I belong to a few Facebook groups and we love nothing more than to help with questions from those who are thinking about teaching at home.  The local cooperative we attend on Fridays is my most valuable resource.

3.) Decide on a budget.  Almost any homeschool materials are a fraction of the price of private school, but you can spend as little as the cost of a library card on up.

4.) Choose your curriculum.

I think your best bet is to purchase a curriculum set– meaning a box comes with pretty much everything you need to teach a certain grade level.  EVERY homeschool mom will have her own opinion on what to use, but since this is my blog, I’m telling you Timberdoodle.com is the best.  Its reasonably priced and gives you FANTASTIC resources; more than just a math workbook or a science text.

For the first-time homeschooler I’d unequivocally recommend just buying their “complete curriculum package”.  As a former teacher I drove myself batty (no comments please) trying to choose from more than 50 math companies.  Which one was perfect for my son?  In the end everything I bought is offered by Timeberdoodle.  Someone there must already be batty…

Also, if you need to bounce around a little (my son does 2nd grade science, 1st grade math, and K phonics) you can buy the pieces you want.  Tailoring the learning to your child’s specific needs is the best part of homeschooling.  I’d already started teaching Brett D’Nealian handwriting (pre-cursive), so we chose another book for that study.

5.) Organize. Create a binder.  Figure out your weekly schedule.  (Some core curriculum packages come with one.) Choose a space in your house and design a storage solution.  Most importantly here, decide how you will be complying with your state laws regarding record keeping.

6.) Make it your own!  Homeschooling doesn’t need to look like a classroom to be productive.  Work outside.  Read aloud after dinner.  Arrange lessons so you can be gone all day on Thursdays.  Make karate your PE class.  Do what’s best for You.  Your kids.  Your family.

Veteran moms– any other advise?

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Categories: Family, Homeschool | Tags: , , | 5 Comments

Taking Care of the Land, Another Approach

These pictures aren’t of our fields.  You’ve seen photos of Daddy and Anna repairing soil on terraces.  I’ve shared our rye grass project.  But this isn’t something we do on our farm; these pics are of a neighbor’s field.

Another way farmers are taking care of the land.  {DaddysTractor.com}

You likely know that terraces are mounds of dirt shaped like the hill designed to stop soil from washing down a field and into streams.  You can see in the photographs how this farmer is actually growing hay in strips where the terraces are– right in the middle of his corn field!

Another way farmers are taking care of the land.  {DaddysTractor.com}

The hay is actually bromegrass, which means our friend had to buy the seed and plant it where he wanted it to grow.  Bromegrass grows well in drought–making this farmer look smart at the moment!  It also has a strong root system that makes it a good choice to hold the soil in place for erosion control.

Another way farmers are taking care of the land.  {DaddysTractor.com}

By doing this, the farmer gets hay for his cattle to eat in the winter and protects the land at the same time!

Categories: Science, Technology | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

GMOs– A Study that is Harmful to Pigs

They will give just anyone a blog.  Believe me.  So I’m giving you the moral of today’s post now.  Don’t believe everything you read.

I’m writing this in response to comments made back when I first brought up the topic of Monsanto, so my same disclaimers apply. And like before, I’ll try to be as unemotional as I can be, but I warn you now, I’m going to vent just a little.

Back when I first posted about my meeting with Monsanto’s President several people sent me links.  Studies, news reports, websites, blogs– all citing the dangers of GMOs.  Because I like to know all sides of a story I clicked on all of them.  I read several twice.  Then I did something a little crazy.  I checked for sources.

I was amazed at how many articles had no sources.  At all.  Other sources I questioned because I couldn’t be sure, based on the report, if I was getting all of the information.   And despite these scientific inadequacies, people are reading them.  Reposting them.  Believing them.

Here’s an example so you can see what I mean.

GMOs-A study that is harmful to pigs {DaddysTractor.com}

This headline appeared on the Chicago Tribune website on June 11.  “Scientists say new study shows pig health hurt by GMO feed.”  It begins by listing the qualifications of the study– a good first step.  It tells us which scientific journal published the findings, who did the study, how many pigs were in the study, and what they did to the pigs.  It then publishes a whole paragraph of ratios comparing stomach inflammation of two groups of pigs.  So far so good.

But then the problems begin.  The only links are by Google and AdChoice.  I had to go elsewhere to find the actual report.  And yes, I really read it.  Um, most of it.

Here’s what I found.  168 pigs were divided into two groups.  One group was fed GMO feed, the other non-GMO feed.  When they were market size they were slaughtered and their organs were examined.

There was no difference in the size or health of the living animals.  The study states that the only difference at all was in the size of the uterus and the amount of stomach inflammation.  One veterinarian looked at all the stomachs of the pigs and gave them ratings of nil, mild, moderate, or severe stomach inflammation.

In the category of severe stomach inflammation there were 9 non GM fed pigs and 23 GM fed pigs.  That’s pretty bad and is obviously the biases for the article.  However, if you keep going you will see that there are 29 non GM pigs in the moderate category and only 18 GM pigs.  Now its 38-41 with some kind of inflammation.  Lets add in the mild category with 31 non and 23 GM and you have totals of 69 to 64 and there are actually more sick non pigs than GM pigs.  Finally, the nil category with 4 non and 8 GM, with grand totals of 73 non and 72 GM.

And then lets look at a few other categories.  11 non GM fed pigs had heart abnormalities, and only 5 GM fed pigs had them.  So where is the headline “GMOs prevent heart problems”?  6 non GM pigs had liver abnormalities and only 3 GM pigs did.  Still no headline.  And 3 non vs. 2 GM pigs had spleen abnormalities.  (Whatever that is.)

But here’s where my emotional neutrality will end– what in the world did the scientists do that made all these pigs so sick?!  168 pigs and 145 had inflammation?!  16 had heart abnormalities?!  They had a mortality rate of 13-14% overall, which they try to say is “normal” but my farm friends tell me 3-6% is more like it.  This sounds like horrible treatment of animals in my opinion!

Back to calm.

I also found an article (the author is sarcastic, but generally reasonable) which explains the authors, funding, and other behind the scene details.  He writes that while the study specifically states that there are no conflicts of interest, one of the authors  sells non-GMO grain.

I am not a scientist.  I’m guessing most of you aren’t either.  Neither are the journalists for the Chicago Tribune.  However, it looks to me as if someone, somewhere along the way, wanted headlines.  Negative headlines.  Maybe because negative headlines sell? or because they want GMOs to be bad? or they want to sell non GMO grain?  Not sure.  But after reading the study I believe you would have to be looking for that headline before you could find it.

This isn’t the only out-of-proportion article I’ve read.

But there are hundreds of studies you’ve likely never heard of.  GENERA, a project to catalog properly peer-reviewed, legitimately published, scientific studies about genetically engineered plants, lists more than 600 independent studies.  And no, I didn’t read them all.  Not even mostly.  You could, if you’d like, read each one to see how GMOs have been shown to be safe.  Over and over and over again.

Don’t bother writing about it though.  It doesn’t make good headlines.

Categories: Science | Tags: , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

A Day at the Farm

So much fun!  Our weekend adventure of harvesting wheat and learning about where the ingredients in our pizza come from was a HUGE success!  Thanks so much to the Brays for hosting this awesome event; their farm was perfect.

Where Does Your Pizza Come From?  {DaddysTractor.com}

FSA brought coloring books and rulers.

Where Does Your Pizza Come From?  {DaddysTractor.com}

Our Farm Bureau agent helped kids plant their own seeds.

Where Does Your Pizza Come From?  {DaddysTractor.com}

This is me, showing how the harvested wheat is turned into flour.

Where Does Your Pizza Come From?  {DaddysTractor.com}

Grinding wheat with electricity was much easier than doing it by hand!

Where Does Your Pizza Come From?  {DaddysTractor.com}

These are beef cows for the hamburger toppings!

Where Does Your Pizza Come From?  {DaddysTractor.com}

And Nubian milk goats for making the mozzarella cheese.

Where Does Your Pizza Come From?  {DaddysTractor.com}

There was a straw maze.

Where Does Your Pizza Come From?  {DaddysTractor.com}

The sensory bin filled with wheat to play in!

Where Does Your Pizza Come From?  {DaddysTractor.com}

Where Does Your Pizza Come From?  {DaddysTractor.com}

Riding in the combine was probably the best part!

Where Does Your Pizza Come From?  {DaddysTractor.com}

Caroline waits for her turn to ride and sports a “Thank a Farmer” sticker!

Where Does Your Pizza Come From?  {DaddysTractor.com}

Finally, its Carson’s turn!

Where Does Your Pizza Come From?  {DaddysTractor.com}

Is this machine way cool or what?!

Where Does Your Pizza Come From?  {DaddysTractor.com}

The stalks from the wheat are baled into straw. These huge bales are being sold to the highway dept. to be used to keep dirt in place while workers fix roads.

Where Does Your Pizza Come From?  {DaddysTractor.com}

All right, maybe the pizza was the best part! Yummy!

Where Does Your Pizza Come From?  {DaddysTractor.com}

Pepperoni comes from hogs!

Where Does Your Pizza Come From?  {DaddysTractor.com}

Lovin’ the cheese!

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

Tomorrow’s the Big Day!

Ready to find out Where Your Pizza Comes From?!  Tomorrow’s the Big Day– combine rides, hay bales to climb on, and FREE PIZZA!

Come on out any time between 9:00-1:00 to the Bray Farm.  The weather looks GREAT for our event.  Since some of you may be wondering, yes, Brad and Minnie Bray welcomed a sweet baby girl last night (an Independence Day baby!) but we are all set to celebrate their new addition and combine their wheat for them! 😉  We can’t wait to see you!

Wheat Harvest

Directions to the Brays farm:

From the South:

From US Hwy 36 and Hwy 69 in Cameron: North on 69 1 mile.  69 Hwy curves right and EE blacktop forks off straight North.  Take EE 6 miles.  At 6 mile point EE curves right and Willow forks off straight North.  Take Willow Road North 1/2 mile and then curves to the left.  Continue on Willow for 2 miles until you get to Irwin.  On Irwin go 1/4 mile and arrive at 2966 SE Irwin Rd., Cameron MO 64429.  Enter at the 2nd Driveway.

From the North:

From Hwy 6 from Mayville going East to Weatherby: Take Irwin Rd. South (Irwin is the first gravel road west of Weatherby).  Go 2 1/2 miles to Valley.  Go right (west) on Valley 1/2 mils to Irwin.  Go left (south) on Irwin 1/2 mile to 2966 SE Irwin Rd., Cameron MO 64429.

Categories: Family | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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