Up With the Chickens

Raising children and chickens on a little buffalo farm

Praying For Rain….


O God, in Whom we live and move, and have our being, grant us rain, in due abundance, that, being sufficiently helped with temporal, we may the more confidently seek after eternal gifts. Through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Prayer Source: Novena in Honor of St. Isidore: Patron of Farmers by National Catholic Rural Life Conference, National Catholic Rural Life Conference

(linked to homestead-barn-hop-61.html )

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Something Fishy Has Been Going on Around Here

Well, we are back from our trip to the gulf.  I owe my parents a huge debt of gratitude.  They were heroic in their efforts to keep all our livestock (including the buffalo) alive for all seven 105 degree, rainless days. And they were successful – almost.  After about four days, The Littles wanted to call home and talk to their grandparents -of course.  After telling my mother all about the waves, sand castles, and dolphins and after asking about the rabbits, dogs, and chickens, Chet asked,”How’s my fish?”  Uh oh. Fish?  I forgot to ask them to feed the fish. In my defense, considering the usual murky condition of Speedy’s fish bowl, it’s no wonder his existence slipped my mind.

But low and behold when we walked in the door today, there was Speedy (or a reasonable facsimile) swimming around in a bowl of crystal clear water. “Wow!” Chet exclaimed,”Speedy looks better than ever!”  Which is pretty remarkable since the nearest pet store that sells goldfish is 60 miles away.  My children are very fortunate.  They have the world’s best grandparents – and a farm-load of happy healthy animals.

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Six is a Crowd…

We have four children. That’s not exactly a baseball team, but it is nearly double the national average of 2.3 children.(One site I found has that number at 1.9)  I’ll be honest, I’m not the world’s most frugal person. I’ve never been good at bargain hunting or coupon cutting, so I almost feel a little funny writing a “how to save…” post, but here goes…

When I hear people say they would like to have more children, but it’s too expensive, I usually argue that with some budgetary gymnastics and a lot of hand-me-downs, raising a large family doesn’t have to cost a fortune. And while my gymnastics skills still need some work, I do believe it – until it’s time to take a vacation!

Vacations are just  plain expensive.  Before we’ve crossed the county line, I’ve already spent money on new clothes (For some reason I always think everyone has to have new underwear for a trip.), travel snacks, games and movies for the car, and dog boarding. I’ve also usually spent a small fortune on new baskets, bins, and containers for my pre-vacation, over-the-top, get everything in order house cleaning – but that’s a whole other post. My point is, it costs us a lot just to get out the door.  And to make matters worse, the world of travel is designed for two groups – couples and families of four. Every family vacation package and deal I’ve ever come across is tailored for a family of four. And flying any place? Airline tickets for six people? Forget it.  (Until we rack up enough miles with Hal’s new mileage plus Visa!  Good thinking, Hal.).

So, we limit our travel – which isn’t too painful because let’s face it, traveling with four kids is a ton or work too – and when we do take a trip, we usually use www.vrbo.com . With this site we can book a house or condo that sleeps six, and it less expensive than paying for the two hotel rooms that are usually required. Also, with a condo or house, there’s always a kitchen. We save a lot of money by cooking at least some of our meals when we travel.

This year we are headed to the beach. We have a great beach house at a lovely resort, but we were only able to get it for five nights. To compensate, we decided to take an extra couple of days on our way to the gulf and see some sights. The problem, of course, is that two extra nights on the road could end up costing us almost as much as our beach house. Fortunately, I found a website just for families like ours (and larger)! Thanks Six Suit Cases!



Rethinking Thinking…

I’ve always been fascinated by learning styles. You know, the concept that all of us fall into one of three categories.  We are either visual, auditory, or kinesthetic learners.  I love this idea!  It makes so much sense to me, and as a homeschooling mom and a teacher, I’ve always found it thrilling to find a way to tune into a particular child’s learning pathway. So this summer when I found out one of my grad school classes was on learning styles I was thrilled – I didn’t expect to have my whole way of thinking about learning called into question.

One of my assignments is to write a paper debunking the concept of learning styles. I’m still working on it, but it turns out, there is plenty of evidence to suggest we’ve all bought into bogus idea.  And when I look around at all the manipulatives, games, gadgets, and gizmos (many of which I bought when I was homeschooling) created and sold to cater to various learning styles, not to mention the various books, articles, and workshops being produced on the subject, I have to admit that learning styles has become its own multi-bazillion dollar cottage industry.  In other words, there is a lot of money to be made by keeping the learning style myth alive.

Lest I sound like a conspiracy theorist, I am not suggesting that someone has made up this whole concept just to make money.  In fact,  just as there is a lot of evidence debunking learning styles, there is also a lot to support the idea.  For now, I’m still on the fence.  Still, this is kind of huge because a few days ago, I didn’t even know there was a fence.  I just took learning styles for granted.   If I find out this is all a bunch of nonsense, I’m sure going to feel silly about mummifying that GI Joe when the kids studied Ancient Egypt – actually, I won’t.  That was a ton of fun!


To have your way of thinking about thinking challenged, start with the video link above.