Growing up on The Freckled Farm: What 2012 has taught us

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It’s been an amazing year on The Freckled Farm. My husband and I purchased this property almost 5 years ago. It was simply a house on a piece of land in the country, and we have turned it into a live, active farm. All of these changes have happened in the last year. We spent 4 years working on making the house what we wanted, living as minimally as possible so we could pay for all of the “farm needs” outright, and having babies. We wanted the timing to be perfect and we have gotten it as close to perfect as possible. We went from all of our plans being on paper to coming to realization at breakneck speed. Once things started happening they REALLY started happening (The Freckled Farm).

Growing up on The Freckled Farm: What 2012 has Taught Us

What The Freckled Farm Has Taught Us In 2012

  1. Construction projects always take twice as long as you plan… which is very stressful when you have animals coming. Whether you are building a chicken coop yourself or hiring someone to do your bigger projects, like building your barn, the timeline will likely be doubled. The same goes for the cost of projects. While it might not be doubled it will always be more than you expect. Dad and Big B starting the chicken coop back in Feb 2012.Growing up on The Freckled Farm: What 2012 has Taught Us
  2. Chickens are beautiful and really personable creatures. I have to admit that I was not always a fan of birds. They are dirty and I have never understood having them as pets, but after a visit to my friend Gini’s farm in 2011 I started to warm up to the idea of having chickens. We added chickens to our farm in June of this year, and I will say that yes, they are dirty little creatures that poop everywhere, but they have really great personalities and we have grown to be very attached to them, especially Big B. When our chicks were only a few days old:Growing up on The Freckled Farm: What 2012 has Taught UsGrowing up on The Freckled Farm: What 2012 has Taught Us
  3. The six months or so that you are waiting for your pullets to start laying take forever. Somehow you can be saying “Wow Little B is almost 8 months old! Where has the time gone?” one minute than turn around and say “Seriously, the chickens are only 6 months old? When are these things going to start laying already? This is taking forever!!” the next… Doesn’t make a lot of sense. When you finally find that first egg it’s a pretty amazing feeling (We’ve got eggs!).
  4. Goats really keep you on your toes. They escape (The Great Escape) and you are constantly trying to make sure you don’t have any weaknesses in your fencing. Ours push past me when I open the pasture gate and make a beeline for the honeysuckle bushes. I have just gotten into the habit of letting them roam while I am doing farm chores. As you can see from the picture, I love my goats:Growing up on The Freckled Farm: What 2012 has Taught Us
  5. Not allowing Big B to do his farm chores is the worst punishment that I can give. This child loves his animals so much that keeping him from them and making him stay inside is a complete nightmare for him. This is a punishment for both of us though, because if he isn’t allowed to do his farm chores it means I have to do it! (Farm Chores)
  6. I learned how to administer vaccinations and managed to poke myself and hit a nerve on one of the goats on the first try, causing the goat to act stiff and uncomfortable the next few days… not my finest moment.
  7. You become very aware of all the noises coming from the woods when you have animals that you are trying to protect, which is why we are now adding a guard dog to our property… Not that our dogs aren’t doing a good job, but I doubt our 17 pound terrier mix and 37 pound basset hound can protect the goats and chickens from a bear or coyote.
  8. Seed catalogs can be a great teaching tool. Last year when I got my seed catalogs Big B was too young to get any real use out of them. I was also very pregnant and I decided to skip the garden. This year we are planning a huge garden and Big B and I are having a blast looking through the catalogs, talking about everything we can grow, how we can cook with them, and the nutritional values of the different fruits and vegetables. (Seed Catalogs)
  9. This year I discovered that my son really has a “way” with animals. They love him and there seems to be an understanding between them. It took him a little while to get used to each new species that we brought onto the farm (Adjusting to New Animals on the Farm) but in time he has developed a real relationship with every one of them. It’s an amazing thing to watch. Growing up on The Freckled Farm: What 2012 has Taught Us
  10. The farm has offered an education for my children that I never really anticipated and I have realized that it will teach them skills that they would not have learned otherwise. (The Benefits of Raising Children on a farm)

Our farm has grown at such an amazing rate in 2012. I can’t wait to see what 2013 has in store for us.



Growing up on The Freckled Farm: Farm Chores

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I have loved hearing from you guys about your farm dreams, farms, and the ways your children contribute. It’s so amazing to hear that so many children out there are having the same experiences, and have many of the same chores as Big B. Since I have gotten to hear about several of your children’s chore routines I thought it would be a great time to outline our daily farm chores.

Growing up on The Freckled Farm: Farm Chores

My husband generally does the morning chores before he leaves for work. He opens the hen house door so the chickens have access to their run, he opens the barn’s side door so the goats can go out to pasture, feeds the goats their morning grain, replaces the water if it is frozen, and feeds the dogs.

Any chores that happen after that are Big B and my responsibility. We check on the animals throughout the day, but the real chores don’t start until the end of the day. Around 4pm everyday Big B, Little B and I go out to do all of the evening chores. Little B sits in her stroller and watches, while Big B and I move our way through the farm caring for the animals.

Our first stop is the chickens. We start by letting them out of their coop so they can spend time pecking through the yard eating bugs, grass, and weeds. Their water gets nasty, so it has to be totally cleaned everyday, and because it is so nasty I don’t let Big B handle it. I take their water out of the coop, dump the old dirty water, spray down the waterer, and refill it. On the weekends I try to give it good cleaning inside and out with soap. Big B puts food in their feeder and will spread some sort of treat for them on the ground of their coop. I then check (if I hadn’t done it earlier in the day) to see if we have any eggs in the nesting boxes that need to be collected.

Next are the dogs. I generally care for the dogs alone while Big B marches around the yard with the chickens. Like all of the other animals they get fresh water and food.

Finally, there are the goats. Sometimes we let them out of the pasture so they can snack on honeysuckle and other treats that our yard has to offer that the pasture doesn’t. They generally follow us around while we finish our chores.

Growing up on The Freckled Farm: Farm Chores

I dump the goats’ water buckets and hand them over to Big B. He puts apple cider vinegar into both buckets, then fills them with water.

Growing up on The Freckled Farm: Farm Chores

This chicken (Blanche) loves Big B. She follows him around while he does his chores. They are best buds! As you can see he put some treats into the goats’ grain bowls for her. It might be why she likes him so much.

Growing up on The Freckled Farm: Farm Chores

While Big B is doing this I am adding fresh hay to the goat’s poly hay feeder.

The last goat chore is to get them their grain. Big B knows the mixture they require and recently he likes to do it himself. I help him get the grains that are too deep in the bin for him to reach. We are currently giving them grain, beet pulp and black oil sunflower seeds. When it gets colder we will add rolled oats and crumpled parsley.

Growing up on The Freckled Farm: Farm Chores

After about an hour to an hour and a half (or more if it is warmer) we close all of the animals back into their pins and head inside. We herd the chickens together, a job that Big B is quite good at, and lead them to their coop and make sure all of the locks on each pin are secure. In the evening, when my husband gets home, he locks the goats in the barn to keep them safe during the night and closes the hen house door so if a predator is able to dig into the coop they still can’t get to the chickens.

Weekends add special chores to our list. We have more time outside, and an additional person to help. The chicken run generally stays pretty clean. They scratch the poop back into the dirt, but we do rake it occasionally, especially when they are molting. Every few weeks we will scoop any poop that has accumulated in the hen house (generally, it only piles up under the perch) and lay new bedding. Since it is winter, and we are doing the deep bedding method, every weekend we lay new bedding on top of the old bedding in the goat barn. Once spring comes we will be mucking the barn several times a week. Once a week we also replace the goat minerals.

Farm chores change throughout the year, and these are only the chores that include the animals. Weekend yard work fills our schedule starting spring and continues into the fall. Spring also brings chores involving the garden, and as anyone who has had a farm knows there is always some project going on. There will be a time when we have goats to milk twice a day, and kid goats that need to be bottle fed every few hours. As our farm business grows… and turns into a real business… our chores will grow and grow. I, for one, welcome this growth.

This may seem like a lot but really everything is incredibly satisfying. I love to watch my son caring for the animals, and I get so much pleasure out of it myself. Farm work is some of the most gratifying work I have ever done.


Chore Chart for Young Children

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Chore chart created for young children.

Objectives – To teach children responsibility and reward good behavior.

Materials:

  • Poster Board
  • Markers
  • Stickers

Big B is a very helpful kid. He always wants to be a part of whatever you are doing, so getting him to do chores has never really been difficult… although he has his days. This past summer I decided it was time to give him a little reward for all the work he does to help me. I decided the best way to do this was to create a chore chart. A lot of the chore charts that I ran across seemed too old for him. They had specific chores that needed to be done at specific times and didn’t leave a lot of room for special chores (like helping me with whatever I might be doing or things around the farm). So I got a poster board and wrote up a simple chore chart with boxes for him to fill with stickers. Once the spaces are filled he gets a small reward, a trip to the ice cream shop! I included the ice cream shop’s logo, so he has a visual reminder of the reward. Whenever he does a chore he gets a star for his chart. For us, all chores are the same. We do not give multiple stars for some tasks. Sometimes he will do chores and not ask for a star, and other times he will do chores (without me asking) specifically to get a star. I generally put a lot of boxes (30-35) so it takes him some time to get the reward… that way he isn’t going to get ice cream every week!

The possibilities are endless. You aren’t tied down to a timeline or to specific chores. You don’t have to do boxes either. Maybe the spaces can be in the shape of the reward.

Charts for young children

Chore Chart for Young Children

Big B’s Chores (Age 2-3)

  • Picking up his toys (inside and outside)
  • Helping empty dishwasher
  • Helping load the dishwasher
  • Gathering dirty clothes
  • Helping move along laundry or helping me put laundry on the line
  • Wiping down surfaces
  • Helping collect yard items for the compost (grass clippings, leaves, pine needles, etc)
  • Laying scratch for chickens, or giving them treats
  • Giving the animals water

This may seem like a lot for a 2-3 year old, but he doesn’t do all of them each day, or even each week. That is why it is great to have a chore chart that doesn’t have a lot of restraints.