Growing up on The Freckled Farm: Seed Catalogs

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One of the great things about winter is all of the new seed catalogs. These colorful magazines start coming in the mail around the end December!

Growing up on The Freckled Farm: Seed Catalogs

Ok, I’ll admit I don’t have much of a green thumb, but when it comes to research and planning I’m a professional. This year we are giving a garden a real try. The last time I had a real garden I was a kid. As an adult I’ve had herbs and that’s about it. I have great memories from my childhood sitting in my garden eating right off the plants. I want my children to have those same memories. I have spent the last year searching seed catalogs and researching gardening techniques, and this spring I think I am actually ready.

Growing up on The Freckled Farm: Seed Catalogs

Our first catalog of 2013 came in the mail Friday and Big B and I have had a blast looking through it already. Big B really loves looking through seed catalogs. He points to all of the fruits and vegetables that he wants to try and it’s hard not to allow our order to get completely out of hand in hopes that maybe he will actually try them if we grew them. He looks at the beautiful photographs and asks what each plant is and what it tastes like. We talk about the colors, shapes, flavors, and different recipes we can make with each. It’s amazing how much value one can find in a free catalog that comes in the mail.

Growing up on The Freckled Farm: Seed Catalogs



Corn Craft

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We are finishing up our nutrition unit and Thanksgiving is right around the corner, so I decided that I needed to come up with a craft that could fit into both. I thought up this corn craft this afternoon:

This craft can work for several different age levels and promotes fine motor skills. In the image above I created the corn cob on the right and Big B created the one on the left.

I started by cutting a corn cob and husk out of construction paper. Then I glued them together.

I completed my example during the children’s nap time this afternoon and had all the materials waiting for Big B when he woke up. I left a few corn kernel spaces so I could demonstrate the process for him. I explain that he needed to tear small pieces out of the tissue paper, ball it up in his hand, then glue it to the corn cob.

He even used the glue all by himself and did a very good job!

 He was very happy with the outcome of his corn cob!

This cute, simple craft was a big hit and required minimal supplies!



Growing up on The Freckled Farm – Benefits of Raising Children on a Farm

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First… I am sorry for the lack of posts last week. We had a really terrible cold run through this house. It hit Little B and me the hardest. Of course Big B, with his immune system of steel, simply got the sniffles. When your sick, with sick kids, it pretty much takes all of your energy just to get through the day, but I did give a lot of thought to what today’s installment of “Growing up the Freckled Farm” would be, and it became very clear after the weekend that we have had… The benefits of raising children on a farm.

Benefits of raising children on a farm

My mother-in-law came into town this weekend to watch the kids while my husband and I finished the goat fencing and prepared for the goats to move in next weekend. Nothing makes you realize how different your life is in the country than to have someone from the city come and visit for a while. Things that you just take for granted as just a part of life is likely completely foreign to them.

Friday evening after dinner we were all sitting in the den settling down for the evening. I was on the couch looking through a goat supplies catalog, trying to figure out what we would need to purchase over the next year. The discussion of the farm costs came up and my mother-in-law voiced concerns about vet bills. I explained that over the next few years that we would learn to do most of the minor vet procedures ourselves, like drawing blood for tests, deworming and vaccinations. There were also a few topics that came up while looking through the catalog that obviously, and rightfully so, made my mother-in-law uncomfortable, like castration and artificial insemination. I know the necessity of these things on a farm, and they don’t really bother me, but for someone who hasn’t been exposed to it, it’s a lot to take in. Then the conversation of all the skills that “country children” learn during their childhood came up. They are exposed to such a different world and leave home with a completely different set of skills than children who grow up in the suburbs or city.

Before they are teenagers our children will know how to care for animals from infancy, through pregnancy, and into old age. They will administer minor vet procedures, and care for animals when they are sick. They will learn how diet and nutrition affects their production, and they will be responsible to help maintain a balanced diet for the animals on the farm. They will witness life coming into this world, as well as leaving. They will milk our goats, and learn to create products like cheese, butter, and soaps. They will grow their own food from seed, and have to figure out how to balance soil PH in order to ensure the best crop. They will need to figure out how to preserve crops, so we are able to benefit from them long after the season is over. They will understand problem solving, responsibility and patience in a very different way. All of these skills can be translated into life outside the farm in some way. There is so much to learn and experience and the greatest part of all of this is that my husband and I will be experiencing it right along with them.

Already our children, at 3 years old and 7 months old, have experienced something very special. Something most children have no exposure to… They have watch the building of this farm. Big B aided in the construction of the chicken coop, then watch the chickens grow from day old chicks, he watch as the barn and fencing was constructed, he visited many farms, and has already gotten to milk a goat. I see the pride and excitement in his face as he talks about our progress on the farm and it often hits me how this must look like through the eyes of a three year old, it’s huge for me, even as an adult.

I hope all of this gives my children a better appreciation for life, for the food they eat, and for hard work. I want them to leave this farm with skills. Maybe they wont choose to be farmers, or vets, but they will understand hard work and can translate many of the skills learned on the farm into life outside of the farm. The benefits of raising children on a farm are truly endless.



Cooking With Your Kids: Pumpkin Bread

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This week Big B and I tried this Pumpkin Bread recipe from Simply Recipes. It involved a little more help from me than some of our past recipes but Big B was extremely excited about the outcome.

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (although I skipped this stepped)

Preheat over to 350 degrees. Sift together the flour, salt, sugar, and baking soda

Mix the pumpkin, oil, eggs, 1/4 cup of water and spices together.

Combine the wet and dry ingredients. This is where you would add the nuts… I am hoping to serve this at our next co-op meet up and we have allergies within the group

 Pour into a greased 9x5x3 inch loaf pan. Bake 50-60 minutes until skewer comes out clean when poked into the loaf.

Big B loves it and I have to say that I am really loving doing this series!!

Few things say fall to me more than pumpkin recipes. This pumpkin bread recipe really kicked our fall season off right!



Great Children’s Books About Nutrition

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Big B and I have spent the last week checking out piles and piles of books from our local library. I have been on the hunt for books that I could read to him about nutrition. I searched our library’s site using terms like “food,” and “nutrition.” I even looked for other lists online… and I found there weren’t a lot of good options out there. Books that were touted as “good nutrition” books featured children who wouldn’t eat their veggies and that STILL wouldn’t by the end of the story. Some were even stories about how children hid or got rid of their veggies so their parents thought they were eating them, and while a lot of these books were cute it really wasn’t the message I was trying to send.

Big B loves reading, and loves having books that go with our lessons. So, I was on a mission to find good children’s books about nutrition. The following is list of the truly good nutrition books that I found. I promise by the end of each the kid eats their veggies!

(Click on the image to be taken to the book on Amazon)

This has been one of my favorites so far. It features a fruit or veggie for each letter in the alphabet. It’s beautifully illustrated and Big B has really enjoyed looking through it. One of the great benefits of this book has been that Big B has shown interest in trying the fruits and vegetables in the book that he hasn’t heard of… that might be a different story once they are in front of him, but it’s worth a try.

This book is a great example of why you should try something before saying you don’t like it. If you are having a hard time getting your child to try new foods read them this book and explain that if he never tried the green eggs and ham he wouldn’t have found out that he liked them!

This Eric Carle book is beautifully done. It takes your child through the entire process of making a pancake; from gathering wheat, eggs, milk, making butter and finally cooking. This is a great way to show your children where their food comes from!

This is a sweet book is about a little pea that doesn’t want to eat his dinner of candy but does in order to get his veggie dessert!

In “The Monster Who Ate My Peas” a little boy learns a lesson about making deals with monsters who offer to eat his peas.

A dramatic little boy tries to convince his parents that he can’t eat peas because they will turn him into a monster!

This Eric Carle book takes you through a week of food and is set to a song.

I hope your little one enjoys these books as much a Big B did!

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Food Portioning Activity

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I recently ran across this food portioning graphic from ChooseMyPlate.gov. I felt like it was a better, more age appropriate way of showing Big B how much of each food group he was supposed to eat in a day. I created this food portioning activity in order to give Big B a visual of how much of each food group that he should have on his plate

While I will eventually introduce him to the food prymid, I didn’t think he was old enough to understand the concept just yet. This is visually done in a way that is easier to understand.

With this activity I used the same laminated foods that I used during the “Good Food Choices vs. Bad Food Choices” activity, however I think the activity would have been easier if all of the foods were the same scale.

I gave Big B the food pieces and explained how they fit into the different categories. He had been exposed to the food groups before but we went through a quick reminder. He then built a plate…

 



Good Food Choices vs. Bad Food Choices – An Activity

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I believe that it is incredibly important to start teaching children about nutrition at a very young age. That is why I have decided that it’s the perfect time to start a nutrition unit with Big B, and to kick everything off I have come up with a simple activity that helps children tell the difference between good and bad food choices.

The biggest hurdle I encountered during this activity was teaching Big B that not liking a food doesn’t make it bad for you. He kept trying to put green beans in the “bad” column because they are “yucky.”

I started out by cutting food items out of grocery store ads and magazines. I tried to focus on foods we often have around the house and that Big B would recognize. I laminated the foods so we could use them on several projects throughout our nutrition unit. Then I took a small poster board, drew a line down the center, and labeled the halves “Good” and “Bad (Should be Limited)”

When we sat down to do the activity I explained to him that the left side was for foods that were good for him, that nourished his body and helped him grow, and that the right side was for foods that were not good for you, that should only be eaten as a special treat and that would make you feel bad if you ate too much. We then spent time identifying the different foods in the pile.

Once the foods were identified he placed them in the corresponding column.

We went through each one in the pile. I would tell them how the good foods helped him grow.

Overall he seemed to pick up on the concept pretty quickly, but we will likely return to the activity a few times over the next few weeks, until the green beans and lettuce stop making their way into the bad column!