I have been amazed to see how farm life has affected our home schooling these days. I am still unpacking boxes of books. We have more books than anything else and it seems that we are still digging book boxes out and are shortly about to run out of book shelves. However, I have yet to unpack my homeschooling books so the children have had a nice reprieve on any sort of written book work for weeks now. Not that we did a lot of written book work to begin with, however, I do feel it is very important for my children to know how to write well so we do spend focused times on this important skill. The only written work they have done is making garden plot plans, recording rabbits and breeding information, business ideas and figuring out how much they need to sell and of what items at the farmer’s market in order to make a certain amount of money. Not your typical A beka type handwriting drills or math problems…but it works just the same only they are more motivated and interested in figuring those types of problems compared to a workbook.
But for now, in addition to lots of reading, other projects have been taking up their time and attention. Recently my older boys have been working on building a poultry tractor for their guineas and turkey as the baby birds are ready to graduate from being in a smaller cage to a real tractor that will be moved around the yard. This is sure to supply them with a generous supply of bugs that we are hoping will soon be a distant memory. Once the guineas are a bit bigger, we will release them to free range around the property.
In other happenings, we have been learning so much about the simple things most farmers take for granted. While we were not intending on being pig farmers, my husband received a real live baby pig for his birthday (from his nephew) So we were sort of thrust into learning all about pigs in a short amount of time. The pig is a very interesting creature and from what we can tell–this pig is very smart. He has escaped a couple of times, but the boys have risen to the challenge and figured out ingenious ways to catch him.
Looking out the back door, I caught two boys running around the yard with a very large net. This was the first attempt at retrieving him. Since his little operation(of which I am getting ready to tell you about)…he has been much more content and happy in his little home eating lots of leftovers and scraps from the kitchen.
The net didn’t work. The boys eventually had to trap the pig in their possum trap. After repairing the fence…they put him back in his pen. We found that those heavy plastic dog houses work great for pigs. He needed a place to sleep up off the ground where he could be warm and dry from the rain.
We were told that our pig needed an “operation” …the kind to render him sterile and secure his life as that of a meat pig. If you aren’t aware, pigs need to be castrated if you intend on raising them for meat for several reasons. 1–big male hogs that are not castrated are aggressive and dangerous and 2– those hormones affect the taste and quality of the meat. Unfortunately, we found out that you are supposed to castrate male pigs when they are about 2 to 3 days old—our pig was 10 weeks old and quite a bit bigger than a baby piglet. My husband spent a short amount of time reading about how to do this procedure himself and when fully confident, he called the 11 year old, the 9 year old and the 6 year old boys to come with him to the barn and told them the short story of what they were going to do. “Patrick…you sit on the pig and don’t get up— Pierce, grab one leg, Peyton, you grab the other leg and don’t let go.” My husband quickly made the cuts and did the job and I stood on the porch listening to this pig screaming like nothing I have ever heard. It reminded me of the scene in the movie, “The Princess Bride” where the farmer boy is in the pit of despair getting his life sucked out of him.
All is well, however, and the pig is now well on his way. The boys grew up a lot that day and are all the better for it with more conversation fodder for me to watch out for the next time we make it into a grocery store. To make the day more interesting, my 9 year old had the great idea that only a male mind would think: he suggested putting the pig testicles into their trap to see what they could catch. My husband, being the adventurous guy that he is, agreed with the idea and they set the trap in the woods. The next day, they went to check the trap and to their delight, they had caught a possum — a possum with 9 babies crawling all over her. Needless to say, we did not keep them as pets but they provided another interesting learning experience for the kids! You can imagine how excited the boys were catching 10 possums at ONE time with two pig test…well..you know. I couldn’t catch their excitement and wasn’t thrilled with it in the least. I finally went inside the house when talk started about “Hmm…I wonder if the cat will adopt the baby possums and nurse them?” Can we please move on…One thing has already led to another…let’s not risk something else happening and force me to blog about something even more strange than pig bait.
We did finally move on and with much more excitement I was able to finally plant some potatoes and make some progress in the garden.