The Look

Hey!  It’s Nathan guest writing once again.  I wrote this piece as a contrast essay for my English class earlier this month.  Thanks for reading!

It’s an unconscious reaction.  Strangers just can’t help but do a double take when they first discover that my siblings and I were home educated.  They describe us as “surprisingly normal and social.”  Their reaction reveals an underlying notion that homeschoolers are supposed to be strange, that they are somehow supposed to be different from their public school peers.  These experiences have taught me that although public and home educated students are actually quite similar, there exist major differences in how their respective education systems approach social exposure, academic scheduling, and athletic opportunity.

The first difference is in the way students learn social skills.  In public schools, the students learn through inoculation, adapting social skills in a largely untampered environment.  Most social interaction occurs between the student and his peers, then the skills learned in these interactions are extrapolated to interactions between the student and his elders.  The student must also adapt to certain social norms to fit in with what’s popular, or else risk being ostracized from the general pool of his fellows and suffering the ultimate social humiliation: being labeled “weird.”  This fear leads the student to shun people and ideas that could be considered strange and stifles the development of a unique sense of self in favor of a character that better fits with what is the norm.

In contrast, many forms of home education seek to teach students to interact with their elders first.  Once the student understands how to address his elders, he is well equipped to interact with his peers by extrapolating the respect with which he addresses his elders to his relationships with his peers.  This respect causes the student to take every concept at face value and choose the ones which best reflect his own tastes, rather than selecting friends and activities based on social enforcement.  The student is thus able to find his niche while at the same time respecting other viewpoints.

Another difference between these education systems is their respective flexibility.  In public schooling, the students live by a consistent schedule, much like they will in life after school.  This is necessary in a system where there are many students enrolled, as it would be impossible to account for the individual needs of each student.  Although there is an inherent rigidity to this, it allows the school to organize events and classes which require large groups to work together regularly, such as dramatic productions or fundraisers for trips.

Conversely, in home education there is a great deal of flexibility, with the academic schedule often being adjusted to fit the needs of the family.  In addition to this, since the home educators are in charge of the curriculum, they can tailor the academic experience of the student to his specific needs or interests.  Since the curriculum can travel with the family, home educators and their families are able to take trips during the school year that they would not be able to otherwise, increasing opportunity for the student to be exposed to other cultures and foreign ideas.  While it offers many advantages, this flexibility requires the student to learn to keep his own schedule and stay on pace if he wishes to succeed after graduation.  It also makes coordination between home education families difficult, limiting their ability to create clubs and other organizations.

A final difference between  public schooling and home education is athletic opportunity.  In public schools there are many different sports teams with which the student can be involved and there is often a focus on athletic ability, with those students who are athletically gifted being treated differently by their peers and their teachers, though this treatment is not always favorable.  Since schools often offer several different sports, the student can choose the ones that best suit his talents, whether football, basketball, soccer, or another.  Even those students who are not involved in competitive sports can take advantage of PE classes and club sports.  These teams and clubs help foster fitness, sportsmanship, and teamwork in the students and can help students receive scholarships to colleges they would have otherwise been unable to attend.

Home educated students, on the other hand, do not have these same opportunities.  Unless one of their parents has an athletic background, homeschoolers often do not learn to play sports, and unless they are part of a cooperative home education group, many families replace physical education with practical arts.  These homeschoolers learn trade skills instead of sportsmanship, workmanship instead of teamwork, working fitness instead of athleticism.  Unfortunately, this effect makes it difficult for home educated students to receive athletic scholarships, making it that much more difficult for low-income students to achieve higher-level educations.

These are just a few of the differences that exist between public and home education.  While public schooling offers greater peer interaction, more school based activities, and more opportunity for athletic advancement, home education allows the student to learn from his elders, travel more due to academic flexibility, and study his environment, creating a young adult who is arguably better-equipped for life than his public school peer.  I would argue that while both systems have their advantages, the reality is that good students will succeed in either system, and poor students will fail in either system.  Perhaps, then, we can remove the stigma associated with being home educated, and realize that the only true difference between homeschoolers and their public school peers is the system in which they were educated.

It’s ALIVE!

Sometimes life can be really depressing, especially at the end of a long, cold winter and everyone is exhausted, but then just little things can really brighten your day!  Last summer, we razed our old house, but before doing so, we wanted to save the old rose bush that had been sheltered in a southeast facing corner for perhaps 60 years or maybe more!  A long time ago, a visitor suggested that it was called a ‘seven sisters rose‘ so-named because of the way the blossoms cluster in sevens.

So, we moved it.  I had called Mendenhall’s Florists & Nursery in Brookfield, MO for advice and found out that it would be nearly impossible to move it in the middle of the summer and have it survive, but we had no choice.

Christian Finck and Dallas Powell discussing strategy -although it all goes through me.
Christian Finck and Dallas Powell discussing strategy -although it all goes through me. The first steps were to remove the support structure then tie all the canes together. This heritage rose is exceptionally thorny.
We just sort of guessed at how much of the roots we needed balanced with how much we could realistically chop out.
We just sort of guessed at how much of the roots we needed balanced with how much we could realistically chop out. The log chain was looped well below the surface level.
Christian carefully backed the tractor while we kept a close on how the roots were going to fare with such force.
Christian carefully backed the tractor while we kept a close on how the roots were going to fare with such force.
After the bush was loaded, I wrapped the roots in a wet towel and Christian hauled it in the front end loader to our guest house (in which we had recently moved)
After the bush was loaded, I wrapped the roots in a wet towel and Christian hauled it in the front end loader to our guest house (in which we had recently moved)
Dallas packed the entire bush to the hole  we had already started.
Dallas packed the entire bush to the hole we had already started.
Alas, the hole that had been started was far from deep or wide enough, so the boys dug it out more and run into a tree root from the old Mulberry tree we had removed from the front yard.  So that had to be taken out before the hole could be enlarged any further.
Alas, the hole that had been started was far from deep or wide enough, so the boys dug it out more and run into a tree root from the old Mulberry tree we had removed from the front yard. So that had to be taken out before the hole could be enlarged any further.
Well, a bit droopy, but there it is!  I kept it well watered all during the dry heat of summer and fall.
Well, a bit droopy, but there it is! I kept it well watered all during the dry heat of summer and fall. Later, I cut the canes back very short to encourage root growth.
TODAY - 22 Mar 2015!  These signs of life indicate this hardy rose made it through a rough transplant in the wrong time of the year followed by an extremely long and bitterly cold winter.  Hooray!
TODAY – 22 Mar 2015! These signs of life indicate this hardy rose made it through a rough transplant in the wrong time of the year followed by an extremely long and bitterly cold winter. Hooray!

Working Day at Last

Tuesday started early with rising before dawn.  The vet was coming about 8:30am, so we needed to have the cows and calves mustered and sorted before then.  We were running a bit late, but thankfully, so was the vet, so that all worked out.  We got started with the first calf through the chute about 9:30 am and finished about 2:30pm, with less than half an hour for pizza from PB5 that Allen and his dad brought up for us all.

All the cows and calves moving into the corral.
All the cows and calves moving into the corral.

When i say that the calves were worked, this means they are receiving their vaccinations:  IBR-BVD-PI3, BRSV and 7-way blackleg, the heifers are calf-hooded (OCV vaccine).  All are dehorned if necessary, except for the roping calves and bull calves are castrated.  I also give them an ID ear tag.  It’s quite a deal for the calves, but we use Bud Williams’ low stress handling and this keeps any stress to a very minimum.  All the animals stay very quiet, which certainly cuts down on accidents.  I believe the only injury was Dallas getting kicked by a baby calf.  Still hurts, though. Their tiny hooves can be sharp enough to cut.

Chowing down!
Chowing down!

After the vet and his helper from Brookfield Veterinarian Clinic,left, we tagged a few cows which had lost ear tags.  All in all, it was a very low key, quiet event.  Very thankful.

Cows and calves quietly shifting to their overnight paddock.  They have plenty of hay on offer since the grass is just not growing yet!
Cows and calves quietly shifting to their overnight paddock. They have plenty of hay on offer since the grass is just not growing yet!

We arrived home by 5:30 after checking the stock and moving equipment home, after which I had those lambs to feed – boy were they hungry!.  Then it was off to put the testicles (Rocky Mountain oysters) in John’s frig, then up to Purdin to pick up milk.

One more lamb feeding just before dark and put them to bed.  Shower and bed!

All the Best!

tauna

Sunday Preparation

Tuesday morning is the day for mustering the cattle, so I’m down to the wire to get prepared.  This morning, I’ve hauled up and unrolled four more bales of hay for the cows to chew on while they wait overnight for the muster into the corral.  I walked up through the sheep and found a baby lamb bound up in the electric woven wire fence – dead of course and shorting out my fence.  Plus, there was a dead ewe right at the edge of the pond!  Who knows what the matter was with that – she was not stuck in the mud – just dead.  So both of those animals were pulled away from those areas.

I’m grinding numbers into the Ritchie ear tags for the older and bigger replacement heifer calves while the younger and smaller ones will have smaller Z-tag calf tags.  These will number 400-499.  All replacement heifer numbers start with 400 because the calves were born in 2014.  These tags will hopefully stay in their ears for their lifetimes, this way I know how old they are.

When my corral was expanded, one of the gates was not finished with a hook, so I did that this morning.  Didn’t take long and sometimes it’s those little things that really make a job go more smoothly.tannachton farm misc 008

Once a few electrifiable tapes and netting were in place, the cows and calves are moved forward towards the corral.  Tomorrow, I’ll move them in even closer.

Well, what actually happened was that my Gator jammed between gears and I was stuck!  Thankfully, Allen had time to come up and rescue me.  He rocked the Gator while I tried changing the gears – it finally gave and I was able drop it into neutral so it would start.  It even moved into forward although stiffly.  While I was waiting on Allen, I walked over the hill and opened the gate and called the cows – they’ll just have to find their way at their leisure and I’ll make sure they are moved forward tomorrow.

Once, the small generator is tracked down, fuel changed, and it is running good, then I’ll be back to making ear tags.  Should be ready for Tuesday morning.

But, this afternoon, we’ll be enjoying surprise birthday parties for my uncle and cousin!

Cheers!

tauna

Next Day – Friday

Slow start today – I’m tired.  Once early lamb feeding of 8 lambs are done, I got the bread started.  Put too much buckwheat flour in and it was horribly sticky.  So nix making burger buns and made 2 loaves instead.  The bones that were saved from the sirloin steak used in stir fry earlier this week were cooked down and I pulled off the bits of meat.  Added additional broth from the chuck roast I’d made Wednesday, threw in the only fresh veggies I have left in the house – onions and celery.

So while the bread is rising, I managed to get all the house vacuumed and it sorely needed it.  The cats are shedding and little tufts of hair were in every nook and cranny.  I just can’t stand that!  Of course the cats could stay outside, but they like to come in often at night because the dogs are out and they don’t get along very well.

After a bit of an early lunch, Dallas and I loaded our brush clearing and fire starting supplies.  We hooked onto the little ATV trailer and pulled it with the Gator to the seed plant.  Before heading north to my farm, we set up the ladder and I climbed up to prune as high as I could with chainsaw a few errant branches of an old apple tree.  It hadn’t been pruned for at least 20 years.  There is a bit more fine tuning that Dallas will finish.  We left the trailer in the yard next to the tree for him to pick up the branches.  I’ll probably cut them in small bits to use for grilling.  Apple wood imparts a nice aroma.

The 35 minute trip to my farm was uneventful, but when we arrived, we saw a baby lamb outside the electric netting.  Hoping to catch him and throw him back over was wishful thinking on my part.  That little bugger had plenty of spunk for such a newbie.  He ran at full tilt down the hill, then scrambled through the barbed wire perimeter fence, down the bank and through a small ditch, then up the road bank and across the highway!  Thankfully, he bogged down in the tall grass  and I was able to nab him.  Little bugger.  I hooked him up and packed back.  Not wanting him to get out again.  I walked to the middle of the sheep paddock and left him.  Hopefully, his mum will find him.  However, since he is a triplet, she may have already abandoned him.

Dallas and I spent the next 3 hours building fires and cutting downed trees down to packable size.  We made good progress, but still only 2/3rds done with this project.  Still hope to finish this winter, but the 20th is fast approaching and I have a lot of stuff going on right now.

Before heading home, we reconfigured a bit of perimeter fence so I could electrify it.  Then once I found the short, it was hot.  Sure doesn’t usually work that easily!

Back home – fed all the lambs – showered – relaxing!

Be glad when these buggers are weaned onto creep feed!  They just about knock me over now.
Be glad when these buggers are weaned onto creep feed! They just about knock me over now. Feeding five at a time.

Shabbat Shalom!

tauna

Next Day – Thursday

This morning, after chores, Dallas and I were to deliver clover seed to New Cambria Sale Barn.  The buyer couldn’t meet us at the predetermined time, however, so we were to just leave it there and he would pick it up later.  He had left the check with the lady who runs the sale barn cafe.  About a 35 minute drive over, so didn’t take long and I had a nice ride with my son.

Took a bit of time to prune landscaping.  Dallas has been pruning his grandpa’s cherry and apple trees.

Ashes 'helping.'
Ashes ‘helping.’

Early this morning, I had started making 6 lbs of sloppy joes and a batch of deviled eggs for the firemen’s meeting tonight. However, Allen received a text that said Alex would bring lasagna.  Hooray!  Nevertheless, I finished the batch and we’ll enjoy sloppy joes for a while, then I’ll freeze the rest for later.  The deviled eggs are quickly disappearing already.

After a stop at Orscheln’s to purchase more lamb milk replacer (will be glad when they are weaned onto creep feed!), we arrived

Ashes spying Midnight
Ashes spying Midnight
And finally, they had to start fighting.
And finally, they had to start fighting.

home in time to warm up lunch, then I headed up to the farm.  Odds and ends maintenance and repair on fence, water, taking out mineral to both cattle and sheep.  Also, made some plans to modify the corral in the shearing shed and gathered a few materials for that as well as doing some measuring.  Got home about 8pm.

Cheers!

tauna

The Next Day – Wednesday

Today, my main goal is to broadcast my pasture seed mix on paddock #25, also known locally as Shark Goin’s hill.  I had already been feeding unrolled hay to the cows, so the 10 acres is nicely fertilised naturally.  I took Red, my Australian Shepherd pup with us because he hadn’t been able to go with us for a long time.  Now that it has warmed up and he has a little more age on him, it’s time to get serious with training. Dallas and I headed north with the 4-wheeler, trailer, seed, and pickup to pull it all.  After unloading the 4-wheeler and seed and Red, Dallas went on up north and around on Cotton Drive by Morris Chapel Cemetery to start weed eating under the electrified woven wire perimeter fence.

It only took me about an hour to seed 10 acres with 225 lbs of mixed seed, refilling five times.  Red stayed with the bags of seed and was extremely bored, but he patiently waited.  Now that I am finished, it was time to see if Red would load and ride on the back of the 4-wheeler.  He needed help getting on, but he’ll soon learn.  At first he was a bit nervous riding, but he settled right into it and seemed to not mind at all.  We only rode about half a mile and I drove slowly just in case he got spooked and tried to jump off.  When we drew closer to the sheep, he got mighty fidgety and then jumped off as I turned the corner from Hwy Y to Cotton Road.  Boy, he went rolling despite our slow speed.  I corrected him harshly and put him back on the 4-wheeler.  He never jumped off again.

Since Dallas wasn’t finished, I drove in and rolled up six more electrified nettings and took them back to the top of the cattle race.  I store them up high so no wildlife can get caught up in them.  Since I don’t want Red to get into the habit of trailing along vehicles on the road, I loaded him each time.  By this time, he was getting tired and actually seemed to enjoy the easy going of motorised transport!    He jumped off once when  I stopped to open the gate, but again, I immediately corrected him and told him to stay and he didn’t mess up again the rest of the day.  Red Wolf is a quick learner.

Both Dallas and I were getting pretty thirsty after a couple more hours, so we headed back home after loading the four-wheeler.  Red rides up front of the pickup in the passenger floorboard for now, but I’ll soon train him to ride on the flatbed now that it is warm.

The three new lambs are good sleepers.  They only need feeding once in the night!  At first I was concerned, but they are fine – I’m enjoying the sleep.

Cheers!

tauna

Faith, Family, Farm

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