We’re Farming! 

I’d say very rarely but I’m quite certain that this is the only time I have share a photo of us so unready for the day; my apologies. We were getting ready for a busy Saturday with a list longer than there would be time to complete. I had been putting off potting up my tomatoes for a week and it was well overdue.

I was waiting for my turn in the shower and decided that I would get the tomatoes done. No sense in wasting any time. The little boy wanted to help. He planted the seeds, kept them watered so why not let him help with the next step.

Our hands full of dirt, sitting in our pajamas on the kitchen floor we started potting. A couple pots, or red solo cups, into the project he gets this bright idea “Let’s put on our farmer hats! We’re farming!” With that he runs off to the play room leaving a trail of soil and reappears with hats.

We were almost done when Mike came around the corner and caught us farming in the kitchen.

“What are you doing?!”

“We have our farmer hats on… we’re farming.”

… and then he took a picture.

Thirty three tomatoes and a potting soil mess later we checked that off the to-do list for the day. The little miss got the flats ready for more basil.

That afternoon they both got to help with more farming when we planted the wheat field! Pretty sure the wheat field was the highlight of my day and the tomatoes theirs.

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A Little Ball of Fire and A Duck Egg

I don’t know what your two year old was doing at 6 in the morning, but mine was insisting that she go out and feed the “aminals”.

So out we went.

I really enjoy having the quiet early morning barn time to myself but I really want to continue to encourage the kids to work with the animals and like doing chores. I expect them to help around the farm, they start with easy chores- feeding the dogs, putting silverware on the table and such. They are encouraged to come with to collect eggs and be around when we feed the large animals. There is very little coaxing needed when it comes to the animals. It’s usually harder to keep them out of the pen than anything else.

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She Just Climbed Over and Thump!

The January thaw that usually only lasts for a couple days has lasted for a few weeks this year and we have been taking full advantage of the warm weekends. It has been a great time to get everyone’s pens deep cleaned before we plummet back into sub-zero temperatures. It was pretty exciting to have a blister on my hand mid-winter that wasn’t from a woodstove. That’s some good work! This Sunday was no exception.

Once the kids were down for their afternoon naps Mike and I headed to the barn. I was busy cleaning in the cow pen; we are going to have some great compost this year! I was happily running my pitch fork getting things all pretty for the herd while Mike was busy in the goat pen. I had the bigger area but he had the bigger job I would say. The ducks are doing quite well in the goat pen and not making nearly the water mess they could. They are however making themselves known. Mike spent a portion of time chipping the little ice rink out from around the mini stock tank. He then removed the tank and shoved Stinky Hank back into his own pen. His time with Scarlet was up. With any luck there will be some kids coming late spring! With everyone separated accordingly we were able to install the insulated tank my dad made. Talk about nice! Those are some spoiled goats!

I had the cow pen cleaned just as Mike was ready to start wheel barrowing out the goat pen cleanings. It was the same time that the cows remembered there was a fresh bag of alfalfa cubes in the barn and if they all line up to the rail there’s a good chance of getting a treat or two (or five if the Little Miss is feeding). This isn’t a big deal but to get to the winter heap we have to go through the cow pen. For the most part this is done without a second thought. The eager faces were quickly disappointed when the realized I was not going to be handing out and treats, but they were not moving. G.W. (the bull) has watched me take Sweet Caroline out of the pen a few times through that gate and he’s been pretty sure that that’s where he wants to head. Smart cow, he knows where the good stuff is kept.

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Goat Poop is Not Raisins

I turned around just in time to see the Little Boy slide out of the wheel barrow, barefoot on the gravel driveway. The wheel barrow was clean according the wheel barrow standards; it hadn’t carried manure in a few months and had been used elsewhere in the meantime. His jeans would need to be removed before he goes into the house, mud dried between his fingers and dirt from ear to ear. “Thank God we are able to raise our children out here.” I thought as I turned back to the Little Miss who was sitting on the tractor. She’s all about cows, tractors and baby dolls right now. There she was clothes speckled with dried mud from the duck pen, sand in her ponytail that was already falling apart (again) and a face that was looks like she was eating dirt not too long ago.

I know it’s crazy to be thankful for dirt behind the ears but we are. Did you know that most people forget to wash behind their ears? Not at our house! Our kids are very involved with our outdoor work. It starts with the baby carrier in the stroller and once they can walk they are on our heels… or somewhere close by. They are always encouraged to help even when their helping is not so helpful. I’m already talking up how much fun it is to stack square bales on the hay wagon in July. They are so excited to be big enough to help with that! Yes!! They really do enjoy helping with any task at hand. Especially tasks that require a hose and/or water, the ones that can get really messy. The trick is to keep them busy allowing them to explore but not too much (if that’s possible).

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Teaching “I’m Sorry”

I stumbled upon a blog post explaining why a mother did not make her kids apologize when they’ve done something wrong. Found here. I found the title intriguing and by the time I was done reading I was a believer in the concept with a couple changes. In all fairness, I don’t recall a single time so far that I have ever said “Say you’re sorry.” The little boy knows the rules. He doesn’t always obey, we are learning, not perfect. So this isn’t switching directions on him; I’m not sure it would make a difference if it was though. As parents, we have already been doing some of this without realizing. I just took the time to write it down and hey, we aren’t doing half bad!

Long example: When we talk about going to church on Sunday with the little boy, we state that it is important to be quiet when we are in church, to listen to the stories and sing the songs. When we are in church we need to sit still, it is not time to play. Most Sundays after mass coffee and doughnuts are available and this is my “no bribe” rule exception. If you are good in church we can have a doughnut. Before church we go over the expectations once more. After church, we take a quick minute to ask “Were you good? Did you sit still? Were you quiet?” Usually the reply is “no” to 2 of 3. But it makes him take a second to think about his actions. He has learned he doesn’t want to leave early. We’ve made a little progress there.

Thinking about your actions is the first step in being sorry. What do you have to be sorry for? In the beginning just telling the child to “Say I’m sorry.” Really doesn’t do anything but possibly force a lie. Instead, we started with “I should not have ___. I know it wasn’t right.” They are taking ownership of what they did and acknowledging it wasn’t right. This may need a couple helpful questions; “Did you___? Is that something we are supposed to do?” This simple reflection of what just took place is usually enough time for them to realize just what they did and after a few times will lead to feeling sorry (with any luck).

Them feeling sorry for their actions is when “I should not have ___. I know it wasn’t right. I’m sorry.” comes in to play. From here things can usually move a little quicker with a couple more reflection questions: “why are you sorry? How do you think that makes___ feel?” By the time you are able to ask these questions, the previous questions usually can be skipped because the child has gown enough to make that connection.

Now that they are taking time to think about how it made the other person feel you can encourage “I should not have ___. I know it wasn’t right. I’m sorry I made you feel___.” This doesn’t happen overnight, in fact it can take a couple years depending on age. This takes a lot of personal growth and maturity, which takes time. Once you have made it this far the very last step is the easiest to teach and the hardest for everyone to do:

“I should not have ___. I know it wasn’t right. I’m sorry I made you feel___. I will try to not do that again.”

This last statement is what we are striving for should the event arise. Really, we are trying to do good so we don’t have to go through this but it doesn’t matter the age of the person apologies need to be made every now and then. It can be very hard to own up to what you done especially when talking to the person whom you are apologizing to. In fact I’m quite positive there are some adults who have never got this lesson and really should. Their quality of life would improve if they were capable of something so simple as saying “I’m sorry” meaningfully.

Being able to give an honest and meaningful apology isn’t the end of the lesson. Once the child (or adult) has this skill, they are thinking not only about themselves and their actions but of others and how they can affect those around them, good or bad. Thinking about others will be second nature, which means they are much more likely to be helpful, caring and compassionate. This means they will be using the skills they have learned to not need to apologize (not often anyway). They will be able to think ahead of what could happen should they do or say something and prevent the hurt feeling or whatever the outcome may be. That is the key.



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