Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Happenings on the Homestead

Things are pretty busy around here (aren't they always?!). This heat has been deadly, literally. I lost my 2nd chicken to the heat last weekend. We are doing everything we can to keep them cool. We fill the waterers daily and put frozen water bottles in them to keep the water cold (sometimes several times a day). I leave the big door on the coop open all day so the breeze (I loosely use this term!) blows completely through it and I turn on a sprinkler that pumps out 58 degree water. The chickens don't necessarily like the sprinkler while it is on but they love sloshing around in the water when I turn it off. Even through all of that, we have lost 2 of them. Two of my better layers at that! This is a hard part of homesteading, losing that which you have nurtured since it was born. But life goes on and so does the work. Speaking of chickens, we had our first snake in this chicken coop the other night. The kids went out to close up the coop for the night and collect the eggs when they came roaring back into the house screaming about a snake. Apparently, my son opened the egg collection hatch and was about to stick his hand into the laying boxes and a very large chicken snake was already in there consuming eggs. Little man is NOT crazy about snakes so he came and got us for that task. Snakes don't really bother me. Frogs terrify me but snakes fascinate me. Hubby told me to get his gun and I started thinking "He's not REALLY going to fire that thing in the chicken coop, is he?" Thankfully, he was going to fire it AFTER we got the snake onto the ground outside but things didn't really go as planned. Mr. Snake wasn't really interested in leaving his stash of eggs so hubs took the shovel to him in the laying box. It was pretty hard to manuver around because the shovel was almost as wide as the box but after a few strikes, he got the job done. When he pulled the snake out, it was about 3 1/2 feet long and quite fat. Needless to say, we only got 4 eggs that day. The kids have been pretty reluctant to go back to the coop but we are trying to teach them that snakes are just a part of homesteading and that they still need to do their jobs. They are, however, collecting the eggs while it is still very light outside so there are no more at-dusk surprises!

Like I said, the heat here has been awful so hubby and I purchased a solution. A pool! It is just an above ground one but it is huge!
Here is the hole that was dug and filled with sand to make the bottom level. The truck in the background is the installers on their way tour house.
Here, they have put down the bottom rail that will hold the sides up.

The sides are up, yay!!!! These are the 2 installers. Poor guys, it was sooooooo hot, I was worried they would fall out with heat stroke or something. You can see they put our sprinkler in the pool to help keep them cool.
Liner is in!

Top rail is on and it's time for water.
It took 2 days to fill this thing up. I felt so guilty about using so much water but it is just too hot to feel guilty for too long!
The finished product! All filled and ready for swimming! We plotted out where we want the deck to go and priced it yesterday....OUCH!!! Apparently, our tastes are a bit expensive! We had planned to do it ourselves but hubby is super busy with work and we want it to get done ASAP so we aren't tracking a ton of dirt into the pool everytime we get in.  We have 2 people coming to give us a price for them to do it but if it is too much, looks like we will have a weeks' worth of late nights working on it ourselves. We don't want to spend too much money because we have a vacation coming up in September and we need to make sure we don't touch any of that money that has been set aside.

Along with the end of July comes planning for the beginning of school. I have been making out some schedules for the kids (and me) for when we "officially" begin school on August 13th. Like all homeschoolers though, learning goes on each and every day, but we tend to be a bit more relaxed for a month or two in the summer. I have already ordered their cirriculum and I am just waiting for it to get here. We use Switched On Schoolhouse. We love it. The lessons are challenging, they have lots of different electives we can add on to our base courses and there is very minimal grading that has to be done by me. THAT is a good thing! The program keeps track of all grades and even attendance (for our state compliance). I just print out report cards to keep for their files and we're all good. I can access their grades at all times and I can even see how long it took them to do lessons, quizzes and tests. We usually do the lessons together, though, so I can make sure that they are getting a good grasp of the material and we practice their reading aloud by having them alternate reading paragraphs in the lesson. I know some people think that we need workbooks and textbooks to be really learning but I find that my kids are learning a great deal (dare I say MORE than their friends in conventional school). And, like I said before, learning takes place each and every day. I truly love homeschooling and I pray that I never have to send them to school outside the home. This is where they belong and so do I.

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