Tag Archives: Homeschool

The end is coming

It rained yesterday. I mean, a good ol’ gully washer! Rain coming down in sheets. Hail. Overflowing rain barrels (which we coincidentally had just filled up with well water because we use them to water our animals and they were getting low and who knew it was going to pour?) It was glorious.

And this morning I am reminded that the end is near.

The end of summer.

Because of the rain yesterday, the air is cooler than usual this morning, and fresh. The cheatgrass all around me is doing its usual end of summer imitation of fall colors. And September is right around the corner.

Normally I love Autumn. It’s my favorite season. However this year, we’re feeling the heat (haha) to get our house dried in before the cold weather hits.

But things keep delaying us. Last week it was that we couldn’t find any delivery drivers to bring in backfill for us. This week, we got the dirt to put into the inside of the footers, only to be stopped by the weather (can’t do anything on the house pad when there’s 3 inches of mud).

So we take it as a sign that we need to work on other things.

Hubs and I have been working fairly steadily getting our well shed finished off this past week.

Pajii graciously plunked down the money to get a shed for us so that we can put a water system in there so we can have water on site for the winter.

We had it made with 2×6 walls so we could put thicker insulation in it (R-19). We also had them beef up the floor since we are going to put heavy totes of water in there.

Then Hubs and I added windows (we could put them in for cheaper than having the shed company put them in), a loft, wiring, insulation, and we are working on the wall panels and trim now.

It might seem like a departure from our true goal of building our house, but we see it as necessary for several reasons.

The first is that it’s become glaringly obvious that we’re going to be spending another winter in the trailers. Last winter, the water situation was rough. We only had as much water on hand as could be stored in jugs inside the trailers. Anything that was stored outside in barrels or totes was almost always a solid block of ice. By insulating the shed and putting a heating source in there, we can store totes of water in there and keep them from freezing. It also gives us a chance to go ahead and get our water filtration system up and running so we can actually drink our well water. The shed will also give us a place to put a washing machine on the homestead which we haven’t had since last summer (been hauling laundry to the laundromat).

The second reason why we are pushing to get the well shed finished is because, well, we can’t do anything on the house right now anyway.

And thirdly, it’s giving us, especially my hubby who’s never built a house before, some crucial experience that will be extremely useful when we do finally get around to building the house.

So we work on the shed. And the “end” is in site. I’d say by the end of this week we should be pretty much finished.

And then, Lord willing, we start back up on the house again.

For now, here’s pics of our progress with finishing out the shed.

Putting up the 2×6 boards as floor joists for the loft.

We sheeted the floor of the loft with some of the 3/4″ plywood we had left over from building our house footings forms.

We framed out three new windows (two upstairs in the loft and one downstairs).

Hubs cutting out the hole for the south facing window in the loft.

Hanging out the tiny window like that makes it look like a child’s play house.

Once we had the floor in for the loft and the two windows put in up there for ventilation, we worked on insulating the downstairs floor. This 2″ thick rigid foam is the same stuff we put around the outside of our house footers. With the two sheets of 3/4″ plywood (one under and one over) it adds up to about R-12 on the floors. Not a lot of insulation, but it is better than having an uninsulated floor for sure.

Got the flooring down.

What could go wrong? And yes, that’s me. Working on trimming the windows.

Wiring. We’ll have one light on the ceiling of the downstairs, a GFCI outlet on each wall, and two outlets upstairs, one of which will be controlled by a light switch.

Flower Girl actually was a big help running the wiring through the holes in the loft.

She’s getting old enough that she’s becoming an actual help at times.

Insulation time! We wanted to get the loft insulated first so that it would cut down on the heat transfer to the whole shed. What a difference!

Insulation is all done, time to start putting up paneling. We decided to go with natural wood bead board for a couple reasons. First of all, we like the look. Second of all, when you factor in things like tape and texture and paint, the bead board was not much more expensive than sheetrock, especially for a small project like this. Thirdly, we like the look.

Paneling all installed in the loft. Just gotta put in trim to hide the seams. In retrospect, we could/should have done things a bit different to have fewer seams, but we learned a ton and will do better in the downstairs.

Besides, the girls don’t know it yet, but the loft is going to become their playroom (and a play room doesn’t need to have perfect paneling). That’s what these colorful foam flooring pieces that we got from a friend which are drying out after being washed off are for. (Was that a confusing sentence or what! Too tired to fix it, though.) Those will be the flooring for the loft to cushion it for the girls. At the moment, they think it’s going to be a storage room. But as I said, it’s become obvious that we are going to spend another winter in the trailers. It will be nice to have a space that the girls can go play where we’re not all right on top of each other. And we can see Princess Girl using it a lot this school year as a quite place to go to do her school work. She is easily distracted and when we live in such a tiny space, it’s hard to find somewhere to concentrate.

Insulating the ceiling of the downstairs. Since we are going to have our water system in there, we want it as insulated as possible so it’s easy to heat so nothing freezes.

Downstairs insulation finished and starting on the paneling.

And that’s as far as we’ve gotten. I’ll post more as we progress.

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The Next Generation

What do you believe?

What do you think is best?

Chances are, if you truly believe it and think it’s best, whatever it is, you want your children to follow in your footsteps.

But what are you doing about it?

Learning kitchen skills

I was reading in the Bible this morning how in just a couple generations, the Jews had completely turned away from God.

Judges 2:10 says, “After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the LORD, nor what he had done for Israel.” (NIV)

Now, no matter what your religious leanings are, there’s a lesson there for us all. In just a couple generations, the nation of Israel had fallen away from their beliefs.

Helping build the chicken coop.

I got to thinking about what our own country was like just a few generations ago. When my grandparents were young. Their values and morals. And just how different things are now. A LOT can change in just a few generations.

Whether you believe it’s a good change or not, the fact is, there’s been a drastic change in the last 80 years. And there will probably be more as we go forward.

More cooking skills

So, how can we pass on our knowledge, our beliefs, our values, to the next generation? How can we ensure that our children have the best chance of believing as we do?

 

Bible study

The answer to that also can be found in the Bible.

Deuteronomy 6:7 says, “Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” (NIV)

Packing lunches for the homeless.

Of course, this verse is talking about God’s laws, but the principle is the same for every value we hold dear.
We have to talk to our children. We have to teach our children.

It’s not enough to just show them. Yes, our example is very important. We need to live out what we believe. But to expect our children to follow in our footsteps just by observing us is walking a dangerous road.

Helping preserve the harvest.

They’re never too young to teach the why

Why do you believe what you believe?

Why do you do what you do?

Why do you live the way you live?

Homegrown cherries and the fun and hard work of harvesting them.

Sure, when they are young, they won’t understand. They will follow you because they love you and because they know no other way.

That’s why we have to talk to them. To teach them about our way of life. About your values and beliefs.

Planting the garden

Because one day they are going to grow up. One day they are going to look around and see that the rest of the world doesn’t live like your family.  And if you haven’t prepared them for that, they will have a much harder time holding onto the values that you hold so dear.

 

Planting the garden

Now, this is a homesteading blog, so I don’t want to get too preachy, but in the long run, do I really care if my children follow in our homesteading footsteps? Well, I hope they do. I believe this type of life is a very good one. But I know that there’s something in life so much more important than organic veggies and sustainable living. I believe that following God is the most important thing.

Observing and helping (and getting to stand on the roof of the trailer 😉 )

And I want my children to believe the same thing.
I am reminded of the first episode of season 2 of the TV show Alone. It is a survival show where the contestants are up against nature and their own psyches completely alone in the wilderness. They can tap out at any time. The last man standing wins half a million dollars.

In episode 1, they showed a man who bragged about how good he was going to do. He had the skills, he said. He wasn’t afraid, he said. He bragged about how if he met a bear, someone would have to come to the bear’s rescue.

What happened when he got to the wilderness and encountered actual bears (or rather the evidence that they were close by)? You guessed it, he bailed. As much as he bragged about it, he wasn’t actually prepared for there to be bears out there.

Learning to use tools (and learning to be a teacher)

I see passing on our values much the same way. It’s easy for people to say they believe something, but as soon as they come up to a difficulty or hardship, they bail because it was harder than they really expected.

If we truly want our children (or anyone we are mentoring) to follow in our footsteps, we need to teach them not only that there are bears in the world, but how to handle them.

Talk to your children, folks. Teach them. It’s a big job, a hard job, yes.

But one with some awesome rewards!

 

Maridy

Unbuilding a home

As we plan and prepare to build our house in Nevada this summer, I feel that we are quickly unbuilding our home here in Oregon. We already sold off a lot of the larger pieces of furniture.

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Emptiness

We are having a yard sale this weekend to hopefully get rid of the bulk of everything else we have stacked in the garage.

The girls’ bunk bed is dismantled in the garage waiting to be sold. Princess Girl took the whole thing apart with very little help from us. She is going to be such a huge help when we build!

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She even patiently let Flower Girl help with a couple things.

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So now the girls are sharing one dresser (the other is being sold) and sleeping on their mattresses on the floor.

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Toys have been downsized to a few favorites. Some have gone into storage, most have been donated to charity (No, I don’t want to fight with a three year old over selling her toys in the yard sale. Better that they are just out of sight, out of mind!)

The living room has a couch and coffee table in it. Nothing else. And the coffee table is going bye-bye this weekend. The dining area has a table, but no chairs. The family room and kitchen are the most furnished rooms in the house, since we do still have to live here. But even they are sparse.

And it feels good! Not just the knowing that we are returning home soon, but the emptiness itself. The space. The uncluttered feel. When our family of 4 moved in with Bachan and Pagee, we had to fit our stuff in on top of their stuff. I needed an area for school/crafts/work, so we squeezed it into a corner of the living room. It worked, but it sure felt cramped.

Since Hubby works from home, he uses our bedroom for his office, which means his desk, etc is in our bedroom. It works, but it sure feels cramped.

And since he takes up extra space in the bedroom, there’s really no space for any of my stuff. So I keep all my clothes in the girls’ room. It works, but, you guessed it, it sure is cramped.

So as we downsize our lives once again to fit into 240 square feet, I am once again reminded that we often carry around too much extraneous stuff in our lives. And that the more space you have, the more you fill it up.

So, once again, I am finding the downsizing process liberating. And while most of the stuff being sold in the yard sale is Bachan and Pagee’s, there are quite a few item of ours as well.

And it’s all rather exciting since it means we are moving soon!

Maridy

“I lift up my eyes to the hills, where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.” Psalm 121

Daily Life #8 – Wetlands Field Trip

My first guest post! The report below is written by Princess Girl, age 10, about our field trip to a wetlands park (photos are mine). It’s really tempting for me to edit her post for grammatical and spelling errors, but I will resist! It’s more entertaining the way it is anyway. 🙂

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February 2nd is world wetlands day . Me and all the family went except daddy. So we went to “Smith and Bybee wetlands” .

The Author

Ready to explore

We went there so we get a good walk and explore the area and have a picnic in the sun.

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Lunch time

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Picnic in the sun

So I saw some cool animals they are ,Bufflehead  ducks ,mallard ducks ,coots ,nutria , chickadee, humming bird, spotted towhee or robin,Hawk, but the best of all a juvenile Bald eagle!

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Watching the coots and bufflehead ducks out on the water

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A nutria (kinda like a beaver)  and coots (a type of duck) seen through the binoculars

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Inspecting (and photographing) an old beaver log

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Woodpecker holes in a dead tree

my favorite was the juvenile Bald eagle , it was so cool my first time knowing that it was a bald eagle [I was seeing]!

So on the way back flower girl fell asleep exhausted from our adventure in the wetlands, I tried to go to sleep but I could not and got motion sick, it was not fun .

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So that was it for this adventure I’m sure the next one will be fun too!

THE END

Meet the Author:

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Princess Girl is 10 year old and lives with her parents, grandparents, and little sister in the Pacific Northwest. She loves horses, watching youtube, playing with her firends , and gymnastics. As well as anything to do with My Little Pony. She has been homeschooled her whole life and likes learning but hates having to write. Though she did enjoy writing this, her first article for publication.

 

 

 

 

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And a few more pictures that I wanted to include by didn’t have much to do with the Girl’s report:

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First signs of spring

Daffodils about to bloom!!! I have seen several plants peaking their heads up here and there, but nothing this far along. February 2nd and blooming flowers! I think it would take me a couple more years living here to get used to how early Spring comes in this part of the world.

 

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“Take time to listen to the chorus of nature; it is the music of life itself.”

I find it ironic that this quote is at the entrance of a park which is right on a very busy trucking route. The sounds of traffic never faded completely, even though we walked 3/4 of a mile to the end of the trail. But I do like the quote. And maybe when we go back again this spring/summer as Princess Girl begged to do, the animals will be more plentiful and loud enough to provide that chorus.

Zucchini Oat Pancakes

Mmmmm….

The smell of pancakes cooking on the griddle.

I don’t know about you, but pancakes on a rainy Saturday morning seem just about the perfect thing.

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Oat Zucchini Pancakes with Apple Cider Syrup

It’s been years since I’ve had regular pancakes. I gave up eating wheat after learning that wheat is a major inflammatory food and it affects the arthritis in my knees.

So I went searching for a “gluten free” recipe. But I wanted one that uses normal and whole ingredients rather than processed, refined, high carb flours in place of the wheat.

I stumbled across this oat pancake recipe at www.mountainmamacooks.com. Orginally it called for a banana, but I am fresh out of bananas and I have quite a lot of frozen zucchini from this summer’s bounty. Besides, the Hubby likes zucchini better than banana anyway. (BTW, I think it’s so adorable that Flower Girl says banana like a Minion – BAN-nah-nah :-). The original recipe also called for almond milk, but we use regular milk.

The pancakes have a very moist and chunky texture, even with highly ground oats. I’ve never experimented with using quick/instant oats since old fashioned are all we ever buy. Maybe it wouldn’t be quite so chunky with instant oats?

As an aside, the girls helped make the pancakes this morning. Flower Girl helped add a few ingredients as is fitting for an almost-three-year-old. But Princess Girl helped with all of it. Not only did she help gather the ingredients, add them to the batter, do some of the mixing, and help with the cooking, she also did all the calculations to add a half batch to the recipe. She’s learning more complicated fraction operations in her school work, so this was perfect. She not only had to halve the recipe, she then had to add that half to the original. Natural learning for the win!

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One thing about these pancakes, they can seem take forever to cook (thus the picture above). So I usually end up cooking them at a higher temp to speed up the process and they tend to get rather dark brown. Compare the two pics below.

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If you’re looking for a gluten free pancake that is as close to traditional pancakes as possible, these aren’t them. But we all like the way these turn out. In fact, I personally like them even better. I always felt guilty eating regular pancakes. I felt that I was eating nothing but fluff and sugar – in essence, nothing more than cake. But these pancakes are filled with good quality, nourishing ingredients. And they taste phenomenal whether you use banana or zucchini!

Zucchini Oat Pancakes

2 cups oats
1 1/2 tsp baking powder (we use aluminum free)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups milk
2 cups shredded zucchini (or 1 large ripe banana)
1-2 Tbl honey
1tsp vanilla
1 egg

Directions:
Place oats in blender or food processor and pulse until it is chopped up fine like oat flour (I suppose you could also just use purchased oat flour as well). Add other dry ingredients and pulse to combine. Add remaining ingredients and mix well.

Ladle 1/4 cup(ish) of the batter onto a medium-low(ish) skillet or griddle. Spread the batter out so it’s not all clumped up, then cook until golden brown on each side, flipping as needed (time will depend on the heat of your cooking surface.)

I usually heat the oven to as low as it will go (170° on ours), place a plate in there, and put the pancakes in there as each one is done. This keeps them warm till they are all finished cooking and we can all eat together.

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And that makes for a very good Saturday morning.

Maridy

“I lift up my eyes to the hills, where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.” Psalm 121

A Busy, Everyday Day

Today was one of those days that just feel good at the end of it, ya know? It was just an everyday type of day. Nothing extra special, but I feel like I accomplished something -several things actually – and used my time wisely and had some fun.

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First, as we were getting dressed this morning, we saw that the water district guys had started the flushing we had seen signs about. Since the hydrant is right outside our house, we got a front row view. And Princess Girl got an impromptu lesson in how the city water system works. She came up with about 10 questions to ask and the men very patiently answered them and even offered information freely. Plus, the girls got to play in the water. Win, win. But it did bring to mind the fact that we don’t really have the right systems in place for a water emergency. What if, during their flushing and testing, something came up and we couldn’t use the water coming out of our pipes? Not likely, but what if? We don’t have nearly enough water stored for a family of 6. Good food for thought.

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Our homeschooling day continued with some online research for her Geography lesson. Princess Girl’s daddy got a look at her outfit and thought she was being silly to be wearing her butterfly wings and bee dress while doing her school work. I love that while homeschooling, she CAN. No uniforms here.

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Half way through the day I got some Apple Butter cooking in the crockpot. It’s the absolutely easiest way to cook it. It only requires stirring every once in a while. However, I had forgotten about doing it, so I really got it started too late. Here it is after 9pm and I’m looking at at least another hour or cooking, then the canning process. It’s gonna be a late night. 🙂

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I spent some time getting some jams together for a friend. She is buying them for her coworkers for Christmas. I also boxed up a few things I sold on Ebay and need to mail tomorrow. I ran a few errands and made potato soup for dinner.

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Then I decided it was time to introduce you all to the newest members of our ever growing family. So I went out to the garage and got some pics of our six chicks.

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We don’t know what breeds they are. They all come from the same nest of eggs, but the friends who they belonged to said it was a hidden nest and could have had eggs from several hens. They didn’t even know they had a broody hen until they saw the babies a couple weeks ago.

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They have a very mixed flock and don’t even know exactly what breeds they have. But they knew they didn’t want 6 more chickens. They mentioned it to us and we told them we could take the chicks off their hands if we could borrow their chick nursery setup since we don’t have any equipment and no money to buy even the basics, what with the holidays fast approaching. They said sure and even bought us a new heat lamp!

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So, now we have 6 chicks in a cage inside a box out in the garage. It’s so cold in the garage that I’ve been checking on them roughly 20 times a day (maybe a slight exaggeration). I even dreamed about them last night. But with the heat lamp, they are staying warm enough. Actually, my fear would be that they would get too warm, since there’s not much room in their little cage to get away from the heat lamp if they get hot. But they are happy and doing well.

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We brought a few of them in the house to play with this evening. I am always amazed at how gentle Flower Girl is with helpless creatures. She just about mauls Scooter when they play (and Scooter loves it all!), but she seems to know instictively to be careful with the chicks. So adorable.

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This one is so cute. It’s the only dark one. Any guesses as to what breed it might be?

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It looks like it will be a speckled brown when it gets fully feathered.

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How about this one? Pretty much pure blonde.

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Silly girl! (And well behaved chick 😉 )

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I love this picture. The chick had just pooped on her. 😉

So, yeah, we hadn’t planned on getting chicks this winter, we were going to wait till Spring, like normal people. But like so many things in our lives lately, it didn’t go exactly as we planned. And I’m good with that.

And yes, of course we are well aware that some or all of these could be roosters. We are hoping not of course, but if we do get some males, we know what to do with them.

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Alright, it’s getting late and I have some Apple Butter to can. Guess I’d better go. I hope you have had a wonderful Autumn day.

Maridy

“I lift up my eyes to the hills, where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the maker of heaven and earth.” Ps 121:1-2

Chicken Run

If you follow us on facebook, you might have seen  a comment about our chickens. Yep, we have chickens again!

Actually, we have one of our old chickens back. When we moved up to Castle Rock, we gave our chickens to my parents since we were not prepared to have them on the homestead yet. The deal was that since they lived just a few miles away, they would still be partially our chickens, we still got eggs, Princess Girl cleaned the coop, and we’d care for them when Mom and Pops were out of town (which is often). And then we moved to Portland, OR unexpectedly.  And mom found another home for the chickens since they travel so much. When Princess Girl heard that her pet chicken, Scaredy, had been given away, she was very distraught. So, my mom called up the lady to whom she had given the chickens and asked for Scaredy back. The lady was very obliging, and when the girls and I were in Nevada recently, we picked up Scaredy and brought her back to Mom’s house. But you can’t have just one chicken. There’s some law against it, right? I mean, they are social creatures. It was just sad to see her all alone in the run. So, we found another hen on Craigslist. The owner assured me that she’s only 3 years old and is still laying, but we have yet to get an egg out of her. But, hey, she was cheap and is providing good company for Scaredy.

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She is a White Leghorn and of course Princess Girl named her Snow (and Flower Girl calls her “No-man” 🙂 ). After a very brief period of deciding who rules the roost, they are now devoted sisters. So much so that on the 13 hour drive home, there wasn’t a single squable out of them.

So anyway, I brought two chickens back from Nevada with me. And we had no place to put them. We had discused the possibility of chickens with the in-laws, but it was still hypothetical. Until suddenly it wasn’t. Well, we found a box they could roost and nest in and they ran about in the back yard for a few days as we decided the best place to put them. What better use of a small (and I mean tiny) unused side yard than as a chicken run?

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I found some free wood in the form of fence panels on Freecycle. We decided to use that wood to build the chicken run.

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With a little bit of work, we had a pile of wood to use for various projects.

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We got some half rolls of chicken wire given to us (my parents are amazing like that!) and we used that and the fence wood to put up the supports to enclose the run.

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The Princess even put a few staples in. And yes, I realized after taking the pictures that she didn’t have on proper safety gear. We put up the tarp because…well…because we live in the Pacific Northwest and don’t want our chickens cold and wet ALL the time! The tarp gives their run a dry area which they can hang out in.

We got one door (which we built out of fence wood and chicken wire) put on this evening but still need to hang the other (which was a screen door for a sliding glass door). We’re pretty proud of the fact that other than the nails and staples, we didn’t have to buy anything for the run. Tomorrow I finish closing up a few more holes with chicken wire, then we need to build them a proper roost. Right now, we just have one box which they roost and nest in. Not ideal.

At any rate, that’s our current goings-on. I’ll try to  post some more pictures of the run and coop as we finish it.

Oh, and here’s a picture of The Princess and her latest fire she and her daddy made using a magnesium rod fire starter. They report that those things are hard to use!

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Part of Princess’ schooling is taught by her daddy and is all about outdoor skills. Sure, we may live on a tiny lot in the middle of suburbia, but eventually we’ll be back on the homestead and she will need those skills then, if not before. Besides, they are just good, basic skills to have.

What skills do you think every kid should learn as they grow up?

Maridy

“I lift up my eyes to the hills, where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the maker of heaven and earth.” Ps 121:1-2