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Some blog posts are planned out and honestly with the sea of thoughts that are constantly sloshing through my head that’s simply a survival mechanism I’ve developed. If I don’t plan things out and write down ideas as soon as I have them they are gone with the wind. It also keeps me on track because with the garden in full swing, canning season starting and market season buzzing, I need a schedule to remind me to write…. and wash the sheets, clean out the fridge and remember to call my grandmother!

Other blog posts however, come from an inspirational moment; either something that happens or a conversation I’m having and then the “ah ha” moment arrives. I had one of those moments with my son a few nights ago when we were playing Legos.

 

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He had such a focused look on his face and I asked him what he was building. He responds with “a chicken run for the chicken.” Deciding I wanted to test him just a little I asked if the chicken was a hen or a rooster? Even with how well I know my little boy I am still floored by some of his answers:

“It’s a hen. You see {points to the chicken}, she has a small comb. So she’s going to need a coop, a nesting box for her eggs and a run so she can go outside.” 

In that moment I realized how truly blessed we are to be raising him on our patch of land, growing food, raising laying hens and learning about this homesteading way of life.

 

My Budding Farmer

For many homesteaders (including us) the main drive for doing what they do is to know where their food comes from. This starts with the soil and the seeds planted in it, the stuff that ISN’T sprayed on it, the food the livestock are being fed and how those crops and animals are treated/raised. There are so many children in our country who have no idea how food gets to their plate! Ask most kids where bacon comes from and the answer will be “the grocery store” or “the fridge”. Now please don’t get me wrong, as parents we are all doing the best we can with what we have! This is NOT a blog about parenting, but instead a view on life. The answer “the grocery store” will never fly in my house but only because of how much we value food. We all value different things and that’s what makes the world and country we live in great. That being said, my kiddo is going to know that bacon comes from a pig raised by a farmer and not the grocery store.

 

For those who follow my blog you will know that Monkey Man has some special needs. Sensory issues, struggles with change and being scared things that are different are a regular occurrence around my house. Growing his own food gave him the courage to try things he would never have before. Not once did he touch a carrot until he grew one. Planting the seeds, watching it grow, caring for it and finally yanking it from the ground; those moments changed his view on carrots. Not a lecture from me or a TV show, hands in the dirt did that; growing it himself did that.

 

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Trying his very first carrot last year from our small garden in the burbs

 

Valuing Food and How It’s Grown

Fostering a relationship with our food is a big goal for us as parents. We take a moment before each meal to say that we’re grateful for what we have and the food on our table. Growing your own food makes you value things like rain, sunshine, and heat; and it also gives you a new respect for Mother Nature and her high winds, strong storms and utter beauty.

Monkey Man watches how hard we work in the garden. He sees the sweat (and sometimes tears), the hauling, digging and trellising.  He’s helped us plant seeds, water the gardens and bring in the harvest. While he isn’t always willing to be apart of the process, he knows the hard work that goes into growing food and preparing the meals in the  kitchen. We hope that by witnessing this he will grow up with a respect for food and an understanding of how hard folks had to work to get him the meal on his plate.  While I may make this sound easy, believe me he’s still the typical three (almost four) year old who refuses to eat sometimes! Despite that we have no plans to change the ways we do things and if the Universe be willing, this will rub off on him in some way.

 

Not quite tall enough ;)

Not quite tall enough ;)

 

My Little Herbalist

We are blessed to have this amazing field behind our property which is full of medicinal herbs and wild foods. I have taken advantage of this little perk often through wild harvesting both herbs and edibles. Being a work at home mom, kiddo comes with me on all of my adventures. Thankfully most of the time it’s voluntary! It’s wondrous to see how quickly he’s absorbed the information that I’ve taught him along the way. We often stop to learn the names of plants and what they help with. Then days and even weeks later he’ll be able to recall their names. My little herbalist does his mama proud!

 

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The other side benefit of being raised by a herbalist is his understanding of medicine. Ouchies, colds, headaches and other unpleasant business for a young child are dealt with at home using herbs and homeopathic medicines; not doctors and prescriptions. For this I am exceedingly grateful because he gets enough of doctors because of his condition. He will likely choose another field to work in or dream to follow, but his knowledge of basic herbal remedies will stay with him. Maybe one day he’ll be able to help a young one of his own.

 

Relationship With Animals

I’m not sure I can adequately explain Monkey Man’s fear of animals…. or should I say former fear of animals. For a visually impaired child animals are large, loud, unpredictable and usually lack respect of a human’s personal boundaries. Often by the time he figures out what’s approaching him, it’s already far too close for comfort. That’s when the screaming and meltdowns start…

Until we got Luna and Nox.

 

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He was okay with the chickens before the kittens arrived, but something inside him changed when we got those cats. His bravery jumped to a whole new level! To see him interact, pet, play and feed these animals on a daily basis brings such joy to my heart. And now he’s far less afraid of the chickens too. He walks straight into the chicken run, chases them out of my herb garden (atta boy!) and helps put them in the coop for the night. He’s constantly feeding them (usually dead grass *laughs*) and telling them stories.

Today we were at Riverview Park and Zoo and he got right up close to a goat! Sure it was behind a fence but a year ago he would never have gotten that close and he would have been in my arms the entire time. I took a picture so I could prove to my husband in a few years that getting goats is a great idea… you reading this babe? (ha ha)

 

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Getting Down and Dirty

Dirt is good for you. They’ve done science stuff and proved it! It’s full of healthy probiotics and playing in it helps to strengthen your immune system. Every single night Monkey’s feet and hands are filthy and he’s super sweaty and I would not have it any other way. Children who aren’t exposed to this kind of environment have a much higher risk of developing asthma, allergies and other autoimmune conditions. I could ramble on about the benefits of fresh air, sunshine and time in Nature, but I suspect you understand my point by now. The amount of time he’s spent outside since we moved to our 1/2 acre homestead has easily quadrupled. He’s exposed to more germs, allergens and pollen then he ever was in the suburbs and I’m not changing a single thing.

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An oldie but a goodie!

 

Lessons Don’t End With School

This is a hard final paragraph for me to write because I have conflicted feelings on the whole school business. We are breaking from what seems like homesteading tradition and we are sending Monkey Man to public school in the fall. My husband is a school teacher in the region we live in and he truly believes in the system, however we both agree that the public school system cannot be everything for everyone. If it’s not working for Monkey (square peg in a round hole as it were), then we are pulling him and homeschooling. But for now, my little dude is going to kindergarten in September despite my constant worry about it.

As a side note; how the heck did he grow up so fast?!?!

Sigh… moving on.

We thankfully have a very good school in our area which has a fantastic team of people getting ready for his arrival; painting bright strips on stairs to provide contrast, adding hand rails and getting awesome tech for him in the classroom. The technology he will have access to is one of the reasons we wanted to try public school truth be told. In Ontario homeschooling parents don’t get any funding and fancy gadgets for low vision children are not cheap.

So why I am writing about this? Because I don’t believe education ends with school. He will never stop learning, exploring and discovering new things on our homestead. We are making it our goal to ensure that one day, when he leaves to live on his own, that he will know how to grow food, cook that food in a healthy way, do his own laundry, know how to make basic medicines, change a tire if need be and generally take care of himself. The lessons don’t stop with the ring of bell! Each day brings new experiences and new challenges; both of which we are grateful for.

 

Peace, Love and Good Health

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