Living on a farm has been great for us during lockdown.
Ok, it’s a good location and great place to bring up a child, but sometimes it is a bit out of things. You’re not in the village, you have to drive to get anywhere, and there are no friends that N can just pop next door to play with. Compared to my childhood living on an edge of village housing estate, it’s lonely – although he doesn’t seem to care.
Having to stay home here has been great though (I’m so relieved I sorted out our internet 18 months ago though!). Apart from me going to the local shop, and them still needing to get out to the fields and other barns to work, we don’t have to leave to go outside. We get great views, still see people on the farm as they’re still working, or they’re lodgers living here. And we have space.
Home schooling has been a mixed experience. Generally it’s been ok, but it has been hard for N to stay focused on school work. He’s not be best at staying focused when there are distractions and there are lots at home. Being asked regularly if he wants to do jobs on the farm, walking the dogs, come and have break time twice a day. That means not much time left to do home school.
But if he starts early, generally he’ll have done most by lunchtime and I’m not too worried if a little bit slips, it’s certainly more work than some people are doing from other schools.
Being on the farm, and at home means there’s more he’s learnt than he would have done while just at school. He would have learnt them at some point, but certainly not by this age because they’re competing with other people’s availability to help him learn any of these things. Plus he would have had less time given the other activities he does.
What my 9 year old has learnt
How to train puppies
For his birthday his Gran said she’d give him some puppy training lessons. Unfortunately lockdown happened, so training lessons haven’t. But N’s given it a good go with our puppy. Not the easiest when there’s a second one getting in the way as well. He’s certainly got a great bond with the pups, even though one is nearly as big as him now.
Finally my brother is able to come over to see us from outside, so they’ve been outside playing golf. And trying to teach N to chip golf balls into a bucket. Let’s just say it needs quite a lot of work.
Putting the sheeting on the clamp
The first round of mowing has happened with the grass put into the silage pit (clamp). They top it with sheeting and tyres to weigh it down, to prepare the grass ready for winter feed for the cattle. This time N went out and helped sheet it up. They’ll do another round of mowing in a few months.
Shooting with an air rifle
The OH somehow ended up being given an air rifle. It’s a full size one which isn’t great for N, but he’s done a bit of target shooting with my brother’s before, so he’s been keen to have a go. They’ve shot at targets (N’s hit the middle before the OH did), and he’s been to the yard with the OH to shoot some of the pigeons that are multiplying down there. He got his first one the other day – which the farm cats made the most of.
I’m not a fan of guns, but being on a farm, he needs to learn about the safety first aspect, and how to handle one.
How to drive a gator better
As well as the quad bike, we now have a Gator vehicle on the farm. N loves it because if they’re not going on the road, he gets to drive it. It’s so funny watching him, this tiny boy driving it, when he can only just see over the dashboard. They go off with the dogs in the footwell. N is given the job of turning it around and taking it down to the yard or he drives it up to check on the cows. He’s one lucky boy.
Birds and the bees for bulls and cows
We’ve had a few changes to the bulls on the farm. One was lame, another was getting quite old, and was a bit small to do the work with the cows he needed to. So there’s been lots of discussions around what makes a good bull and what their job is.
One meal time we even ended up in a discussion about AI, why people would use a bull for AI and how efficient that was compared with putting the bull out with the cows. Not what I ever expected to have a discussion about at teatime. Then N wanted to know how they did the AI. So we had to get a video up online to show him. He decided it was a pretty horrible job and he wouldn’t want to do it!
How to feed calves
This year N’s had a couple of calves to look after. One had a mum that didn’t want her. A younger steer was a twin but the mum only coped with the other calf. So N’s had the job of feeding the calves each day. He has to measure the milk out, make it up, and make sure both calves get their own milk rather than the older calf stealing it.
Perfecting bacon sandwich and fried eggs
N loves cooking bacon. The couple of times we’ve had bacon, egg and chips for tea, N’s been the one to cook the bacon. He’s very pro about putting the cooked rashers on kitchen paper to soak up the fat, while he fries the eggs. Now I just need to get him to help with other meals so he can extend his repertoire.
Couples on footpaths
To top off all the discussions about the birds and the bees, N was around when my brother turned up to tell us about the couple he’d bumped into on the footpath through our land. Not the best place to be getting it on, and N thought it was hysterical and madness that they were doing ‘loving’ in a public place. Oops, probably more than a 9 year old needs to know.
While N isn’t working as hard on his English writing work as I’d like, or reading as often and for as long as I’d like, he’s certainly learning lots while school is out.
What have your children been learning outside of home schooling, that’s a bit out of the ordinary?
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