Farmhouse! Homeschool?

We are entering a new season in our house. The season of schooling. Hard choices abound. For most people there are 3 main options.  Send your child to public schools, private schools, and homeschooling. They all have pros and cons.  We can’t afford private school, even if I work more than I do now, and I have some serious issues with our current public school system. (PAUSE to say that I have ZERO issues with all the fabulous, sacrificing teachers in our public school system…..you all are amazing…..seriously, I don’t know how you put up with all the C*@P that you do – my issue is with the box that you are stuffed into) And so for us, in this season, homeschooling makes the most sense. I am home most days anyway with our younger two, and additionally, we are fairly sure that our first has some learning differences.

I am terrified that he will be labeled the bad kid, or the loud kid. He gravitates towards those kids with the worst behavior and copies them. Is that just my kid? Does your kid do that? He is also incredibly bright, and I’m worried that his learning differences will be ignored because he’s able to compensate well and he won’t fall behind.

I was told by teachers that “it’s no problem if they aren’t falling behind, we don’t worry until they are falling behind the class!”. As if this would make me feel better about that. Except that I don’t feel better, in fact, I have a huge problem with that. How many kids are not reaching their full potential in life because they just “aren’t falling behind”? What if his potential is to be a grade ahead, two grades ahead? Even if his potential is to be a grade behind, his individual learning needs will still be placed to the side for the benefit of the group as a whole. I reject this. I know we are capable of much more as a society, and until there is a better solution in our public schools, I will take control of our children’s education.

So….stay tuned for some homeschool adventures!! I have NO IDEA what I am doing…so let’s learn together!! Got any burning homeschooling questions? Post them below!!!

Canning Safety

After I wrote the post about applesauce, I figured that a post with some home canning safety tips would be in order.  I have found that the website www.healthycanning.com as well as the NCHFP and the CDC are great resources for home canning guidelines.

Internet-land can be a great deep pool of knowledge, but sometimes the problem when cruising around in all that knowledge is that you are really just getting a lot of people’s opinions, like MINE! 🙂

Just because someone’s grandmother canned using (insert unsafe canning method here) and everyone was fine…..does not mean that it IS a safe method.  I equate it to driving without a seat belt.  A majority of the time, you will get to your destination and everything will have been fine, but that ONE time you get into an accident, you’ll be sorry you weren’t wearing it!  In most situations it doesn’t take any more time or effort to do it the right way, just like buckling up!  Just do it!

When we are talking about the safety of the food that MY family is going to eat, I want to know that everyone is going to be safe.  Food tainted with botulism or other food born illnesses do not always look and smell rancid!!! HealthyCanning.com has straightforward, easily understood articles about canning safety and I encourage you to head over there for some reading before venturing out into the internet to learn different recipes and techniques. And always after every article they provide resources for you to read more about the topic.  Evidence-Based practice? What? Instead of antidotal accounts? YEA!!! That’s what my little nurse heart loves!!  Never trust the first thing you read. Go out and search for the thing that proves it right!!

And just in case you are wondering, here are MY home canning rules:

  1. Do not fly by the seat of your pants – home canning is not the time to get creative. Find tested recipes and follow them to the letter.  This includes measurements, cooking and processing times.
  2. Always use proper, safe, inspected equipment – Always inspect your canning equipment before getting started and follow manufactures suggestions for care and maintenance.  Pressure canners should have their rubber seals replaced at regular intervals and dial gauges should be certified yearly. Make sure you are using genuine mason jars and never re-use lids (unless you sprung for the fancy reusable lids). Also make sure you are pressure canning what needs to be pressure canned and water bath can what should be water bath canned. They are not necessarily interchangeable.
  3. Do not store cans with rings and more that two jars high – rings left on can rust lids more quickly or allow a lid to stay “sealed” that may not have sealed properly. Stacking jars too high can cause jars to fall and break as well as the weight can cause seals to pop on lower jars.

That’s it! Follow the recipe, use proper equipment, and store them safely! Not so complicated right? GO forth, you can CAN!!!!

Applesauce

I’ve made jam many times before, but I’ve never actually made applesauce before….I know, I know, that is crazy!  I went apple picking with friends at a local orchard. I had all these beautiful apples and I knew we wouldn’t eat them all before they went bad, so I decided to take the not so scary plunge from jams to applesauce. The internet is a blur of different choices. Different recipes and techniques are abundent.

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I settled on a recipe for applesauce in a crock pot.  I love my crock pot!!  I’ve had it for 7 years and it hasn’t let me down yet!  So I peeled/cored with my trusty apple peeler/corer and then I set the crock pot and walked away. Later that day I canned it and now I have four beautiful jars of homemade applesauce! It was so nice to not have all the work to do all at once or stand in front of a stove cooking apples all day.  I HIGHLY recommend making applesauce with this method.  I could even have let the apples cook longer and ended up with apple butter! Don’t be afraid to try new things friends!  It leads to beautiful, delicious results.

I’ve had my apple peeler for years, but I want to upgrade to one of these bad boys! UPDATE: Hubster bought me one for my birthday and it got quite the test run making pies for the holidays and I have to say I LOVE IT!!

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Here’s my favorite canning equipment, I always use Ball Mason jars and rings that I use and reuse, but I always use new lids.

**This post contains Amazon affiliate links.  When you click, you help support future blog posts, where all of the opinions I express are my own and I am not paid for them**

 

Getting Cleaned Up

This is a farm friends, and the work is literally never done here. We’ve been here for a year and we’ve been so busy with big projects that there is a lot of little things that have fallen through the cracks lately. We are taken the next few weeks to get a little cleaned up around here. Ted and I are on skid loader duty:

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And Hubster, Jackson, and T are cleaning up the brush pile, getting it ready to burn later this fall. (you need a burn permit in our district for this, obtained from the county health and human services department)

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We are also working on building a small run-in shed on skids to use for extra shelter this winter. We are using extra materials from our large shed. It’s both practical and pretty since it’s saving us money, and it also matches our shed.  Mmm oh I love things like that.  I SAVE money, AND it looks pretty!?!?!

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And then, just for fun, here’s a picture of Jerry, our kitten, deciding if it’s worth it to jump in the tub with the boys and get wet, but get to play with the fun toys in there.

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Patio

We’ve been in our house just shy of a year now, and we have had a really hard time growing grass directly behind our house. It gets a lot of foot traffic and the kids play in the dirt there. I have been wanting to do something about it for ages.  This past winter, we bought 500 sq. ft. of brick pavers in a big sale. The store has a big sale each year where they sell off all of the extras from other large projects at a big discount.  I didn’t care if all of the bricks matched because I wanted the patio to look old and weathered.  We also had a big load of stone dust delivered for a base. We rented the tamper and paver saw from a local tool rental place for two days.

A friend of mine’s husband is a structural engineer and was able to help us level the site. we used 1″ PVC pipes at regular intervals to keep the depth of the stone dust even. We tamped down the first layer, and then did it again.  With two inches of level stone dust, we started to lay bricks. We were just initially just laying them down, but soon realized that was not going to be very even and would leave us with a lot of strange, uneven cuts at the end.  So we then used a piece of twine line to stay more straight from then on.

Not too shabby for one weekends work. Next weekend we plan to add the sand in-between the bricks and plant some grass seed where we tore up the ground.

We also used our leftover bricks to make some sweet mini-pads by the front steps of the front porch, and the side hose bib.