Categories
Family Homeschool

Fall 2022 Homeschool

Since we are halfway through the first semester of the school year, I wanted to share a little about our homeschool, the curriculum we are using, changes we’ve made, etc. First a little background, this is our third full year homeschooling. When all kids were sent home in 2021 for the rest of the year it was a blessing for our family. Lance and I loved having the kids home all the time. We spent a lot of time working together outside, playing games, and just being together. When it was time to enroll the kids in school for the next school year, we decided to keep our three youngest home and continue homeschooling. Our oldest two children wanted to go back to public high school, mostly because they love competing in sports.

We had talked about homeschooling the kids off and on for years. I had done all the research and already read several books so we had an idea of what we wanted our homeschool to look like. We just never took the leap to actually do it even though we loved the idea of it. Having all of the kids sent home gave us the chance to give it a try and realize that we loved having the kids at home as much as we thought that we would.

Our first year, we homeschooled by ourselves. There wasn’t a lot of places open or groups meeting because of the virus. Part way through the year, we did end up joining a homeschool group that got together occasionally to let the kids play together. We chose all of our own curriculum which included a lot of reading. The second year, we joined a homeschool co-op that focused on academics so we didn’t get to choose all of our own curriculum. The co-op was a huge blessing for us and it was so nice to do school with others once a week. This year we are still part of the co-op but it has underwent some changes to better fit the families that are there this year. We are currently doing our science, history, and art history at co-op.

So there’s our homeschooling background, now onto what we are doing this year!

Kinzie is using The Good and The Beautiful for language arts, handwriting, and math. We are using the McGuffy Readers for reading and Exploring Nature with Children and lots of time outside for science. She also has plenty of time to play, paint, build, just be a little girl. She also loves helping me with chores around the house right now.

Since we were able to choose all of our curriculum again this year due to changes at our co-op, I asked Lane and Colton which curriculum they wanted to use. They chose to go back to how we had done school the first year which is a mix of Charlotte Mason and classical. We do dictation, copy work, read a lot, morning time, and math at home. They also do more reading or research on various history and science topics. The boys take piano lessons and Lane is teaching himself the guitar. I have also promised the kids to do at least one field trip each month and so far I have been successful!

Lane and Colton are using Memoria Press’, Exploring the World of Astronomy for science at co-op this semester. We haven’t settle on a science topic for next semester yet. Our art history for this year is Ever Ancient Ever New Level 1 from Catholic Heritage Curricula. Surprisingly, Colton says Art History is his favorite subject! We are using Year 2 History from The Good and The Beautiful.

At home we use Salt and Light Catholic Homeschool curriculum by Jane Manka along with the Real Learning book by Elizabeth Foss as the spine for our homeschool when it comes to language arts, literature, catechism, supplementing science and history, as well as how we structured our school. I have also pulled ideas from Educating the Wholehearted Child by Clay and Sally Clarkson. Many of the books on their reading lists come from Honey for a Child’s Heart by Gladys Hunt. We use reading, dictation, copy work, narration, or note booking pages for most of our subjects. Lane likes writing and researching so he is always working on some kind of research paper. They also use typing.com to learn how to type correctly.

Half way through last year, I realized that I am not good at teaching math so we joined Nicole Math Lady. The boys are able to watch all of the lessons from their Saxon Math books and do the lessons online. It has been been wonderful not to have to worry about teaching math!

During our morning basket we rotate through books about church history, art history, composers, saints, holidays, etc. We just read a chapter or so a day and then move on to the next book on the next day. Kinzie also does the calendar for the day and we discuss the weather. The kids will sometimes draw or paint while listening. Kinzie’s favorite part of morning time is that I turn on The Doxology by Anthem Lights to tell them that its time to come downstairs so we can start. She loves that song!

A very positive change we made for Colton this year is the addition of note booking pages. He has never liked free writing and has fought me on it every year. I finally decided to have him start using note booking for science and history. It is amazing how much he will write about a subject after he has had the chance to watercolor a picture about the subject at the top of his page. Who knew all it took was a little watercolor painting to get him to write?!?

Something that we have done from the beginning that works great for us, especially Colton, is using a spiral notebook to write all of their tasks in daily. All he has to do is look at his list and mark off each task as he completes it. I also add piano practice and some of the chores they do regularly to their list. Kinzie can’t really read her list but she loves having a list like the big kids.

We have really enjoyed homeschooling and this lifestyle. We have the freedom to learn what and how we want to. Each child is unique and this allows us to tailor their education to their abilities and interests. The kids have a lot of time to explore their interests or spend hours exploring outside every day.

Watercoloring outside
Field trip to the Kansas Museum of History
Colton caught tadpoles in various stages of development this fall.

Please do not hesitate to reach out if you have questions! I love talking about homeschooling and how it has blessed our family!

Resources mentioned in this post. (As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.)

        

Salt & Light can be found here https://www.magcloud.com/browse/issue/1830633?__r=2203525

https://www.goodandbeautiful.com

https://www.memoriapress.com

https://nicolethemathlady.com/

  

Categories
Beekeeping Bees Honey

Honey Harvest 2022

We harvested our honey for 2022 last week. This was the first year that we had two hives with almost all of the frames completely full!

I find it interesting that bee colonies can have different personalities. One of the hives has been very gentle all summer. They never swarm me or follow me back to the house after I have opened their box up. The other colony though is very aggressive. It always seems like all of them swarm out and try to attack you when the hive is opened! I have been told that the more aggressive colonies tend to survive winter better so I’m hopeful that we will have bees live though the winter again. This was the first year that we had bees live all winter. It was a pleasant surprise when I checked hives in March!

Like usual the kids were a lot of help for awhile when we started collecting the honey. After we finished the first 16 frames though, they lost interest and I got to finish the rest by myself.

Honey or “liquid gold” as Colton calls it, produced by bees right here on our little farm is something that I will forever be grateful for. Bees are amazing creatures. The symmetry and organization they use to build out the honeycomb is fun to study. The health benefits the honey provides to our family are a big plus as well!

We will have a limited amount of honey available for sale to local customers only. Look for it to be listed soon!

All photo credits go to Lane and Colton – my hands were way to sticky to touch a camera!

Categories
Agriculture Bees Family Finnsheep Goat Milk Lotion Goat Milk Soap Goats Homeschool Sheep

Highlights of the Year

It has been over a year since I last wrote a blog post. It’s crazy how fast time goes. Life has been busy like normal and we’ve had the usual changes that happen as the seasons go by. I thought an update was long overdue so here it is!

Last summer we had our first litter of livestock guardian puppies. We ended up keeping two of them – Jayde and Maizie. Jayde is an excellent lgd however, Maizie prefers to lay around near the house. Unfortunately, we lost our male and had to buy a new one this summer. Chief is the sweetest, softest puppy ever. He is growing so fast and is just as big as the other dogs even though he’s only 6 months old!

We had our second crop of Finnsheep lambs this spring shortly after our second shearing. Parasites have been a struggle this year so we are working on building a more resilient flock. The differences in hardiness between our hair sheep and Finnsheep are still so interesting. I am very pleased with the quality of our lambs and their fleeces though. It is so hard to be patient for next spring when we finally shear the lambs!

Two of our beehives survived the winter and we will be harvesting the honey soon! The hives have very different personalities. One is calm and quite while the other will swarm and chase you as soon as you open their box! Needless to say, I don’t open their hive without my full bee suit on.

The garden is currently in desperate need of attention, mostly the tomatoes. I am planning to work on that this week. We really enjoyed the salsa I canned last summer so I need to get some done for this year. Both my flower beds and vegetable garden seemed to struggle this year. It seemed to be a combination of weather, bugs, and naughty dogs that kept everything from growing well.

Last spring, Lance and I bought an old building in town that had most recently been a restaurant. We are currently renovating it into a venue and airbnb. I love the building and all of the character and quirks that come with a building built in 1909. It has a room that is perfect for me to use as a studio for our Ranch Store. I have loved having more room to make and store all of our products. Lance and our oldest son, Cody, have done all of the renovations so far. I am always amazed at their knowledge, ability, and work ethic.

Our oldest daughter, Hailey, graduated from high school in May. I am still processing how she is already an adult and not a little girl. She is enjoying college which makes it a little easier that she is no longer living at home full time.

I am still making our Goat Milk Soap and Lotion. We only had one doeling born this year which was really disappointing for Colton. She was named Marshmallow because she is the color of hot chocolate and has a white spot on top of her head like a marshmallow. He is hoping for more girls than boys next year! Colton bought a new buck this year. His goal with a new buck is to improve the quality of his goats and add in some color variety.

The younger three kids and I started our third year of homeschooling in August. After using a few different curriculums the last couple of years, we felt like we had a good idea of what works for us, so we have used the mix and match approach to curriculum this year. I will be sharing more about our homeschool in a later post.

Over the summer, we went to several horse shows. The kids have improved so much in their riding skills. The circuit we do is great for all ages to ride in. Three generations of our family are currently riding. The kids love competing against dad and grandpa!

Since we bought the building we decided to host a fiber festival! The first annual Fiber Flurry will be held November 4-5 at Sikes Venue in Leonardville, KS. There aren’t any other fiber festivals in our area so we are hoping to have a good response. If you live nearish to us, we hope you will come either as a vendor or to check it out!

I think that wraps up the highlights from the year. My plan is to attempt to write more regularly and send out a newsletter one time a month as well. If there is anything you would like to hear about please let me know in the comments!

Categories
Finnsheep Sheep

Finnsheep Wool Products Now Available!

Our wool has been processed and added to our online store and Etsy shop! This has been over a year in the making and to say that we are excited is an understatement! Learning the differences between the Finnsheep and our hair sheep, while learning to manage for those differences has been a learning experience.

We are excited to share that we have yarn and roving available for your fall and winter fiber projects! Finnsheep fiber is beautifully soft and most people would consider it suitable for next to skin wear. For more information about Finnsheep fiber and see each listing, you can visit our store at https://14handsranchks.com/product-category/finnsheep-yarn-roving/

I wanted to share a few photos of the year long process it has been to get from purchasing our first Finnsheep flock to being able to offer our own line of Finnsheep wool products.

all the natural colors of our yarn
All the natural colors of our yarn
Finnsheep in the pasture
Our sheep all live on pasture or hay only the entire time they are in our care.
shearing a brown ewe
We had the sheep sheared in March. You typically want to shear approximately one month before lambing.
brown fleece on the ewe
Brown fleece on the ewe.
Finnsheep ewe and three lambs
Finnsheep ewe and three lambs.
sheared fleece
Sheared fleece
Finnsheep in the pasture
Finnsheep in the pasture
Jada and a brown Finnsheep ewe
Jada and a brown Finnsheep ewe
brown roving
Brown roving
Grey roving
Grey roving

Categories
Agriculture Winter

Winter Around the Ranch

Until a couple of weeks ago, we have had a very mild winter. This week temperatures won’t even get above 15 degrees Fahrenheit with windchills below zero. This coming weekend they are forecasting -30 windchills! It appears that all of our winter is happening within a few weeks!

Even though it is frigid outside the animals all still need to be fed and watered daily. We are thankful for warm clothes and a warm house to go into after chores!

I thought I would share some photos from the last couple of weeks. The cold doesn’t seem to impact the animals as much as it does us, as long as they have plenty of food and a place to get out of the wind, so you will see them out in the weather. It really is amazing how God designed each of them perfectly.

And remember, if this cold weather has your skin dry and itchy, we have plenty of our goat milk soap, lotion, & lip balm to help you out in our Ranch Store. We are always making more small batches of soap to try and keep your favorites in stock!

Categories
Book Lists Homeschool

Winter Books

Post does contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

We finally had our first measurable snowfall Monday & Tuesday! However, they were predicting 8-12 inches and we only received maybe an inch of snow along with a little ice under it. It was enough for the kids to have a snowball fight though so they were happy.

This week we are studying snow for science so I thought it was the perfect time to share our favorite winter books. Most of the books are winter picture books. I also included some chapter books for reading aloud or older readers and a few books for the grown-ups too.

Just click on a book and it will take you directly to the Amazon link for the book.

Winter Picture Books

 I LOVE this book.

 Obviously, we love Jan Brett books!

 There are several gingerbread books by Jan Brett.

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Chapter Books 

 This one is for older readers/listeners.  It does talk quite a bit about good versus evil and magic.

Books for Grown-ups to enjoy
 This is my all-time favorite book series.  I like to read at least one of them, if not more every winter.

 I have learned so much about homemaking from Sally.  I always pull this one and the one below out every fall or winter.  When the weather turns colder, I tend to look around our home more and seek out ways to make it more comfortable or “us”.

Happy reading!

~Jada

Post does contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Categories
Agriculture Goat Milk Lotion Goat Milk Soap Goats Made In Kansas

Why We Made The Switch to Goat Milk Soap & Lotion

It’s been almost two years since we made the switch to using goat milk soap and 9 months since we started using only goat milk lotion. Today, I want to share some of the reasons we now only use goat milk soap and lotion. We had slowly been trying to switch over to more natural products for our home and skincare, as well as, eating more whole foods.

As I was researching natural soaps and skincare, it was pretty easy to conclude that we needed to pay more attention to what we put ON our bodies just as much as it is what we put IN our bodies. Goat milk soap kept coming up as a recommended soap in the articles I was reading. Since I had a deep freezer full of goat milk I decided to give goat milk soap making a try. We had originally saved the milk for any bummer lambs or kids that we might have but hadn’t needed it. The goats were also due to start kidding soon so I wasn’t worried about needing the milk for anything other than soap making experiments. My sister-in-law had made some soap as well and she reassured me that I could do it too!

During my research I learned that goat milk is rich in fatty acids that make it a gentle cleanser and moisturizer. The cream in goat milk has an anti-inflammatory effect. These fatty acids help to lock in moisture and nourish your skin. The lactic acid in goat milk also acts an exfoliate helping to keep your skin clear. Your skin is the largest organ on your body – what you put on it matters! Take a look at the ingredients list on a normal bar of soap or bottle of body wash, how many of the words can you pronounce and do you even know what most of the ingredients are? Goat milk is mild and gentle enough that even people of all ages and with very sensitive skin can use it without having it dry out or irritate their skin.

I tried a few different recipes and our family started using the soap. It was important to me as I started making soap, and later lotion, that only natural, easy to pronounce ingredients were used. As our family switched to goat milk soap no one ever complained about it – and in a large family that’s a big deal! In fact, they liked it. The kids liked that we could customize the scents as well. The final thing that convinced me that goat milk soap was the best for our family, was when we went through the entire winter last year and no one complained of dry itchy skin like they usually would.

Ironically, after switching to goat milk soap, lotions started to make me itch, especially after shaving. It didn’t seem to matter what kind of lotion (I was already using a fairly natural lotion) or shaving cream I used, it always felt like my skin itched underneath. I’m not really sure why it took me so long to think of it but after a few months of this, a light bulb went off and I decided that I should probably try making my own goat milk lotion as well. After making and using goat milk lotion for a few days the itching went away and hasn’t came back!

Our family now uses our goat milk soap for face wash, body wash, and I use it for shaving as well. We also use the lotion whenever our hands start to feel a little dry from all of the hand washing. Our goat milk lotion is a great allover moisturizer. I have used the unscented and lavender lotion on my face without it causing a breakout.

Switching our soap and lotion to natural products has led to using more natural candles and other cleaning products but thats another post for another day!

If you are interested in trying any of our goat milk soaps or lotions head over to our Ranch Store. Or if you have been using our products and enjoy them, please leave a review and share our page with others. You can also subscribe to our newsletter so you will always be the first to know when products are restocked – just scroll down to the bottom of any of our pages and you will find the box to enter your email.

As always, please contact us with any questions you might have!

~Jada

Categories
Agriculture Fall Finnsheep Goats Hair sheep Livestock Projects Sheep Uncategorized Winter

Fall/Early Winter Update

I have sat down several times to update everyone about what we have been up to this past fall but wasn’t ever able to get this post finished. Well, here we are in the middle of January and I finally have an update for you! This update will be told in photos because that’s the only way I can remember what we have all done!

I plan to do more regular updates this year to help everyone follow along with what we do. This will also allow us to better share our story with you.

*Lotion will be restocked on Friday! There will also be new lotion scents and lip balm added soon!

We are so grateful to all of our customers who supported us this past holiday season and we look forward to serving you in 2021!

Post does contain affiliate links. As an Amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

The pond in September. It has been dry this fall and the pond was already getting low. It is a couple of feet lower now.

We’ve had two litters of piglets this fall.

It was warm enough in September and October that Colton had to keep the pigs mud hole filled with water. They love to lay in it when it’s hot outside.

The sheep & goats do an excellent job of cleaning up poison ivy and other unwanted plants under the trees along our dam.

The goats always prefer to eat the weeds, trees, or poison ivy before the grass.

It doesn’t seem to matter if its human or animal mama’s – they just can’t eat or drink in peace!

Some of the fungus we found in an old tree stump during one of our nature studies.

I dried some marigolds and pokeberries for dying yarn later. If anyone has recommendations on books to read about naturally dying wool please share them with me! The only book I have right now is Harvesting Color: How to Find Plants and Make Natural Dyes

We also made a marigold garland. It was pretty above the kitchen sink.

Goat Milk Lotion was added to the store in November! It will be restocked on Friday (1/15/21).

Hailey ran at State Cross Country. Hailey and Cody both had a great season in high school cross country. In addition to helping with the farm and being a full-time independent insurance agent, Lance is the head cross country coach for our local high school. He is also an assistant track coach in the spring. Yes – we are busy!

We started bale grazing November 1st. I will be sharing a post about bale grazing and what we are learning about regenerative agriculture in a later post.

Lane does an excellent job of caring for his chickens and ducks.

This girl is so sweet. She always wants a chin scratch. Finnsheep were definitely the right choice for our family.

I can’t wait to shear the sheep this coming spring and see what we can have done with all of the fiber! I’m hoping to have combed top as well as yarn made this year.

I will never tire of watch a Kansas Sunset. The top of our hill is the perfect spot to watch it.

Due to a freak accident, we had to buy a new Finnsheep ram. Lance and I traveled to Iowa to purchase one the day after Thanksgiving. He is gorgeous, both in confirmation and fleece. It will be fun to see what kind of lambs we get in the spring.

Isn’t he lovely?!?

The second litter of piglets – they are now weaned and available for purchase as feeder pigs. Just contact us if you are interested in purchasing one!

Lane’s chickens and ducks have started laying eggs. I have yet to capture a good photo of the blueish/green eggs.

I made Hailey pose for a picture after we finished putting straw out in the barns in November.

The Chicken Palace received a new sign and barn light! When it warms up the doors will also be painted.

We were blessed to be able to attend a couple of different vendor days locally. Our new lip balm will be added to the store within the next couple of weeks.

Very grateful that Lance can usually take my ideas and make it a reality when it comes to building things. I showed him a picture of a display shelf and tried to explain how I wanted to change it a little. Somehow he was able to figure out what I wanted and made these great little shelves!

At least one Saturday a month (more if cold weather is on the way) is spent replenishing straw in all of the barns. Even Kinzie helps put new straw out.

The rams were pulled out of the ewe flocks this past weekend. They didn’t want to get along at first (hormones….) so they got to spend a couple of days in a very tiny space. This allows them time to get acquainted but without the fighting. If we didn’t put them in this small pen, they would have just spent hours or days backing up to get a running start and head butting each other. We use the small pen to keep them from hurting each other.

I’ve also been crocheting in the evenings! This is a wool/acrylic blend yarn (Lion Brand Wool Ease Thick and Quick Yarn(3-Pack) Hudson Bay 640-610). I love the variegated colors and this simple, single stitch I’m using on this afghan really shows the color pattern nicely. I spent most of November and December crocheting a shawl to give as a Christmas gift to someone.

We hope you all have a wonderful and blessed 2021! Thank you for being a part of 14 Hands Ranch.

~Jada

Post does contain affiliate links. As an Amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Categories
Book Lists Christmas Homeschool

Christmas Books

Post does contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Over the years we have put together a fairly large collection of Christmas picture books. Every year it grows by a few books. I love children’s books and our Christmas collection has some of my favorite books.

The kids and I enjoy reading a few books everyday from advent until epiphany and then they get put away again. I usually keep the books in baskets around the Christmas tree. When the kids were little, this helped to keep them out of the tree!

My sister asked me for a list of “must have” Christmas books. She is starting to collect picture books for their son. I decided that it would be easier for her to find them all here rather than text her a million pictures of books! So here is my “Must Have Christmas Books” and I added a few books at the end for mom’s too.

All photos of the books are Amazon links – just click the picture!

Picture books that the whole family will enjoy:

  

For Older Readers or Family Read Aloud

For Mom

This isn’t all of our books but these are the ones that we tend to read over and over. If you have any Christmas books that I haven’t listed please add them to the comments section of this post. I love to learn about new Christmas books to add to our collection.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases

Categories
Beekeeping Bees Honey

First Honey Harvest

Taking the wax cap off of the honey.
Extracting the honey from the frames. They boys loved cranking the extractor!
Honey from the extractor then went into a bucket with a cloth strainer to catch any wax bits that might have been in it.
Bottling the honey into quart jars from the bucket.
After bottling we had 3.5 quarts of honey. When the wax finished draining we had almost 4 quarts of honey!

We had our first honey harvest on September 28th. It was a very exciting afternoon! Lane, Colton, and Kinzie all helped with the extraction and bottling part of the process.

We had expected to have at least 7-8 frames of honey to extract between the two hives based on my hive inspection the week before. However, when we went to collect the frames we found that the hive with the most honey had been completely robbed! There was absolutely nothing left in the frames of the honey supers. Thankfully, my mentor was with us to help and was able to explain what had happened and how to tell. Basically, in the fall stronger hives will rob weaker hives of their honey. This occurs because there isn’t as much for the bees to eat this time of year. When a hive is robbed the robbers come in and eat everything that they can. Luckily, the robber bees had not touched the frames in the big boxes the bees have stored for winter.

We ended up only getting 4 or 5 frames that had honey we could harvest. Most of them were only partially filled and capped so I am very happy with our 4 jars of honey.

Our first honey harvest on 14 Hands Ranch was celebrated at dinner that night with our favorite thing to eat with honey – homemade biscuits!

The rest of the fall I will be feeding sugar syrup to all three bee hives. This will help to ensure that they have enough honey stored up to make it through the winter. The first two hives are going through one quart jar of sugar syrup about every 3 days. The swarm hive is getting their jar refilled every day. They still have a few frames to fill before winter so I am feeding them as much as they can eat.

I have learned so much about beekeeping and bees in general this year. Next spring, I plan to split any of the hives that survive the winter as a more economical way of adding hives. If none of them survive winter, I will have to purchase all new bees. I am hoping to have 8-10 hives within a couple of years. This would hopefully give us enough honey for our family as well as leave some to sell. As with anything, I am sure that I will continue to learn more about bees and beekeeping summer. And next year, I will have someone else come take photos for me when we harvest our honey! I had my good camera in the garage but my fingers were so sticky that I didn’t dare use it!

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