18 Aug 2011

A Day on the Farm

I'm afraid I'm not very good at Homeschool Speak.

When we spend time outside we call it playing - not physical education; or gardening - not botany; or hockey - not team building. Our cooking is what we do to get cake - not home economics or domestic science. We don't practice our fine motor skills when we get out the blocks, or consumer education at the supermarket.

And we don't do field trips, either. We just live life, and take advantage of opportunities when they present themselves. Our lifestyle is full of learning, but we live this way because knowledge is fun and interesting; not because it is school. And this is the attitude I hope to instill in Jemimah.

I suppose part of this lackadaisical attitude to homeschool vocabulary comes from not having strict regulatory bodies overseeing our day-to-day education. Here in Victoria, homeschooling requires little more than annual registration. We have no visits, no portfolios, no educational transcripts and no educational application process.

Maybe if I did, we would do field trips as well.

Last night at the pub (for dinner - not alcohol awareness training), we caught up with Christian friends who have a farm. They commented that they had were busy feeding more than twenty orphan lambs, the majority of which had been born in the last few days. Of course, my first thought was about how much my daughter would love to feed those lambs. Not to fulfill the obligations for her animal husbandry or agriculture elective, but merely because she is a nine-year-old girl with a passion common to almost every nine-year-old girl of my acquaintance - that of the serious cuteness of helpless baby animals.

So today we went on a visit to a farm.

We went to visit friends, but at the same time we managed to learn an awful lot about sheep. We saw first-hand the benefits of a sufficient feed of colostrum in a newborn. We saw the tragic manifestations of peripheral shutdown in a littly that was failing to thrive. We learned about the anatomy of the ewe's udder and teats. We multiplied the cost of a sheep by the number of orphans and subtracted the cost of the milk powder to discern the viability of hand feeding. We discovered that ewes will adopt an orphan provided certain conditions are adhered to. We learned about the increased incidence of birthing problems and multiple births with the age of the mother. We examined the strong legs and cloven hooves. We saw the differences between male and female lambs (!). We learned a whole heap more as well.

On our way home - after afternoon tea and some delicious bikkies - we recited the 23rd Psalm together and talked about Jesus as the Good Shepherd. We discussed the differences between David's role as Shepherd and that of our friends, Gee and Elle. But it wasn't Bible Study.

Whatever it would be called in educational homeschool speak, our day on the farm was an awful lot of fun. We spent time with friends (socialisation?) and we spent time together. We learned lots too, but in the scheme of things, that's kinda irrelevant isn't it?

It was just a great day out together.

We're going again in two weeks to see how the lambs are growing.

Somebody can't wait (patience, delayed gratification)!


  1. Lovely experience! Jemimah has grown heaps, I'll miss not seeing her this year! The photos are great! xxx

  2. Hopefully we'll be able to catch up when you're in Melbourne though. We could do an 'un-fieldtrip' together! That would be fun.

  3. Cool! My four year old put "a real live sheep" on her birthday gift list. She would be over-the-moon if she got to feed a baby lamb!

  4. Love this post!! What a great fun day you had.

  5. For not being good with homeschool speak this post did very well:) oh how I would love to not have to do all that paperwork for the Board of Studies but it's got to be done! yes Jemimah is definitely looking more grown up!

  6. I love your philosophy, because I don't speak homeschool either! Relatives raise sheep on their farm and over the years we've learned much from hanging around the country cousins. Nothing cuter than a little lamb.

  7. Ditto with the edu-speak, Jeanne. I always say we are a family, not a school. Real life learning and opportunities is the way to go!
    Lovely pics of Jemimah; she looks like she's in her element, as would my 10yo dd.

  8. Great pics of a wonderful day, Jeanne, and I agree that Jemimah seems to have grown!
    We had the same view about "jargon" but I must admit since the Qld laws have tightened and we do have to show "regular" and "efficient" progress in our schooling we can turn any otherwise fun outing into something educational!!! Remember our art lessons (always at the park or the beach)
    Have a good weekend!

  9. Sorry, I'm just trying to imagine right-wing Christians here gasping when they read that you took your kid to a B.A.R.!! Never mind it's more like Applebys....We have to have separate bar section where children cannot be seated (at least in some states). Children, in some states, cannot go into a stand-alone bar or liquor store!

    The lambs are wonderful!!!!


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