Thursday, February 24, 2011
Now that one of our goats has "freshened" again (fancy goatherder talk for "the goat had kids"), we're excited to have fresh milk. So what does one do with a gallon of milk a day? The possibilities are myriad. In the decade that I have been raising goats, I have narrowed my goat milk uses a bit. We love to drink it raw, cold is better.
We use it for soap - just made a batch of mudbath that's curing, and getting low on lavender tea tree, so that's next.
Butter is just too much work. Goat milk is naturally homogenized, so by the time the cream separates on its own, the flavor is a bit too strong for our tastes. Thankfully, we have the jersey cow's milk for that. Goat cheese curds are wonderful. As is cottage cheese, farmer's cheese, and goat mozzarella. Then there's yogurt and ice cream. Doesn't sound like such a narrow field at all, once we get going, does it? That's a good thing, because there's lots of milk to use up! And then there are still the other odd uses - on cereal, creamy rich potato soup and chowders, pancake batter, and on...
Friday, February 18, 2011
Teaching children to read is one thing. Getting them to read is another. This is where Kid Scoop's Reluctant Reader Solution comes in. Recommended for grades 2-8, Reluctant Reader Solution includes a 12 month online subscription to Kid Scoop newspapers, plus 365 fun activity sheets that can be used individually, or as provided in 60 mini-unit studies.
The online version of the newspaper is kid-friendly, with lots of graphics and color. Students can page through the articles online, print out activities and get drawn into the stories. Kid Scoop also offers fun online learning games for kids as well as lots of tips for parents and teachers to use the newspapers to help foster love for reading.
The downloadable activity pages are organized into mini unit studies of about 5 pages each. They can be used chronologically, by season, holiday or event, (St. Patrick's Day, Mother's Day) or by theme (baseball, backpacks, skin protection). There are even more thematic lesson resources on the website, offering everything from bugs to financial literacy to the Philippines.
Thursday, February 17, 2011
We are blessed with so many miracles around the homestead. Our old billy goat died over the winter, but he seems to have done his job before checking out. The other day we went out to feed and discovered this.
The other good news is that we will be back in fresh milk again. Momma, Freedom, is our heaviest milker, so fresh yogurt and cheese will be back on the table again soon as well. Not to mention our luxurious goat milk soaps!
Friday, February 11, 2011
Join Professor Ana Lyze as she leads you and your students on a wild scientific adventure, searching for "outlandish insects, rare diseases, unique gems and more" (from Introduction to The Dung Beetle). The Curiosity Files is a new series of Unit Studies by The Old Schoolhouse, focusing on unusual scientific subjects. We were captivated from page one of The Dung Beetle. The timing was perfect, giving us a break from our usual school routine while still covering all the core subjects.
Easily adapted to accomodate all ages, The Curiosity Files is especially recommended for ages 8-13. My second grader and I took turns with the reading. Spelling was addressed through fun games, using the provided vocabulary list for elementary grades. Another list is included for higher grade levels. I was impressed that my son was able to rattle off the definitions of the vocabulary words after three days. The Dung Beetle includes copious amounts of written work. I have a wiggle worm disguised as a seven year old boy and the copywork became tedious for him. We skipped the last page of it. I had him write in the answers to the reading comprehension portion, but allowed him to dictate his stories to me in the creative writing section.
The math lessons were fun. We ran around the house measuring everything in sight. We worked out geometric problems by rolling dung balls made of clay. A full page of Bible based discussion questions is included for those who teach religion, easily omitted for those who don't. Several Bible references are made on other pages, most notably the copywork (all Bible verses).
For our science project, we followed the directions included for making a model of a dragonfly, another beneficial insect. Only our clay was all dried out, so first we had to make some clay! We also researched why dung beetles have horns.
Even history is included, as we studied the scarab beetle in ancient Egypt, then did some research to discover a famous entomologist who specifically studied the Dung Beetle. Our findings led us to conclude that we need more dung beetles on our homestead!
Lapbooking is becoming a favorite way to document our homeschool studies, and several templates are included in The Dung Beetle. We put all our work in the lapbook, along with several mini books, including one titled "Where In The World Can I Find A Dung Beetle?" In assembling the lapbook, my son reviewed some of his work and decided to make a few improvements - now that's an improvement I like.
All the Curiosity Files are downloadable eUnit Studies. Several are on sale now for just $1.00!! That's a big savings over the regular price of $6.95. The nine unit package is available for $46. Other studies include: MRSA, Puffer Fish and Zombie Fire Ants. The Dung Beetle
See what other Homeschool Crew members are saying about The Curiosity Files.
We received one free download of The Curiosity Files - The Dung Beetle to use and review. No other compensation was received for this review.
Saturday, February 5, 2011
One of the drawbacks of living out in the boonies - our internet service has been pretty spotty since before Thanksgiving. I'm pretty tolerant. It's taken me this long to finally get fed up. After yelling at my computer screen, then hanging up on the computerized "tech support" several times, I finally turned to cookie therapy. Creating always helps me to refocus on something positive rather than the problem I can do nothing about at the moment. It also lowers my blood pressure (pretty scary, because my BP is normally low).
So what level of Cookie Therapy is called for after over two months of lousy internet service? Hmmm, first, a batch of Lemon Bars. One of my faves, because I always have plenty of organic California lemons, thanks to Dad's tree. And the crust is flour, butter and sugar. How can you go wrong with that? Of course, I use whole wheat flour. Next came six plus dozen Snickerdoodles. Those got baked right after the lemon bars. They're cheap and easy comfort cookies. Then I mixed up two more varieties for the coming days when I knew I would need more Cookie Therapy. These needed to be refrigerated before baking anyway. Sure enough, the morning after the snickerdoodles and lemon bars, no internet. So I baked eight dozen Chocolate Crinkles. I love this recipe, because it uses less expensive cocoa, which I always have on hand for hot chocolate and brownies, instead of more expensive chocolate chips (which I tend to sneak into and eat). They are also a perfect fix for a chocolate craving. Still in the fridge, awaiting the next outage, is a batch of Lemon Cheese Spritz. I mixed these up because I happened to have the cream cheese, and I have been wanting to use my cookie press. So sometime in the next few days I will be baking the Spritz.
There are several side perks to Cookie Therapy. Baking helps warm the house. I know we're eating healthier snacks, with organic whole wheat flour and real butter, without hydrogenates and unpronounceable additives. And my freezer is stocked for the next couple months with said snacks. Well, I think they'll last a couple months...
So which recipe should I share? Oh, the dilemma! I guess it has to be the Chocolate Crinkles, because of Valentine's Day coming up, and Mrs. D's chocoholism. Here it is:
Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
(adapted from original in Betty Crocker's Cooky Book (c)1963)
1/2 c. olive oil
12 T cocoa plus 4 T olive oil
2 cups sugar
1 T molasses
2 t. vanilla
2 c. whole wheat flour
2 t. non-aluminum baking powder
1/2 t. sea salt
1 c. sugar processed in blender for 1 min. (substitute for confectioner's sugar)
Mix oil, cocoa and oil, sugar and molasses. Stir in 1 egg at a time until well mixed. Stir in vanilla. Mix flour, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl, then add to wet ingredients. Mix well. Chill overnight.
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Drop small spoonfuls of dough into remaining sugar (processed in blender or confectioner's). Roll in sugar, shape into balls. Place about 2" apart on greased baking sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes. Do not overbake! Makes about 6 dozen cookies.
Anyway, if anyone out there has a recommendation for rural internet service, such as Hughesnet, Mifi, aircard, please let me know. Or go to Mrs. D's Homestead on Facebook and join in the discussion there.