Friday, 11 April 2014

We've accidentally become "shepherds"

We have begun doing a Family Walk and Talk at 5pm every afternoon. We shoo out the neighbourhood kids, get everyone into socks and sneakers, and head out walking along the dirt road out of town. The second afternoon we saw a fox several times as it cut across two paddocks either side of the road. The next day we saw another fox and also a big black bull that had been put in one of the paddocks. These sights and others have led to some interesting discussions.

Yesterday, when we were almost to our turn around point (we walk a bit further every day), we found a newborn lamb outside her paddock's fence on the road verge. The lamb had probably escaped under the fence where it crosses a creek, but her mother would have been too big to follow, and the lamb could not find her way back to her mother. The mob of sheep in that paddock had all wandered off and seemed determined not to return. The ewe had possibly abandoned her lamb because they were separated for too long and the mother gave up on getting her back. Alternatively, the lamb may have been abandoned because she was a twin or not healthy. We’ve been told ewes have a habit of deserting lambs they don’t think will make it.

Abigail, our resident tender-hearted would-be-mother, began to cry at the thought of the lamb being killed by the foxes we had seen before. We decided to take her home and call some of our friends to ask for advice on raising a lamb. So now we are accidental shepherds!

We have decided the lamb's name shall be Gertrude Little (as in Mary had a "little" lamb), Gerty for short, although Sam has announced he will call her Cutey.


Our farmer friends came over after the kids were in bed and brought us half a bag of lamb formula mix, as well as some electrolyte medicine to prevent dehydration, and gave us lots of advice on how to care for Gertrude. We have to feed her three-hourly during the day but only very small amounts (about 50mL) for the first day or two, because abandoned lambs can die from overfeeding when being handfed. We have been warned "not to kill her with kindness.”

Gertrude’s poops show she is a very young lamb, possibly only a day or two old. She still has her umbilical cord hanging down, dried black and withered. We laid down newspaper in the chick-raising cabinet in the mud room that Joshua got for his birthday (which has not yet been used to hatch any chicks) and she slept in that last night. During the day we are putting her in the chicken run, though we will bring her in at night until she is bigger, because of the colder temperatures.

There was a big frightened fluster among the chickens when I carried Gertrude out to the back yard this morning after Abi and Sam had helped me feed her and she had promptly pooped all over my pyjamas. The chickens are presently too frightened of Gerty to come out from the far side of their coop where they are hiding from her under the tree, even though Lizzy Blizzard, Sharp Toes and even Snowy are probably bigger than Gertrude Little. I think they are worried she might be a dog and therefore dangerous.

The kids are all very excited to be shepherds, especially Sam and Abi. And me too! I can hear her bleating at the moment, but her bleats are not as loud as Sharp Toes’s crows, although he has been very silent today. Poor chickens. I hope they get over their fear of Gerty soon.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Book review: Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins

I chose to read Gregor the Overlander because it is written by the author of The Hunger Games but is written for younger kids like me. I enjoyed reading this book because at every twist and turn of the book something unexpected happened. It was also very funny in places.

Gregor lives in a New York apartment building, where he discovers a way to go underground, to the Underland. There he finds a hidden city, meets a princess, and goes on adventures with a giant rat, a giant bat, a giant cockroach and his little sister Boots.

I recommend this book to people who like to read about adventures, strange lands, prophecies, wars and dangerous quests. Gregor the Overlander is available from our school library. There are four more books that continue the stories of Gregor’s adventures. These may be borrowed as ebooks from the State Library of WA.

Reviewed by Anna, age 9.

(Anna wrote this for the school newsletter at the suggestion of our school librarian.)

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

A quote from the foundation of my nation's history

"While men continue to think freely, they will judge variously."
~ Watkin Tench, Captain of the Marines,
Sydney Cove, Port Jackson, New South Wales, 10 July 1788

A Narrative of the Expedition to Botany Bay, 1789

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Before you say, "I'm bored. What can I do?" READ THIS LIST

A list for the holidays.

What you can do outdoors:
Talk to the chickens. Check if they have laid any eggs.
Jump on the trampoline. Climb the tree and swing onto the trampoline.
Take a ball from the outdoor toy box and play catch.
Take a bat and ball from the outdoor toy box and play baseball or cricket.
Climb on the straw bales in the back yard and pretend you are king of the mountain. Jump off!
Take a piece of fruit from the kitchen bench and eat it. Feed the scraps to the chickens.
If it’s sunny, ask Mum or Dad if you can go to the skate park to ride your bike or scooter.
If it’s wet, ask Mum or Dad if you can put on your boots and raincoat and go puddle jumping.
Ask Dad if you can help him with his building projects.

What you can do indoors:
Ask Mum if she has any chores with which you can help.
Ask Joshua if you can battle Pokemon against him.
Ask Anna if you can listen to her play her guitar.
Ask Abigail if you can play Sylvanian Families with her.
Ask Samuel if you can read a story to him.
Read a book. Then read another book.
Do a puzzle or two or three: do dot-to-dots, or mazes, or cross-words, or find-a-words.
Draw a picture. Write a story about the picture.
Draw a map. Make a legend to explain what the symbols on the map represent.
Play with Lego. Then, tidy up the Lego before you play with something else.
Play a board game. Play a card game. Play a puzzle game.
Put on some music and dance and sing.
Put on dress ups and pretend to be someone else.
Ask Mum to read aloud to you or cook with you.

What you can do during afternoon Quiet Time:
Listen to a book-on-CD in the lounge room. Put the CD away in the CD case when you’re finished.
Read books on your bed. Put them away on the bookshelf when you’re finished.
Play with your teddies or dolls in your bedroom. Pack them away when you’re finished.

What you CANNOT do:
Use the computer or wii or iPad or iPod or TV, between 8am and sunset.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Motherhood is a Calling, Not a Hobby

I was browsing and found this post on DesiringGod.org. I think I might need to come back to it often, to encourage myself. Here's a tid-bit:

"Motherhood is not a hobby, it is a calling. You do not collect children because you find them cuter than stamps. It is not something to do if you can squeeze the time in. It is what God gave you time for.

Christian mothers carry their children in hostile territory. When you are in public with them, you are standing with, and defending, the objects of cultural dislike. You are publicly testifying that you value what God values, and that you refuse to value what the world values. You stand with the defenseless and in front of the needy. You represent everything that our culture hates, because you represent laying down your life for another—and laying down your life for another represents the gospel."
If you're a mother, be encouraged in your calling to demonstrate the gospel through your motherhood.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

My Own Little Swallows

I've been reading Swallowdale by Arthur Ransome aloud to the kids recently, and this morning they went off as shipwrecked sailors and explorers to the open scrub up the road from our house, on the edge of our town.

They carried the necessary rations in "knapsacks":
"pemmican" (twiggy sticks)
"grog" (cans of ginger beer)
bread and "bun loaf" (homemade bread)
"marmalade" (since there is a general disinclination to digest marmalade among our children, they settled on a jar with butter)
"apples all round" (apples - duh)
"chocolate rations (real chocolate, individual bars so there was no arguing)
and some cheese.

They also carried their own supplies. Anna, as Ship's Mate and Cook, carried the bulk of the rations as well as two plastic knives. Joshua, as Ship's Captain and leader of the expedition, carried the Ship's Knife on a belt, and also carried the Ship's Compass and Whistle for rallying the crew. Abigail was the Able Seaman, and she carried the digital camera for the Ship's Log (although she didn't do a very good job at taking photos, unfortunately) and Samuel, the Ship's Boy, carried the tarpaulin and octopus straps for shelter. Everyone wore gumboots and warm jumpers.

Here they are, ready to proceed up the "beck" (the little seasonal creek that goes under the road into town).

Monday, 9 September 2013

A Mathematical Mind

The first words that Samuel spoke this morning, still hazy with dream-sleep, were "four ... teen ... times by one hundred ... equals one thousand four hundred." What six year old child dreams of multiplication equations with answers into the thousands? And gets them correct?

This is not the first time Samuel has woken with mathematics on his mind. A week ago he woke and rolled over (he often comes into our bed in the wee hours of the morning) to ask me a series of doubling questions, such as "what is twice one hundred and twenty eight?" and "what is twice two hundred and fifty six?"

Samuel loves numbers. Last week we walked to school calculating halves of various numbers. He wasn't just interested in half of one whole, although that is where he started. Then he wanted to know, among others, what was half of five and a half, and what was half of one hundred and one and a half.

We use number sequences as a distractor to calm him down, especially when we are walking somewhere, such as to school or church, and can't stop for a cuddle and a back rub. Once when we were shopping for shoes for his sisters, Samuel got fed up and we helped him to calm down by instructing him to count the silver studs on a leather belt for sale in the store.

This isn't a recent interest. Samuel could rote count to ten (echolalia-like) well before he could string two words together to make a sentence. He loved to count to three and then, once he'd learnt, to ten, before jumping from the coffee table into my waiting arms as I sat on the couch. He loved to count as Jeff and I walked along, swinging him between us holding his hands.

Well before the age of two, I knew my son had a mathematical mind.