It has been two weeks since you've heard any ramblings about our homeschool. We were visited by a rather unpleasant stomach bug last weekend. Due to his visit, I didn't get my blog post out last Friday and we missed a few days of school. However, we are all better now and back to normal. Thank-you, Jesus, for health & strength!
We wrapped up our study of cows last week with making our own butter. I began the butter experience with some doubts - Will this really work to use store-bought heavy cream to make butter? Will we be able to stick with this long enough to see if it works? We put the cream into a pint jar with a lid and ring on it and began shaking.
I explained what "cream" is to the boys because we drink goat milk (which does not separate like cow milk) and store-bought milk that is homogenized. We took turns shaking the jar as we reviewed the letter c, our verse for the week, and the character lesson about cows - God's word helps us grow. (Our curriculum has a character lesson or truth for each unit.) After about 10 minutes of shaking (and several peeks into the jar), it seemed like the cream was too thick to shake. We opened the jar and were delighted to see that the cream had thickened into "whipping cream."
I eagerly sampled some, but the boys were rather hesitant. Mmm...it was delicious, but I knew we weren't at the butter stage yet. The cream wouldn't shake in the jar because it was too full. I dumped it into the blender and tried whipping it, but that didn't work. The whipping cream just sat there in the blender. So, I dumped just a bit of the whipping cream into the jar for easier shaking. After about 5 more minutes of shaking, suddenly we had butter!! I was surprised how quickly it happened. There was also a liquid in the jar with the lump of butter. I've heard this liquid called "buttermilk" and "whey." I'm not really sure what it is (can anyone help me in the comments section?), but I dumped it out and we had our butter and 3 proud boys!
This week, we began studying horses and the letter h. I love the lesson to go with the horse - I will obey right away! We discussed how important it is for a horse to obey his master immediately for his safety and well-being. Of course, I related this to how they need to obey for their safety and well-being.
We began our unit with making a clay model of a horse. As we made them, we discussed some parts of a horse - hock, withers, quarters, muzzle, etc. MJ was delighted to take part in this activity!
We compared and contrasted horses and cars today. The best part of that discussion was in what "waste" they both leave behind. The boys got a smile out of that. We will continue horses next week. For now, I'll leave you with two of my favorite baby EJ photos. First, a smile!! He's been smiling since 3 weeks old, and I finally captured one. Second, a precious moment between brothers JJ and EJ. Blessings on your weekend!
This post is linked to the weekly wrap-up at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.
Above is a picture of our unexpected early Christmas gift. If you aren't sure what it is, it is Cocoa's ultrasound showing one of several puppies! We are delighted to announce that Cocoa is due in early December with a litter of puppies sired by our own Cooper.
So, why do we call this an unexpected early Christmas gift? Well, let me begin by saying that I'm a planner by nature. And I had everything PLANNED out. Cocoa had puppies in May of 2016, and we were planning to skip her heat cycle this fall to then breed her for a litter of puppies in the spring. We planned this way because we like to keep our girls to one litter a year in order to give them some time "off." We also wanted to use Cooper as a stud, and we knew he was still a bit young to begin his "fathering career" in the fall of 2016. In addition, we knew that Jolly's next litter would likely be in the spring of 2017 because we skipped her heat cycle in July 2016. It is convenient to have our puppy litters close together when it comes to planning family vacations, etc.
So, when Cocoa came into heat in October 2016, we dutifully kept her and Cooper separate - no easy task for two dogs used to always being together. Even before we had Cooper, we had to watch our females very closely during their heat cycles while outside due to neighborhood dogs. (We do not have a fence and our dogs roam "free" with our in-ground fence in the backyard.) One morning, my dear husband was watching Cocoa while she did her business outside. Cooper was in the house, and when my husband opened the door to call Cocoa inside, Cooper slipped out. No problem, he thought, since he was calling Cocoa in. He assumed they would both just run inside. However, Cooper showed us that all he needs is a 3 second window to begin his "fathering career." (Translation: The breeding happened very quickly with no time to intervene even though my husband saw the whole event.)
Despite my carefully laid plans for two spring litters being derailed, we are delighted that Cocoa is carrying a healthy litter of puppies due in early December! She was at the vet for an ultrasound. Our vet said there are several puppies with good heartbeats. We are very eager to see what Cooper's first puppies will look like. We can only guess at the colors these puppies will be with a liver parti and black and silver as parents.
Though we wanted to give Cocoa time off, she is in perfect health with no reason not to breed her. Cooper, too, though he is young, is in excellent health. He visited the vet this fall for a health check, and he is doing fabulous. So, there was no physical reason not to breed them, but simply our preferences for the timing of everything.
If you are on our waiting list, you will be receiving an email from us in the near future. If you want to join our waiting list for these puppies, click here. To see pictures of the parents, visit their pages here and here.
We are thrilled to introduce to you the newest mini schnauzer at Russell Homestead - Cooper! We decided in the end of 2015 that the time has come for us to purchase a third mini schnauzer. We chose to add a male to our crew for several reasons. One of the biggest reasons we wanted a male was to give our new puppy families the privilege of being able to meet dad as well as mom. His genetics and disposition are just as important to the new puppy as mom's. We also found that with our girls being drastically different in weight, it was difficult to find a stud that was suitable for both. And, of course, schnauzers are like potato chips - it is hard to just have one or two!
Cooper joined us in March of 2016 and immediately fit right in. Both Jolly and Cocoa readily accepted him into the pack. He did well with our children right from the start. We enrolled him in puppy kindergarten and basic obedience through the Berks County Dog Training Club. He excelled in both courses and received lots of great socialization through the experience.
Cooper has been a delightful addition to our family. Below are some of my favorite pictures of him. Read more about him and see more photos on his page. He visited the vet in November of 2016, and he is in great health. We are planning to use him to sire our 2017 litters here at Russell Homestead. (In fact, he has proven himself already. Read about it on my next blog!)
Vanessa from Russell Homestead. Follower of the Lord Jesus, wife of my knight in shining armor, mother of 5 wonderful children, and joint-keeper of the Russell homestead. Thanks for stopping by!
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