Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The chicks are growing.

We do other things at our house than just chickens.  That's what I've been writing about here lately though.  It's been one of the only bright spots.  We've had sickness floating around our house for the last month.  We are hoping that with the coming of spring (sometime in the next six weeks), we will get over this.  We can't complain though.  It's been a relatively healthy winter for the Gammons Fam.

The chicks are almost ready to be introduced to their outside home.  We're thinking the weekend after Easter.  Here's hoping.  I think they'll like it a lot better out there.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Read Aloud--Minnesota History

This year I have been "teaching" Minnesota history to the boys. It has been a lot of fun. It's mostly consisted of reading some really great novels and following it up with content from the text Northern Lights, from the Minnesota Historical Society.  The text has been a good supplement to our reading and has guided us through the main topics.  This post is going to be about the novels that I've read aloud to the kids so far.

Our first Minnesota novel was The Broken Blade by William Durbin.  This is the story of the son of a voyageur in Quebec who is forced into the canoe work after his father is hurt.  It is a great story that really gives a lot of information about the lives of the voyageurs and their arduous journey through the great lakes on their way to Grand Portage, Minnesota.  It held the boys attention and each night they were asking for more and wanted to find out what happened next.  William Durbin has a number of historical fiction novels, many set in Minnesota.

Next we read what has been my favorite read so far, Early Candlelight by Maude Hart Lovelace.  At 342 pages, this is one of the longest books that we've read in our read aloud journey, but it was just too good of a book to not get all of the way through.  The story is set just outside of Fort Snelling, at the junction of the Minnesota and Mississippi rivers.  The two main characters are Jasper Page, a trader who works closely with the voyageurs, the natives and the soldiers and Dee, the oldest daughter of a squatter family that lives just outside the fort.  The story was so gripping and complex.  There were definitely some more adult sections of the story that I had to process with the boys, for instance when one of the sergeants steals the Indian wife-to-be of Dee's brother.  The fight that ensued led to some definitely adult language, but very true to character and not gratuitous.  As we got further along in our history text, we found out just how much of this novel was really true.  The author put many real characters in and weaved history into the fiction so well.  This is a novel that I would recommend to anyone.  If you're looking for your next great read, pick this up.  We can't wait to go to historic Fort Snelling this summer when it opens again.

After that, we read On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilders.  We love Little House on the Prairie so it was fun to read this.  I had not ever read any of her work.  It is not the best book that I've ever read, but it was again another great look into the history of the sodbusters of Minnesota.  We got a great picture of what is was to live in a sod house, break the land, build a house out of purchased lumber and hope for a good crop only to have it ravaged by locusts.  The girls joined us for many nights of this one.  They love to play Laura and Mary so this just added fuel to that fire.
Last night we just finished our second William Durbin novel, Blackwater Ben.  In this book, Ben joins his father who is a cook at a lumber camp in northern Minnesota.  Ben is not thrilled about the work and wonders why his father is always pushing him so hard.  When another cookee, Nevers from South Carolina, joins them, Ben's load is lifted and he finds a good friend.  The book gives a very interesting look into the workings of a lumber camp at the height of the timber industry in Minnesota, about 1898.  When we go to the north shore this summer, we are hoping to get to see some of the last remaining old growth white pine in Minnesota.  While I didn't enjoy this one as much as the other Durbin novel we read, the boys really seemed to love it.  It would team really well with another novel that we read a few years ago, Swift Rivers by Cornelia Meigs.  Its the story of the river runs that happen after the timber is felled and sent to the river to be transported to the mills.  The boys referenced it often as we read Blackwater Ben.

I love history and so doing this project with the boys has been great.  Our next read will go back in time a little, a biography of Little Crow, a native leader who was involved in the Minnesota Dakota War of 1862.  I can't wait to get around to some of the historical sites.  We are hoping to do some field trips this spring.  Cross your fingers.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Chicks Have Moved

Our 22 initial chicks have become 19. The remaining ones have grown like weeds. We first divided them into two brooder boxes in our laundry room. Then they seemed to be even too big for that. So after trying a couple of other solutions, we settled in moving them to the basement. Hopefully this will be okay until we can move them out to the coop in a month or so.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Caleb's Recital

Caleb played at his first recital this past Saturday.  He did such a good job.  He was the youngest person to play.  It was a lot of fun to watch the older boys play and look forward to his growth on the instrument.  You can watch the videos below and enjoy them as we did.

Friday, March 1, 2013

The Chicks Are Here

At 6:01 this morning we got a call from the post office letting us know that our chicks were ready to be picked up.  Shube, Caleb, Matthew and I hightailed it over there and were back with the tiny box of chicks.

One of them was obviously not doing well when we got them into our brooder.  Already the others were pecking and even walking over her.  We had to kill that one.  One other seems to be just standing around, not really very active.  The others seem to being doing pretty well.  We'll keep you updated.

Lucy didn't really want to hold one, but still wanted her picture taken.  She wasn't going to take her eyes off of that chick.