SummaryAs harvest time wraps up, Amanda Evinger is thankful for the bounty of life and homeschooling lessons learned from keeping their family garden and chickens.
As the leaves become a radiant gold and the corn is sweet as fresh honey, we remember the goodness of our Creator God, and the harvest He has given to us, yet another year.
In His mercy, He has given our family not only the land to grow a bountiful garden and raise chickens but also the wisdom to cultivate and nurture the gifts He has bestowed. As harvest time draws to a close in our little corner of rural North Dakota, I love to spend time not only freezing corn, canning pickles and making pear butter, but also harvesting the life lessons that come right along with the whole deal.
This year, here are some of the insights I’ve gleaned from raising a garden and keeping chickens:
1. Planting seeds is a mighty powerful thing!
This summer, it became vividly clear to me that many amazing, beautiful and nourishing things can come to be when one plants a seed and takes care of it.
Although the act of planting a tiny seed can seem so insignificant at the time, the implications of it can truly be astounding in the end.
2. Patience is a virtue — really!
Many wonderful things are wrought by practicing patience. All summer we waited for our corn to ripen. It seemed like it was taking forever, and I just wanted to get the harvest done with.
However, when it did ripen in October, it proved to be a great blessing because I found out I was pregnant and was really craving sweet corn!
3. If you’re kind to creatures, they’ll be kind to you.
My husband and children have taken such careful care of our chickens since they were baby chicks. They have played with them and made sure they had the best food and warm shelter. My husband even made them a “world class” chicken coop!
Many people have noticed how tame our chickens are. So far, none of them are rough with people or peck at them hurtfully. Truly, if you respect God’s creatures, animals and people alike, your kindness will be returned!
4. Children learn through adventures and hands-on experiences very well.
We all know how impressionable children are, and when they can use their five senses as they learn, they will grasp concepts and retain them much better. I’ve seen this happen when my children are out working with the chickens, or shucking corn.
They seem to remember everything they have learned while doing it, almost effortlessly.
5. God makes all things beautiful in His time.
As it says in Ecclesiastes 3:1,
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under Heaven.”
When you work alongside nature, you realize that God ordains things to happen at certain times so that all can work together harmoniously and effectively.
6. God knows what our families need.
Some years our sweet potatoes are a success, and some years they aren’t. Some years are peas are ruined by hail, and some years they are not. Time and time again, I see that God foresees what kind of food and how much our family will will need that year, and whatever we are lacking in, it seems I’m able to get from a neighbor or find elsewhere easily.
7. Rain rocks!
As St. Teresa of Avila once said, “There is no such thing as bad weather. All weather is God’s!” Growing up in the midst of city life, I was always taught that rain was just a pain. Now that we need rain desperately for a good garden, I realize God can be working behind even those little things in life we thought were nuisances.
8. Gardens are a blessing, but so are good books!
There is much talk about how important it is to have children learn to grow their own food and work with animals as part of their education. Obviously, I do believe this with my heart of hearts, but I don’t think this kind of learning should replace or interfere with good ol’ “book learning” as well. Wholesome books are some of the world’s greatest treasures!
9. Making time for school doesn’t always look like what you think it should.
Sometimes, right after I have oh-so-smoothly started school for the day, my husband will come marching into the kitchen and ask, “Did you kids let the chickens out yet?” or he’ll announce that it’s going to rain, and the tomatoes need to be picked over. Sigh. At this moments, I have to remember that my children’s education doesn’t always come in a neat little box that looks the same every day, just as I predicted or planned it to look.
Healthy detours that teach well-rounded responsibility or tend to other necessities of life can enhance a child’s education. It is amazing to me that when I make time for these “detours” with a cheerful spirit, somehow God seems to help us get our original daily lesson plan almost entirely done anyhow!
Overall, I have seen that whenever children can take ownership, connect with nature, and do some hands-on learning opportunity outdoors, they are good to go!
Kids are meant to spend plenty of time outside, enjoying living plants and animals and the God who created them. I’m sure many families of beautiful ways of living this out, and look forward to reading stories of their homeschooling days in the future!