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Sonlit Acres

Encouraging sustainable living

The Homestead Is A Family Affair.


My Answer to the Question of Homesteading and children: Everyone is expected to do their part in providing for the family on a homestead. Girls do much of the cleaning and helping their mother in the house. Each day the beds need to be made, floors swept, and rugs beaten. There is always laundry and mending to be done. The girls help in the kitchen to prepare meals by peeling vegetables or churning butter. One of our girls loves animals and also helped out with them she is a natural and all the animals here trust her.

Older boys chop fire wood, clean the barn, and look after the animals. Feeding and watering the livestock is a responsibility that cannot be taken lightly. Hunting and fishing are so much enjoyed that many times doing chores doesn't seem like chores if we are getting ready to go to one of these activities. Even the smallest child can be given some way to help. Bringing wood in from the shed, planting potatoes and feeding the chickens, are all easy chores that can be done by children as young as six or seven. Our five-year-old prided himself in following Dad around the homestead and helping out in his own way.

The boys on our homestead also helped in the cleaning of the house and washing of clothes. Nothing is truly gender specific on this homestead. During haying season, everyone came to the fields to help out. The garden is also tended buy all on the homestead. The children harvest and help prepare the produce. Mom and Dad are there as well getting everything cut, peeled, chopped and canned. Many times the last load doesn't come out of the canner until the wee hours of the morning. The old house was rebuilt with the help of my oldest son. He worked shoulder to shoulder with me to get it ready before the first snows of winter came.

The thing about living a self-sustaining life is that everyone that is old enough and eats needs to be helping with something. If there are only two of you, you will both work. If there are 10 of you, 2 can't possibly get all the chores done that are required. It truly does take effort from everyone that is old enough to get the work done. Now please don't think oh those poor kids, all they seem to do is work. Our children are given plenty of play time and most of the real labor intensive work is done by the tractors and the machines we have to do it. The children help in the smaller thing s so that the big things can be getting done by Dad and Mom. Most of the chores for the children averaged less than 3 hours in a day.

We even broke down several years ago and bought a wood splitter. Wood splitting by hand was Dad's job so was and is cutting the large trees down. Now in order for the young men of the house to learn to do these things they have to be exposed to them and taught how to do them. At a proper age when a boy shows he is responsible enough to operate a chainsaw he is taught how to use one with safety. He is given the proper gear and is brought to the woods and gets to use a saw on a limited basis until he is ready to cut down his first tree.

The same goes for each child and with each kind of equipment. All are taught to be safe first and then as their ability allows they are given more instruction until they can accomplish it alone and in a safe manner. No one is allowed to be alone with anything on this homestead and that includes Dad. It is always a matter of safety. The end result is they grow and are taught how to be men and learn the importance of work and responsibility. They are taught to do in the house because some day they will have a wife and they'll need to know how to help her.

Mom spends much time teaching the girls first and foremost to be ladies, they are taught to cook, clean, sew, and help with infants and younger children. Along with helping on the outdoor things because one day they will have husband's and they also will need to know how help him. They may one day bare children and helping with youngsters now teaches them about babies and youngsters so they won't come into that honor blind, they will have been taught.

Some folks don't have large families as we did and that is OK, not everything that happens on one homestead is the same as another homestead. We all have our way of doing things and we all live at different levels. Those that  have a garden and no livestock have less to do and care for, those of us that have any manner of livestock and large garden areas have much more to do. Having the family involved and helping makes for getting things done in a timely and easier manner. The children learn bits of responsibility and will not grow up to be adults having no clue what the world of work is all about.

You will find in most cases that the younger children are eager to help and will do so, and be proud of the fact that they can be involved, enjoying the interaction with their parents and siblings as they work together for the good of the family on the homestead. This will hold true until they reach the early teens and then they begin to find other interests, those interest have to be nurtured and should be, but they also know they have the responsibility to help on the homestead at given times.

The homestead is truly a family affair and involving the entire family gives everyone the sense of ownership in the production of the needs that the homestead provides. It should be a place to nurture the abilities of the child and a place of love comfort and safety to them.

Remember it is also a time of making the childhood memories they will share with their children years down the road.


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