Archive for October, 2014

20 jobs kids can do on a family homestead

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

We all know there are so many different facets to a homestead. But, the one constant is there is always work to be done. Simple easy to handle projects are perfect for small hands of many ages. Just because your kids are under ten doesn’t mean they can’t pitch in and help.  

Specific jobs that kids can take ownership of, and take pride in, gives them a healthy view of the world and themselves. It also gives them the opportunity to set goals and feel needed and valued as a contributing member of the homestead. Why leave all the work to mom and dad?

Below are 20 homestead jobs that kids can do. This is just a start. You may have other specific jobs on your own homestead.

Here we go:

Planting seeds and bulbs — get kids excited about gardening by letting them plant. They are more careful and gentle than many adults and it gives them a sense of accomplishment when the first shoots break through the soil.

Pulling weeds! — Let your kids “protect” their little seedlings by pulling the weeds around them. But, be sure to teach them the difference between “good” little sprouts and “bad”. No child wants to pull out their long awaited for seedlings.

Watering the garden — watering helps kids learn the needs of their garden, what plants need more watering than others.

Foraging for wild edibles — Teaching your kids what is edible in the wild will help them learn about taste and texture, and how much the wild world can provide. But, you may want to supervise young children so they don’t pick the “wrong” things.

Feeding poultry and livestock — I’ve never met a kid who doesn’t like to feed the animals. Making this your children’s job will teach them so many life lessons, from how to act around livestock to being observant and noticing when an animal isn’t acting right. It will also teach them that some animals get to stay (breeding stock or laying hens), while others go away and come back in packages (meat animals). It’s all part of the cycle of a homestead, but the decision to involve them in the processing of meat animals is entirely up to you and your child.

Cleaning livestock pens and chicken coops — Not necessarily the most fun job on the homestead, but definitely a necessary one. This job will teach kids that farm life is “work”. But, it will also teach them how valuable it is to the animals to live in a clean pen or coop—healthy, happy animals, clean eggs, safe meat.

Harvesting fruits and vegetables from the garden — Bring the garden full circle with the harvest. Teach them the right time, color and size to pick fruits and vegetables. Let them be proud of their haul and talk with them about the ancient celebrations surrounding harvest time.

Storing the harvest — With help and supervision even small kids can help can fruits and veggies for the larder. Encourage them to develop their own combinations of jams, soups or sauces. And, don’t forget about dehydrating the harvest, herbs, making fruit leather or jerky. It will give them the incentive to try new foods or different combinations. The possibilities are endless.

Saving seeds — This is one of those long term projects that teach kids about being patient. Not only do seeds have to be collected and stored, they can’t be planted until the following spring.

Go fishing! — This may seem like an easy kid friendly job, but there is a difference between “goin’ fishin” and fishing to put food on the table. There are goals to be set, the number of fish to catch. There is learning how to properly clean fish and of course there is learning to be patient and quiet.

Small game hunting — Every homestead child should be taught to use a gun. From safety to shooting, this will be an invaluable skill. When the time and age are right and they have gone through a proper hunter safety class kids can help put small game on the table or in the freezer. Any child, even girls, can take pride in bringing home rabbit, turkey or goose for the family.

Gathering firewood — Kids of all ages can learn to keep the home fires burning. Young ones can collect sticks and small pieces for kindling and stove wood, while older kids can help collect, split and stack larger logs. Lessons learned will follow them well into adult life.

Building projects — With a little bit of freedom and a relaxed attitude about perfection let your child’s imagination run. From bean poles in the garden and storage boxes in the garage to a rabbit hutch or livestock panel kids can handle a lot if you just give them some simple instructions and the freedom to figure it out themselves.

Washing dishes — This may not be the favorite job on a homestead, but it is a necessary one. Washing dishes will teach kids the importance of cleanliness and the prevention of bacteria, which can cause colds and flues.

Drying dishes – Kids who dry dishes manage the quality control of the dish washer. They are the last line of defense in keeping germs away from the people using the dishes.

Laundry — Younger kids can help to sort laundry into jeans, towels or sheets. By the time kids reach junior high age they should be able to help with the whole process, whether you use a modern washing machine or stick with the old fashioned methods.

Line Drying — Here again, even small kids can help hang towels, pillow cases, and socks on an outdoor clothes line. As they get older, and taller, they can gradually handle most of the line drying tasks. Or, have kids work in teams and teach them the benefits of teamwork.

Folding clothes and putting them away — This may not sound like much, but kids can get a great sense of satisfaction from folding and putting away the laundry. Keep it age appropriate as in washing and drying jobs.

Sweeping and mopping — We all know how dirty a homestead house can get. But, having kids help sweep and mop will not only continue on the cleanliness theme, but may just encourage them to be more cautious about what they track into the house.

Cooking! — Start young kids off with small tasks like slicing fruit or heating up soup. They will learn safety with kitchen tools and safety in the kitchen. As they get older, they will enjoy picking out their own recipes from books and magazines. They might even surprise you!

Kids can be an integral part of the family homestead rather than a silent party. Including your kids in all the aspects of the family homestead will make them feel more a part of its success. Encouraging them to journal their day-to-day activities will give them a powerful history of their young life. It will also give them time to practice their penmanship, writing skills and will help them to express themselves.

Great experiences lead to great learning. Armed with a life full of activities and the freedom to pursue their own interests kids will grow up to be inquisitive, curious, life-long learners.