Our farm animal in focus this last week was the sheep. We visited Hillyard Farms and met Amanda and her mom, Susan. They were just wonderful. They really made us and the kids feel welcome. Now the sheep were a different story, haha. They were quite shy. They gave us some good information on the sheep. They raise Icelandic sheep. They have a small group of about 9. Icelandic sheep have two coats, tog (the top coat--soft, long and hangs in loose curls) and thel (the bottom coat which is soft and very fine). They are sheared twice a year. They are genetically predisposed to multiple births which can result in twins, triplets, and so on to sextuplets. They are good for meat, milk or fleece. Now about sheep in general, girls are called ewes and boys are called rams or wethers. They have hooves that have two toes and usually need trimming twice a year. They are ruminants, having 4 stomachs and chewing their cud. They are afraid of crossing water and of other animals. The Icelandic sheep had a donkey on the property to help protect them. A few of their sheep had been sheared and a few had not yet been sheared. They showed us some samples of freshly sheared wool and cleaned and carded wool. Amanda shears her sheep, removes the major bits of debris, and then sells it raw/uncleaned. If you are interested in some, I would highly recommend them. Amanda and her mom led the sheep near us and gave them food so that the kids could observe their behavior and do a little drawing. They were certainly shy of our little group but we still had a great time.
A few days later we went out to an open farm day at Rising Meadows Farm and Goat Lady Dairy. We got to see more sheep at Rising Meadows. There were lots of lambs and lots of "baa"ing on the property. It was fun to watch some of the lamb behavior. There was one ewe sheep that aloud us to pet on her. Pictures of these sheep and the other animals we saw that day will follow in another post. Olivia got the opportunity to do several drawings in her nature journal after these experiences.
At our Cottage Co-op meeting, we read or looked at pictures in a few books about sheep. (There was a good one that we read but I can't find a link to at the moment. Maybe our leader will comment with the title. Thanks, Kallie. :) She always does a great job picking out books and pictures and information for the kids.) We also saw some of the cleaned raw wool, yarn and a knitted scarf. To occupy the younger kids during the drawing time, I brought some realistic coloring pages, the samples of wool, a stuffed sheep, and some books for younger ones.
For our composer, we listened to Our Town by Aaron Copeland. He has been our composer for the term. I am not sure if I have mentioned him much, but his works were heavily influenced by American life and culture, specifically jazz music. Our Town was based on many black and white photographs of everyday Americans and their work, which the kids got to see some of as we listened.
Our picture study was Barn Dance by Grandma Moses. We have learned what an amazing lady she is and listened to some of her telling of what life was like in her time. This meeting, we learned that her first painting was done in her parlor to fill a space where she ran out of wallpaper. What a creative lady! (Olivia's Nana did this once when she couldn't find a piece of artwork for her foyer that she liked. She painted one right on the wall and stuck a frame around it! :)
For our habit study on self control, we played Mother May I and we sang Slow To Anger by the Harrow Family, which is Proverbs 16:32 put to music. He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, And he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city. I want the kids to hear straight from the bible that selfcontrol is very important. Oh how I could sing that song to myself all the time.
Olivia recited the first half of Nest Eggs by Robert Louis Stevenson and Gabe actually got up in front of the others by himself and recited Baa, Baa Black Sheep. Now, he was rather hard to hear and understand but his effort was exciting to see. :) I just have to say here that I love listening to all the kids recite, read, or sing poetry.