New Feature for 2014 – Montessori Made Affordable

We are a Montessori homeschooling family.  I have been homeschooling for five years and prior to that, I was the Chairman of the Board for a local Montessori School for three years.  We LOVE the Montessori pedagogy and believe it is one of the reasons our boys are so advanced in their education… Montessori created a strong foundation to build on.  However, Montessori materials are expensive which makes many of the items out of reach for homeschoolers. Because I really believe in the Montessori method, I want to help you by creating a new feature for 2014 – Montessori Made Affordable.

Montessori Made Affordable

As I find items that are either a less expensive version of a traditional Montessori work or material or a deal I’ve stumbled upon, I’ll post them here on our blog and on our Facebook page.  It may be an article on how to make the item, it may be a link to a sale, it may be a used item… but any and all will be opportunities to help you implement Montessori concepts in your homeschool more economically.

This blog is actually part of our upper level Montessori homeschool curriculum.  We teach creative writing via Institute for Excellence in Writing and part of my boys’ creative writing curriculum is to blog here at Live and Learn Farm. (Note:  We are starting a link up for tweens and teens in 2014 for other homeschoolers to have an outlet for their children to blog as part of their writing curriculum too!)

In addition to the blog being part of our boys’ creative writing curriculum, it is also part of their Montessori practical life studies. Maria Montessori suggested an Erdkinder environment for children in upper level grades.  We have created our version of an Erdkinder here at Live and Learn Farm… we call it farmschooling.  All of our boys have farm businesses, and they will also be blogging about their businesses.  In this plane of development, Montessori encouraged teaching our children a means to financial independence.

Maria Montessori Four Planes of Development

Along that line, and in the interest of full disclosure… we are an affiliate with some organizations (Amazon, for instance) and are paid a commission if you purchase due to our recommendation.  We will ALWAYS be honest in our recommendation and only recommend items we have used or would use in our homeschool. There is ZERO additional cost to you and it is a tiny (and I mean tiny) amount to us.  That is part of teaching the boys how to earn a living by doing something they LOVE to do (and me too) … writing.

If you are enjoying this post and want to see more, please sign up for our newsletter, join us on Facebook and Google+, follow us on Twitter and Pinterest or sign up on the right to follow our blog.

We hope by showing you how we are continuing to use the Montessori educational philosophy to teach our boys in the upper grades, sharing what is working, how we are implementing it and being genuine in our failures, that you will be blessed by our blog and that it will help you continue to Montessori homeschool into the upper grades.  If we succeed, we hope you will consider our efforts to share our experiences worthwhile and will help – by not only using our links when we introduce the items if they make sense for your homeschool – but also by sharing them with your friends.  We will learn together and help each other!

Thank you for being part of our community and we look forward to presenting Montessori Made Affordable in 2014!






Meet the Chicken Snatcher


Hello and good afternoon!

See, I told you I would be writing on Tuesdays… here I am!  I thought I would update you on Les and let you know he has been moved out to the big chicken pen and is fitting in quite well.  There are a few ladies hogging the food from him, but we are making progress. Do you remember back in August, when I told you something was getting our chickens?  This post will give you all the details and you will get to Meet the Chicken Snatcher!!!!! (cue: dramatic horror movie music here).

Meet the Chicken Snatcher

It all started back when we allowed our chickens to free range.  Regularly, we started finding piles of feathers and another chicken had vanished. One day mom walked outside and came face-to-face with a coyote (it was only about 10 feet away). So, we assumed the coyote was our culprit.  In order to protect my babies, I decided to put them back in the pens. The attacks stopped … but only for a short while.  


About a month ago, it started all over again but for some reason the snatcher was only going after my big chickens (Rhode Island Reds) not my round little basketballs (Bantams).  I got really serious about catching this chicken snatcher.  Dad borrowed a live trap, and we put it by the chicken’s door with cat food in it.  For several days… nothing.  No food gone.  No trap triggered.  Nothing.  Then, one evening as I was putting up my babies, I happened to catch a glimpse of a large bird flying away. The next afternoon, I decided to bait the snatcher!  I was going to leave the coop door open for the snatcher to get in… but with a twist.  

That night, when I put my babies up for the night, I put the live trap inside the coop right at the chicken door! So, when the snatcher walked into the coop, it actually would walk right into my trap.  We returned to the house to help mom get dinner ready.  It wasn’t too long before we heard Molly, our Australian Shepherd, barking up a storm and the chickens raising a fuss. We go out to investigate and my little brother, Blake yells “Oh No! We caught Nipper”.   But, as it turns out, it was not Nipper… it was a much larger bird.  

Nipper the Rooster

Chase and I grabbed a hoe and fished the trap out of the coop … but it was so dark, we really still couldn’t see what we had caught.  We yanked out our flashlights and shined them on the cage.  There it was … the Chicken Snatcher and it had the most beautiful eyes staring back at us.  This bird was huge. It was a Great Horned Owl.  

We raced back to the house to tell mom and to do some research to confirm that it was indeed a Great Horned Owl.   Once we determined that it was, we quickly realized it is on the endangered species list! So we were very careful not to hurt it… we would never want to hurt an owl anyway!  However, we had to do something to keep it from killing our chickens. So dad relocated it about 4 miles down the road from our house.  No birds were harmed this evening… not my chickens nor the owl!  

Beautiful Eyes Staring Back at us


One of the harder parts of being a chicken keeper is dealing with the loss of chickens precious to you.  These chickens are my pets. Being on a farm, you do get half-way used to it, but it still hurts.  

Thanks y’all  for reading all my posts!!!  See ya soon!


We love linking up with blog hops.  Be sure to visit them and see the other posts:

Manic Mother

Fowl pox in the Pen


Good Afternoon! Sorry I have not posted in a while.  But I am going to be catching up and starting to write every Tuesday, so be watching for my posts.  Five weeks ago when I fed my chickens I noticed one of my frizzled red roosters standing out in the middle of the walkway not going after the food. This was strange since when I feed them they normally go straight for it.  As I approached him to see why his behavior was not normal, he turned his head to look at me, and I noticed a bunch of odd lesions on his comb and wattle.  Oh no, it looks like we have Fowl pox in the pen again.

Fowl Pox in the Pen

I immediately went to create a “sick pen” for him in the garage.  I reformed the small pen out of book cases and feed sacks that we made months ago.  I filled the floor of my makeshift pen with the normal pine shavings then I added a small roost, food and water feeders and a door. Then I worked with my brothers to catch him. I gingerly put him In the temporary pen and put the wire covers on top.

Chicken Sick Pen

I had been researching this virus and it is transmitted through mosquitoes which have the disease, the only other way it is transmitted is by getting in contact with another bird with the disease. Although it is not transmittable to anything but other birds it is still reasonable to to wear safety gloves when touching or treating the bird. At first my research brought up “If you leave it alone in about 1-2 weeks it will go away” after two and a half weeks I knew that my big boy had caught a severe case of it. By then it had covered both of his eyes and he could not see to drink or eat.  We regularly set him on a plastic bowl similar to what he regularly ate out of so he just knew what was in the bowl so he pecked down and ate food. But after it had come to three and a half weeks he mostly slept.

But then I discovered something scary… if his eyes stayed closed for too long, he could go blind.  The only treatment for the pox was to put drops of Saline solution on the pox via q-tips (being very careful not to get it in or around his eye) and Triple Antibiotic ointment for his eye.  I also started spoon feeding him yogurt. After about a week his pox started shrinking!  

Then we started the wait to see if his eyes would open.  In three days one of his eyes opened and he could see out of it!  Then the lesion fell off his other eye, but the eye had remained closed. Today when I went out to check on him, his closed eye is cracked (as in cracked open, barely)!!  Hallelujah!  So he might not go blind after all! He only has a few more lesions but it is still there so he will stay in his temporary pen a bit longer. Please pray for my rooster to get better 🙂

Update:  ~~A week later~~ Les is now free of fowl pox! Another small issue arose when we put him back in the pen.  All the other chickens wanted to pick fights with him. After being around him for a few hours, everything seemed to calm down, and was able to be around them without being picked on. Then 2 days ago, I went out to find him with a bloody comb and acting very shy toward the other chickens. He was all by himself standing in the chicken house door instead of out with them. I dropped what I was doing, grabbed my baby and ran back to the garage (where his makeshift brooder pen was) I gave him clean water and more food immediately. Then, when all was taken care of, I had to sit down and think of what to do, he could not stay in the sick pen in the garage, nor could he stay in the big chicken pen because Rocky our rooster didn’t want him in there. Nor could he stay in the little chicken pen with the newly nicknamed “rooster attack force”.  Then yesterday my answer came as our oldest rooster who was in the big chicken pen passed away.  He was over 6 years old!  Now my big boy Les can move in and take his spot as “the boss”. Thank you all for praying for my big boy!!!

I decided to name him Les because of a man named Les Stroud who is best known for his television series Survivorman.

Survivor Man / Rooster named Les


See ya soon!

They are Laying!!

Hello! Sorry I have not posted in a while I have been busy with ALL kinds of stuff from chicken accidents to school to a friend’s birthday party!  So I have not been keeping you updated on my babies.  

I have a surprise… They are laying!! Our baby chicks and teenage chicks are laying eggs!  YAY!!!  If you remember, a friend of ours, Mrs. Pamela, gave us the teenage chicks. They are Red Sex Links and White Leghorns and there are four of them. We bought the bantams from Welp Hatchery.  There are probably 15 hen bantams laying eggs. With another 15 or so roosters… anybody want some roosters?


Hens are a' laying


Here is a picture of the variety of eggs we are gathering daily. The eggs vary in shape, size, color, and weight. The biggest ones are from our Rhode Island Reds that we have had for several years. The next brown one and the two white ones are from the teenage chicks. The cute little bitty ones are from my baby bantams… but they are not babies anymore!  I have not found any itsy bitsy eggs from our Dutch, Blue Bantam chicks yet… but am expecting to find one of them soon! Can you imagine how little they will be? The smallest eggs so far are about 1.5″ x 1.25″ to the big eggs that are 3″x 2.5″. The color ranges from a white/cream color, to a reddish-brown and then just plain tan. And the shape of the eggs can range from a normal ovular shape to a pointy bullet-shaped egg. I now have to check all the boxes every day, not every 2-4 days on the bantam side, since they were not laying yet.  

My mom loves the little eggs, she was so surprised at how small they are. Speaking of small eggs… my brother, Chase, loves omelets. My dad has been joking around with Chase saying his next omelet will be a three egg omelet using the littlest eggs. We have not cooked with any yet, but we are having breakfast for dinner tonight… I’m sure my mom will have me comparing eggs and photographing our dinner.  I’ll post those pictures soon!  I am sorry I left you all waiting for another post, while all these things at my house were going on. From now on I will try to post more often. 

One final note, we have a possum or raccoon attacking our chickens, and we have lost 3 chickens including two of my favorites… Cuddles and Sunny and another barred rock, Checker, who I have not talked about before. We just borrowed a live trap to try to trap the animal. Please pray we catch whatever it is getting my babies! I’ll update you on that soon too!  

See ya soon!

The Great Chicken Migration

The Great Chicken Migration

Good Morning! Sorry I have not posted in a while. I am finishing up my Apologia General Science class, and I’ve been getting a little lazy this summer :P. Anyway, I’m trying to get back to blogging. But I have been working with the chicks, I just haven’t been writing about it!  Last Thursday we decided that it was time for the Great Chicken Migration, to move all 30 “babies” to our second chicken pen where the teenage chicks have been.  

The first two chicks were chosen:  Nipper (a barred rock cochin bantam) and Foghorn (a white frizzle) were placed in the coop. Nipper just walked out through the chicken Foghorndoor (see picture above), but Foghorn just looked out the door and there is where the problems started.  As we (Mom and my brothers) continued placing the chicks in the coop, they just piled up in there at the chicken door. We got one more chick to go out, Cuddles, a deep black Barred Rock Cochin Bantam girl… but all the rest just hung around inside the coop and at the door. Cuddles just trotted around the pen and ate some food and drank water.  So we started taking them out of the coop, dipping their beaks in the new water source and showing them the food. We got about half out when we started noticing the second problem.  

The teenage chicks were bullying the “babies”.  That was not going to work, so we moved the teenagers into the grown chickens’ pen where they are enjoying their new jungle. That night we had to corral half of the chicks back in the coop.  Why only half?  Because half of the chicks never even left the coop to begin with that day.  The chicks had no experience being put up at night, so we had to help them all learn to go in at night and come out during the day.  We had to pull two out of the little dog house we have in their pen.  I guess they were using it for shade or because it was not as crowded at the door to get in!  When we went out in the morning to let the chicks out, we found we had left one out all night long.  But thank God it was okay!!!!

SupermoonNow the chicks know the routine, they know where the food and water live, when to come out in the morning, when to put themselves up at night and how to get in the rafters!  They have not experienced any weather other than normal sunny days and moonlit nights so it will be a new experience when it rains!  And tonight may be the night… the forecast shows rain and a storm.  They did get to see the International Space Station fly over and they got to see the Super Moon too!!!

Well… I will keep you updated and I will keep posting pictures!!!  See Ya Soon!

Roots, Fruits and Shoots Business


Hello, my name is Blake and I’m nine years old.  We are a homeschooling family and I have just started an organic produce business.  I named it Roots, Fruits and Shoots. We have been busy planting a garden this spring.  It is our first time to use wood mulch.  My mom has been posting about it until now.  I’ll be posting about the garden now.

We were not sure about the wood mulch at first, but once we saw the weeds flourishing under the mulch we thought our plants might do well.  We have been weeding the garden and the roots were big, but most were so easy to pull up.  I have only watered the garden once this year.  The wood mulch stores the moisture for the plants.  

We have quite a lot of things coming up like nasturtium, strawberries, potatoes, blueberries, carrots, and radish.  And we also have horseradish and blackberries in our front yard.  Our first crop is starting to come in, guess what it is?  Strawberries!!!  We harvested our first strawberries today!!!  


We have a green house where we planted tomatoes and peppers in pots.  We will move them out when they have matured and its warm enough.  I will be planting beans, corn, zucchini, squash, watermelon, pumpkins, cantaloupe, honey dew, Okra, and cucumbers very soon.  

Four years ago we planted blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, apples, grapes, peaches, and pears.  They are really starting to flourish and produce lots of fruit now.  Especially our blackberries and strawberries.



Happy for Honey

Nex, the new teenage chick


Good Afternoon!  I know I haven’t posted in a while, I’ve been catching up and finishing up our school year.  So, my update will be a little old, actually about a month old.  Almost a month ago, my mom called me to come look at her computer for something. It was a message from Ms. Pamela asking if I would want another chicken. I was thrilled and of course, I want another “Surprise Baby Chick”!! But, now it’s more like a “Surprise Teenage Chick.”  I had been wondering if Miss Pamela would want to give away her third chick because she told us she only wanted two chickens. But I was concerned about how our teenage chicks would treat the new one!  I had also wondered how Honey, our only Red Sex Link, felt.  Does she feel different or like the odd ball? Well, when mom and dad agreed that we could have the other Red Sex Link, I was so happy for Honey.

When Sunday evening came, the day we agreed to get the chick, I grabbed the cat carrier and me and dad were off to see Ms. Pamela!  Upon arriving I had the same question come back, will the other Teenage chicks treat him or her well?  Will they accept him or her into the group?  When I saw her three chicks I thought… Wow they have grown! They were triple the size they were when we got our first surprise chicks.  I had not realized how much our teenage chicks had grown.  We thanked Ms. Pamela for another friend and brought him home (I think it is a rooster)!

When we got home I carefully carried the cat carrier with our new teenage chick in it and put it up against the teenage chicks’ playpen. My teenage chicks seemed to like the new chick.  I sat and watched them together and I decided on his name, Nex.  I opened the playpen and put Nex in and they had a great family reunion! Now all the teenage chicks are out in our large spare chicken pen and they are LOVING it!!! They love to stretch their wings, run, fly and play. When they get old enough, they will be able to stay in the big coop at night but for now they are brought back into our garage every night.

Nex and Honey

I’ll post more soon!  

Teenage Chicks’ Playpen



Teenage Leghorns and Red Sexlink

Good afternoon. As our surprise baby chicks grow from young balls of fluff to teenage chicks, they are getting more and more rambunctious.  One of the leghorns started wanting to roost so he/she would fly on top of the waterer.  They all love to try to fly, run, and play.  I decided they needed a perch, so my dad and I created them a small perch and they loved it!  

But that is not enough. They need to start getting ready for the outside world, the grass and hunting for bugs.  I saw a big one on Backyard Chickens, but we didn’t really want one that big.   So my Dad made them a small outdoor play pen.  It does not have a bottom so they can be in the grass and scratch around.  Their waterer and a bucket are in there (the bucket is for them to hide in if they want),  they are loving this too!  I scattered some of their chick starter on the ground in the play pen so they could start learning where to look for some of their food. I had to put them back in their brooder though because it started to rain. They all seemed shocked by the rain, this was their first rain they ever really experienced.  

Chicks' Playpen



In a month, I will move the teenage chicks out with the Rhode Island Red chickens.  We will keep them in a separate pen and the coop is separated too.  I believe they will be shocked by them too.  We think one of the surprise chicks is a rooster because… early one morning dad was checking on all the chicks when he thought he heard a strange rooster call emanating from the teenage chick’s side of the garage. I can not tell which is a rooster yet but i will be able to soon. They don’t need a heat lamp any more unless it is a cold night. If one of them finds something interesting he/she picks it up and the other two will chase it until they either lose it or if it is food, eat it. They love to cuddle with each other when they are tired

They are very tricky sometimes.  For instance… As I got their waterer out to clean and refill, one of the leghorns hopped up on a support beam in the top of the brooder.  This is not the first time this has happened.  The last time I handled it wrong and the two leghorns got out!  Thankfully me and mom caught them before they ran off. After learning my lesson last time, this time I just slowly put the top to the brooder back on and he/she just hopped back down in the brooder. 

I’ll give you an update on the baby chicks this week too.  See ya’ soon!


Announcing … The Deluxe Clucks Live Brooder Cam!!!

Deluxe Clucks Live Brooder CamI am so excited to announce the Deluxe Clucks Live Brooder Cam!!!  My dad has been working on this project for a little while and he tested it yesterday with our three surprise chicks…. and it’s working!!!  There will be two ways to access the webcam feed.  You can go to and search for “Deluxe Clucks” and watch it there.  Or you can go to this blog and look in the right sidebar.  There you will see a box and you click play to watch the webcam!  Thanks Dad for getting the webcam working!!!  

The way it works is, we have a video camera over the brooder box that is connected to a laptop.  It is sending the live feed to ustream.   Isn’t technology amazing?!?

I hope you will watch the chicks often and enjoy them!  I can’t wait to hear what everyone thinks!  Mom contacted Welp Hatchery today to see if the chicks had shipped on the ninth.  So be sure to watch on the 11th for the new frizzle and cochin bantam baby chicks!


See Ya’ Soon!

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Cedar Shavings Can Be TOXIC for Chicks!



Cedar Shavings can be Toxic to Chickens

Good afternoon!!  Yesterday I reviewed the comments on my posts and a few people were saying not to use cedar shavings. What’s wrong with cedar I thought? Well, after doing some research it turns out that cedar shavings can be toxic for chicks!!!  And, even worse, they don’t even have to eat the the shavings or breathe the oil’s fumes for it to hurt them. The oil from cedar  can be absorbed through the feet of the chicks.  The oil fumes can also cause respiratory problems and digestive track problems. The safest thing to use is pine shavings which do not have toxic oils. But for the first few days you need to use paper towels.   I wanted to be sure everyone knows not to use cedar for their chicks!

McMurray Hatchery states:

LITTER: Wood shavings, rice hulls, or ground cobs make good litter. Do not use cedar chips, sawdust (It is too small and the birds may eat it instead of their food), or treated wood chips. Sand, straw, or dirt will also work but are not as good as the others. Put the litter all over the floor at least 1 inch thick. Keep it covered for the first day with newspapers to keep the chicks from eating the litter instead of the feed. To avoid possible leg problems, remove the papers after the first day for heavy breeds and meat birds and after the third day for lighter breeds.

Thank you to all who commented for me to change the shavings!  You guys really helped me out and maybe even saved my chicks’ lives!  You all have been a blessing!  

See Ya’ Soon!

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