By Heidi Thull
Hello fellow milkmaids! I’m Heidi from over at The Wild & Free Homestead (@thewildfreehomestead) where my husband and I and our 3 kids homestead, homeschool and home dairy on our little farm in Minnesota.
Homeschooling is a big commitment but we knew before our oldest was even born that this is what we wanted to do and we love it! I’ve been a milkmaid for about 3 years now and the most common question I get asked is “how do you have time for everything?”
It’s a legitimate question because a lot of people view homesteading, homeschooling and home dairy as three completely separate time consuming endeavours but the truth is they’re all interwoven.
When I think about the rhythm of the school year I also think about the rhythm of the milk cow. Our style of home dairy doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s, it just has to work for us and the same is true of homeschooling.
When I first started homeschooling my oldest I quickly realized that sticking to a strict schedule to try to get everything done in a day wasn’t the right method for us. Instead we take our cues from the rhythm of the homestead, which gives us both structure and freedom. Every single day starts and ends with taking care of the animals no matter what and that gives us the framework for our days. But since we aren’t tied down to a set schedule we’re free to go with the flow of each individual day and of the changing rhythms of the homestead.
Being a milkmaid, there are times when we’re drowning in milk and spending hours in the kitchen experimenting with all the things fresh raw milk can become.
And then there are times when instead of pulling cheese from the press we’re pulling it from the freezer and focusing our efforts on other things like gardening and canning.
Being a homeschool mama, there are times when we’re completely submerged in worksheets, crafts and flashcards. And then there are times when the books start to collect dust and instead we’re out learning all the real life lessons that the homestead has to offer, like work ethic and where food comes from and how to change a tire.
The ebb and flow of these rhythms is what keeps us from burning out.
So if you’re a milkmaid wanting to homeschool or a homeschool mama wanting a milk cow my best advice for you would be to, in the words of Johnny Cash- get a rhythm!
Rather than these things fighting against each other for your time, find the commonalities and allow them to work together. Bring your kids out to the barn with you and help them practice their spelling while you milk. Let them stand next to you in front of the cheese pot and figure out how many 1/4 teaspoons of rennet need to go into 4 gallons of milk. My kids learned how to count by gathering eggs and the excitement of finding out how many were in there everyday made that stick with them better than any lesson I could’ve drilled into them sitting at the table! It can be hard to get the conventional idea of school only being done sitting at a desk out of your mind but when you start being intentional about teaching from everyday life it takes so much pressure off of you and your kids.
Now, this isn’t a magic formula and I really believe that “doing it all” is just an illusion. I promise there will be both good days and hard days. Sometimes your cow will step in the milk bucket and sometimes you’ll run out of patience with your kids. But the beauty of this life is that there’s lessons to be learned from the hard days too.
So don’t stress about getting it all done or trying to make your days look like anyone else’s. Instead, tune into the rhythm of your own home and allow your chores, your garden, your kitchen and your cow to help you on this homeschool and homestead journey.
Enjoy a nice cowside latte and tell yourself “I can do this!” cause I believe you can!
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