The Nurturing of the Next Generation of Farmers

We started with raising some rabbits last summer with the idea they would be 4-H projects once the Farmer Boys were old enough to enroll.  Each child bought his bunny with birthday $$ from grandma.  The rabbits are finally of breeding age and we will likely put them together and allow a mating to take place over the Easter weekend with the expectation of having Daphne and Fluffy’s 1st litter in early May.  We’d orignally planned to do this about 3 weeks later, but I believe we are expecting a long, hot dry summer if the current weather is an indication, and bunnies don’t tolerate heat especially well.  It appears that having baby bunnies sooner rather than later might be a good idea.  This will also allow for slightly older rabbits as entries at fair time for both County and State Fair.

With common breed chicks picked out at the feed store and the “fancy breed” chicks ordered on-line and scheduled to arrive via mail-order the 3rd week of April, to start our fledgeling 4-H’ers on their 1st animal ownership/raising projects and animal breeding projects.

Both kids also intend to do gardening projects this summer and enter some produce exhibits in the fairs.  After our 1st “real” 4-H meeting last Thursday, Farmer Boy Charles , is especially keen to do some educational poster and display type projects and has at least 1 good idea in both catagories coming together.  Poster idea is for “tractor safety” and he wants to do something relating to sharks for a display (Ma and Pa are trying to find a way to tie this to environmental sciences & oceanography… challenging since he mostly wants to put pictures of sharks that bite humans on posterboard and call that a “display”.)  Farmer Boy Henry, our little chef, is excited to try his hand at canning jams, jellies and salsa as an extention of his gardening projects (with supervision of course.)

So with ideas for their 4-H projects well in hand, yesterday we went to www.4-h.org, clicked through to the “4-H Mall” site to order their curriculm materials.  We ordered “Adventures in Agriculture Book 2″as this looked to be of interest to both boys.  We also got them complete curriculm sets for gardening, poultry and rabbits and each a 4-H folder( to hold any handouts and papers from their meetings) and a 4-H record book cover.

Much of the rest of our Saturday (as much as our teething, crankyLittlest Pioneer Girl would allow) was spent finding and printing off record book forms for their various projects.  We had a little trouble in this area, as the South Dakota State University Extention does not have any of these types of forms online, so our record book materials were cobbled together from several other states’ websites (mainly Iowa, Michigan and North Dakota.)  We Many have to design our own cover pages for these record books and have Pa go through a spreadsheet program to retro-fit the forms in their finally copies… but we will use the ones we found as working templates to enter our data on, to be recopied later…. NEATLY (as little boys have a tendancy to be handwriting challenged anyway.)

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