Category: Homeschool Fun

Bringing a Vision to Life — PARADISE!

Tender ones.

Tender little ones.

Visions are evolving things.  As we journey through life we are drawn to things that interest us.  I have often wondered about my vision in life because my view of anything in the future, other than children, has always been vague.  The present always felt intense and exciting or scary depending on what was going on.

Lately, with the freedom to create my reality thanks to all the supporting factors, I am finding things are beginning to come together.  As I have been working on this website, revamping everything about it, I am finding the process to be a vision quest of sorts.  Over and over, as I explore different themes, I find my focus changing, moving toward several facets I am extremely passionate about:  children, animals, plants, art, survival skills, building, writing, and teaching.

If my list seems a bit long, blame it on attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD) and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), which my daughter says I have.  You could say I am a Jill of all trades.  Throughout my life I have had so many interests, each of which I have pursued with obsessive intent until I feel I understand and can create within it to my satisfaction, then I find myself drawn to something new.

I will admit, with a bit of embarrassed pride, that I am an explorer.

As my new website design takes shape, so does my vision for the near future:

  • A petting farm for the most wonderful of humans — children — and their adults.
  • Workshops in primitive wilderness survival skills. like friction fire and survival shelters, for older children and adults.  I love to teach friction fire.  Friction fire was, in my opinion, the most important thing to learn when I went to Tom Brown Jr’s trackerschool.  Where else could I learn this.  Before trackerschool I thought friction fire was a myth!
  • Art workshops like felting wool and spinning wool, because I would not be happy if I couldn’t share this skill which brings me so much joy and bliss and peace all at the same time.
  • This blog space because writing is a large part of my vision and I love sharing my stories and perspective with others.  I believe each of our stories essentially belong to all of us because we are all connected.  As we share our stories, all those who hear are changed in some way.  One person’s story becomes another person’s story, and consequently moves them forward along their path.  They progress.  One person’s success is everyone’s success.  Their pain is everyone’s pain.  Their lesson is everyone’s lesson.
  • My store so I can offer my designs and art to others to enjoy.
  • The business that goes along with all these things.  The ability to work with my family, the animals, the plants, and the structures we have built here on our little hobby farm; to create an income to help provide for the costs of living while doing what I love and sharing that with others.

My desire is to offer the many things I have enjoyed learning. To pass on the knowledge that has come to me.  To complete the cycle.  I hope you enjoy what I am creating and that somehow you can benefit from what I have to offer.

Paradise is the name I have chosen for this new venture, and there is a story behind the name.  Maybe a year ago, my grandson was sitting in our back yard with his grandfather, my son in law’s dad.  He looked up at his grandfather and exclaimed with glee, “This is just paradise, isn’t it?”  Looking around at our disheveled process of building and growing this space, his grandfather, who may not have previously described our little bit of heaven that way, looked at his grandson with fresh eyes and said with a twinkle, “Yes!”

Child learning to lead a horse

A child or an adult can feel the connection between themselves and a horse as they learn to communicate though cues such as leading and riding. Very empowering!

Hangin’ with my peeps!

Here’s Ryan hangin’ with his peeps. He makes friends by letting them walk on his hands full of food when they’re still tiny. They learn to trust him and follow him around. He likes to turn over boards and look for bugs for them. The chickens really like little black beetles and also praying mantises.

Another toy for Ryan and me. 


I borrowed a friends tractor and had a great time grading our back half acre.

We smoothed out the pasture area and created a nice slope in the new barn area where we will be building this summer. Also, spent some time smoothing out the old garden to extend our grassy back lawn.

The new barn area will have a solid run of packed gravel base and pea gravel on top to keep the horses feet out of the mud this winter.  We will also have a hay barn included so that we won’t have to drag the hay on dollys through the rain to the barn!

We are building 12 small structures to make our new barn. Each structure is under 200 ft.² and can stand alone.

I drew so many plans before I finally settled on one. The planning is so fun.

I kind of love projects. 

Kids Felting

Last Christmas I helped my grandkids felt scarves for their father and grandfather. They had so much fun they were begging me to let them make scarves for themselves. I told them that I would let each of them make a scarf for themselves as their Christmas present. Well, finally I kept that promise.

With a little supervision and help, felting can be a very gratifying craft for children. Melanie and I helped her youngest two put together small scarves and the results were nothing less than wonderful.

For her youngest, Heather, Melanie helped her pull all the “chosen” colors off the shelves and open the bags and help her pull out appropriate amounts of color, and let Heather place the colors where she wanted them. Occasionally Melanie had to help her adjust for thickness. 

Once the colors were laid out and prepared for rolling, we let Heather begin the felting process by rolling the bundle herself for a while. This gave Heather the opportunity to experience the felting process for a little while.  After that Melanie finished it up.

Melanie had to resist the urge of advising on colors and placement to let the project be purely Heathers art, and as you can see from the photos below, the results were truly stunning in Heather’s reversible scarf.

As one of my workshop participants said, after a felting her first scarf, “You can’t ruin these things can you?”

I was helping Michael with his scarf. Michael was much more self-sufficient. All I had to do was show him how to pull the fibers off the roving and place them and he was on his way. He placed every fiber for his scarf himself, as well as picking out his colors and pulling them from the shelf himself. When it was time to roll the bundle for the felting process he did most of that as well.

He was so pleased with his scarf when it was finished that he couldn’t wait for it to dry thoroughly, but put it on and ran outside to play.

Below are photos of Michaels scarf.

After Heather and Michael finished their scarves, Jacob wanted to start his. I told him I was too tired but he said he didn’t need any help so I let him go ahead. He remembered how to do it pretty much, from the time we made the Christmas presents, so he just went to work.

I guided him only a little and when he had finished laying out the scarf, I helped him set up for felting.

He had to go home before he was finished so I finished up his felting easily once he was gone. Below are photos of the result!

They had so much fun it was a real joy to help them.

I would be willing to teach young children’s  workshops if a parent comes along for each child in case they need help.  

Older children, 14 and up, are capable of the entire process themselves.

If you or your children are interested In a felting Workshop please contact me.  I would be happy to set something up.

Chicken Boy

Ryan and Juliana went with Amber a few weeks ago and got a whole mess of checks. Ryan likes to check them every day to make sure they’re OK and bond with them.

He finds worms and feeds them to the chickens, and carries the chickens around so they can be used to him. This is his favorite. Her name is Peggy.

Body by Ryan

Source: Body by Ryan

I am pressing this post by my daughter Melissa Cochran, an artist who delights in painting funny impressions of some of the characters my kids have created in our wacky goofy family fun.  Click on the source link above to see the painting evolve and check out the video at the bottom of her blog post to see a hilariously funny family video my kids made one year, highlighting an abusive exercise instructor!  Horrible!!

The Hay Got Wet!


This morning when I came out to feed the horses I noticed the hay was wet. Yesterday it rained all day, and the water seeped through the unprotected boards that are the walls of the barn. That is bad. Nobody wants wet moldy hay!

As you can see in this photo, the walls are not complete, and there is no protective siding yet to keep the hay dry.

Breeze through area with hay and saddle areas along the left wall.

When I woke I noticed that the day had dawned glorious and sunny, though the weather report said rain. I seized the day. The sunshine meant we could work in dry conditions as we put siding up on the barn. The siding will keep the inside walls dry which in turn will keep the hay dry, and the tack, and everything else. I’m so delighted with the beautiful weather today.


The siding we are using was donated by a man in Washington.  I am using cement based siding on the lower rows, and wood pressed siding on the upper rows.


Juliana brushing Bae in the area soon to be stalls.

Ryan on the Dingo (or) Playing in Poo

I rented the Toro Dingo yesterday to make post holes with the auger and to widen the little road going into our backyard with a little front loader. As I was working I realized, “Hey, this would be a fun thing for Ryan to learn how to do.” So I called him out.

While on the dingo, Ryan took out an old stump for me and consolidated the manure pile. Who said work can’t be fun? I love tools!

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