Summertime at Shepherd’s Hill Academy (SHA) presents a unique opportunity for students to engage in hands-on learning experiences outside the traditional classroom. One such learning opportunity is a new Homesteading course being offered by Mrs. Kelly Deal, a member of the academic team at SHA.
Each day students begin their session in the classroom taking in valuable information about basic homesteading practices. Students will work through the summer compiling information in a personal notebook on common issues such as: how to make your garden more productive, how to keep chickens happy and productive, what to do if your compost isn’t decaying etc. Students will be able to take these books with them and use them at home to start their own gardens or assist in caring for their animals.
Students have quite an extensive and exciting summer ahead! Mrs. Deal shares the summer Homesteading plan she has prepared for them that contains a variety of educational sessions. Mrs. Deal said,“My students started by learning about the care of small animals on our farm (sheep, goats, chickens, rabbits), the maintenance and the philosophy behind homesteading, and the self-reliance way of thinking.
“We then go into cleaning, spinning, and weaving of wool from our sheep on campus. Weaving then leads to basketry with native plants (honeysuckle and kudzu). We learn about the plants and how many ways they can be used. I am hoping to have the girls weave brooms from broom corn – Appalachian style.”
“Weeks 3 and 4 will be digging and preparing red clay for pottery. We will also be discussing a little bit about basic hand-building techniques and pit firing. Week 5 we will discuss herbs, their many uses, and making lye soap. We will make essential oils and use them to scent our soaps. Week 6 we will begin to plan our fall garden. We will talk about the science behind canning and fermentation of vegetables from our harvest. If time allows, we will build a traditional wattle fence to protect our garden plot from wildlife.”
“Homesteading not only allows students to learn a new skill, but also adds many therapeutic benefits as well. The benefits are compounding. The self satisfaction you get from big beautiful vegetables you have babied all summer to the seemingly repetitive action of cleaning your own clay teaches patience and a job well done. Benefiting from your labors and toil is so gratifying. The feeling of pride the students get from compliments on how beautiful their garden is or how healthy and happy their animals are is wonderful. To know that they can use simple things from the natural world around them is often mind blowing for new students.”