You Want How Much?

It isn’t a secret that our property has been a work in progress, to put it mildly, but we have made some good strides lately. We now have a pole barn (yes, pictures will come) but the horses don’t yet have access. It isn’t doing us much good right now. So, the obvious question, why don’t they have access?

We had a ton of young trees, no more than 7 or 8 years blocking the barn to the pasture. We found some general labor to work on that and the fencing since Michael and I simply can’t do everything while working full time. He cut down the trees, but then went poof. Seriously, finding good help is a bugger.

Anyway, so we now have all these trees on the ground, and the horses still don’t have access. Obviously, the trees gotta go. We band together with a friend and her husband who keep her horse on the property. After several hours of hard work we have a giant pile of boughs.

I went to get a quote for removing them and some other trash, nothing difficult, from the property. It was already piled. They wanted $1100! Y’all, have I gone into the wrong industry? I’m thinking its possible. In the mean time, we did not go with that route. Instead, a giant bonfire. We invited a ton of friends to keep it safe, and it was awesome. The old man horse, I need to add him to the about us page, was sneakily enjoying some heat I think, and our friends got to come and see the property. Win Win, but seriously y’all, who knew the garbage industry was making bank?!

Now What Part 3

There is a document we hand to parents at the beginning of a meeting. It is rarely read. It is called procedural safeguards, or parental rights. This document outlines what expectations there are for a student with a disability.

Why does it go unread? It is long, includes legal jargon and is difficult to understand. It matters, because there will likely come a time when you as the parent the are your child’s best advocate. Most teachers will be wonderful, but maybe not all.

Your rights are numerous, but here are the big ones you need to get.

1) Your child has the right to be served in the least restrictive appropriate environment. Meaning, they should spend as much time as possible in the general education setting as possible based on what is appropriate for their goals.

2) You have a right to attend meetings. Meaning, at least 3 attempts for 3 different dates must be made before a meeting can be held without your presence/consent

3) If you disagree with a decision made by the team you gave the right to challenge this decision in due process hearings.

Now What? Part 2

In my last post I discussed what the different types of eligibility is mean. When your child is found eligible there are 1 million different questions, and 100 things to try and learn about. So I’m going to try and break these post down into one chunk at a time. Today’s post is going to be about the different settings. When your child is found eligible there is a full spectrum of services available to help them.

Self-Contained/Separate class- this is the most restrictive environment, but don’t let that scare you because it’s also the most supportive. It’s not always appropriate though. Children who are acquiring enough of the curriculum have been found in research to grow more when spending the most possible time in the general education classroom. On the flipside, students with severe disabilities whether that is cognitive, meaning lower IQs and adaptive scores, or intense behavioral needs can benefit greatly from self contained because it allows more time with the teacher, lower student to teacher ratio’s, and the opportunity for that special education teacher to better control their environment and a way to benefit the students.

Resource/small group/ pull-out- This setting involves the student being in a general education classroom for part of the day, and getting called out to a small group for another part of the day. This can be customized for each student. For example if a student excels in math but struggles in reading, they would likely only be pulled for the segments where they needed it. Each school varies how long these segments are. This is a good fit for student whose needs are inconsistent, like many students with learning disabilities. Students with learning disabilities have an area of strength and areas of weakness. Their services can vary greatly as we customize what they need. Resources for all types of students however, not just students with learning disabilities.

Coteach/collab- in this model, a special education teacher will push into the general education classroom. They teach the class with the general education teacher, as a partner not an assistant. This model can benefit many types of students, but particularly those who are near a grade level standards. The teacher works with the entire room not just their students so that their students are not highly noticeable.

Consultation- this model is where the special education teacher will specifically check in with the student, and their teachers. The student is with a general education teacher all day and follows a normal schedule. The special education teacher works with the general education teacher to make appropriate accommodations and differentiation to help a student. Consultation is great for students who Need limited assistance. This is for the students who may be transitioning out of needing an individualized education plan, or those who are just performing very well or close to grade level. Behaviorally, the student may have forgotten learning his coping skills and may just need support from the sped teacher that way.

An IEP may contain just one of these, or a combination. Again, kindly, feel free to ask your child case manager, I’ll go over all the roles in my next post, if you are not sure of the setting. Unfortunately as teachers we are very often used to negative interactions, so as a parent the best way to build that relationship is to come at teachers like people, calmly, and openly. Once that relationship is there, real discussions about settings are very valuable for your child. As teachers we worry about your students on our off time, when were teaching, and all because we want them to be successful. That also means that sometimes you might push them early or hold onto them to Long in hopes of trying to help them be successful. As the parent, you have an insight that we don’t, and brought you bring something valuable to the table. Don’t be afraid to ask once that relationship is there, real discussions about settings are very valuable for your child. As teachers we worry about your students on our off time, when were teaching, and all because we want them to be successful. That also means that sometimes you might push them early or hold onto them to Long in hopes of trying to help them be successful. As the parent, you have an insight that we don’t, and brought you bring something valuable to the table. Don’t be afraid to ask, to talk

My Student Has a Disability- now what?

I imagine that my posts sometimes seem impersonal, because I fear sometimes that there is some risk of retaliation, if I say something that someone else wouldn’t like, but I find that is a poor reason not to share and help those who could use it. So, here goes, my first post using my expertise.

 

My student has a disability- now what?

The thing about this is that when a child is found eligible for an Individualized Education Plan many parents don’t know what to do. You are NOT alone! I’m going to do a series on this to help anyone out. I teach Special Education and have a Masters in it. So, lets start off.

If your student has just been found eligible you have likely sat through the eligibility meeting. It likely included your child’s normal teacher, a special education teacher, a school psychologist, a principal or county coordinator, and likely an additional teacher, though who that is is different for each person. I intend at some point to go over what to do/know going into those meetings, but for now, lets just focus on the point where many parents become stumped.

The first thing to know is what does that eligibility even mean?

SLD- Specific Learning Disability. This means your students has a clear pattern of strengths and weaknesses. Maybe they are a rock star at math, but reading is tough. This is your kiddo.

Significant Developmental Delay- This student is young, usually kindergarten or lower. They are typically immature for their age, and may have struggle with emotional regulation. Also, they may not be acquiring content at the expected rate. Some students will grow out of this eligibility. Some may instead develop into something more specific.

SLI- Speech or Language Impairment. This student is having difficulty with either articulation, forming the sounds, or they are not acquiring language/ utilizing it as typical. These can affect the academics as well.

OHI- Other health impairment. This eligibility is an option when we have documentation from the doctor of a health condition AND there is significant evidence showing that the condition is affecting the student at school and many interventions already tried have not worked. One common example is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or Generalized Anxiety Disorder.

ASD- Autism Spectrum Disorder. More often than not this student was diagnosed by an outside doctor, however sometimes they can get an educational diagnosis at school. They may have academic struggles in one of several areas. Also, they are likely going to be struggling to thrive in their classroom with things such as making friends, adjusting to change, or sensory issues.

EBD- Emotion Behavior Disorder. These students are ones who struggle to re gulate their emotions and/or behavior. They are not students who just misbehave, which is a huge difference, as Conduct Disorder is NOT EBD. Students with EBD do not choose to make poor choices, they are often stuck in Fight or Flight or emotional states that cause them difficulty.

MID- Mild Intellectual Disability. This means the student has an IQ of 70 or lower, and also are struggling to adapt and thrive in their environment. They may be emotionally immature. They might struggle with change, forget where their classrooms are, or take longer to acquire new content.

MOID- Moderate intellectual disability. Most parents know this is their student before the school completes testing. Many students in this category have medical conditions such as Downs Syndrome.

SID/PID- Severe/Profound Intellectual Disability. These categories again, you likely are aware of before the school communicates anything as these students have the most severe needs. They are very developmentally delayed, and will struggle with communication, interactions, learning basic skills such as potty training, and typically have additional medical conditions.

VI- Visual Impairment

Deaf Hard of Hearing.

 

At the meeting you likely developed an individualized education plan. You probably didn’t say much because you got way too much information. It happens. Whats important now is to read over the IEP (it should be sent to you within 10 days of the meeting. If not, inquire at the school) and jot down any questions you have. It is your childs case manager’s job to explain these to you. Also, go over your procedural safeguards (parental rights) and again, jot down any questions. Make sure you know when you should be getting progress reports, and check those. If your case manager is doing their job, respectful questions should be appreciated. If they aren’t, point that out to them. Many sped teachers are overworked, with too many kids, and they may not realize they are not being their most gracious. If that doesn’t clear it up, contact their supervisor.

My Family Doesn’t Get It

Living on a farm is a unique experience. That might be the understatement of a lifetime. The thing is that most the time family not understanding how it works doesn’t really make a big wave or problem with the farm life. That changes when the holidays come around. See part of my family likes to go to the beach on Christmas. We begged them not to do that because that means we can’t really see the other part of my family without a lot of pain and suffering and flying on Christmas Day. They didn’t exactly mean to do it again this year, and they fixed it for next year. This year we are stuck though.

We are luckier than most who have a barn, because we are able to travel more than really any other people with a farm I know. We also unfortunately have to cash in on that luck at Christmas. I love this time of year, but this year I think the stress is causing me to have trouble enjoying it. Anyone with a farm can tell you it’s hard to leave with leaving your farm and someone else’s hands. This post seems to be going in circles, so maybe I should just stop. I hope all you guys out there have a wonderful holiday, and I’m going to try to focus on my blessings. Not many people with as many animals as we have can travel the way we do. Thankful for those who make it possible, hope for the future that maybe we can get slightly better timing. also I think I’m going to start doing summaries and Spanish at the bottom. I used to be near fluent, and I’m losing it because I’m not using it. Have no fear no details there that you were missing, but maybe sharing the story with more people now.

Hola! Está mi primero entrada en español, pero es un resumen de que es en inglés. Me encanta esta lengua, y no quiero perder el habilidad. Yo dijo que Navidad es mi favorito tiempo de año, pero es más difícil cuando tengo un granja. Tenemos muchos animales, y no tenemos muchas ayuda con estos. Voy a estar alegre porque tengo amigos que ayuda. Visitamos muchas país, y vida es buena.

No Plan B

I don’t think that we ever can really plan for everything. Those of us like me who are worriers, we try a lot. The reality is that you can’t have a back up plan for every situation. I injured my knee at work about a month ago. Unfortunately, that means I’m dealing with Workmen’s Comp. It’s not a fun place to be. It’s taking them over a month to get an MRI scheduled, after the x-ray came back clean. In that month I am not being with managing large meant of stairs, hills, long times on my feed, kneeling, or squatting. Because of all this I haven’t been able to do nearly the amount to farm work I would like to do. All of this makes me sad. On top of not getting to do things I love to do, I have to deal with the fact that I am dealing with feelings of guilt, I’m not being able to do the same things, and having to rely on other people. Can any of us really have a plan for what to do if we have to go off our feet when it’s in a period of time? Many of us who are on on farms don’t think about that. In particular, homestead farms are small there are many of us that can pick up the pace. I am sad and I miss my farm work, and I feel like I can’t even trust myself. What if it’s only a little bit bad? What if my subconscious is the real problem? What if I can do more than I think and it’s all in my head? These thoughts are unhelpful, and most likely incorrect. This holiday season I’m going to be thankful, and try to focus on anything positive I can. I’m going to try to avoid the negative thinking, and I’m going to pray that this will get better, because over a month off my feet and the anguish caused by workman’s comp has got to have an end.

Farm Made it Better

I will be posting recipes on my sister blog soon, so look for them. I just wanted to share the simply joy of making a thanksgiving that included work from our own farm. It was just eggs, a great many, but the eggs are the fruits of our labor, our land, our love.

I never anticipated having an emotional response to that. I didn’t at the time, because I was too swamped with trying to cook everything.

It’s been a year of being ok with trying our best. We let the garden go because we were swamped, so nothing from there. We having increased our herd to include cows or goats. Eggs were the only contribution but I am so thankful for it.

Winter is Coming

OK, I’m done letting my nerd shine. However it is true. Winter is right around the corner and that means it is time to start managing getting our herd ready. Or us that means prepping our horses to eat hay. Some think this is overly cautious. I’ve seen too many horses colic over getting hay suddenly and a cold snap though. So very soon we will begin feeding our hay. The question always become so iffy at this time though, and it’s difficult to know which way to go. Or example, we have hay from last year because I bought way too much. We stored it well we thought. Some of the pieces on the ends are not so great. Some people argue that you shouldn’t feed any questionable hay, but other people say that we’re just won’t eat hay that’s gone bad anyway. And of course we know how to juggle something new this year. That being our her now contains three. We have my 210-year-old and my best friends 30-year-old. He because of his age it’s soaked alfalfa but my horses do not. And because he is not highest in the herd we can’t exactly feed them together. It’s taken us forever to get someone out to do some fencing work but hopefully they’ll be here today. What do you guys do to prep your horses for winter?

Frittata Anyone?

We are having an unforeseen problem, for which if anyone has recommendations, I’m all ears. I never anticipated having trouble selling our duck eggs, because we did our research. In our area there is limited if any competition, and plenty of home bakers, bakeries, egg artists, and people like me who just like duck egg the same as chicken. We are working to increase our offerings to include both, but right now the chicken production is a wee bit low.

That point aside, I didn’t anticipate having trouble selling the eggs. We have gotten to the point of giving some away rather than letting them go bad. Some of the inquiries are asking for potentially fertilized, which we hadn’t considered in the past. We will be looking into getting a drake in the spring for this express purpose. We weren’t interested in drakes because we were planning on selling ducklings, but there are others who are interested in that kind of egg.

Logic would say get rid of the ducks in favor of chickens. The problem with that is that 1) I love my ducks. I have wanted ducks since I was a kid, and I love them. I know that isn’t exactly pragmatic but it is true. 2) Ducks are more economical. I researched before we decided to go with a full on laying flock. Ducks tend to lay longer, and live longer.

What is our short term plan? Researching recipes that call for a lot of eggs. The top contenders right now include quiche, frittata, and egg fu yong. Anyone out there have any suggestions? I’m not to proud to ask and here is my neon sign!

A Love Story

This one is going to be mushy, and sweet, and I have to say, I just don’t care. So, before I run off down this rabbit hole, let me rehash Zeus’ story for any of you who don’t know.

I bought Zeus about a year ago because I needed a horse for my husband to learn to ride on. We had just had disastrous results with a percheron we had bought. He was sold to us as just being rusty, and the initial ride appeared that that was the case, however as time went on it became clear that horse needed a serious amount of work. The final straw was when my husband was kicked in the back for trying to lead him in a circle.

I went hunting for Zeus and knew I was looking for a unicorn. Michale is 6’4″ and not a small man. He had never been able to learn, despite wanting to, because of his size. Our budget was limited and it needed to be something I could trust. Michael had become a bit skittish.

Zeus was listed as a tennessee walker, but I had never seen one as built as he was. He was the next state over, which is further than I will normally go, but he was gaited. Thinking of Michael’s lack of balance this seemed like a good thing. I went and test rode him with my best friend. I did not bring a trailer which some would disagree with, but I find it best practice.

The woman who had him was nice enough, but specialized in Quarter Horses, and didn’t have much use for him. When I asked why she was selling, with a sigh she explained he was the product of a failed relationship. The man was gone but the horse was left. She didn’t have use for a gaited horse in a lesson program, and if he didn’t sell he was going to auction. I asked how long she’d had him. Her answer was less than 9 months, and didn’t know anything about where he came from.

I test rode in the days prior to Irma hitting, and the wind, shaking, and off balance riding didn’t phase him. He seemed great, but certainly was an introvert. I brought him home as soon as I could, and like in his previous home he was low man in the herd, fine by me.

The strangeness came when I first tried to pet his ears. He had never had a problem bridling, but he didn’t seem to have any idea why I’d be coming at him without tack. He didn’t like being caught, and he didn’t know about stroking his nose either. He was strange about gently picking up his feet and preferred them to be yanked up. He was unsure of taking treats at first as well.

I tried to lunge him for the first time and he acted as though I was going to kill him with the whip. When under saddle he was fine, but anything else he acted as though he had no idea how to interact with humans. I began to piece together his likely history through is behavior.

Horses don’t tend to go far when sold. With him being large, strong, and gaited he likely came from a series of trail riding stables. Chances are, based on his behavior, he didn’t stay in one place long, and definitely didn’t have any understanding of affection. No one necessarily abused him (though I am suspicious of his interaction with the lunge whip) but likely no one ever really loved him either.

My work began. I started with catching him just to groom him and then releasing. I got him used to getting treats, and slowly let him come to us for petting. He watched Holly as the leader. She had been loved completely her entire life, and with me for the last 6. Slowly but surely he began to come around. We aren’t done yet, but we are getting closer. I now present the first ever selfie he has ever let me take with him. It is wobbly, and not great, but its one of my favorites.

The Full Progress

Since it has been a minute I figured it was time to give you an update about what is going on around the farm, and what to look for updates on.

 

Our Irons in the Fire

-Selling our duck eggs

-Raising chicks (we’ve bought new barred rock chicks and have successfully hatched at least one in our incubator)

-Trying to get the barn finished

-Integrating a friends things into our tack shed

-Caring for the geriatric horse recently added to our herd

-Continuing to settle Zeus in, and letting him be a horse

-Planning next year’s garden (perhaps with a bit more luck)

-getting blueberry bushes in the ground

-Managing our rooster flock (aka weedeaters)

-Reconsidering hay storage

  • A ton of fencing work. A royal ton.

 

It is strange to find myself in a position where none of this are insanely pressing.

Updating the Masses

Hello all! Apologies for the absence, that was the “school starting back” chaos. I am starting back and ready to go with tons to share. I was stock piling stories in the last month, so even if they didn’t get to you, I have them. So first, a bit of a story, a bit of a serious one, about #teacherlyfe

You see, I have friends with kids so I understand how frustrating and out of control it can be to but school supplies. Half the time they are asked to buy things they don’t even use. From an inside perspective I can tell you a common practice is for teachers to collect all supplies and redistribute. I don’t like this at all because it means that some supplies that your child may have had a preference for they don’t get. If they complain or become upset they become a complainer. Best way to avoid is put your students name on everything. I understand helping students in need, but I feel that should be a choice for parents to make about helping out. I started with all of this because I wanted it known that I see and understand that, but…

It is the second month of school and I have already spent $700 in school supplies and need approximately $300 more worth of supplies. I am not buying premium brands or technology. I’m talking basics we use nearly every day. Sometimes we get money for things, and sometimes we don’t. So far this year, nothing. I am sharing this because I wanted everyone to know, we are not kidding about how much it takes to run a classroom you want your student in. We aren’t talking fancy decorations that cost that much. My bills were mostly books, notebooks, paper, glue sticks, crayons, colored pencils, markers, scissors, mini white boards, folders, organizing tools, and printer ink. The fact that I need other supplies for teaching? Good luck to me. Just sharing, love on your teachers