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Homesteading m/others, what do you do with your toddler?!

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 

Hey folks, 

I'm going to be interning at a farm with my two littles (16m and 9yrs) this summer in preparation for moving out to our off-grid land next summer. I wear my 16-month-old a lot of the time, but she's getting to the age where she isn't as groovy with being wrapped on my back as she used to be. So, my question to you m/others is, what do you do with a very active, spirited toddler while you're workin' the land, and tending the animals?


Edited by erthe_mama - 4/21/12 at 3:00pm
post #2 of 24

You don't really have to do much with them. They will keep themselves occupied with things they find around the property. We had a storm shelter put in and the dirt pile left from it is my best friend right now. I can go outside and do a million things because they are within sight playing on the dirt pile. It's the simple things :)

post #3 of 24

:P love the dirt pile

post #4 of 24

Be prepared for anything.  She could do great and entertain herself well, or fuss constantly and disappear every time you turn your back.  This could change from one week to the next!  My husband and I split child care more or less 50/50 (as well as we can with only one of us nursing - wow you two are lucky to co-breastfeed!), and we consider it a successful day if just one of us has gotten a full 8 hours of outside-the-house work done.  On a really good day we can get 12 hours of outside-the-house work done between the two of us.  It varies tremendously from stage to stage.

post #5 of 24

^what she said.


or.....duck tape?  ;o)  Kidding, obviously.


Dirt, small shovel or old spoons, bowls, buckets, etc....Big seeds like green beans to plant, etc... One chicken to "babysit" and be responsible for, etc.

post #6 of 24
Thread Starter 
Thanks, folks! She's a really busy baby, so I'm not sure I could keep her occupied in just one area without tying her up Mongolian style or penning her or something. LOL Maybe I'll just have to stick to getting things done during nap time...
post #7 of 24

I've used playpens when LO was very small, and have honestly stuck her in the garden enclosure (fenced bc of deer) when she was at the "run off every two seconds" age.  Personally, I don't see anything wrong with putting her in a playpen or something for her own safety.

post #8 of 24

I've put DD in the chicken pen for periods of up to 15-30 minutes and within view of where I'm working.  The chickens keep her very entertained.  Some important considerations with this: we don't have a rooster - I would be cautious with any roosters, even those you've not seen be aggressive before, and obviously do not do this with a toddler who still puts stuff in her mouth or is still crawling occasionally. 

post #9 of 24
Thread Starter 
Nice! Maybe I'll set up a little pen for her. Heehee. We have a LOT of roosters here, so I can't just let her loose in one of the chicken pens.
post #10 of 24

We have 6 roosters, but we free range. The closest thing that I have to a problem is when she grabs the ducks o.O then she gets a little scratched up by them trying to get away. I'm hoping she will realize how she is getting scratched and leave them alone.

post #11 of 24

I wouldn't be concerned about free range roosters either if they're not aggressive.  I just would get nervous about leaving DD in a pen with confined roosters of any sort since normally placid animals can act very different when cornered.


We finally got DD a sandbox set up close to the garden, and WOW I've been able to get some decent work done.  

post #12 of 24

My daughter plays with around/the chickens while we are doing chores too and it keeps her really entertained. I am just tired of cleaning chicken poop off her shoes. Does anyone have recommendations for a good, not too expensive, toddler sized work boot? She is 17 months and about a size T6. 

post #13 of 24

Just go to Target for the boots.  They aren't great quality- but it is hard to find them that small and I know they carry them.  I actually fence off and let the cows graze most of our yard- my kids have learned that they need to stay away from the electric fence :)  Also- I stick them in the chicken/rabbit tractors and they will play for a good 20 minutes.  I also give them little scoops and let them scoop feed into buckets.  We have a big sand pile that they play in too.  My DS1 just turned 5 and now he has chores to do- mainly come with me to milk and help me carry the milk buckets over the fence (since I am pg and have horrid balance) and he waters the calves too.  DD has to scoop feed for the calves since I didn't have it delivered to the right spot and I can't bend down to run the slide anymore.  At 5 and 6 they are beginning to be great help :)  So enlist your older DC too!


also- don't forget just plain old busy work.  Mine carried little handfuls of straw for a couple hours to mulch my fruit trees- they didn't mind since they were helping!

post #14 of 24
Thread Starter 
Sounds awesome! Can't wait until she's old enough to follow directions. orngbiggrin.gif

And yeah, some of the chickens here are freerange, and some are in pens. There's one freerange rooster that's really aggressive... My nine yo has had issues with him, as have I. He keeps escaping the pens though. :/
post #15 of 24

sounds like it's time for chicken dinner :)

post #16 of 24
Thread Starter 
I totally agree!! However, the farm I'm interning at is a vegetarian farm, plus the rooster is an endangered breed. Argh.
post #17 of 24

ah people and their decorative chickens.

post #18 of 24

Lol, I have "designer" chickens (silkies and cochins). They are the best!


erthe-mama, I was in your position last summer. DD was around 18 months when it was gardening time, and she was the queen of the "run away every 2 seconds" stage. She owned that stage.  Unfortunately, our garden was not fenced in, and it was nearly impossible to garden and watch her. She did not like the playpen, it was too hot for my Moby-type sling, she didn't want to sit in the stroller, and she hated those little toddler leashes (yes, I tried toddler leashing her to me while I gardened!)

All she wanted to do was run. Would not play in the dirt, or with toys. Nope.


So, my recommendation is to somehow fence in a part of your garden, if your toddler is anything like mine. This year, she's almost 2.5, and the time has made a world of difference. Of course, we have fenced the backyard in, so her wandering has limits! But now, she'll occupy herself, and even tries to help me. It's adorable!

If all else fails, try a fence, even a temporary one.

post #19 of 24
Thread Starter 
Thanks, Becky!

And Tibris, LOL!! I know!!
post #20 of 24

okay I have to admit I have a couple of cochin roosters that are very pretty :p Are those designer chickens? A lady just gave them to me cause she had too many and didn't eat her chickens. I have to admit I originally thought we'd eat them, but decided they were too pretty to eat so I'm selling all but one at a swap in two weeks. haha I didn't think about it that way. Usually I think the really rare $70 a bird as the designer birds.

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