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

erthe_mama 03-18-2012 09:48 PM

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?


77589 03-20-2012 08:21 AM

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 :)

KellyandKatie 03-20-2012 11:11 AM

:P love the dirt pile

brambleberry 03-21-2012 07:15 PM

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.

Chicky2 03-22-2012 07:10 AM

^what she said. 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.

erthe_mama 04-14-2012 11:11 AM

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...

MariesMama 04-15-2012 08:18 AM

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.

brambleberry 04-15-2012 09:49 AM

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. 

erthe_mama 04-15-2012 05:16 PM

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.

tibris 04-16-2012 05:29 PM

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.

brambleberry 04-17-2012 06:32 PM

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.  

ahimsamom 04-18-2012 07:46 AM

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. 

iowaorganic 04-19-2012 01:12 PM

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!

erthe_mama 04-20-2012 02:04 PM

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. :/

tibris 04-20-2012 02:06 PM

sounds like it's time for chicken dinner :)

erthe_mama 04-20-2012 04:11 PM

I totally agree!! However, the farm I'm interning at is a vegetarian farm, plus the rooster is an endangered breed. Argh.

tibris 04-20-2012 08:13 PM

ah people and their decorative chickens.

beckybird 04-20-2012 11:04 PM

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.

erthe_mama 04-21-2012 03:06 PM

Thanks, Becky!

And Tibris, LOL!! I know!!

tibris 04-22-2012 01:29 PM

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.

beckybird 04-22-2012 08:27 PM

Well, I would consider cochins designer, but I'm biased lol!

Here are a few photos of the designer chickens, for all you chicken lovers out there!


Columbian Cochin Bantams



Silkies, the poodles of the chicken world!






erthe_mama 04-23-2012 08:15 PM

People will pay $70 for a chicken???!!

I think that it's only impractical to keep a rooster for the sole purpose of its breed only if it's a "bad animal". ;p

tibris 04-24-2012 05:08 AM

So I've heard. If you haven't you should check out lots of stuff to learn about on there! Some chickens at auction around here go for $30, which I still think is ridiculous. I've seen people trying to sell chicks for $7 each, also ridiculous. There is a big run on chickens this year since everyone's so afraid the end of the world is nigh! :p


Becky - pretty chickens :) I do have a frizzle banty mostly cause I like to laugh at the poor creature! I do think silkies are pretty, just not for me, I like heavy breeds that produce well. I have light brahmas and orpingtons, then the other odd ball chickens from the feed store and those roosters the lady gave me. I don't mind the banties from the feed store, but those roos are gonna have to go, they're starting to go after my young ones, and by that I mean young chickens, not kids! It'd probably be different if I had any hens, but we just started our flock over since we moved, so these 6-7 month old males are beginning to discover hormones, but all my pullets are only 2-3 months old.

brambleberry 04-24-2012 03:34 PM

If this rooster is aggressive, he shouldn't be used for breeding purposes even if he is a rare breed.  Breeding aggressive roosters is not good for whatever breed one is trying to preserve.  Find a good recipe for coq au vin.

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