Charcoal Making

We recently began a 4H group in our area which has opened up some new opportunities for us.  One new opportunity is primitive studies. Charcoal making initiated the series.  One of the fathers of the group taught the class.  Everyone had a can filled with a various type of wood-MDF, plywood, pine, oak, black maple, cedar, cherry and cotton (not a wood, but we did make charcoal with it).  We placed them in the fire and waited…and waited…and waited.  Initially, we only saw the steam come out of the containers.

Next, the wood went through pyrolysis.

Finally, the wood turned into charcoal.

The class was absolutely fascinating.  We saw how tar is a byproduct of burning (and had a lesson on how tar can coat your lungs from a burning cigaret).  We are looking forward to using the coal to smith some iron next!!

Lessons Learned the Hardway: Fire

I have stubborn children-children that must learn some lessons on their own (I have no idea where they get it from).  Fortunately for us-up to this point in time, no one has seriously gotten harmed.  However, we have had some close calls already this year!

First up-Fire!  As many of you know, my oldest son lives for fire.  He wanted to be a fireman at the ripe old age of 2.  The feeling has intensified.  In fact, now he aspires to be a smoke jumper or an ER doctor.  He feels very confident around fire.  I am sure you have seen in previous posts pictures of him around the fire in our backyard.  He is always the first person to ask about making a fire whenever we are outside and it is a bit chilly or there are marshmallows in the house.

Recently, he and fire met for real.  We went to a friend’s house to go out for a hike.  Near their home, a controlled fire smoldered.  Of course, my fire-loving child desired to investigate further.  Cautiously, he went to look at the smoking pile. In one step, the ground under him shifted (most likely because it was recently on fire!) and his foot went down into a hole.  Luckily, he has excellent balance and he avoided a full body fall into the fire.

So we headed out on our hike.  He asked if we could stop for a second because he had something in his shoe.  Of course, we stopped while he took off his boot to shake it out.  Meanwhile, I notice a hole in his brand new socks.  I asked him if he knew what happened to his sock.  Of course, he had no idea but he did tell me the story above.  I immediately asked him to remove his sock so that we could look at his foot.

Second and third degree burn.

Second and third degree burn.

Uhm…yep.  No hike but a fun trip to the ER and a very important lesson learned.

October Awareness

Have you noticed how busy October is?


Many causes use October as their designated month of awareness.  Of course, all months may be this way; however, most of the causes celebrated in October are near and dear to my heart.

Last week, I posted on National Dyslexia Month.  Obviously, dyslexia was one of the initial reasons we started homeschooling and I hope having a month or a week dedicated to it will help the many children who are struggling and feel beaten by the system.  Maybe having a designated time will bring awareness to a teacher who has a child who needs a different way of teaching.

Yesterday was the last day of Fire Prevention Awareness Week.  Why is this near and dear to my heart?  Well, since Sims was a wee little guy, he has planned to be a fire fighter.  Throughout his first years of life, we visited the fire station daily, weekly or at a minimum, monthly.  His fascination with fire fighting has not lessened with time as most young children’s does.  In fact, his fascination has increased and expanded.  He researches different types of fires and outdoor emergencies.

Our community is definitely lucky to have such wonderful public service men and women serving our community.  They are wonderful educators as well.  Take time to educate your children and family on your emergency plans and to thank those who serve your community.  You never know when you will need them!

Parks checking out the truck Cornelius Lemley Fire Station 2 P1020576 P1020536 Learning how to use the fire extinguisher Checking out one of the ladder trucks P1070583 Aiming the fire hose