Monday, July 20, 2009

Lego Farm

Zhenerbee Farms has to acquire many skills to become proficient in the art of farming. Construction; conceptual design, tactile manipulation, perseverance, creative destruction through failure and reconstitution of valuable infrastructure resources:-) This is the domain of the the young mind that is capable of building anything he or she can imagine. The entrepreneur whom creates value after starting with little or no beginning resources. Every child owns the possibility of touching this space within.

Today Zhen continued his passion for building by building a lego-version of Zhenerbee Farm. From reading the directions, to finding the pieces and assembling them himself, a young farmer worked hard today to increase his skills. It was a good day! Of course all he knew was that it was fun. He's hooked on Legos.

Skill Building

There are some things that we do with our four year old that he really responds to, and make long trips in the car, or early morning communications before the coffee has fully brewed much more enjoyable. Some of these are things that have emerged naturally from movies such as Meet The Robinsons or Robots or games that we play with Legos and Edublocks. Here is a short list:

Invent New Ideas Every Day - Zhen is challenged constantly to devise imaginary solutions to real world problems. His imagination is fired up in all kinds of ways, and has been very active since he was three years old and able to communicate effectively with us. He brings his ideas into his art with crayons, paint, clay, chalk, mud outside... really anything and everything. He brings his ideas into his music through the keyboard in his room, which once belonged to his father, by making up songs and learning the notes that give him is musical language. He makes up stories at bedtimes that twist and weave from beginning to end in short doses prior to falling into dream worlds which he believes he can act within. If Albert Einstein was right when he said that "imagination is more important than knowledge", then a three year old can begin the process of developing a potent imagination that will serve him or her for life. As an involved parent, you can influence this growth dramatically.

Create Music with Your Special Skill and Make Up Songs - This is how Zhen puts it to us; his music comes from a special place inside of him that he only goes to sometimes, when he wants to. The result of him going there is filled with creativity and personal meaning. As parents, the sounds that are produced are more enjoyable than Mozart.

Words: What do they mean? Invent Your Language - We encourage Zhen to ask questions about the words he hears. We do not necessarily give him the meaning to those words straight away, but instead ask him to tell us what he thinks they mean. We believe that this is a highly valuable activity that really helps develop language skills, and an appreciation for words. Zhen speaks English as his first language, and is becoming more and more proficient in Spanish each day. He has known his alphabet in both languages since he was an early three year old, and sings many songs in both languages as well.

Favorite Words - We document Zhen's favorite words from time to time as his interests change. As of 7.10.09 they include "Invisible and Camouflage"


Zhenerbee Farm has been hard at work since launch day. The incubation of our chix went well, and our chicken coop was designed and built in a short period of time. We will post pictures of these events shortly. Our farmer in training has learned quite a bit about care-taking for animals, and there has been no hesitancy to jump in to the work flow. We originally had eight chickens, and later went back to secure six additional chix. As of last week, that number has dropped to eleven, due to a hungry coyote that is wandering the woods surrounding our property. Farmer Zhen is outsourcing this issue to someone inclined to handle the matter appropriately... namely Dad. Again, stay toon for details.

It is interesting to note that the issue of death was engaged quite directly in our four year old farmers consciousness. At the prospect of having to handle "big mean roosters", Zhen immediately drew his own conclusion that "we are going to have to eat the roosters before they get too big then". When circumstances required us to explain the demise of three of his chickens at the hands of the coyote, our farmer responded matter-of-factly with the understanding that "we are not going to get to eat those chickens I guess". There seems to be a comfort level with the circle of life in our four year old farmer; something of a prerequisite I suppose.

Additionally to the chickens being raised for their eggs, we are composting their waste for fertilizer that will be used in the gardens that are also part of Zhenerbee Farms. This year we are having quite a harvest; our zucchini, squash, tomatoes, cantaloupe, peppers, radishes, beans, horseradish and jalapeno peppers have produced quite a bit of table ready goodness. Our 70-30 mixture of soil and cow manure was tilled with some perlite to retain moisture in our raised beds as well as some lime and organic fertilizer to maintain the proper growing conditions. Zhen has been involved in starting our crops from seed, shoveling soil, mixing soil, planting seedlings, watering the crops, and laying out which crops would be placed where in the garden based on expected sun exposure and shade patterns. His knowledge and comfort level with farming has really increased in a short period of time.

What began as a quest for a toy, and a means to earn some money to buy that toy has been transformed in a matter of weeks into a passion. Our young farmer returned from a trip to the Lego store yesterday with his Nanie with a Farm Kit, complete with barn, tractor, silo, and various other elements which he diligently sat at for a couple of hours constructing himself, following the directions page by page. The skills that a farmer requires for success are really wide ranging, and this experience of allocating resources and skills to a four year old farmer in the making has already returned some practical dividends. We can see growth ahppening right in front of our eyes, and I believe we are establishing the foundation of a life-long perspective about how money is made, and how much power you have over the nature of your own life. Its not mission accomplished yet, but things could not be going any better at this stage of the process.

Zhenerbee Farms Ledger