Working for peanuts

One of the things I want to impress upon my family (myself included) is the cost in labour that fossil fuels replace when making things. For example, buying wool from the shops that has been spun on machine is great, cheap and very easy to source. imagine though if you had to hand shear, clean, card, dye and then spin the wool yourself. THAT labour is the true cost, replaced with the use of fossil fuels that we don’t see when we buy products. Only by making them ourselves do we truly appreciate the work that goes into artisan products and hence, the true cost to buy them. Heavy lessons? Maybe. Too heavy for children under 5? I don’t believe so.

Working together, making a mess and shelling peanuts

Working together, making a mess and shelling peanuts

I’m not talking about hitching them up to a wagon to bring in the harvest or anything so heavy. I mean they are only 4, 3 and not quite 2 after all, but we did have fun yesterday afternoon and my kids do indeed work for peanuts. 😉 Freshly shelled ones of course! 😀

Little fingers struggled a bit but if I opened the shells then she sorted the shell from the nut

Little fingers struggled a bit but if I opened the shells then she sorted the shell from the nut

Needing to grab just 5 more minutes and being overwhelmed by complaints of being hungry (when aren’t they) I grabbed a bag of peanuts and showed them how to crack open the shell to access the raw nuts inside. Instant peace apart from the bang bang of a clever child who grabbed a pint sized cricket bat with which to smack them open. 😦 Once we sorted out that the crackle and crunch of nuts being opened and munch of happy children chowing down filled my ears and I was able to finish off my job. Then I joined them. We cracked open just over 1/2 a kilo of nuts which are now soaking in salted water so I can activate them before making peanut butter. It took us probably 45 minutes to crack enough nuts to make a goodly sized jar of peanut butter. There’s the true price of making peanut butter! Although it doesn’t cover growing organic peanuts, harvesting them and shipping them here (they’re Australian but they don’t grow in our cold climes here so they do have some carbon miles to them) but at least my kids will understand where peanut butter comes from and hopefully appreciate much more the work that goes into making it. And here’s hoping it tastes as good as I believe it will. 🙂

The focus was amazing

The focus was amazing

And if you’re wondering why Orik rarely is seen in the photos of these activities, it’s due to this.

It's hard to help when you're asleep

It’s hard to help when you’re asleep

Mostly we do these activities in the early afternoon. He’s also a little too young at the moment but just in case yu wondered where he was. 😉


7 thoughts on “Working for peanuts

  1. I don’t think they are too young at all! It’s not that long ago that childhood was filled with preparing to be adults. Skills to master, things to learn . . . My Mum and her sisters could knit, crochet, handsew and embroider before they started school. I was a late starter, as I was around 8 or 9 when I learned. Except for the sewing; I think I was only 2 or 3 for that. My oldest granddaughter was handsewing fairly well by 5 and had made a doll quilt all on her own by the time I met her (at nearly 5) for the first time. Two years later, she had stitched a rectangle of knit fabric to make a skirt and put in a zipper by hand all by herself!!! I still dislike zippers, so I was very, very impressed! It had an uneven hem, as she didn’t trim it, but she did wear it quite a bit.

    I think that kids want to be adults and when we condemn them to only ‘play’ (and much of that is not helpful in the maturing process), we rob them of self-confidence, of pride in mastery, of knowledge. My granddaughter was making her own breakfast by 5 and had taught herself to do laundry. That needed a bit of instruction 😉 She just climbed up on the machine early one morning, tipped in whatever clothes she could reach, dumped in a goodly amount of soap powder and turned the thing on!
    Oh, the bubbles . . . She was beginning to knit when she was 5, but I see them so rarely there’s no way I can help. I’ve been down there three times in the past seven years.

    I think what you have is priceless, Jess . . . the patience and good humour that is required when letting kids learn at an early age. If you had enough close-by families, you could be teaching a one day a week Permie class and the skills would be multiplying . . .

    I had a lot more to say, but I’m thinking it will make a post on my blog later . . . I loved yours!

    • Thanks Linne. Wow, your granddaughter sounds like a bit of a prodigy in making home. I am well impressed.
      I’ve had the kids sewing with meat trays (hate buying polystyrene trays but at least they get a second use) and they both loved that. I’ll set up the second knitting machine one day soon and they can each knit themselves a scarf. Then on to trousers – little patterning in them and nothing I can’t help with easily. 🙂 I think we will make those activated peanuts into peanut butter today though. 😀

  2. A great post and a great life lesson. It looks like the kids had fun learning it :). Aside from Orik that is…you might have to run it by him in a couple of years time ;).

  3. Orik asleep in the chair again??? Why didnt you tell me about this blog. How Cute and yes a great legacy for them.

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