In which we add another new family member to Haiku Farm

The long-awaited has happened at last:
Willy's sister Lisa has come from Korea to live with us on Haiku Farm.
She's 15 years old. She's very interested in the chickens (especially Minerva Louise #12), and she's a little intimidated by the goats and horses. She brought 10 pairs of shoes with her to America, and her favorite color is pink.

Jim and I (with Willy's help) put Lisa into what we call "puppy boot camp."

So what is Puppy Boot Camp?

I've never raised a kid before (Madeline and Jill and Aimee and Alaina and Courtney don't count--they had parents nearby), but I've raised a ton of dogs and cats and a few horses, and most of them were animals that society had thrown away for a variety of reasons.

Over the years, I learned to take each and every foster-dog through a self-designed boot camp that meant that the dog would be near me during almost every waking hour, and would be exercised to the point of being really tired every single day. For the older, fatter dogs, this meant a brisk 20-minute walk 4 times a day. For the puppies, it meant running in sand for an hour several times a day, followed by a game of fetch, lots of work and lots of praise.

(I was much thinner when I was working with puppies...hmmm...)

Since "a tired dog is a good dog", I was able to successfully raise, re-train and re-home a few dozen thrown-away dogs over the course of a decade. The same basic training plan was used on Hana and Fiddle too, actually.

Lacking extensive experience with human children, Jim and I have designed a similar informal puppy boot camp for kids. We started this with Willy: Jim kept him nearby during the day, except when he was at school. There were daily "work breaks" which involved physical labor designed to make the kid (and Jim, and me too!) tired by bedtime.

Tonight, we all moved gravel. (Dobbie Goat Gruff wasn't much help, actually.)

Lather, rinse, repeat until the kid has absorbed a clear understanding of a Haiku Farm Work Ethic.

Finally, turn the kid loose with farm responsibilities and praise lavishly.
The girl appears to have some game. So far, so good!


  1. They are a good-looking pair, those kids. I've always told people that I'd probably raise my kids the same way I raise my dogs (keep 'em busy and make sure they know the boundaries aren't flexible -- maybe no crates, though) so I'm glad I'm not the only one. What an adventure!

  2. @dp: are you sure we aren't sisters?

  3. Wow, did Willy get super tan on the Wilderness Adventure or is he naturally darker?

    I like your kid raising philosophy. Like DP, I always figured I would (will, one day?) treat a kid exactly like a puppy. Keep them busy and tired, set them up to do the right thing and get praised for it, give them just enough sincere attention.

  4. Ir's clicker training,really; conditioned response. Keep your sense of humor, set them up for success, make perceived rewards and disciplinary actions match the behavior. Shoot for more rewarding behavior than discipline. I figure, it works on soldiers, it'll work on kids.

    This is a family-friendly blog, so I can't really discuss where on the parrot one finds today's WV, polliks. Use your imagination.

  5. wow, that was unexpected!

    i hope she loves living in the country.

  6. I had a parent get all bent outta shape once when I suggested that raising children was akin to training dogs/horses. But the principles are similar, at least until adolescence--when abstract thinking kicks in, things become a little more complex...
    Lisa looks like a sweet girl (even as Willy seems a very respectable young man). I hope it works out for all of you! Congrats!

  7. Congratulations to all ya'll! Sounds like a good plan on the kid/work thing - your two look a lot happier and healthier than all the whiney ones I see running around town.
    Do you think either one will ever be bitten by the horse bug?
    Karen W.

  8. I don't know the story of how or why Willy came, but how wonderful that he now has his sister with him. Great looking kids.

  9. I so admire you two! (think you boot camp and model for raising children is right on! Loved having Lisa with us today; and Willy replied that he is really happy to have her here too.

    Giving Thanks to God that you're all together and offering prayers that the days, weeks, months and years ahead are filled with many blessings and much joy!


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