Thursday, April 29, 2010

KinderGardens contest!

There's a cool contest going on over at a great blog that I read called The Inadvertent Farmer.  It has me totally inspired to do all sorts of cool things in the garden.  This week, we're supposed to brainstorm with kids and find out what they would like to do in the garden and then share our plans.   Being extremely new to the whole gardening scene, I had no ideas.  I started reading about other people's plans, and I found this picture on another blog:

I showed it to the kids and after they picked their jaws up off the floor, we started looking for more pictures of this super cool idea.  They had no idea anything like this was possible with plants.

They started getting so excited and immediately began making plans about how big it needed to be and imagining maybe even getting to sleep there.

We ordered some books from the library to further feed the imaginations.

We even found a picture book about a Sunflower House.

We went and bought the seeds for the Mammoth Sunflower Seeds and several different varieties of Morning Glories.

They can't wait to start digging.  Now we just need to find the perfect spot!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

A walk in the storm

It is terribly nasty looking outside today.  We took advantage of a break in the rain to take a walk to the pond.

They poked around in the grass looking for critters while I ran back to the house to get my camera.  I can't not take pictures on a walk to the pond (you never know what you might see).
Everyone was extremely cautious with every step in the tall grass.  We now know there are lots of snakes out here.

The sky over the pasture was eerily beautiful.

We were delighted to see this in the next pasture, running as fast as they could to get away from us.

Look closely and you'll see 5 little goslings running after their momma.  (and one big, bad daddy looking after them)

We saw lots of tadpoles.  We are planning on going back later to catch some and raise them.  I think that will be so cool to watch them turn into frogs.

On walks, we always have a cat or two following us.  I'm not sure why.  They just tag along.  I took a picture of Fluffy and was surprised when I came home and looked at the pictures.

Look closer...

Is that not the biggest frog ever. What is the best way to catch a frog?  I bet he has seriously meaty legs.  Just kidding. 

We saw a beautiful red-winged blackbird.  

And my little Daisy scout found a daisy.

Then it started pouring, and we ran home.

The End.

Bittersweet Science Fair

Last week, both kids participated in their first ever Science Fair.  Being homeschoolers, we don't have too many opportunities for events like this.  As soon as I asked them if they wanted to do a project, they both got very excited about it and began planning.  Since we had just built our incubator, Reece wanted to use that for his project and incubate his very own eggs.  Peyton, being the animal lover that she is, loved her Daddy's idea of a project highlighting the animals found around our farm.

Reece diligently  took care of his precious eggs every day, checking the temperature and turning them three times a day.  We set them exactly 21 days before the date of the Science fair, hoping that the science fair participants would get to see a live chick hatch.  The day before the fair, two of the eggs hatched!

Reece was thrilled that he could show his babies to everyone at the Science fair.  We still hoped that more eggs would be hatching for the big day.

The next day, we unplugged the incubator and packed everything up and head for the Science fair.

The chicks were a huge hit!  All the children gathered around the incubator, memorized at the tiny chicks inside.  Reece did a fantastic job speaking to the judges, even though he was quite nervous about this portion of the event.  The judges said he was "very articulate" and had a "clear mastery of project goals and process".

Peyton's project was a huge success also!  She had a blast showing everyone all of her animals.  She did great with the judges also, no surprise there though!  Here is one of her judge's comments:

"Peyton is very articulate and confident in her presentation of her project!  She is also very knowledgeable about the different animal species and their interactions.  A truly smart girl with a fantastic future!"

I was so proud of both of them!

Unfortunately, the great day turned tragic when the little black chick lay down and stopped breathing.  We thought she was sleeping, worn out from all the excitement, but she was not.  I still don't know what happened.  Maybe it was genetic, and it would have happened anyway.  Maybe the car trip and the noisy room stressed her out too much.  We just don't know.  All I knew was that I felt terrible for taking them away from their quiet, warm, dark room in my house.  Reece was devastated and wanted to leave and take the other chick home.  So, instead of staying for the judging and awards, we decided we better get the other little one home.

We then learned that Reece had won 1st place in his division.  It was hard to see the happiness in his eyes through the tears.  Overall, they had a great experience in their first ever Science fair.  They had a blast preparing their projects and are already thinking of ideas for next year.  Although, next time we will probably  forgo any live animal projects.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Girl Scout Leader's Weekend

For the first time in I can't remember how long, I got away for the weekend all by myself.  That's right.  You heard me.  All by myself.  It was wonderful.  It was a forest full of grown up girls.  I went with a very good friend and we had a blast.  We did a tree identification class, an outdoor fun class, a Girl Scout traditions class, then I took a super fun photography class.  I know you want to see my pictures, right?  Just say you do and humor me.

Well that's enough of me trying to be artistic.

This was our sleeping accommodations:

We wanted to bring tents and really rough it, but they didn't allow it.  I'm kind of glad though, because it was really nice having a little bunk and not having to sleep on the ground.  My bones aren't young like they used to be.

After dark, the fun really started when we went on a night time zip line through the forest and then "Nauga Hunting" on a haunted night hike down to Jake's cabin.  Jake's House is an original structure on the property and is over one hundred years old.  Around the campfire, we were told stories about how Jake still haunts the campgrounds. 

Here is my friend Heather in front of Jake's house the next day.
She is convinced that I caught some ghost orbs in this shot of the inside of the house.  I still think it was the dirty window.

The campgrounds were beautiful and so peaceful.

Having a girl's weekend was just what I needed.  I can't wait to go back there with my little Daisy scout.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Elvis is in the building

We met a new friend yesterday.  Well, Reece did.  He nearly fell on this big guy while playing baseball in the pasture.  He was hanging out in our yard about 20 feet from the garden.   

Apparently, he liked us so much he came back again today.  We always take opportunities like this and have impromptu science lessons.  We think this is a Prairie King snake, which is a great snake to have around.  Apparently, they eat venomous snakes and play an important role in curbing the rodent pest population.  If I am wrong about this and he is not a king snake, please tell me so I can go kill it.

Dad affectionately named him Elvis, the King.

He was a really long snake.

I don't know if this city girl will ever get used to seeing snakes in the yard.

Friday, April 9, 2010

We have a garden!

We are going to have a big garden, no we are going to have a huge garden.  I've been reading and reading, and I'm determined to do it right this year.  I also have a wonderful friend who happens to be an excellent gardener who is the answerer of all my dumb questions.  I haven't killed my seedlings yet.  That's a start, right?  They are looking pretty good.

I've got great seeds from Baker's Creek and plenty of land.  I paid someone to come over and till the land.  I debated on how big I wanted it to be and finally decided on around 35' X 50'.  I have no idea if I'll be able to manage all that or not.  We shall see, I guess.

Here is the before picture:

Missouri is notorious for it's rocky soil, so I picked a spot that looked like it may have been farmed before.  I didn't see any rocks on the surface and hoped that maybe there wouldn't be too many rocks under the soil.  I was wrong!

We told the kids we'd pay them a penny per rock they pulled out of the tilled soil.

This is their pile of rocks after one day!  They are averaging about $5 an hour. 

We've been working on building a fence around the plot to keep the chickens from destroying our hard work.  I don't want to share the fruits of my labor unless I choose to.

Our fence building experience consists of, well we have no fence building experience.  We are totally winging it.  I figure we have to jump right in, and if we do it wrong we'll learn from our mistakes. 

I told my son that using the T-post driver would make his muscles bigger and help him bat harder.  See, my boy's passion is baseball.  It worked.

He worked so hard, he was sweating.  And it wasn't even hot outside.  I love having big, strong kids.

This lucky guy just gets to lay in the sun and watch us working.

We got a few of the posts in, then decided to wait for daddy's bigger muscles to help on the weekend with the rest.  In the meantime, we started weeding.  I had no idea how hard that was going to be.  It really is back breaking work.  I am loving my new little garden cart ($17 at Sam's club).

We worked hard,

but we also took lots of breaks.

 Here's the almost finished fence, after we got some help from Daddy:

I even got a little lettuce and spinach planted.

 We found an old wooden gate on the property and cut it to make a smaller gate for the garden.  We haven't hung the gate yet, but so far the chickens haven't yet tried to breach the fence.  Hopefully, they will not get too curious about what is happening on the other side of the fence.