Thursday, April 28, 2011

Life Around The Farm As Of Late


We're really liking this Botany unit! This morning the kids and I found mosses and lichen specimens on a short walk around the house. We came back in and they drew and colored the finds to put in a notebook that each of them have started for our Botany unit.


Another beautiful moth took up temporary residence in our barn. This time a Luna Moth.


As you can tell by the long worn hindwings, this moth has seen better days and is probably close to death. We measured its wingspan and it was a little over four and a half inches.
After taking this photo, there was another Luna Moth in the barn just a couple of days later.


Yesterday morning a Summer Tanager was flitting about in the oak trees behind the house and I was able to get a quick photo. We've never seen them this early in the Spring and were pleased to get a glimpse of him.

My husband went to one of the local sale barns yesterday morning and purchased our first bottle calf of the Spring.
My oldest child had first pick of the calves this Spring and she named him Raymond.


These past few days have brought horribly violent weather to the east and northeast of us. Tornadoes and flashfloods have brought devastation and death. Please remember those in your prayers that have lost loved ones and homes.

Blessings, Julie

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Botany, Eggs, & A Snakeskin


Our Spring has gotten off to a late start. We've been dry here in central Oklahoma. Actually, most of the state has been experiencing drought.
Wonderfully, the past couple of days have brought rain. And it's amazing how quickly the flowers play catch-up!


I had purposely planned a Botany unit for the kids this Spring as we could take advantage of so much of the plantworld beginning the cycle of life.


When in grade school, I personally enjoyed drawing diagrams of the subjects we were studying...labeling them and coloring them with great care. My kids enjoy doing so, also.


It's interesting to watch them...and the learning process is made so much easier when it's a hands-on lesson.
I had gone out to the garden and found several different bean seeds and sprouts in different stages of developement. The children were able to put them in order of growth, label the part of the seed, tell me whether or not the bean plant is a dicotyledon or monocotyledon and then explain as well as show me how they knew that.


We're using Apologia's Botany for our core of study, but I've supplemented from other sources also and will omit the material from Apologia we've already learned. I'm excited about this unit and have lots of plans regarding instruction, experiments, and field trips.

Along with the flowers blooming in the pasture, veggies growing in the garden, and the trees leafing out, other signs of Spring abound.
Interestingly, we have a Wyandotte female chicken that has gone broody (she's ready to lay a clutch of eggs and hatch them out).
From what I've read chickens go broody more so in the Spring. She left her clutch of eggs for a short time to eat and another chicken hopped in the Wyandotte's nest to lay her daily egg. This confused the Wyandotte and she took up nesting in the nest nextdoor to the one she had been in.
Needless to say, the clutch of eggs that she had been on for nearly five days was abandoned after the interloper had laid her egg and went on her merry way.
So this morning I brought the eggs into the house so the kids and I could check to see if they were fertilized and how far along in developement they were.
There is a wonderful website here that shows pictures for every day of developement. We used this website to identify that yes, our eggs were fertilized and they ranged from three to four days developed. I didn't take any pictures but we're now excited about trying to hatch eggs out in an incubator we've borrowed from our local extension office. I'll definitely keep you posted on how that goes.

Speaking of eggs, I gathered eggs from the coop and from the nests that my free range chickens make in the yard just the other day. I cracked open three, one yolk ran, but the other two yolks stayed intact.
By looking at the two intact yolks in the picture below, can you tell which is the cooped chicken's egg and which is the free range chicken's egg? If you said the more orange one is the free range chicken's're right! The free range chickens get a more varied diet and their eggs are much more nutritous. 


And speaking of the varied diet of a free range chicken, did you know they will eat baby snakes? I've seen for myself three baby snakes killed and eaten by two of my hens.
I'll transition there to the subject of these last two photos.
Last week my little guy came to me with a long snakeskin he had found in the backyard. When I told him I wanted to measure it, he said that the tail had torn off when he was picking it up off the ground. We went ahead and measured the majority of the skin.


After measuring the snakeskin, my little guy insisted on going and finding the "tail" so that we could get a full and more accurate measurement of the snake. He came running back with it just moments later and we were able to measure the tail and then add that to our measurement of the larger part of the skin to get a total of four feet ten inches long! There's a seriously long snake out there somewhere. I'm just hopin' he's of the nonvenomous type!


I really didn't want to leave you with visions of the monster snake "slithering around" in your head, so I posted another photo of the Irises that are beside the driveway to the house. I took these in the morning when the sunlight was just peering over the horizon of the property to the east of us. It had rained in the night and left behind some welcomed moisture on the blooms.

Seeing His blessings in the small things, Julie


Friday, April 15, 2011

Things Aren't Always What They Appear To Be

March2011 Male Polyphemus Moth

Last week, Samuel came running into the house calling me to "Come look!...Mama, come look!"
He led me out to the front porch where he showed me a large brown moth that he had caught out at the barn.
I set the large moth up on the wall of the porch...and spread it's wings out.

Male Polyphemus Moth 3/2011

Wow! We were delighted to say the least! Who knew such a dull brown moth could really be so beautiful.
I went inside and quickly found our "Butterflies and Moths" identification guide and looked our gorgeous friend up.

Male Polyphemus Moth

He's a Polyphemus Moth, a member of the giant silk moth family and we know he's a "he" by his fuzzy antennae. The Polyphemus Moth can grow to a six inch wingspan. Ours is pretty close. After becomming moths, they only live for ten days as they cannot eat due to very small mouthparts. They mate, females lay their eggs, and then they die. We felt blessed that we were able to see this guy before he passed on.

Polyphemus Eyespot

Things aren't always what they appear to be, case in point, the Polyphemus Moth.
But this is a lesson I'm learning in my own life, my spiritual life as I've posted in a recent entry entitled, In Love We Journey On .
I'm learning that in order to line up with God's will, hear His voice, and heed His guidance, I had better stay close to Him.
And as of late that is where I desire to be more than any other place.
No, so much of this world is not what it seems and in order for us as Christians to stay above reproach we had better stay in His Word, meditate on it, fellowship with believers of deep spiritual maturity and that have a passion for the things of God, and pray without ceasing.

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. ~2 Timothy 2:15~

Blessings, Julie

Thursday, April 14, 2011

An Announcement

This may stun many of you and for that I apologize.
But for the past year something has been weighing heavy on me.
This past winter I finally figured it out after many sleepless nights with great abdominal discomfort.
Here goes...
I've become lactose intolerant ((sigh)).
This isn't easy and for those that cry, "Tolerance, Tolerance!", let me just say this wasn't of my choosing!!!
I'm a milk lover...and let's not forget about cheese, the other food group of which I'm a huge fan.
And may I add that paying high prices for lactose free milk stinks!
The kids are told not to touch it! We have something semi-precious in the fridge and sadly it ain't chocolate ((sigh)).
So other than her jowls, I've also inherited something else from my Grandma.

                          I love this old photograph! I was only around seven or eight years old.
I can remember her telling me in her precious southwest Oklahoma accent, "I just can't drink milk anymore, I blow up!" I understand now, Grandma.
As I'm growing older there is so much more that I understand and relate to...but that doesn't mean I have to like it.
Middle-aged and lactose intolerant,

Friday, April 1, 2011

Loving The Difficult Ones


This is Strawberry our little strawberry roan pony. I purchased her at an auction last summer. You can read the post here. She's stubborn, aloof, and seriously mean to the other horses.

She's difficult!

Several years ago I was involved in helping with a women's retreat at the church we were recently a part of.
The retreat was wrapped around Beth Moore's Bible Study "Loving Well"

Mrs. Moore did a great job with this particular part of her study...dealing with difficult people. I still refer back to this mentally from time to time as I encounter those that require more of me than I'm willing to give at times.
But in all honesty, isn't it the difficult people that cause us to have to love with more patience, more determination, more flexibility. Wouldn't it be the difficult people that stretch our love, cause our love to grow into a more...unconditional love?
Because honestly, the difficult people tend to drain us emotionally and mentally. So loving them with a love that can only be provided by God would mature our ability to love others as Christ loved us.
I mean think about it...I know my thoughts, I know how selfish I can be, I know how DIFFICULT I can be, and yet God loved me...even while I was dead in my sins!
That blows me away....because I know how much worse I was then as opposed to now...and yet He loved me, unconditionally.
Yes, thank God for the difficult people. He gives them to us to challenge us, grow us, and to help us to become more like Him!

You can view the rest of Beth Moores series on "Loving Well" at Youtube.
Correction: If you would like to watch the whole series, you can watch it here. At the end of each clip it shows the next clip in the series. You can click on it here without having to go to youtube!
I am so enjoying listening to this as I organize and clean the schoolroom this morning. The children are upstairs cleaning and listening to Adventures in Odyssey.
I'm having a great time getting things done that have needed to be done for quite some time while being encouraged!

Blessings, Julie