May 31, 2011

Color Collage

I've started researching various arts and crafts for kids because 1) I plan to homeschool my kids, 2) my son is at the age where he can start doing things independently, 3) I anticipate my nephew will be spending lots of time with us this summer, and I want him to have something to do besides watch TV when he's at our house, and 4) I really enjoy them!  I am looking for projects that would be enjoyed by a 6-year-old and a 3-year-old, and they should require pretty basic supplies.  So, without further ado, I present our first craft, the Color Collage!  I got the idea from Art Projects for Kids.  The idea is pretty simple: pick a color, cut out magazine pictures of that color, and glue them all together on a piece of paper. 

My 6-year-old nephew made this one.
 My nephew didn't need any help, although I did give him a couple of pictures from the magazine I was using.  In turn, he gave me a few pictures from his magazine, so there was some good teamwork going on!

My son didn't really "get" the whole concept, but he enjoyed practicing with the scissors and the glue.  Plus I felt good about spending "quality" time with him. 

The one my son and I made.

This little project also opened my eyes to the fact that I felt the Little Buddy needed my help to do the whole thing.  I'll have to keep this in mind on future projects, and remember to let him take responsibility for his own work.

May 24, 2011

Update on the Great Flood of 2011

The creek continued to rise after my last post about the Great Flood of 2011.  Yesterday we had a brief respite from the rain, and this is what the ranch looked like:

 This is looking northeast from the concrete bridge:

Behind the chicken house:

Not everyone minded the puddles:

This is what my in-laws call "The Irrigation".  My parents call it "The Waterfall":

Looking the other direction from the Irrigation (or the Waterfall):

In the afternoon, my husband and the new kid cleaned branches off our road:

Also in the afternoon I noticed that much of the dirt that was banked up against the entrance to the bridge had washed away:

It was perfect weather for an afternoon stroll in the wagon:

 By the end of our walk, the road by our house was pretty much dry:

The creek has finally dropped some, but it continues to drizzle.  Hopefully we are nearing the end of the Great Flood of 2011.

May 22, 2011

The Great Flood of 2011

The past week we've had almost non-stop rain.  At first it was nice, but now it's just getting old.  The creek has risen dramatically, and our fields have flooded for the second time this spring.  Also, the basement in our hired man's house flooded, forcing the downstairs occupant out of his room.  Hopefully things will start to dry up this week! 

Here are some shots I snapped yesterday.  This one was taken on the road from my house to my in-laws' house:

 This is the concrete bridge over the creek.  Usually the water is contained underneath the green part of the bridge.  Now it's come out of the banks:

And going up the ramp to the bridge, looking to the left:

Turning 90 degrees from the above spot one can see a fenced-in pasture.  The fence crosses the creek here, and the water is almost to the top of the fence! 

Here's the same fence, viewed from the hired man's house.  We'll have plenty of sticks to pick up when the creek finally goes down:

Today when I went out I had to dodge branches all along that same road as in the first picture.  The water rose even more during the night!

We usually don't get flooding like this, especially this late in the season.  The water will kill some of the hay, but overall it should help it grow.  Of greater concern is the threat of the road being washed out.  My brother-in-law drove out here from town today, and he went through 2 1/2 feet of water in one spot on the county road.  Good thing he has a 4-wheel-drive!  We need it to survive out here!

May 15, 2011

Spring Happenings on the Ranch

Just thought I'd give you a peek at some of the goings-on around here.

We've planted carrots, spinach, peas, cosmos, kale, lettuce and broccoli in the garden. 

That's a brussels sprouts plant that overwintered.  I'm hopeful but not too optimistic that we'll get any sprouts.

That's dirt on her face, not freckles.  She loves being outside in the garden.

We bought 50 pounds of Kennebec seed potatoes.  It was very sunny when we planted the potato patch, so we tried to protect the baby's head. 

Our potato patch consists of 4 rows of potatoes, each about 100 feet long.   We planted them in the middle of a field to be farmed. We are hoping to grow enough potatoes to feed us all winter, with plenty to spare.

We have lots of baby chicks growing.  Most of them are for meat, just a few are for eggs.  This picture was taken 2 weeks ago, and they are already alot bigger.

Most hatcheries sell Cornish Cross for meat chickens.  They are bred to grow really big really fast.  They are ready to butcher in 6-8 weeks.   Many die of heart attacks before they are ready to be butchered, especially if they have access to chick feed at night.  Their legs can't support the weight of their bodies, and it's just gross.  This year we decided to try Araucana chicks instead. They won't be quite as big as the Cornish Cross, and they should be ready to butcher in 12 weeks.

We've started branding our calves and hope the weather cooperates so we can finish this week (but it doesn't look promising).  We've done some farming, trying to grow our own cow feed to save money. 

What are your spring happenings?

May 11, 2011

The Graft

When a calf dies, we often try to get the mother to adopt a calf whose mom is either unable or unwilling to take of him.  A calf might die because of a birth defect, but the cow will go on to produce healthy calves in later calving seasons.  We want to save her, instead of sell her, especially if she is a "good" mom, so we try to keep her milk production up until we have a calf that needs a new mom.  Candidates for adoption would be calves whose moms are sick, crazy, or who don't have milk.  A sick cow cannot care for her calf because of the physical toll it takes on her body.  The crazy cow kicks her calf away, sometimes killing him before we can get to him.  Then there is the occasional cow that doesn't make enough milk, and her calf doesn't thrive.  In these cases, we will take the calf off its mom and "graft" it to a good mom.  A good mom is healthy enough to take care of the calf, has plenty of good quality milk, and likes her calf.  She cleans him off when he's born, encourages him to nurse, and stays near him. 

Tonight my husband had to put down a calf who wasn't going to pull through a severe infection.  We had another calf whose mom wasn't making enough milk, and we'd been bottle-feeding him for at least a week.  Bertha brought the live calf down to the shed in the calving pasture.  Together we skinned the dead calf.  Almost as soon as we were finished, the dead calf's mom walked into the corral, mooing for her calf.  She stood right where her calf should have been, sniffing the ground, eyeing us with suspicion.  We chased her into a pen right outside the shed.  She could hear the sickly calf inside.  We took the skin and made holes for his arms and legs.  Then we slipped the skin on the calf.  It looked like a very warm coat.  Then we let the mom inside.  She sniffed the calf.  She knew something was different, but she kept him close by, mooing softly at him.  We coaxed them into the pen, got the cow into the head catch, and positioned the calf to nurse.  He took off right away, eagerly slurping down the warm milk.  She calmed right down, and pretty soon we let her out of the head catch.  The calf went right back to nursing, very peacefully.  A situation that could have been sad (for the good mom) and costly (for us) had a happy ending for both. 

May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day

This morning my 2-year-old left the safety gate leading into the garage unlatched, so the baby quickly crawled in.  He ran after her to "check on her".  A few minutes later he called out, "I'm brushing her hair!" "That's nice," I said.  Then he came to the doorway and showed the "brush" he had been using on my baby's head- a little broom we use to clean the floor!

Happy Mother's Day everyone!