Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Our Outdoor Hour Study: Hummingbirds

We haven't seen the first hummingbird this year (where are they?!), so I was a little hesitant to participate this week in The Outdoor Hour's bird study on hummingbirds, but the kids love hummingbirds, so I thought we'd go ahead and learn all we could about them, and we'll be waiting experts when they finally do arrive (I have faith). The above photo is a picture from a few years ago - a poor little hummer flew into our window and was stunned for a few minutes before he was able to fly off. My daughter took the opportunity for some close observation. She was fascinated by it's funny long beak.

For our study this week we read about hummingbirds in The Handbook of Nature Study online (still haven't ordered my own copy yet). We were all amazed to learn that hummingbirds eat insects as well as nectar, often picking them off flowers while they are there for a drink. This makes them friends to flowers both in that they spread pollen, and rid them of nasty bugs. So, awww, they are cute AND helpful. We loved learning about their long tongues that curl into tubes on the ends and even have tiny little brushes on them for sucking up the bugs. Could such an amazing creature really have happened by chance? I say only a master creator could have thought of such genius, way before man invented Hoovers.

We watched this video suggested on Barb's Outdoor Hour blog, and found this one, too. The kids were very tickled by the tiny tongues darting out to drink. We had never noticed them before in our own backyard hummers.

Afterwards we colored pictures of ruby-throated hummingbirds, which are the ones we have in our area, then I sent the kids outside to do some birdwatching, with a focus on the different ways birds fly. By the time I cleaned up school and caught up with them, this is what I found...

stealthy camouflaged birdwatchers (speaking in questionable Australian accents)

treehouse view
(that "bush" behind the telescope is my daughter)

no hummingbirds today, but saw lots of finches

And here's a phoebe and her nest we saw earlier this week...

checking out the nest

Join in on the Outdoor Hour Bird Study!

got milk?

We went on a field trip today to the Happy Cow Creamery. Don't usually get real excited about visiting dairy farms (not my kinda smell), but I was SO impressed with this one. The guy who owns this farm should be running the world. His "12 Aprils" program for grass-feeding his cows is really impressive, and everything was so clean and cute, and "Farmer Tom" clearly has the best interest (and health) of both his customers and his cows in mind. We bought several gallons of their organic milk - will be interesting to see if it makes any difference in our health - one of my daughters has stomach issues (reflux), and my son has Asperger's Syndrome, both of which are sometimes said to be aggravated by milk products. Have almost thought about buying goats to milk (not too seriously, though), but maybe this no-preservative cow's milk will be a better (easier) alternative. We'll see.

In case you happen to be fascinated by holsteins, here's today's adventures:

the "dry" cows (mamas to be)

loved this tablecloth

on the tractor-tour hayride

pretty views

lotsa grass (much better than crowded cement pens)

MyBuddy is sooooo happy to be off the hot, crowded wagon and back in civilization

the farm came with a silo that wasn't being used, so Farmer Tom turned it into a production plant (this shot is from inside the silo)

here's the silo

it even has a drive-thru!

free samples

taking time to smell the roses
(I thank Barb's Wednesday Flower Study for this shot - since we started doing our flower studies, the kids notice flowers everywhere!)

Monday, April 27, 2009

More Springy Things

A few more signs of Spring springing up at our house...

"Lady Banks" Roses

Red Honeysuckle

Blueberries (or soon to be)

Shine-ier horses


Yellow pasture flowers (sorry, didn't get a chance to look them up, anyone know what they are?)

Daisy on the way

(verbena are special to us because they were the very first flowers we grew after we were married - on the tiny terrace of our apartment)

not sure what this is called, it was a surprise visitor

more roses

yummm.... tea olive blossoms

and my favorite - our first lilac blooms from a bush we planted a few years ago - I was sooo excited when my daughter came running up with this surprise bouquet!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Something Special Saturday: Recycle-Bugs

I spent waaaay too much time working on our homeschool association's newsletter this Saturday, but we did make time to fit in this craft we didn't have time for on Earth Day. I got the idea from It was kinda fun doing a craft on a weekend day, without the pressure of having to hurry on to the next subject. The bugs didn't turn out quite as perfect as we had envisioned, but I think the kids had fun.

So, here's our "something special" for this Saturday....

Did you do something special this Saturday? Share it at the Something Special Saturday Challenge.

Random Picture Challenge - July 2003

This week's Random Picture Challenge at 4 Little Men and Girly Twins was to post your 25th picture from your July folder of 2002. We hadn't gone digital, yet, in 2002, so here's mine from 2003...

Awwww..... Hubby reading to Carri-bear (now 6). I remember this was one of her favorite books, so we read it over, and over, and over...
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