Friday, July 28, 2006

The Ag Fair

Thursday, we visited the Ag Fair to check out the poultry show and the dairy goat showing, though it was so hot and the fair so small that we ended up coming home before the dairy goat time--just not enough to keep occupied for the 4 hours between the two. The poultry show was really disappointing, as there were very few birds entered--only one layer, for heaven's sake! I'm wondering if it had something to do with the recent mandatory poultry registration required in Maryland as a prelude to the NAIS.

Although the fair was small, it had some great kids' activities like the corn maze and the milking stations. The corn maze had four different animals cutouts to find, making it somewhat of a scavenger hunt. The kids really enjoyed making several crafts from origami horses and pigs to wooden sheep ornaments to which they glued real wool. They transplanted tomatoes, which the kittens made quick work of as soon as we got home, and they made soil profiles representing the different soil layers from bedrock to topsoil. Of course, the baby animals were a huge hit, particularly the swiss cow who had an incredibly deep moo and a very rough tongue!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Springfield Farm

Last week, we took a small fieldtrip to Springfield Farm north of Baltimore to purchase some Narragansett hens. Although it was more than an hour drive, the kids had fun once we were there, checking out all the animals, choosing the hens and devouring a pint of cookies and cream ice cream from a local dairy.

While we were there, the girls fell in love with the Peacocks, and only the incredibly loud noise they make was enough to deter them from wanting to bring one home! Their call sounded a lot like a large woman shrieking for help, which would be enough to send the neighbors into a tizzy. For the moment, they were content with bringing home beautiful feathers, which have been everything from magic wands to royal crowns.

While there, we were able to see the breed of pig we're considering for our farm, Tamworths. Known for their flavor, lean meat and ability to do well on pasture. Sam and his dad are really looking forward to raising some feeder pigs for meat, but Jules is set on raising one to keep. Our big research project this year is to learn as much as we can about the Tamworths, so we'll be able to integrate them into our farm. Designing and locating the pen will depend in large part on where we can locate water and where we'd like to locate our fields. Our trip to Springfield gave us some good ideas and some visuals that will help our planning.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Kitchen Chemistry

The kids have been having fun experimenting in the kitchen over the last several months, making different kinds of "soups" and "cakes." They love having the low baking center and their "own" oven--both parts of the kitchen remodel.
They've moved beyond the simple yucky-mix soups and into the actual chemistry of cooking, figuring out how eggs, flour, milk and baking soda effect the results of the "cake." They've helped bake enough now that they have a general sense of what goes into breads and cookies and have improvised some pretty interesting dishes.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Zoar Valley

While on a recent vacation, we went on the most amazing hike into New York State's Zoar Valley. Wow! Well worth the trip for anyone living in the area. The hike was a good one down into the valley--maybe a mile and a half or two miles? The kids spent hours at this confluence point of two creeks, the Cattaraugus Creek and the South Branch Cattaraugus, wading, moving rocks, playing in all the small pools and falls spread out like a natural waterpark with the low water the day we were there.The kids, of course, had to try their hands at climbing the cascade, which was loads of fun and captured the attention of some Asian tourists in the valley. Em was the subject of several photos. We had a lovely day, and all the kids on the hike (there were 8 of whom Em was the oldest) were amazing in their energy and companionship. All but the two littlest walked the entire way with enthusiasm and thoroughly enjoyed all the exploring to be done.