The Garden's Last Hurrah and Other Farm Stuff

The hot and dry weather finally broke and the dry, crunchy, dying grass began to grow back and my garden, which was also dry, crunchy and dying, began to pep back up. The peppers and eggplant are what we are getting most, green tomatoes and little radish, lettuce and spinach sprouts.

The day we picked all this Annika was being less than helpful at naptime. I managed a large batch of Polpette de Melanzane during her refusal to go to sleep in her bed time.

But the basil was done like this....and now we have a bunch of pesto in the freezer. Which makes Cale, my pesto lover, extremely happy.

What else is going on on our little homestead?

We are waiting for our adolescent chickens- who are now 20 wks old- to give us eggs.

We are on the search for a buck to provide stud service for Bella and Bertie.

And we are packing....

Because this little homestead is moving to greener pastures.

But more on that one later.


9 months

9 months


Is taking steps here and there on her own
Has a dramatic temper.
Loves her brothers.
Loves all animals.
Stops to dance to any music she hears.

The 9 months it took for her to get here seemed so long, but the past 9 have gone so fast and I can't imagine our family without her.


The Blue Ribbon

Yesterday was the last day of the TN Valley Fair, so this morning we headed back over to the fairgrounds to pick up the boys' entries and to see if they won anything.

We decided to make a morning of it and stopped at the zoo for a bit before hand. This is my favorite time to go to the zoo. It's cool and it's empty. We mostly went to play- but stopped to see the rhinos, otters and baby red pandas.

Before heading down to the kid's zoo. We brushed goats, played on the slides and in the sand before heading on our way to the fairgrounds next door.

So did they win anything?


Here's a run down of their prizes:


Decorated Cookies: 1st
Decorated Cupcakes: 3rd
Brownies: 1st (and Best of Show candidate)
Cereal Squares: 1st (and Best of Show candidate)

Youth Show:

Clay Pot: 3rd
Christmas Ornament: 2nd
Holiday Decoration: 2nd
Recycled Item: 3rd
Made from Paper: 2nd

Below is Cale's holiday decoration...I haven't shared it before because he whipped it out about an hour before we left to drop off the entries. Procrastination at its best!



Decorated Cupcakes: 1st (and BEST of Show)
Decorated Cookies: 2nd
Brownies: 4th
Trail Mix: 1st
Any Other Cookie: 3rd

Youth Show:

Christmas Ornament: 1st
Bird House: 2nd
Bird Feeder: 2nd
Holiday Decoration: 2nd

Here is Rylan's bird feeder- again not shared before because procrastination runs in the family.



Decorated Cupcakes: 2nd
Decorated Cookies: 3rd
Brownies: 2nd

Youth Show:

Clay Item: 1st
Christmas Ornament: 3rd
Holiday Decoration: 1st
Drawing: 2nd

They each also received a couple Creditable Mention ribbons- but honestly they were flinging things at me and all saying LOOK! at the same time that I am not quite sure which items got those.

I am so proud of their hard work and all they put into their entries. And they are so happy with the ribbons- and the $35, $34 and $25 checks are pretty good too

If you want to see their entries:
Culinary Wrap-Up
Youth Show Wrap-Up


TN Valley Fair Culinary Arts Wrap-Up

Tomorrow is the drop off day for the Culinary Arts contest. I am not exactly sure why I agreed to let them enter so many categories. But here is a run down of my boys' creations for the fair.

First off we have decorated cookies- all 3 of my older boys entered this category...

Rylan's leaves

Cale's hummingbirds and owls

Cohen's gingerbread men and Christmas trees

Then on to cupcakes....again all 3 entered this category. I really liked how all of these turned out.

Rylan did the red dahlias
Cale did the green monsters
Cohen did the turkeys

On we go....anyone want to come eat dessert at my house?

Brownies- yeah....all 3 again.

Rylan's Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownies (REALLY good)

Cohen's Mint Chocolate Brownies

and Cale's Marshmallow Chocolate Peanut Butter Crunch Brownies. My chocolate lover was in heaven while tasting these.

Rylan also entered other categories.

Trail Mix

and Any Other Cookie.
He chose Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip (my favorite)

And Cale entered one more...cereal squares.
He chose to make Hot Chocolate Krispies.

And that was 2 days of A LOT of baking. Good thing is that this year the boys are much more independent in the kitchen. I didn't have to do too much helping at all. But I did wash my mixing bowl more times than I cared to.

Now to pack up a lot of the left overs so I can get them OUT of the house tomorrow.


Fish Classification and the Dichotomous Key

We had our co-op today, I was leading and between that and Annika I didn't get to take many pictures during the actual lesson. But I thought it was a lesson worth sharing.

The topic was fish. My boys requested to learn more about them- technically they wanted to learn more about their fish- but I couldn't think of good group activities revolving around Raphael and Pictus catfish, a peacock eel and knife fish amongst I went with a lesson I found online about fish of the great lakes.

We started with a discussion about what a fish is and how they can be classified. Then I gave each group of kids a set of 12 cards to sort in anyway they wanted. We had 3 groups and each sorted different ways- by fins, by color pattern and by tail. We discussed other ways they could have been sorted as well.

Then I gave each group a dichotomous key for the Great Lakes Fish Families. We talked about what a Dichotomous Key is and then they went through their 12 fish and tried to id which family it belonged to using the key. They did good- and classified them mostly correct.

Then we sorted the kids by making our own dichotomous key. We started with the question: Is the person a boy or girl? And kept on asking until we had identified everyone. Using characteristics such as hair color, glasses,earrings, eye color- and in the case of my boys who all have blonde hair and blue eyes- clothes patterns and lack of front teeth.

Then we moved on to art.

With fish as the subject.

Using black oil pastel they drew their fish and any other details such as rocks or plants.

Then colored in the fish and background using chalk pastels.


Early Mornings

The mornings have been beautiful here lately. Storms brought in rain and cooler weather with lows in the 50s, which makes getting outside in the mornings very enjoyable.

When the grass is still wet and everything is covered in dew.

The mosquitoes aren't unbearable,

and the animals all just want attention.

When the fog is just starting to lift

and there is just enough time to play before hitting the books.


A Boy and His Bird

This is Black Hat. She is a Mottled Houdan chicken.

She is also Lakin's chicken.

And he loves her.

He spends hours out back with her.

He hugs her and gives her water and makes sure we all say hello to her.

And he doesn't mind at all that she is a rather unattractive chicken, with 5 toes and a crossed beak and a very loud cackle.

He loves her just how she is. And it is probably one of the most adorable things to witness.