Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Nature in a jar.

This winter has been so long and cold, that we desperately needed to bring some green life inside. i recently came across these nifty moss jars on Etsy and decided we had to have one! We we bundled up and took a hike in the woods in search of pretty green moss. Even with snow on the ground beautiful clumps of green moss could be found on rocks and trees. We brought home a whole variety of different mosses.

i have not figured out how to photograph them yet, but you get the idea. These were incredibly easy to make. We recycled old candle jars, put some rocks in the bottom for drainage, a tiny bit of soil and packed the moss down well. Then we made tiny toadstool out of polymer clay, and decorated each jar with rocks, crystals and toadstools.

We mixed and matched our moss, although the really lush green pillowy stuff is my favorite.

We've also enjoyed watching random things sprout in our jars. The top two were put together a few weeks ago. We've had all kinds of little seeds that were hidden in the soil start growing inside the tiny terrariums. Just a little bit of green to get us through the gray of winter.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Quack quack.

It's a bird! It's Plane! It's Princess Bat-Duck!

Have no fear Bat-Duck is here!

Sponge Bob jammies $4, (second hand) Princess dress $2.97, batman costume (Halloween clearance) $.97, sharing in the adventures of Princess Bat-duck......priceless!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Great Back Yard Bird Count.

For the last couple of years, we have participated in the Great Backyard Bird Count. It is fun, easy, and educational. It also helps the birds, by documenting information for scientists, about the bird populations and where they are being seen. We always end up seeing or identifying a new bird each year.

i snapped a few pictures this year, although all of these photo were taken inside out of a the quality isn't the best.

American goldfinch in winter plumage. i counted about 15 goldfinch on and around my feeders. We have these guys everywhere, year round. In the summer they are always hanging out in the garden eating the insects and in the fall they feast on the sunflower and cosmos seeds in the flower beds. In the winter they are my most common visitor.

This is a Pine Siskin. This is the first time i have identified one of these, although i see them often. i always thought this was a female goldfinch, since they hang out together and have a bit of yellow on the wings. However, after checking my bird book i realized it was something different. i then thought it was a type of sparrow, but it just didn't fit any of the descriptions perfectly. Since it was so similar in size and behavior to the goldfinch, i decided to look up other varieties of finch and that is when i came across the Pine Siskin.

White breasted Nut Hatch. Nutch hatches are really fun birds to watch. They can run up and down the trunks of trees. They are also really noisy. :) We always see a few of these guys around, often running up the oak tree behind the house.

This year, we have had quite a few Purple finch visiting our feeders. i orignally thought these were house finches which look very similar, but was able to identify them by the patterning on the females. The females are not red/purple but brown/white speckled. The females of the purple finch have an obvious white 'eyebrow' stripe, that the house finch lacks.

We have had one Red Bellied woodpecker, visit our feeder daily. Behind him there is a dark-eyed Junco. They are another really common bird here during the winter.

We also saw and counted many other birds this weekend. Many were too shy, or too far away for me to get a picture. We saw /documented
1 pilated wood pecker
1 red bellied wood pecker
1 Blue Jay
2 Cardinals (male and female)
2 Tufted Titmice
3 Mourning Doves
3 Carolina Chickadees
3 Fox sparrows
8 Dark eyed junco
12 Pine Siskin
15 Goldfinch
55 crows (flying over head)

These were all counted just at our feeders, or in the yard. It is always fun to see the variety of birds that visit the feeders each year, to be able to identify them and occasionally see something new.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Snow day!

We finally got a real snow day! Monday night, the snow began to fall and it continued into the morning. The kids were super excited to watch the snow come down that evening. This was by far the most snow we have had all winter.

School was canceled on Tuesday and Wed. and we had a two hour delay on Thurday! Made for a very quick school week!

We got about 2-3 inches total. Enough for snow angels and a bit of sledding. It was too cold to stay out for long.

Sage kept asking where the snowmen were, as if she expected them to come with the snow. The snow was light and fluffy, not good for snowball fights or snowmen.

The kids played until their cheeks were pink and their boots packed full of snow. Then back inside to dry off, warm up with cups of cocoa and recharge...before going back out again.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Sunday excitement.

It doesn't take much to excite us. Yesterday, one of our hens laid an egg without it's shell. What your looking at is just the membrane and yolk. There is no shell what so ever.

This is just one of those things. It occasionally happens when a hen first starts laying, or lays the egg too fast. It shoots through the egg shoot and somehow by passes the whole shell making process. We've only seen this twice in the last 2 1/2 years. It's always a surprise though when you go to collect eggs and one of them is squishy. Ewww. It feels a lot like a water balloon.

Our other big surprise of the day was when i went to water my tomato plant, which i potted and brought inside this past fall. When i bent down to water it, i noticed a tomato on it!! Not just any tomato, it's big, about 2 1/2" across! i don't remember the plant even flowering, and i thought it was a cherry tomato, so this was really a surprise! i like to a keep a tomato plant inside during the winter, but wasn't expecting any tomatoes until i put it outside in the spring. Now i have to make the tough decision on whether to fry it up green, or wait for it to ripen. i love my fried green tomatoes!