Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Noah's Eleven

Eleven Years Old!
Happy Birthday Noah, you have added so much to our life over the years, so much spirit, so much adventure and so many blessings. We love you and have loved watching you grow into the wonderful young man you are becoming. Here's to many, many more years to watch you become the man you will be.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Exploring Our Woods

We went on an adventure this morning exploring our(and our neighbor's) woods. We went in search of a plant that I have seen in the past but hadn't noticed in a couple of years. Apparently deer really like this plant so it is hard to spot because it is usually stripped down every year from the browsing beasts(and I do say that with affection I love them, they are beautiful...but why do they have to eat all the good stuff?)
Anyway, the plant we were searching for is called Euonymus americanus. Some of its common names are American strawberry bush, Strawberry bush, Hearts-a-burstin, or Bursting heart. It is from the staff tree or bittersweet family(Celastraceae) of plants. It is one of our North American native species.

This very distinct and unusual shrub has dark green stems, bright green oval lance shaped leaves that have almost no stem and are pointed on both ends. The leaves will turn red in fall. The flowers are small greenish five petal flowers that kind of float above the leaves on their long-ish stems. The fruits and seeds are odd hard little round capsules that are a pinkish red and bumpy. When they are ripe and pop open they reveal bright orange seeds that hang on to the bottom of the capsule usually in groups of 4 or 5. It can grow to be between 2-6 feet tall. The pictures I was able to get are difficult to really see what the plant looks like, because the deer have mostly eaten all of the leaves off of the plant. But now I know that I didn't lose it and will be able to protect it next year.

Some of the other things we found on our explore.

 A frog:

Lots of caterpillars and bugs:

Interesting mushrooms/fungi:

Lots of moss that was fuzzy to touch:

Lots and lots...and lots of spider webs and spiders:
We found some but most of them found us.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Farm and Garden: Goat Antics

Yesterday we found out that these little girls have a sense of adventure, well at least one of them does. After putting them away in the evening, giving them their feed and water, and spending some time with them so that we can get them used to us, we left them to settle in for the evening. About an hour later, Noah comes running through the house to go outside screaming, "a goat is out, a goat is out!", and at the same time there was a horrible wailing outside. I walk outside and Charlotte is frantically running around the chicken pen, and her pen trying to figure out how in the world she is going to get back in. Willow is in the pen screaming her head off as if to say what are you doing! So I get a little scratch for Charlotte and coax her back into her pen and tell them good night again. About twenty minutes later there is some banging noises outside and the wailing starts again...I go outside and Charlotte is at it again frantically running around. The first time, we thought she escaped through the gate because it wasn't closed tight enough, so on the way out I made sure it was secure. When it happened the second time, I figured out that she is an escape artist and she somehow jumped through a hole that we left in the little shelter that we built. I am not at all sure how she accomplished it, especially without killing herself or breaking a leg, but it looks like the only other way out of the pen. So we put up a temporary fencing around the hole, and she hasn't gotten out again.

They have been so much fun the last couple of days. They are getting more comfortable with us. We have discovered that Willow tends to be the most curious, but also very cautious. Charlotte seems to be the more agile and adventurous. They seem to really enjoy the children, especially Benjamin, probably because they are about the same size. They also seem very taken with Noah, but that's not surprising because he is comfortable with all of the animals. Evelyn and Jacob are becoming more comfortable with them, they move too fast and is frightens the goats a bit. Nathan likes to watch them from a far. The goats and I are having a bit of difficulty because I was a source of stress for them in the beginning. Catching them, carrying them around, collaring them, leashing them and teaching them to walk on a lead has all been very stressful. They are really fast learners and I guess I am too. I have learned that a pan of scratch will guide them pretty much anywhere you want them to go, and so will a hand full of raisins. They still don't like being on leash, but they don't mind as much when they are distracted and I am assuming as they get older they will mind less and go along with what we need them to do. as much as I want to let them roam the yard, stray and roaming dogs in our area make me nervous for their safety. as they get older we will have more fencing for them as we rotate it around the yard for them to browse.

It is a learning experience for all of us, but so far so good...