Tuesday morning Huck was late to school, Jemima was late to daycare and Stephen and I got a late start on our writing work.
A family of moose, a Mama and her 2 babies, decided to come over for breakfast. We couldn't very welll rush off without showing them some hospitality now could we?
They spent some time munching around in the front yard, then moved into the trees and around to the back. They breakfasted on aspens and mountain ash berries but never went after my garden. I'm kind of sorry, too since I'm just about to hoe it all down and turn it into the ground. It would have been a big help.
Then again, I don't guess I want them to learn that my garden is a good place to snack or next year might not turn out as well as this year.
From the upstairs guestroom window, we were about 15 feet from them. It's probably the closest any of us will ever be to a wild animal that big. At least I kinda hope so.
We finally peeled ourselves away from the action and they moved on to make someone else's morning. They spent the day wandering around our neighborhood.
Such a wonderful place to live.
Today we are all outside gardening, ALL DAY LONG. But yesterday Jemima and I went to buy starts from one of our local organic farms (also a CSA) called Cosmic Apple Gardens. We bought green & red lettuce, kale, collards, broccoli, yellow onions & basil. Plus we're direct sowing spinach, radishes, zucchini, carrots, beets and some more herbs.
We also got some giant cauliflower starts but that was later, out of our local mushroom grower's trunk. That's what our little valley is like. You pull into town and the guy who grows to-die-for Shitake's and Osyter Mushrooms yells out that he's selling cauliflower and broccoli starts out of trunk. So you go over and buy a few.
While we were out at the farm got to see the spring piggies, and the big ole hogs.
I hate to be crude (okay, I don't hate it that much, that was for mother) but get a load of the set on that hog. Even Mima noticed. How could you not. She pointed and said. "What that Mommy?"
We had fun at the farm and then went to pick up some Steer Compost. Today we are putting it all to good use getting the beds ready. I promise updates once the garden is planted. It's a short season up here at 6500 ft above sea level, but Alpine Gardening isn't impossible. And I aim to prove it!
This is Jemima's smile right now. Please tell me why kids do this.
I mentioned in my Alpaca post that our local milkmaid, Blaire of Bell Cow Creamery, is moving her family to Denmark. Her talented husband is a world-class horse trainer with a big, long-term job there. Lives are interesting aren't they? It's a huge loss to our community, and to my family on a smaller level, but besides the free handspun alpaca I scored from Blaire, I also got a major, AND I MEAN MAJOR haul from the "I'm up and moving to Denmark Sale."
The first item I scored actually saved me about $200. I had been pricing these at the local bike shops and was just about to pull the trigger when Blaire told me her old trail-a-bike was up for sale.
Of course, it had been in the barn and the goats ate the seat and one of the pedals. But hey, we had an extra bike seat so for an added $12 we got new pedals and a patriotic bell! Now all it needs is a good wash and we'll be ready to roll!
Next up, a beat up little table (Free!) to go with our beat up rocking chairs. I sit on the deck way more now that I have a place to put a drink or my knitting...or my bucket of peanuts. I thinking about pulling wicker off the center portion of the tabletop, fitting a piece of funky fabric over it and Modge Podging it down. Could be cute.
The first two items were things I really needed and had been looking for in one way or another. This was a total impulse buy but at $5 what's the harm?
I'm planning to strip and paint it but I have no idea where I will put it. Maybe the garden or the front porch, maybe even the play room. I just liked it.
And finally, a few of books for 50 cents to a dollar each--a big blank photo album and some cookbooks, one of which will be prominently featured in an upcoming post on preserving herbs.
I'll definitely miss the raw milk, the homemade butter, the buttermilk and the eggs, and we'll also miss seeing Blair, her Jersey girls and their calves, but I'll think of my milkmaid every time I set my tea down on the table or bike to town with my boy in tow. Bon Voyage!
Yesterday I was parent helper on the preschool field trip to a local family farm. We met two shy Aplacas, Buster and Louie. We fed the horses, fed a pond full of "pet" trout, and released the ducks from their winter home in the barn out into the pond. We also met an interracial farm couple--a widowed Canada goose who had mated with a bachelor mallard. He must be a tenacious little bugger. They even had an egg and were awaiting the arrival of their first little guckling.
My kids are the blue-hooded and green and purple pompomed heads in the extreme foreground.
And in a stroke of genius, I wore a handspun cowl that I knitted from local alpaca. So the kids were able to see what the wool can be used for and feel how soft alpaca yarn is.
Details for this knitting project are on my Ravelry page. The yarn was given to me FOR FREE by the woman we buy our milk from--used to buy our milk from I should say since she has since sold all her wonderful Jersey girls and is moving to Denmark.
Handspun Alpaca can be very expensive yarn so it was quite a treat. But if I'd just learn to card and spin I guess I have a new source. Not sure if that's in my future. So much to do, so little time.
Anyway, the field trip was chilly but a huge success.
While most kids took swimming or piano lessons this summer, up here in the mountains Huck's amazing preschool teacher, Debbie was teaching him to ride a horse. No pools in Teton Valley, but horses aplenty!
She works with him on basic skills and after just 4 lessons he can approach a horse safely, groom and ready the horse to ride and make the horse stop, go and turn on his own. A nice foundation.
This is what I do, in between stealing little peeks of course, while Huck rides Honey.
We have the world's best neighbors. A real community. All the houses are on about 3 acres so even though there are about 20 houses in our subdivision nestled against the National Forest, it feels very spread out. The local dogs, including ours, have cut trails between our house and our closest neighbors. This Spring we put up signs.
Taxi Trail goes up the hill behind our house. It's used mostly by Taxi and the neighbor dogs for their morning play time together. We also have one of the only real lawns in the subdivision and all the dogs from up the hill think it's the best place in the valley to take a big morning shit.
Lollipop Lane goes to our neighbor Beth's House and then a trail from her houses continues to the mail boxes. We named it Lollipop Lane because Huck gets lollipops from 2 main sources--my Mom (in the mail) and Beth. She keeps a bowl of Blow Pops and Tootsie Pops on her kitchen counter.
Sometimes we all go together on our way to get the mail or we go to Beth's and have a little visit. But lately I've been letting my big guy spread his wings and go up Lollipop Lane on his own. He takes a lot of pride and enjoyment out of the task.
So this has been the summer of going to Beth's house. She never gets tired of seeing my little moocher at her screen door and he almost always remembers to bring one home for his little sister.
I really love that I live in a place where children can safely exercise that kind of freedom.
What does it mean?!?!?!
If you haven't seen the hysterical YouTube phenomenon Double Rainbow Guy, check it out. There's been a lot of talk about what kind of psychedelic drugs he must have been on, but I just think he's one of those rare and amazing individuals who's maintained a childlike wonder at the universe and was caught at a particular moment of emotional vulnerability. Okay, and maybe little peyote.
It's both very funny and incredibly touching.
The birdwatching is in full swing at our house (I started this post in May, things have waned a bit but it's still pretty good).
Over the last few years we've been adding to the area outside our backdoor to create an inviting place for the local birds. They liked the area already because it offers shade, wild berries and lots of bushes and trees to hide in. But by adding a few more enticing elements we have really created a little backyard bird sanctuary right outside our living room window.
That's right, we have a home aviary. Doesn't everyone?
We've got a variety of hanging feeders for different kinds of seed and suet, including this great stand feeder that Stephen, Huck and my Dad built last summer.
Lazuli Buntings, Black-headed Grosbeaks & either an Evening Grosbeak or a Western Tanager underneath
And we made this birdbath with a log, a rock and a galvanized tray. So far the birds don't seem to interested in it, but I think it's lovely and try to keep it clean and fresh to eventually entice them.
And here's our indoor birdwatching perch on the back of the couch...
Binoculars are hard!
Huck is very into identifying the different birds this year. He's finally able to use the binoculars correctly so that really helps. We talk alot about the different sizes, shapes, beaks types and colors, and have our Audubon Field Guide to North American Birds handy to look up what we see. Those guides are wonderful as they are divided into bird types (perching birds, water birds, etc) and then by color as well. Besides the Western region guide linked above, they also have a version for Eastern Region Birds so be sure to get the one that's right for you.
He's been having so much fun doing this that I suggested we hang some poster board by the window and fill it with cut out pictures of every different kind of bird we see. He loved the idea. I was thinking we'd just print bird pictures from the internet but Huck immediately got a sheet of paper and asked me to DRAW the birds.
Huck: Then I'll color them!
A brilliant idea. Challenging, yes. But so much better than my concept. So, out came the Audubon Guide and out popped my tongue as I diligently drew the birds we had seen.
My drawing skills and Huck's coloring skills were really stretched to the max for this, but I have to say that I am totally impressed with both of our efforts on this very fun nature project.
Bird watching has been our activity of choice right before breakfast and right before dinner lately. So we'll keep adding to "Our Backyard Birds" as we see new species throughout the year. It's filling up so fast we may have to make a second poster for summer!
Even if you do just print pictures from the internet or magazines of the birds in your area, birdwatching and making a poster of your local birds is just a really fun way to get your child interested in the natural world.
For more information on activities to do along these lines check out the Great Backyard Bird Count. The next official count isn't until February 2011 but the site is brimming with cool stuff--check lists of birds in your area to "collect", feeding tips, backyard activities, quizzes, coloring pages and more. I haven't even shown this to Huck yet, but we will definitely be participating and having a poke around their website!
For more cool projects like this one...