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3, 2, 1 Lift-off! October 31, 2007

Posted by Joe in Scouts.
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One of the most exciting of our Cub Scout Pack’s building projects is the Miniature Rockets. These light-weight rockets, created from kits, are constructed of balsa wood, plastic, and cardboard. Each rocket has a place for a small but power engine to be inserted into its body.

The scouts carefully assemble and paint the miniature projectiles. Great care is taken to align the rockets fins. Misaligned fins can cause the rocket to spiral out of control and cartwheel across the ground. That’s more excitement than we want.

On launch day, the Pack gathers together to send their creations skyward. In turn, each scout places his creation on the launch pad, connects the electrical launch controls to the engine, and starts the count down.

3, 2, 1, LIFT-OFF!!! The rocket races upward, toward the sky. Depending on the size and weight of the rocket and the size of the engine strapped inside the rocket can reach an altitude of 1,500 feet or more.

When all of the fuel has been expended, a small explosion forces the parachute to deploy. The rocket gracefully returns to earth while the scouts race to catch the rocket.

It’s a lot of fun watching the scouts run this way, then that way, then back this way again, as the wind subtly shifts direction while the rocket is on its way down.

 

Benjamin’s rocket never quite made it to the ground after its first launch. A tree intercepted it. Oh well…..we had fun.

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Albie Returns October 24, 2007

Posted by Laura in Family, Farm.
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Remember the albino deer that graced our property for many months? After his unfortunate demise, we assumed we’d never see him again. Silly us. We forgot about Daisy, Treasure Seeker Extraordinaire.

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(After a day of searching for things cast aside and unappreciated by others, Daisy graces the porch, giving it that redneck look).

While Lucy considers herself half-human, Daisy is all dog. She revels in chasing squirrels, digging up moles, barking at nothing in particular, and things that stink. What more could one want from life?

Joe had locked the dogs up when he and Benjamin had dragged the deceased Albie off into the woods so that the dogs wouldn’t be tempted to dine on him along with the little woodland creatures. It didn’t work. The enticing aroma (fortunately not noticed by us) apparently wafted toward her doggie nose, beckoning to her. Stray bones kept turning up in the pastures over the next two weeks. Finally, this.

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(Albie was far more handsome in life. Since this picture, we have bleached the skull to clean and disinfect it. We’ve marveled at how many and how sharp the molars on a deer are).

Daisy often keeps her treasures at a distance from the house since we’ve been known to dispose of them otherwise, but she was apparently too proud of this to not show off. This beauty was right in the path between our house and the henhouse so we couldn’t miss it.

Meet the Flock, part 8 October 15, 2007

Posted by Laura in Farm.
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Guido

Last winter, Joe was chopping firewood in our woods. About the time he finished, he noticed there was a lone guinea watching him, but keeping his distance. That was odd- guineas are flocking animals. He didn’t think much more of it, though, and came back to the house at sundown.

The next morning, running around in the chicken yard with our poultry was this one lone guinea. “Ah, guineas are wanderers. He’ll probably be gone by morning,” we thought. But he wasn’t. Neither was he the next day or the day after that. We had been adopted by a guinea.

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(Here is a shot of Guido “in bed,” roosting in a tree above the henhouse. His head is turned sideways, though he is pretty strange looking with his head straight up and down. He looks a bit like the cartoon toucan that hawks Fruit Loops here.).

And you would think that an interloper like he would be cautious and content to get whatever scraps he was allowed by the large flock that he joined. But you would be wrong. Guido is bossy and tenacious. Try to peck at scratch grains within an 8 foot radius of him and face his wrath! He doesn’t go so far as to challenge Percy, but he’ll run just about any other chicken off from what he decides is rightfully his.

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As I type, his presence is making the chickens who were dustbathing nearby find another communal bath.

Guido divides his time between intimidating chickens and admiring himself. He spends long hours gazing at his reflection in the truck bumper and the backdoor. First he turns one way and struts, and then back the other. Apparently, he gets more and more handsome with every pass.

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(You may recognize this door from the picture of Pop! peering in. As you can see by the nose smears all over the window, I could probably get a shot of almost all our animals checking on us. Guido, however, is less interested in us than in the handsome fellow looking back at him).

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(I have got to wonder just WHY he is so impressed with himself. I mean, check out the make-up job and that hair!  And what’s with the dorsal fin?!).

I will say this for him, though. His “pearl” patterned feathers are beautiful. Each one has a nearly perfect set of white polka-dots on the black background. If Cruella De Vil had only known about guineas, the Dalmations would have been safe!

Birds of a Feather Molt Together October 14, 2007

Posted by Laura in Farm.
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I’ve always thought it was interesting that as the weather begins to turn cooler, chickens are triggered to shed their feathers. That would seem to defy logic. While the goats, donkeys, cats, and dogs start getting thicker coats, the chickens are pulling out their protection from the elements. There is a reason for this apparent madness, though.

In the spring, chickens generally begin laying like gangbusters, putting the majority of their energy into egg production at the cost of feather replacement. As summer wears on, they don’t much miss the feathers they have lost as the temperatures soar. Chickens don’t care for heat above 85 degrees since they walk around in little feather coats. By late July, we often see the flock taking long siestas in the shade and walking slowly around with wings held out from their bodies, panting.

Come October, the season change revives them while the diminishing hours of sunlight tell them that winter is coming. They will need full suits of good feathers to endure the cold winter winds. At this point, their bodies switch their energies over to feather production, leaving little left for egg laying.

The yard and pastures are generously littered with feathers that have been plucked out by preening beaks or pushed out by newly made ones. The intermediate time makes for some pretty strange looking birds.

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(Somehow, seeing that Percy actually has a scrawny little neck under all that [usually] impressive mane is disconcerting- almost like realizing that the emperor isn’t wearing any clothes).

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(The pattern of missing feathers tells me two things: she is a popular with the cockerels and she is probably a good layer. A hen with a constant nice set of feathers probably isn’t laying often).

My fishing buddy October 9, 2007

Posted by Joe in Family.
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Rachel is my little fishing buddy. We don’t go as often as either of us would like but when we do go, we both have fun. Here’s a picture from a recent outing we had together. (You’ll have to trust me that there is indeed water nearby.)

The other day, when she was tactfully hinting that she’d like to go fishing again soon, she said “I’m like Granny. I love to fish.”

Hearing that did my heart good. You see, Rachel’s great grandmother, known as Granny, past away almost 3 years ago after a long bout with Alzheimer’s Disease. Rachel and Benjamin never knew the Granny that I grew up knowing and loving. She was bedridden by the time Rachel was born. But they know her through the stories I tell them.

We went fishing.

Overheard… October 6, 2007

Posted by Laura in Family.
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Picture this:

Family gathered around the table. Four members with heads bowed; one baby extolling the virtues of toast in her highchair.

Father (Joe): … and Lord, we thank you for the delicious food we are are about to eat. Make us bold so that we can be salt and light in this world. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Daughter (Rachel): Daddy, why did you pray for God to make us bald?