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Monarch Mania

Favorite!!!

Pure magic!

We raised the caterpillars in a large glass pitcher but then carefully transferred the coccoons to a stick (hung between two pieces of wood) for better viewing.

I can’t get over those pure gold specks on the cocoons!

Newly hatched

Wet wings flapping in the breeze

Two hatched at almost the exact same time; a male and a female

When the last one was about to hatch,

‘Zilla demanded we bring it to school (she didn’t want to miss it!)

Monarch freshly hatched at school!

Her class released it into the school’s butterfly garden

I was so nervous about capturing the caterpillars, I would’ve felt so bad if they didn’t survive! But it was very easy you basically just give them plenty of milkweed and a roof from which to hang from and they will do the rest!


She was more interested in them than the Spy and his friend, ha!

Consider this a PSA for growing milkweed (the only things monarchs can eat)!

 

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Feeling Like Fall

Cotton

The garden is chock-full of weeds but there are always still many wonderful things to find even in an extremely neglected garden.

What can we find in here?

Favorite!!!

Monarchs are so special; their delicate butterfly-ness coupled with a crazy long distance migration, their turquoise and gold-spotted chrysalises, etc., etc. So when we saw a bunch (I think 8 total) we decided to try and raise a few to watch them closely.

Plenty of milkweed for eating!

And…

GAHHhhh!!! One already turned into a cocoon!

This picture is not the best but not to worry: when the other two turn into chrysalises, I plan on gently removing this top piece and taking approximately 735 photos of them with varied lightings and backgrounds. Babyzilla also wanted in on the action but chose a:

Tomato Hornworm

And named it “Wilbert”.

These turn into Sphinx moths

Wilbert hasn’t been cared for quite as carefully as the monarchs. (e.g. I stepped on him when he was crawling across the living room floor). Fortunately I have high arches and he was not crushed. That was a few days ago and he is still munching away at tomatoes/tomato leaves in a glass container. Outside.

Stay tuned for updates!

In other news, the Spy’s football team played their biggest rival (last year they lost to them twice, though it was very close) and they won 12-6!!

Football boy

Going,

Going,

Gone!

80 yard run after an interception! He also scored the second touchdown!

So happy!

And the 6th grade team has their own 6th grade cheerleaders; so cute

Winners of “The Battle of 109”!

‘Zilla has been working on her equestrian skills.

Learning to hold the reins

Our friend’s new horse, Peter

Horsie hug

Watch and learn, Peter! (He hasn’t been broken yet but seems quite eager)

Nice form!

Learning to steer

Yay!

We’ve also been crafting a little and channelled the 90s with some puffy paint:

And some homemade Gak. I was not involved with this one. haha

Close?

Little bouquet

Bunny tootsies

Stick bug

Moon…

Flower

Cotton Ball (I assume the cotton will pop out of this)

Tomato “Copia”

Lambs quarter turning pink

And note the fall light; its like the perfect photography studio!

Thank you for visiting and hope you all are enjoying the first bit of fall!

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August Highlights 2017

A trip to North Carolina, back to school, a birthday, football, an eclipse: why not jam it all into one post?!

Into the smokey mountains

And note: no ipads/phones/screens of any kind on the 10 hour drive; it is still possible for kids to be bored on road trips. haha Staring out the window is underrated, right?!

Duck in Montreat, NC

Another

Farewell to camp! The Spy enjoyed a whole month there this summer.

I painted this with my camp bestie in 1999! (its the floor of a girls’ cabin)

We enjoyed a misty hike

One little pop of color!

Likin this lichen

Almost there!

We tried to do this hike a few years ago but didn’t make it to the falls (the whole thing was straight uphill) it took us nearly 3 hours to get up to the falls.

Which were somewhat underwhelming but I’m never going to complain about a hike/nature!

Fuzzy mushroom

We also took a little walk around Asheville (we all much preferred the woods).

Asheville Selfie

 

Street bubble

Once home…

Time to start school! (6th grade!!)

And kindergarten!

Then,

Happy Birthday!

She got a bunny leash hahahahahahah

VERY ENTERTAINING

Show Rabbit

And here comes the next victim

Bahahahaha

And on to…

Football!

He dragged this kid along 15 more yards into the endzone!!

Very hot!

And today we saw the solar eclipse which was very cool.

Totally cool!

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Summer Sights

Cotton blossom

Young raccoon

Sunflowers and zinnias

Velvety black butterfly

Zinnias (and weeds!)

Turkeys

I don’t remember what type of flowers these are but they are cute:

What a keeper!

We picked this pumpkin 10.31.16 and it has been sitting on our countertop since!!! We finally cut it open. We gave it to the bunnies and chickens for a special treat.

Mmmm

A coyote recently also got a special treat: Cleo, Buffy, and Specky. No more free range chickens without supervision!

Goldie

She watches many brutal nature documentaries on a regular basis so is not too traumatized by the chicken massacre.

She misses Specky the most, she was her favorite.

On the trail

Trail II

Cotton plant

Last day at Forest School

With Nana

Babyzilla has been enjoying loads of attention while her brother is away at summer camp. He has been having fun, from what we’ve heard in letter and the pictures posted on the camp site:

Archery

Lots of tribal competitions (woooo Seminoles!)

Getting in a little football

Also rock climbing, canoeing, wrestling, trips to cool waterfalls/swimming holes and more: camp is the best. We are excited to go pick him up this week though because we miss him; he’s been gone a month!

Back to school very soon!

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Summer Miscellany

Staying cool at forest school

Red, white, blue

Better late than never with the red, white and blue!

Watching fireworks on the 4th

Four!

hahaha

In Onondaga Cave

The one rock you are allowed to touch in the cave

These drip down and form…

These

Cave Ceiling

This was the coolest “room” of the cave

Onondaga cave is just as impressive as Meramec Caverns and as a bonus it is within a state park so there are other things to do there.

Such as go for a swim in the Meramec River!

There were tons of these along the river’s edge

Back in the garden, things are pretty neglected right now (it is so hot! and soooo much school work!) but there are still a few nice sights and things.

Blackberries

Dill and in the background is a flower called “candytuft”

Garlic (one bulb harvested anyways); this one with the root bit torn off when I dug it up)

Zinnias of all different colors are popping up

This hardy hibiscus is right in the center of the garden

Dragon’s Eggs (cucumbers)

I must be on to something, right?! ahaha

Scorched love in a mist seed pods

Chicken snack!

The butterflies mob the mimosa trees all day

Most of the sunflowers are quite short

Happy summer!

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Roadtrip! Hawaii!

Hawaii???

Not quite. A roadtrip to Iowa for a baseball tournament in late June. She kept saying “when will we be in Hawaii?” Iowa, Hawaii…I guess its the vowels and W’s.

Baseball boy

Sand volleyball court next to the fields (not a Hawaiian beach)

Sandy toes

Safe!

Baseball dads

Burlington, IA

Mississippi River (not the Pacific)

This town had a VIDEO STORE!!! haha

Hideous building, but the sign’s kind of cool looking

This statue of liberty has had a rough go of it.

Riverside auditorium

Tigers

Pitching

And that’s the end of baseball season!

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Eye Spy Summer!

Eye spy

The eyeball is by far the most popular sculpture at Laumeier

Eye see you!

The Spy was not too enthused to take a trip to Laumeier Sculpture Park, and he had never even been before!

And I quote:

“I’d rather see animals than sculptures made by hippies.”

Bahahahahah

But of course he enjoyed the visit, even choosing his favorite sculpture:

This one was my favorite of the day

This one is a preview of a deer exhibit coming in August (and see what I did there with the perspective?)

The gallery is very cool

Hair sculpture! (too much of a stretch?)

Spy Garden Sculpture! (I rebuilt the teepee)

Dill and garlic in the foreground; and lots of it

The tomatoes are looking very healthy (foreground)

Scapes already!

And it wouldn’t be memorial day weekend without water, right?!

Wooo summer!

Baby earned her swim band by swimming 25 METERS all by herself!!! Now she can go on the waterslides!!! yeah!

He is loving his new team and has had A LOT of games!!

This is where we hiked a few weeks ago, now it is so flooded!

Walking (and running) along the levee

Life moves fast and if you don’t take time to enjoy the flora and fauna you might Egret it!

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Mid-May in Spy Garden

Monarch Caterpillar

Monarchs are my favorite!

This makes me want to add more milkweed to the garden!

One more shot!

Toad- love the iridescent green eye lid!

This Christmas decoration has become a permanent fixture in our landscaping! It is so large to store in the basement and somehow it just fits in all seasons, right?!

Woo! The cotton is popping up!

Bolting kohlrabi

Garden view with Dexie

Love-in-a-mist (Nigella)

The end of the year festivities at Forest school included a project culmination; the kids planned and cooked a meal entirely outdoors for the parents. After the delicious meal we had:

S’mores!

Mmm!

Forest School teacher scooping up homemade ice cream (also made by the pre-K kids)

Inside, a movie played of all their practice-cooking rounds!

Their semester-long project was a great success. Construction also continues at Forest school and I wanted to share a shot of these cool signs they added to the construction fences:

Such a nice idea and adds a cool element to the construction-vibe!

In other construction news, we are nearly done with the chicken coop!

Hahah just kidding, that is part of the school addition

Behold…

The Coop…

d’eggtat.

Coop d’eggtat

Greatest chicken coop name ever, right?! Quite apropos as the chickens (well, at least the building the coop part) has usurped our lives! Plus we love a good revolution, are are always generally dissatisfied by the status quo AND are all quite rebellious in nature. So the name is just perfect!

We are still working on the signage (this one is by the Spy)

There will also be an “Eggsit” sign on the inside of the door. HAHAHAHAHAhaha

More pictures to come of the coop details once it is totally finished (still need to build the run). The chickens are loving their new home and I am just thrilled to have them out of the house!

We have also taken more trips to the barn to visit our friend’s horses…

Check out my friend’s awesome Great Dane!

He is the coolest!

Giving Dexie a run for her money in the good looks department, right?!

Like a pro!

Blink

Love, love, love!!!

Happy Monday! Hope your week is off to a good start!

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Happy Mother’s Day!

Mother’s Day Hike at Forest School

Card (that is Dexie and I!) I am stylin in a sheer teal jumpsuit!!

Showing me around the school garden (which now has lots of raised beds; many with full cages around them to keep out pests)

She calls this the “Prickle tree”; the huge thorns look like deer antlers!

Homemade coaster!

And a crown!

She did all the sewing herself!

She said this design was supposed to be on the crown but she ran out of time

The pressure was on for the Spy’s Mother’s Day gift, right?! ahahah

Who doesn’t love cash? hahah

In other news, we have a new activity: hanging at the barn/horseback riding!

Leading Goose

Learning to use the curry comb

And the hoof pick

Boots/Hoofs

Rambo

Horsie Hug

Our friend/neighbor is the sweetest letting us tag along with her to the barn about once a week so she can learn all about horses!

Turning the horses out for the night

The planting and spring activities continue in the garden.

Eggplants are under the milk jugs

Red Celery

Pineapple (I like to just plant these for fun, have never been able to actually grow a pineapple!)

The white powdery stuff in the above photo is diatomaceous earth. I bought a big bag of it and am hoping it will cut down on the pests this year (especially squash bugs which are the worst!)

Diatomaceous earth (pronunciation: /ˌd.ətəˌmʃəs ˈɜːrθ/), also known as D.E., diatomite, or kieselgur/kieselguhr, is a naturally occurring, soft, siliceoussedimentary rock that is easily crumbled into a fine white to off-white powder. Diatomaceous earth consists of fossilized remains of diatoms, a type of hard-shelled algae. It is used as a filtration aid, mild abrasive in products including metal polishes and toothpaste, mechanical insecticide, absorbent for liquids, matting agent for coatings, reinforcing filler in plastics and rubber, anti-block in plastic films, porous support for chemical catalysts, cat litter, activator in blood clotting studies, a stabilizing component of dynamite, and a thermal insulator. Diatomite is used as an insecticide, due to its abrasive and physico-sorptive properties.[10] The fine powder absorbs lipids from the waxy outer layer of insects’ exoskeletons, causing them to dehydrate. Arthropods die as a result of the water pressure deficiency, based on Fick’s law of diffusion. (from Wikipedia)

Plus isn’t the word diatomaceous just great?! It should be an adjective and I may begin using it as such.

Red Bud sapling

Red Admiral Butterfly

We have seen TONS of butterflies; including monarchs which I’ve never seen this early in the season!

We’ve also been diligently watering the garden

Blackberries coming soon!

Check out the cool beads we made! I love FIMO/Sculpey clay!

Chicken Coop progress

Happy Mother’s Day!

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Spring Chickens

One with the chicks.

As you can see…

She’s not enjoying them at all.

Green on green on green

Zzzzzzz

Cardinal on her nest

First there were 3 little cardinals, then 2, then 1, then none. Bad spot for a nest? Hopefully photographing it didn’t disturb them. Maybe the black rat snakes are out hunting (even though we haven’t seen them yet)? Spring can be brutal.

At school the kids were drawing/contemplating a dead bird that met its end by flying into the school window.

We saw a run-over copperhead snake on our road (3rd one this spring!)! Again, a brutal spring for some. Exhibit D: the awful flooding in our area (we are up high and were thankfully not affected other than the kids having a week off school and bad traffic). All of the chicks are happily still alive and have enjoyed pecking around the yard (we’ve kept a close eye on them) but are still spending their nights in the comfort of our living room (in a bin).

Coop site planning

We cleared out a pretty good sized area.

And Smoochie…

Got the base of the coop built! Woo!

We also moved the rabbits out to this area; so the bunnies and the chickens will be neighbors.

Hey neighbor!

They caught some worms and the kids exclaimed, “I thought they were vegetarians!?”

Me: “No, look at them they’re like little velociraptors (especially when they blink).”

What’re you looking at?

Holding Specky

Check out Specky’s leopard print feathers!!

Puff Puff helping to weed the garden

I LOVE the salmon favorelle’s feathery feet!

Springy abstract sculpture

Chickens are way more well behaved than bunnies. I spent like 45 minutes one night last week (during the heavy rain) trying to catch Bun-Bun in the woods.

Cinco de Mayo

Goldie admiring the lovely edges of the garden plots

Where we planted…

Red Foliated Cotton (image from Baker Creek) 

We have never tried growing cotton before; very exciting!

Dexie has been nice

Hopefully she will never discover that they taste like chicken!


So for any of you that are considering getting chickens; there is a ton of information out there in internet world about raising chicks but I wanted to give you the most important #1 tip we’ve learned so far about keeping chickens:

Just wing it.

BAHahahahahah

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Late April in Spy Garden 2017

Leslie, Dexie

Well, we still have chickens in our living room. I mean, they’re in a large bin thing that we clean out daily, but still.

They still need to be under the heat lamps but they are growing so fast. This was the first time we brought them outside to play; so fun to watch them peck around.

Blackberry blossoms

Their new home is going to be right here:

On the left; where all that honeysuckle is now.

We are going to clear out a large area for their coop and a fenced pen. Construction begins this weekend!

Non-native (and very invasive) honeysuckle)

Curvy Garden

A volunteer pansy

Cardinal in our backyard (tons of them!)

Does anyone know what this is? I don’t but I tasted it and it is thick like spinach and lemony. I am hoping it is edible so I can add it to salads.

It grows in clumps like this and has a connected root system. (Ignore the kohlrabi intermixed with the mystery plant, I know what that is! ha!)

Yellow Wonder Wild Strawberry blossom

Lambs Quarters; which I usually weed but recently found it was edible (related to amaranth and looks much like quinoa plants) so am letting it grow freely in the garden this year.

So much garlic!

Eating dill (tons of volunteer dill plants popping up)

She is also learning to cook outdoors:

(From the school newsletter)

Lilac I

Lilac II

Spring Concert

The last concert of elementary school!

Taking a…

Bow

We are glad he has decided to continue cello into middle school!

He has also been very busy with baseball.

Making a pit stop to look at these guys on the way home from a game

They reminded me of that book Where the Wild Things Are!

We also stopped and took in this very scenic view!

Hope you all have a great weekend!