I can't tell you how much I have missed chatting about our days here. I'm sorry this post is so very late. And now, I can tell you, that I feel completely overwhelmed by trying to sum up the many weeks!
There are a ton of photos in this post and I think the best way to go about talking about our spring is to dive in! Come see a bit of what the children and I have been up too!
Oh, I've also inserted links to a couple of books and songs lyrics that we've enjoyed over the last two months.
We've been bird watching! There are so many interesting feathered friends singing and visiting us every day. Just within the last week or so we've seen cardinals, warblers, bluejays, finches, mockingbirds, wrens, doves, and probably many more which I don't know the names of. This pamphlet has been so handy in helping to identify our backyard birds. I love that the species listed are specific to our region - and that it's laminated - and that I can tuck it into my basket or bag easily when we go for walks.
See that pretty little Carolina Wren. Isn't s(he) adorable (there are two of them). We were able to watch our pair build a nest in this little house which is situated on the beam of our screen porch/classroom. Everyday, we see the male wren fly out of the bird house onto the same limb in the same tree where he sings his heart out. Also, the wrens get very upset if and when the chickens get out of their run and wonder near the classroom. A couple of times, we've heard loud chirping, gone out to see what the fuss was all about, and discovered that the chickens were in their territory. As soon as the hens are escorted back to their area, the ruckus settles down.
I'm thinking there must be a clutch of eggs in the nest by now. I wonder if we will hear baby birdie chirps soon?
The nest below belongs to a pair of mockingbirds. It was interesting to observe the different types of materials the two species of birds collected to make their nests. The wrens used the tiniest of twigs, hay, yarn (that we've had out for nest-building since January), bits of plastic litter, and such. We noticed the mockingbirds using much larger twigs to make what looks to be a sturdy nest.
Last week, we conducted an experiment to determine why different birds have different beak shapes. How interesting. Some tools (beaks) were obviously suited for particular foods but others, we thought, might be good at finding more than one type of food. I think the experimented definitely succeeded at planting a seed of curiosity about understanding bird behavior. I know it did so for me!!
Some of our favorite bird books have been:
An Egg is Quiet -- Which isn't specific to birds, but it's still a lovely read, especially during the spring.
The little bird hops throught the bright, green, grass and the bright, green, grass grows high.
The little bird hops throught the bright, green, grass and the little bird sings oh my.
Oh my, oh my, the little bird sings oh my.
The little bird sits in a strawy nest and the strawy nest sits still.
The little bird sits in a strawy nest and the little bird sings oh well.
Oh well, oh well, the little bird sings oh well.
The little bird flies through the bright, blue sky and the bright, blue sky floats by.
The little bird flies throught the bright blue sky and the little bird says bye-bye.
Bye-bye, bye-bye, the little bird sings bye-bye.
Everyone has been very involved in our garden this season! It's a joy to be around a group of children who truly love being out and about in nature. Their curiosity and eagerness fills me up with joy and hope for our future and all things pure and beautiful.
This spring, we've planted tomatoes, eggplant, pumpkin, squash, cucumbers, and beans. So far, everything is growing, growing, growing. When the children water, they automatically ask to mix the water with molasses because they've seen me do it and know it helps to make the soil healthy. With any garden comes garden friends and foes. We've seen lots of snails, ladybugs, aphids, honeybees, butterflies, and several other unidentified critters! That little corner of our yard is booming with life of all sorts! One of my goals is to increase my insect knowledge so that we can better understand the why's and how's to successful gardening.
We've loved this little book because it mirrors our own garden so nicely.
And this has been a fun
About a month ago, I was at the market and noticed a bundle of fennel for sale with tiny swallotail caterpillers growing. I bought the bundle so that we could watch the caterpillers eat and grow and eventually turn to butterflies. Below are couple of photos documenting the process. Once the caterpillars were close to being full size, I placed the jar in the butterfly habitat because when a caterpillar is ready to make a chrysallis it travels far away from it's host plant (unless held captive...). We got to watch the the swallowtails morph into their chrysallises. Unfortunately, the butterflies emerged on a Friday and a Saturday when the children weren't here to see them. My daughter, husband, and I released them. They were so beautiful. I was sad the other children didn't get to witness the miracle!!
We have spotted a monarch chrysallis outside in the garden. I'm hoping that the stars align just right, and that the children get to witness it emerge as a beautiful butterfly!
The backyard is home to so much adventure and play! From construction work sites and long journeys by horse and buggy to school days, dance classes, restaurant and mommy and daddy play. I'm amazed by the amount of creativity a sand box, a wagon, shovels, buckets, hay, leaves, and other bits and bobs from nature can inspire when four children get involved. So much purposefulness. So much digging, and mixing, and pouring, and cleaning, and tending and negotiating. So much real life based imaginative play. When any of them are feeling off-kilter, nothing aides in balancing the mood better than heading out to the backyard.
April was Texas Wildflower Month! Specimens of different types of wildflowers were kept on our nature shelf or inside (during windy times). We are still collecting specimens of wildflowers that begin to thrive when the weather warms up. There are so many to admire! Today as we did a litter/nature walk in the meadow across the street, the children delighted in seeing so many different species: evening primrose, verbena, Texas firewheels, and butterweed were all abundant.
Our spring has been breath-taking -- one we must always remember, especially during the hard years when the temperatures soar and the rain clouds forget about us.
Our favorite books about wildflowers can be seen in this photo below:
Baby Chicks Are A Coming (We Hope)
We started the incubating process of hatching chicks a few weeks ago.The agricultural extension agency for our county loans incubators and donates eggs to schools and families who are interested in learning more about the process. We were given a dozen of fertile eggs. Sadly, none of the eggs hatched. A few were not fertile, the others did not make it. We are trying one more time...Wish us luck!
Photos of inside work and play.
Bean and seed collage...
In case you are wondering about the coloring book.... It belongs to my daughter and every now and then, when she feels like it, she likes to take it out during school time (along with her very own pencils and crayons). I gladly let her as I know it isn't always easy to be four, to share your mama, and your home with others three days a week. Having a chance to use "her" stuff, I think, helps her to feel like her home is her home -- always. And by the way, this coloring book is out of this world fun...
Whew... well that was a lot to report on. Spring has been so fun and busy and so full of life blossoming and growing in every direction we look.