Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Spring Semester Enrollment


Dancer all ready to go.  Just have to finish this sememster, celebrate Christmas and New Years and she should be ready to tackle that list of classes.  Right?!

Halloween Goodies and Goblins


Trick or treats in a Snapple bottle.  Spray paint the covers orange.  Adorn with ribbon and stickers.  Make sure the jars are completely dry before putting in the candy or you will end up throwing it all out, rewashing the jars and refilling with new candy you have to run to town to buy.   


We were suppose to have a Halloween themed dish for the 4-H party.  Low on time and motivation we grabbed a container of cheese balls from Sam's Club and drew a pumpkin face on it.


For our homeschool co-op party I was more organized.  This is a pan of lasagna with RIP in green olives.  If you don't like green olives (I don't) just eat from the bottom of the pan.


Also for co-op, pumpkin biscuits.  These are those biscuits that come in the tube and make your heart stop while you are waiting for it to pop upon opening.  Lay them out on your baking sheet and then cut slits around the sides.  Cut one biscuit into small pieces and stick on top for the stems.


Co-op trick or treating.  We had Sonic, Little Mac, and Mario.


In about one hour between the three of them they brought home about 30 pounds of candy.  A good chuck of Sparks went to the hospital with Dad.  Nurses love candy :)



4-H Halloween party, Mario and Mary Poppins.


The funniest game they played was trying to eat a donut tied from the ceiling without using their hands.




Dancer's dead and scarred pumpkin.



Monday, November 24, 2014

Black Bean Soup


While it isn't pretty, it might the best soup we have ever had.  The kids love it and even requested to make a pot at 11:30 p.m. the other night.

1 onion chopped
1 tablespoon ground cumin
45 oz. black beans or 6 cups
2 cups chicken broth
3 cups salsa of however hot you like it.  

Cook the onion and cumin until onions are just becoming translucent.  Puree 4 cups of beans and the chicken broth in a blender.  I used the Vitamix and started heating them while the onions were cooking.   Add pureed mixture to onions.  Add rest of the beans and salsa.  Cook until hot and serve with cheese, sour cream and tortilla chips.


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Running of the Llamas


Every fall in the town of Hammond Wisconsin thousand of people line the street and place bets on which llama will run down the street the fastest.


Spark and Marceline signed up to be in one of the four races this year.  


Spark won his race and was in the final race where he took third place over all.  He was in first place almost the whole way and got edged out in the last minute by a large white llama and a little alpaca that both got a burst of energy at the last second.  Not all llamas are runners.  The ones who win are ones who want to be leaders and do everything they can to make sure no other llama is in front of them.  Marceline went because she is the only llama we have with that trait.  The rest of them are happy to followers.


Right before the race Spark was asked by a group of old women bikers if Marceline could wear a handkerchief with their logo on it.  Marceline was proud to represent them!  


After the race Spark was even asked for autographs.  We are already looking forward to next year and I think their might even be a bit of training that goes on before hand. 

Greedy Panhandling Chickens


When we bring out cracked corn or kitchen treats for the chickens and guineas we yell "CHICKENS" and they all come running.  But now instead of waiting to be called for their treats, they just come right up to the dinning room door to look for them.


The guineas just roost on the deck rails so that they don't miss anything.  It has almost gotten to the point where we can't go outside without being surrounded by chickens.  The man who came to fill our fuel oil tank for the winter forgot to bring a wrench to get the top off. Dad left him by the pipe to find one of our wrenches and when he came back the guy was standing there surrounded by demanding birds.  He managed to stammer to Dad that they might be hungry.  Leaving the wrench, Dad went back to get a bucket of corn to throw out and save the delivery man.


The guineas are a beautiful bird until you get to their head.  They are in the coop for the night here and they were not happy that I was taking their picture with a flash.  Going to the coop at night is a weird thing we have not been able to figure out.  At some undisclosed time, no matter what they are doing, even eating, the chickens and the guineas all just start running to the coop and hop in.


Even the dog isn't safe isn't safe from those greedy gals.  She goes out to go potty and they run over and surround her.  It is hard to do your business with so many eyes watching you.  She is pretty quick out there now so she can get done and be heading back to the house before they can get to her.

Renaissance Festival





Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Happy 14th Birthday Spark!!!


He could hardly wait to open his gifts so he tore into them as soon as he got up.  Dancer gave him the big boxes of Raisin Bran and Cinnamon Toast Crunch.  We don't have boxed cereal very often so he was super excited to get them.  He also got a pair of wind pants, a video game and a Zelda book.


Marble birthday cake.


Grandma Shirley and Grandpa Bob came for lunch.  We had his favorite potato and corn soup.


His bed is really in bad shape so Grandma Pat and Grandpa Jerry got him a new bed.  A bed in a box.  Opening this thing was the crazy.  The mattress is rolled up in this box.  It took five of us to get it out and we laughed like mad men.





You unroll it and then take it out of its bag.  After it lays on the floor for a while, it puffs up into a mattress.


All I can say is that it is amazing what they can get into a box!


We finished off the birthday with a non fire and hot dogs.  

Escape Goat

The smarter a goat is the more trouble they get into.  Jamal keeps us hopping on fence repair because if there is one little loose spot he is out of the fence and down to the swamp.  Every few days he finds a new way to escape the corral and often it takes us several days to see where he gets out because not only is he smart, he is sneaky.  We can watch and watch and watch him and as soon as we give up he slips out of  the corral.  


On this day he tangled with a burdock bush and in turn got his beard tangled.


Instead of trying to comb the burrs out Dancer just took the scissor and cut his beard off.  We teased  that without his beard he looked like a little kid goat and was no longer a manly man.  


Now Nico, he is a manly man.  

The Great Worm Rescue




Dancer and I walked after it was raining and spent a good portion of the time rescuing worms from drying up on the road.  I know there are literally millions in the ground and saving a few won't matter.  I still can't walk by them though because I think of the story of the starfish where the person is throwing them back in the ocean from the beach. Someone says he is wasting his time because there are so many and he isn't even putting a dent in the numbers on the sand.  He in return says, it matters to the ones I throw back.  So, now on top of everything else, I have worm guilt.

Llama Fiber Day

 We have the most awesome llama club ever with a leader who is full of energy to plan all these fabulous activity days for us.  For this event we were learning all about fiber and what to do with it.  Llama owner can be an odd bunch when it comes to fiber.  Most of us have bag after bag of raw fiber in our garages that we don't know what to do with.  So we either need to learn what to do with it or hook up with someone who does.


Using a drop spindle is something I have been wanting to learn how to do. The people who do it make it look so easy so why aren't we making skein after skein of beautiful llama yarn.  Well, because it really isn't easy.  


We finally did manage to make some yarn on our spindles.  It was thin and then then lumpy and then thick and so on.  The lady who taught the class, who made perfect usable yarn, applauded all our efforts anyway so we walked away thinking there might be hope for us yet.


Dad or Uncle Si?


Felting soap.  This was by far my favorite activity of the day and we have made several more out of our llamas fleece.  


Dancer in her non-aerobic spinning class.  Actually I think if you were able to get the wheel really going you could have a pretty good calf workout.  This proved to be as hard as the drop spindle.


Dancer felted Minnesota.  This has since died as it got let sitting out somewhere and the cats killed one night when we were sleeping.  They just go crazy over llama fiber.


The leader of our club has about 20 llamas and everyone grabbed one and took it for a walk.


Dad took out Diego. Diego likes to be the boss and do his own thing so Dad calls him Diablo. 


Spark took out this little cutie, Gracie.  

The kids also learned how to dye fiber and they made a batch of yellow and purple.  

Friday, October 17, 2014

How to Make Char Cloth

Char Cloth

Trying to start a fire with a spark from flint and steel can be pretty challenging.  It's hard to catch a spark and hard to work it into an ember.  An age old way of doing this is to use char cloth, Here's how to make some!


Cut some 100% cotton cloth into small squares, these are about 2"x2"and put them into a small tin or can, something fireproof.


Punch a small hole in the top of the can.  This lets gasses out, but not enough oxygen in to make fire in the can.



Heat the can on a fire.  This is a camp stove, but any fire will do.  This step should be done outside as it is pretty smokey.  You are "burning " the cloth without oxygen similar to how wood becomes charcoal.  The gas escaping the tin will burn and that's OK, it's methane gas.  Heat until it stops smoking then remove to cool.


Launch some sparks onto the char cloth and you will see small red glowing areas.  Gather up the the char cloth and the materials you mean to start on fire (here it's wood shavings from the pencil sharpener and newspaper).  



Blow and blow and blow on the bundle, the char cloth becomes redder and hotter as the embers grow. Careful...



The bundle will burst into flame!!!  We were doing this project really late at night and didn't want to have a bonfire so Dancer just set it into the barbecue grill.  To make a fire, set your bundle down and put small sticks, leaves, etc on it  Continue to blow on it and soon you'll have a raging fire