Friday, December 27, 2019

Part #1 I'm Never Gonna Die (because my bucket list keeps getting longer)

Recently, I decided to write a blog post entitled, "I'm Never Gonna Die" (because my bucket list just keeps getting longer)" Image result for bucket list

While preparing for the Fossil Lab, I stumbled upon some information about fossil collecting on the Peace River in Florida. Here is a sneak peak of one of the first of 17 items on my list with more on the way.

I've been to Florida many times but never knew about the Peace River. Even though Florida has many rivers, the Peace River in the southwestern part of the state has gained extra popularity with fossil hunters due to the abundance of quality specimens that can be recovered. This river has fine species of camel, mastodon, shark teeth, mouth plates and plenty more. Many fossil hunters use kayaks and canoes while others simply wade in the water, use a shovel or a trowel.

For one to hunt fossils in Florida, it is mandatory to have a fossil hunting permit and recognize the legal guidelines before you begin your hunt. Springtime is normally the best time to hunt fossils. March, April, and May are the low water level times of the year. For the best fossil hunting, water levels should be at least a little bit below normal levels. During sunny days, you may effortlessly see the bottom better; however this may not be suitable all times. At certain times when the water is clear and the days are sunny, you can use a snorkel and recover some good finds.

We go on a family reunion trip once every year thanks to science lab earnings. We pack up our five children and six grandchildren to just hang out and be together. Last July we headed to Gatlinburg and rented a beautiful VRBO cabin in the mountains. Look who decided to join us at our cabin!

Exploring the Peace River in Florida might just be a good one for our next family adventure!

I'm just hope the alligators don't decide to join us...Image result for alligators

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Fabulous Frogs

We have a water tank in our back pasture and the frogs that live in the woods have found it to be a great place to lay their eggs.   
You wouldn't know it but this water tank is full of frog eggs.  
Creatures from all over have decided to live here with us.  Here is one of our five male bunnies who lives wild and free in the pasture with the goats, chickens, pig, and wild turkeys.  The bunnies like to hang out under the IBC water tote.  The Great Pyrenees dogs protect them so they don't run away even though they could.  

OK back to the frogs...  So, I put a solar powered fountain
in all the water tanks to keep the algae and bacteria from taking over.  The frogs are so helpful.  They are giving me all the gray and green tree frogs a person could ask for.  What a gift they are giving us for the Amphibian labs in March!  

Here are some frogs who have already gone from egg to tadpole to frog.
Keeping these babies fed has been quite a challenge.  They are too small to eat baby crickets from the pet store so I've resorted to catching ants with sugar and luring fruit flies into the aquarium with rotten figs.  It works great!  
And if your child dares to say they are bored at any time between now and March, have them memorize these frog and toad sounds before they come to the lab.  They will be quizzed.  

Never a dull moment here on the farm or in the science lab.

I wouldn't want it any other way!

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Thank You For Your Service

Tuesday May 21st was a sad day for us here on the farm.  Our beloved friend Mauka passed away quickly in the early morning hours. He died instantly guarding the goats in the corner of the pasture where he normally barks at predators.  On the same day Mauka passed my husband went to the funeral of a Vietnam Veteran buddy.

It was a tough day.

Too many veterans end their life due to war trauma.  If you or someone you know who is a veteran needs help please direct them to Operation Restored Warrior.  They can help.
Mauka's soul was beyond my ability to describe here.  Language can't quite capture the essence of this amazing animal and friend but I will try my best.  
Our journey together began when we moved to the farm back in 2008.  We started out as clueless farmers with a small herd of alpacas.  We needed a guard dog because South Carolina has lots of bad guys here.  Coyotes, foxes, raccoons, and other dogs all love to taste the delightful treats (chickens, rabbits, goats) here on our property.  

Our grandson Peter was visiting us when we headed up to North Carolina to pick out some dogs.  We came home with Mauka and his sister Lani; two of the best Great Pyrenees dogs ever created!  Poor Peter was not quite sure about riding in the car with two big white monsters right behind him! 

Mauka protected the alpacas with great care.
Our grandchildren loved him dearly.  Even though his size was large and somewhat overwhelming, they sensed the gentle and kind soul emanating from that huge hairy body!  Ella Bella Petronella is afraid of dogs, especially large ones, but not so with Mauka.  

Mauka attended all 13 of our Farm Labs this past week.  The students were able to love on him, brush him, and marvel at the fact that such a big dog can hang out with baby rabbits, 

tiny chicks, and baby goats, 

all together in the same pen.  

How do you say goodby to such a gentle giant and loyal companion?  My husband and I buried our dear friend Mauka in the back corner of the property.  We both cried as we remembered the wonderful times we had together for the past 12.5 years.  We thanked him for his unrelenting devotion and service to us and to our family.  

We love you Mauka.  Thank you for your service.  You will never be forgotten.  Even in death you still reach out to teach me.  As I've been reflecting on Mauka this is what I believe he would want me to know. 
  • My "to do" list is not as important as saying hello and goodbye when I greet my loved ones.  You never know if it might be the last time.  I would give anything to rewind the clock and hug him and tell him how much I love him one more time.
  • Non-verbal communication speaks volumes.  Mauka never uttered one word his entire life yet he was a transmitter of unconditional love and loyalty to all who were fortunate enough to encounter him.  
  • Don't let looks fool you.  Mauka was large and scary yet his eyes gave him away.  He was a lover of humans, other dogs, and those who needed his protection.  
  • Love your work.  Mauka loved to protect and he worked any hour of any day if his services were needed.  
  • Recognize greatness, it is all around you.  Mauka was more than a remarkable dog.  He was my friend, my protector, my helper on the farm, and loyal to the bitter end.  I didn't quite grasp the value of his greatness until he left us so suddenly.  I wonder how many other humans and animals are part of my life and I don't see their beauty or recognize their greatness shining out.  That  70's song "Don't It Always Seem To Go That You Don't Know What You've Got Till It's Gone", (Big Yellow Taxi) by Joni Mitchel makes me sad.  I was in the presence of greatness and was too busy to recognize it.  
  • Always be grateful to those who stand guard over you. They deserve honor for what they do.   
And to all the faithful ones both human and animal who helped protect us we thank you this Memorial Day!  

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Blowing Up the Science Fair

I love this quote by Albert Einstein.

Recently, my grandchildren "mopped up the floor" with their science projects at the Northern Illinois Regional Science Fair. (Can you feel the humility in this statement)? All three of them won the coveted grand champion for their age category and they also made the front page of the Freeport IL Journal Standard.  Grand champion winners were: Ella Leverton for kindergarten through third grade; Gabriel Leverton for fourth through sixth grade; and Breanna Leverton for seventh and eighth grade.

Northern Illinois Regional Science Fair

I am SO proud of all of them and also for my daughter Rachel who does an amazing job of organizing this event
and son-in-law Andy 
for helping the kids achieve this remarkable accomplishment. Each of the children had to practice giving their presentation for the judges over 10 times with their dad, Andy.  I'm convinced that this is what helped them connect with the judges.  Go Andy!!!  So Andy, I will forgive you for marrying my daughter and whisking her and all my grand-babies off to the frigid north! 
Ella did her project on ants!  She was so excited to find out we had an ant lab back in November.  
Gabe did his science project called "Fabulous Flatulence".  Yes you heard it, flatulence!!  
I am so embarrassed... It actually was quite scientific.  He really knew his stuff!!  Gabe's presentation to the judges was explosive!

Breanna gets to go on to the Illinois State Science Fair with her project on how sun screen affects the ocean waters.  Recently, she was in Hawaii with her mother and they saw first-hand how the coral is disappearing and dying due to the toxic sunscreen in the ocean water.  I wrote about this in a previous post.  Let me know if you need some organic non-toxic sunscreen that my goats help me make.  
And in case you are an overwhelmed mom who can't find the time to really do justice to teaching science, let me help you.  I am creating online courses and would love to have your children join us.  Email me and let me know you are interested and I will keep you informed.  The next one will be in February.  It is a course called "Me Myself and I, My Amazing Body".  Students will find out how unique and wonderful God created them to be.  We will study their hair, skin, eyes, blood type, pH, and other aspects of their amazing human body.  Join us if you don't live nearby and can't come to the lab!!  Thank you for passing this on to your homeschool friends.