Saturday, September 13, 2014

Mini Hovercraft

We recently made a couple of simple, small hovercrafts. The supplies we used were an old CD, the cap from a shampoo bottle, a glue gun, a balloon, a paper cup, scissors, and a rubber band.

What we did....
We glued the shampoo bottle cap onto the center of the CD. We cut the bottom off of the paper cup so that the cup was about two inches tall. It is now ready.

Putting the balloon stem onto the bottle cap

To use the hovercraft, blow up the balloon and twist the stem so the air stays in. Put the balloon stem through the cup and open it onto the shampoo cap. We used a rubber band to hold the balloon stem in place, but it wasn't always necessary.

Place the hovercraft on a clean, flat surface and un-twist the balloon to release air. Give the craft a little push and it will glide easily across the surface. We pushed it back and forth to each other a few times before the air ran out. Here is a short video of the action :)

Coming soon (hopefully)....a bigger, life-sized hovercraft that we will ride!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Bakery Bliss

This summer we were able to tour a bakery!

The bakery entrance

Not just any bakery, no, this bakery provides bread for some of the top restaurants in the country. We also had a chance to taste some of the amazing food they produce. When we have eaten there - everything we have had has been mouth-watering and delicious. We'd love to be closer! I really should have tried the chocolate pudding while I was there....

These baguettes will go in the oven soon


The bakery was very busy as we were walking through. People were constantly in motion working to produce the yummy food. We really had to be on our toes and make sure we were not in anyone's way. We saw bread baking, bread rising, bread being shaped, cakes and cookies being made and frosted, and more. Delivery drivers also came in to collect the daily orders and distribute the fresh-baked bread. Thank you for the tour Columbia City Bakery!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Cool Critters

We have been privileged to be in the presence of some very cool insects and animals this summer. Here are a few...

Sweet hummingbird

By-the-wind-sailor washed up on the beach

Katydid on the trampoline

Beautiful and impressive pelican

Achemon sphinx moth caterpillar on the grapevine trunk

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


The farm truck needs new spark plugs and some work done on the heater. Looks like it could be a good time for some father/son bonding.

Reach down in there...

and you will find the spark plug
Clean, new, and shiny spark plugs: good. Dirty, old, and corroded spark plugs: bad.
The comparison
When it comes to cars and trucks and tractors and mowers and trailers and any machinery that moves, shakes, turns, grinds, chops, rolls, bales, threshes, plants, or harvests, Pancho is the one to ask for help if it isn't working.

Hey guys, nice work. Thank you for keeping the truck in good shape :)

Meet The Flickers

I am so grateful to live on a farm with an abundance of wildlife. Birds flit about chirping and collecting food from flowers and the feeder. The squirrels gather acorns. The deer quietly graze in the fields. The Northern Flicker perches under the eaves above our bedrooms and uses its beak like a hammer BANG BANG BANG!!!!!! This just won't do.

My method of getting rid of the flicker is not long term, and really just a way of hoping the problem will go away by itself. I usually run out behind the house and scare it away. On my way I pass my sleeping guard dog that fearlessly protects us from coyotes, opossums, rattlesnakes, wild boar, etc, but completely ignores the bird that wants to move into our house. This last time I knew we were in trouble because I saw not one but two flickers.

The other day after the flicker(s) woke up the kids (again) I decided to take this more seriously. I got a sheet of mesh wire, wire cutters, and a heavy duty stapler from the barn. Next thing you know I am up on a ladder trying to staple the mesh wire to cover the eaves where the flicker has been chipping the wood away. This area just happens to be at the highest point of the house. To the gals out there who have used a heavy duty stapler while standing at the top of a ladder, holding mesh wire above your head with one hand and trying to staple it with the other, my hat is off to you. I am sure the flicker was enjoying every minute of it.

Mesh wire under eaves
The wire worked for a day or two, but because I only covered the peak area of the eaves, the flicker moved to the next available area to start again. I decided to look online at what we could do about this. I am grateful that I easily found this site online with suggestions for keeping flickers from damaging and/or drumming on your home. I also learned that the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act protects Northern Flickers.

Sheets visually block the area the flickers are attracted to
The next stage in our flicker prevention has been successful so far. This time when my husband was home I asked him to help - and thankfully he did the ladder/stapler part. We covered the eaves completely with the mesh wire, and then we hung some sheets from the edge of the roof, visually blocking the area that the flickers were attracted to. Fortunately this part of the house faces the hillside, so the sheets aren't too much of an eyesore. The site also recommended stapling large, rubber spiders in the vicinity of the area the birds are attracted to. I made a mental note to pick some up next time I am at Halloween City.

Krazy for Kapla

After a long hiatus we have been building with Kapla blocks again. The box of blocks surfaced when my son cleaned out and re-arranged his room. Oh look! The Kapla blocks!!!

Tall Tower

A pumpkin (with an angel)
How is it that something that seems so simple could be so fun, interesting, challenging and with seemingly limitless possibilities? I find it to be meditative too :)

I think I will call this one 'Life'

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Acorn Season

For those of you living near oak trees, you will know it is acorn season. We are fortunate enough to live under some incredibly beautiful oaks. In general the trees will produce large crops of acorns every other year (they are alternate bearing). This is a big crop year. The acorns fall onto our metal roof with a large 'bang'! For the first time since living here we have actually been hit by falling acorns, my daughter in the shoulder, and yours truly was hit in the head. It hurts!

Of course there are many good things about acorns - they are food for many of our animal friends, they grow into trees, and if they are prepared correctly, they can be used for food by humans. We are collecting some to make acorn bread with. We did this many years ago when my son was about 2 years old and he absolutely loved the bread, so I am looking forward to trying it again. Right now we are collecting as many acorns as we can and storing them in the barn until winter break when we will start processing them.

We have a tree that usually produces some large acorns, and this year is no exception. Below is a photo of what could be the largest valley oak acorn we have ever seen around here. I didn't put anything for scale, but it measures 2 3/8" long and 1 1/8" wide! The cap is 1 1/2" wide.

Valley oak acorns
We included some of our regular 'large' acorns in the photo for scale. Thank you oaks :)