Monday, June 27, 2011

Blueberries and Potatoes

We planted and mulched 2 blueberry bushes.  The like acidic soil, so I will be mulching them this fall with oak leaves.
Potato plants are doing well in their bed made of plastic pallets.  Chickens don't like it though, they can't get to the potatoes to dig them up and peck at them like they did last year!

Earlier this evening I caught one of the labs in the cantaloupe bed.  He and I had a "discussion" about that.....

Friday, June 24, 2011

Rebecca's Strawberries

Yesterday while in Gladstone we discovered Walmart still had some strawberries. (no one else has had any for several weeks).  So, my 3 strawberry plants now have some friends.  Rebecca promptly claimed the strawberry bed as her project, and planted them and watered them for me.

 I doubt, since it is almost the end of June, that we get any this year.  If we do, she will probably enter them in the gardening portion of the 4H fair.  It is next month with the small animal shows, as to do it in June with the projects is too earlier for gardeners.

For her effort, I gave her some Science time (as we discussed how strawberries reproduce by spreading runners), and some life skills vo-tech time.

Lift off!

Elizabeth is interested in space.  She has been studying the stars and planets, learning to fly a plane (yes, a real plane, off the ground), visited NASA, and now, she is into making rockets and setting them off.  So far, she has built 3 rockets (and flown 2 of them) and one space shuttle. (I think the space shuttle was due to the fact we were at NASA- Johnson Space Center during the last flight).

Wednesday night, she went to set off her rocket..It didn't go as planned.  Mission Control had to delay it due to bad batteries for the launch controller.  So, yesterday, while at Hobby Lobby, we bought more batteries.  Today, she went to launch it again.....another delay by Mission Control.  Dead batteries.  The batteries we bought were out of date and no juice.  In to town we went, and got more batteries.  Finally, we had good batteries and she launched 2 of them successfully.  And, just as successfully, the girls managed to find them both, as they landed in the front hay field.

Her rockets are Estes Rockets--they come in a kit and you build them.  Each engine is good for one flight, then you need to change engines for the next flight.

If you have a kit interested in rockets, check out their education section on their website.  They have online classes you can take in Math, Science, Language Arts and more.  The classes are for all grades.  I haven't checked them all out yet, but the ones I did look at are free classes.   They are partnered with NASA.  Next week, we will be checking out their online classes in more detail (after the county fair activities slow down some).

Elizabeth picked self determined as her 4H project, and entered her rockets today.

 The best part of this very very short video, is the dogs noise when it went off, my husbands "wow" and then Elizabeth yelling "It worked, it worked!"

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Garden Update

I already had 2 beds built and planted before we went to church camp last week.  Bed one contains onions and garlic, lettuce and radish.  My only problem with this bed is that for some reason, one of our labs loves to pull up the garlic.  He doesn't eat them, he just pulled them up, drops them, and pulls up the next one in line.....
Bed 2 contains 16 tomato plants, and 12-16 broccoli, collards and cabbage.  In between there are more radishes.  This works very well, as the radishes are small, and don't interfere with the roots of the other plants.

Yesterday my dad spotted an ad on the Kansas City Craigslist, and called me.  A man in Cameron is selling pre-made raised beds for $5 each.  We went and bought 8.  They are all made out of untreated reclaimed or recycled wood.  The ones I made cost around $14 each.  Even considering the fuel to go get them, it was cheaper to buy them than make them.  I may go get more later.  He had them stacked in numerous piles, so he has plenty more.  That was a real gold mind of a find my dad made!!!  Thanks Dad!!

So, bed 3 has peppers, egg plant, more broccoli and bed 4 has cucumbers.

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Bed 5 has strawberries and bed 6 has watermelon.
3 lonely strawberries-all the store has left..
Bed 7 has cantaloupe.
Bed 8 is only half filled with soil.  I ran out, and it got dark.  Good time to stop!
Beds 9 and 10 are still empty.  But, they will be filled soon.

My potatoes are doing well, in their above ground cube made out of plastic pallets.

It takes me all of 5 minutes a day to weed the gardens.  No tiller to run.  I just mow around the beds and I am done.
Next month when they crop dust, I can easily cover my beds with sheets and plastic.  I have lost several gardens to crop dustings that drifted on to my traditional garden--not this year!  If birds become a problem, I can easily cover these with netting.  If we get an early frost, I can also put hoops over these on either end and in the middle and cover with clear plastic for a green house.   The girls have been helping me, so I am giving them some school credit for helping.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Darwin is Wrong.....

This week the girls and I are in Holt County, at Flaming Spirit Christian Service Camp.  The twins are campers, Emily is a helper, and I am staff EMT.

Our missionary speaker this week is a very interesting and well educated man, Matt Miles.  Matt is part of the Creation Truth Foundation.  Our lessons this week, have us studying the Bible to see what it says about creation and what science has said about creation, and what science now says about creation.  And, science has changed it mind on several issues.  Seems now, thru DNA tests, it has been confirmed that we all came from one common female....and, that would be Eve.  Visit there website for a lot more information at .  There site also has some great links, and home school resources and curriculum.  Also interesting is the information on dinosaurs (yes, dinosaurs were real).

We have had a great week so far.  The weather has been great, the storms have missed us, and even with all the flooding going on, the creek at camp has stayed in its banks.  The food is wonderful- tonight we are having roasted beef, mashed potatoes, veggies and browns.  Twice this week we have bussed into Mound City to swim,where we have had the park and pool to ourselves.  When we were kids, we all fit into one school bus.  Now, the camp takes two buses to get us there. 

Friday, June 10, 2011

Garden time.....finally

I finally got some of my plants in the ground.  This year, I am doing mostly raised beds.  Farmers in our area crop dust, and it drifts onto my garden preventing my harvest.  I think with the raised beds, when the crop dusting is done, I can easily cover the beds with old sheets to protect them.  They are also very very easy to keep weed free.  I have my beds spaced out 6 feet apart, so I can mow between them.  Two of the beds are made with new, untreated lumber.  The rest I will make recycling some lumber that we used to make the concrete forms for the pad in the chicken pen.  If I run out of used lumber, I may have to buy more.

My goal was to try and get at least 4 or 5 beds made this year, and then to add more next year.  So far, in one bed I have planted onions (which my dad gave me), garlic, lettuce and radishes.  The lettuce and radishes are planted in between the  rows of garlic and onions.  For some reason, this bed seems to attract one of our black labs.  Last night I noticed dog prints in it, and again tonight I noticed prints.  He is a huge dog, with big feet, so it wasn't hard to nail down the culprit.  But, the fact he had onion and garlic breath, was a huge give away also....

Bed two, has cabbage, 16 tomato plants, collards, more radishes and a few broccoli.  My potatoes are doing well in their bed, made out of plastic pallets.  They are planted in layers.

Still to plant is corn (yep, way late, but 2 times in the past I have planted it in mid June and had the best crop ever...), okra, cantaloupe, water melon, pumpkins and carrots.

I wanted to have it all in the ground by now, but this summer we have had a different schedule.  We had an out of state vacation, then home for 10 days, then I am leaving again for a week.  So, I didn't want it drying out and dying in the heat while I was gone.  However, as it turned out, it rained every day we were in Texas, so had I put them in the ground before we left, they would have been fine. 

What I like about the raised beds, is that they are easier to keep the weeds out of, and are neater and more compact.  I can put 3 to 4 times the amount of plants in an 8 x 4 bed, that I can in several rows of the garden.  I will save fuel, as I won't have to run the tiller between rows.  I can cover them easily at crop dusting time, and can easily add netting over the top if needed to protect from the birds.

The one thing I dislike about the raised beds, is right now, they dry out faster, so they require a bit more watering at the beginning.  But, this will remedy itself as the summer goes on.  As I mow this summer, I will mulch my beds with grass clippings.  As they build up, they will help hold the moisture in, and retain weeds and grass from growing in the beds.  I think each bed will probably last 4-5 years.  I made them from untreated wood, so that the chemicals wouldn't leech into the vegetables.  Next year, when I add more beds I am going to compare pricing and possibly make next years beds out of the plastic/resin decking  material.  It doesn't rot as the wood will.

When we built the beds, we layered newspaper and old paper feed bags in the bottom of each bed to kill off the existing grass under the beds.  The paper will allow water to pass through and will deteriorate over time.  Above the paper, I layered straw, then dirt.  Tonight I watered the beds for the first time and the dirt settled some.  I will see how it is next weekend when I return home and may need to add more dirt if it continues to settle.  But again, I think when I mulch it with grass that will help as well.  And, the grass will break down and add nitrogen to the soil.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Missing Homeschooler Adrianna Strurm--Please pass this info on.

Age 17

 Lives in Richmond MO, but disappeared from Merriam KS on May 18

Caucasian with strawberry blond hair, blue eyes 5 ft and 110 lbs.
Tips hotline 816 474-TIPS or the PD at 913 782-0720.
Her family loves her, and wants her back.
Adrianna is part of our homeschooling family.  She has been in one of my classes and my daughters know her from homeschool coop.

Please, please pass this on.  Somewhere, someone knows something.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Galveston Island, Texas

After our visit at NASA, our next stop was Galveston Island, Texas.  The drive there from the space station was less than an hour.  What we did learn real quick about Galveston is that the prices for lodging go up during the summer and on weekends., so plan your trip accordingly.   We ended up at Days Inn, which was less than a third of some of the hotels that were a little further south.  There were no rooms for under $100 on the weekend.

Had we planned ahead of time to go there (Galveston was kind of spur of the moment), I would have researched the area a little more.  There are so many things to see there, it is hard to pick.

We ended up spending the first day at the beach, as the girls had never been to an ocean beach before (only lake ones).-Well, Emily had, but she was only a few months old, so she didn't remember it.  The girls had fun and gathered a lot of shells.  It was red flag conditions, meaning the water was rough and you were not to go out more than waist deep. However, we found the beaches clean and no sign at all of oil.

JD had been there before and wanted to take us to a great seafood restaurant, Gaido's,  which was wonderful.  It is right across the street from the sea wall, so while you wait (expect a  90 minute wait) they give you a pager so you can go walk along the ocean.

We spent quite a bit of time at Seawolf Park, which houses two historic World War II ships – the USS Cavalla and USS Stewart.  Here, Emily ran into a very interesting gentleman, Dick Hoffman, who had served on the sister ship to the USS Stewart.  We spent quite a bit of time talking to him and asking him questions.

Be sure to take the free ferry, it starts where highway 87 ends, in the ocean, and takes you over to the peninsula, where highway 87 resumes.  On the peninsula, we visited historic Fort Travis.  Again, the girls got several more hours of American History.

On the peninsula, we noticed the sand is a different sort of sand, and the beaches have many many more shells.  I think we brought home half the sand and shells.

Nasa Space Center

Our next field trip was to the NASA Space Center in Houston.  Elizabeth was in heaven, this was her dream to come here, as she is planning on being an astronaut when she is older. We spent the entire day here.  It was a hot day outside, so we arrived early, so that we could take the tram ride and do the outdoor events before the heat really hit.

The tram ride take you from the visitors center, under the highway, to the actual space center where mission control and all the support units are located. As odd as it seemed, in the middle of all this high tech fly to the moon landscape, is a herd of cattle, or "space cattle" as we dubbed them.
Mock up inside mission control

The local FFA chapter keeps cattle on the NASA grounds.  They work with NASA and the cattle doing "special projects" ....or maybe, they are alien cows?????

 The tram tour takes you around several buildings, cows, and then you make a stop and go into Mission Control.  We spent quite a bit of time in this area.  They have mock ups of all sorts of parts of the space shuttle and the space station.  If anything goes wrong in space, they can recreate it here at the space center so that they can talk the astronauts through the repair process.  
mock up of a door and its lock inside mission control

We also visited the many theaters they have at the space center, showing various movies and the history of space flight.  We were here visiting for 6 hours, and the girls earned 6 hours of science for our homeschooling  for our time here.

NASA also has free curriculum for teachers and homeschoolers, which I signed up to receive.