Cat Fort With Kittens

April 15, 2012

The boys enjoy building flights of fancy with whatever they can find.  Coyote traps which collapse on touch, skateboards, and the latest, which is called a “cat fort.”

Unlike the other building projects which failed to trap or skate, a mama cat chose the fort to give birth.  She is raising four kittens with lots of attention from the boys.

First Snow, With Children

December 24, 2011


“Oh no!”  I said as I looked outside last Saturday morning.  “Oh no!”

We received  three inches of unexpected snow.  I had cut a large amount of wood in the pasture and left it to split and pick up.  Normally I like to pick it up if I cut it, because if it snows, you’re digging through the snow to pick up the wood.  I was overreacting though, because the snow melted in a few days and I was able to split and stack the wood on a hay rack to dry.

The boys however, reacted with joy.  Each got a shovel and built a private fort.  Gameboy’s came up to his knees, but he described it to a friend as a room he could walk in.

Once the snow started to melt and stick together, they built a snowman.  Now the snowman is the only remnant of our first snow.  Oh well, I’m sure there will be more.

Farm Fitness: Tree Climbing

November 15, 2011

Shepherd has been diagnosed with Asperger’s since the age of two.  What this means is that he would rather be home alone than out with people.  I sympathize, because that’s where I would rather be.

He also has tactile issues, and is not very coordinated.  I remember one of his first visits to the farm with his brother and a couple of friends.  The other kids played in the mud of the creek, and Shepherd cried on the bank because he didn’t want the mud in the car.

The farm has been great for Shepherd.  We haven’t put a lot of pressure on him to change, but we wait for something he really wants to do, then help him make progress.  Now he can wash a pig, stick his hand inside a pumpkin, and climb a tree.


Shepherd’s Showpig Project: Conclusion

July 25, 2011

Shepherd, washing his showpigs.  After we washed them, we took them to the fair where they were weighed and ultrasounded for backfat and loin-muscle-area.  These three measurements are used in a formula to determine percent lean, which is how the pigs are ranked in the carcass show, pictured below.

The next day was the show.  Shepherd practiced walking them everyday, and the practice paid off, as the pigs followed his direction.  The judge was less impressed, however, and awarded Shepherd a white and a pink ribbon.   Winning showpigs today are extremely wide-made, with bulging muscles.  All of this muscle can cause structural problems, though, and the result is pigs which don’t handle stress well.

Shepherd’s pigs were very functional and problem-free, which are traits that are difficult to recognize, as the absence of a problem is more conceptual in nature.  Shepherd’s black and white pig was in the top half of the carcass show, though, and received a red ribbon.  This helps me know we have the muscle, it’s just in a more functional package.

Shepherd’s black and white pig weighed 242 lbs. and his white one weighed 283 lbs.  They gained 371 lbs. in 102 days for a rate of gain of  1.8 lbs. each.   They ate 1574 lbs. of feed, for an average of 7.5  lbs. per day for each of them.  They ate 4.2 lbs. of feed for every lb. they gained.

It was a very rewarding experience for Shepherd and the whole family.  I really appreciate all the people who help make the fair.

Seeing is a Muscle, Newly Moulted Dragonfly

July 10, 2011

Shepherd and I found this newly moulted Dragonfly while picking BlackCap Raspberries.

It was nearly invisible and we probably wouldn’t have seen it, if it wasn’t sitting on a ripe raspberry.

You never know what you’ll find if you go outside, but if you don’t go, you won’t find it.

2011 Corn Height, 4th of July

July 4, 2011

This is a traditional 4th of July picture in my family.  Shepherd snapped the photo this year.  Links to the last two years are here and here.

Happy Father’s Day!

June 19, 2011

This is my second Father’s Day, but the first where I feel I’ve really put in the work.  Parenting has more challenges than rewards, but I’m thankful to have the opportunity.

Shepherd is a budding writer, and updates a blog for family and friends.  I thought I would share the following entry from his blog.  It made my day.

Last year I raised baby tadpoles and set them free as frogs. And this year I’m going to do it again. A few days ago, I went down to my grandparents pond with my dad and we caught one very interested toad, but we let it go because the tadpoles are what we want to raise and we will just let frogs and toads be loose. That’s the main thing in project.

It’s fun to catch the tadpoles in the pond. Me and my dad also caught a leopard frog. It’s a not a frog-sized leopard! It’s basically a leopard-quick frog that’s yellow with black dots, but not poisonous.

Two big achievements that me and my dad made were:

1. Catching a bullfrog tadpole with legs. The back row of legs, that is.

2. Another thing we did was we found the tadpole nest. But we didn’t take anything from it because it would disturb the nest. That’s where we found a leopard frog, but we didn’t catch it. We found the leopard we caught on our way back to the truck. The reason we didn’t keep the frogs and toads we caught was because they would probably eat the small tadpoles.

I had a great time.