Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Thanksgiving Books

Christmas is everywhere!  But let's not forget about Thanksgiving before diving head first into Advent and Christmas planning.

One of my favorite homeschool-ish things to do is choose books according to a particular theme.  This week (and last week) we've been reading lots of Thanksgiving themed books.  I know it's almost too late to get your hands on these books for this year, but it doesn't hurt to check at the library.   If you're looking to calm the cousins on Turkey Day maybe an engaging book will do the trick.

Need to know a little more about cranberries

Cranberry Thanksgiving - A classic tale I pull out every Thanksgiving.  Not much about cranberries, though.

Time For Cranberries - A very new favorite around here.  Just published this fall, written by my neighbor.  Tells the story of Sam and how his family harvests cranberries every fall.  Recipes in the back.

Cranberries From A to Z - Again written by a once local author, who has since moved from the area.  This has a rhyming text and lots of information about cranberries, wildlife, and harvesting.

Our favorites from the library.  These are definitely on my wish list to own.

Sharing the Bread - Hands down, this is the favorite of all the books in this post.  Rhyming text, very engaging.  Tells the story of a family ALL working together to get ready for the Thanksgiving Meal.  Everyone has a job:  Father stokes the cookstove, Grandfather cooks the berries, Grandmother bakes the pie.  Sister kneads the bread.  Everyone WORKS together.  And they all sit down at the end of the day to a delicious dinner.  I've read this book at least 50 times in the past week.

 Sophie's Squash - Story about a little girl, Sophie, who befriends a squash and names it Bernice.  Things get difficult when Bernice starts to get splotchy and the kids at the library harass her about her friend.  Everything works out in the end when Sophie finds two more friends to love.  Quirky, but sweet.  I've probably read this about 30 times.  Maria carries this book under her arm begging anyone to read "Ophie's Kwash".

In November - Nice book about November's nature and the warmth of Thanksgiving.

All About Turkeys - Why not learn a little about turkeys before eating turkey?  If you have an animal lover, any of the Jim Arnosky All About...... books will be sure to please.  We own many of these books and they are simply excellent educational books with beautiful illustrations. *I see this book is out of print and therefore used copies are very expensive.

Autumnblings - A book of poetry about autumn.  Fall leaves, Indian summer, pumpkins, owls, first frost, and of course, Thanksgiving.

Those Darn Squirrels - Fun book about Old Man Fookwire, his love of birds, his despise of squirrels, and how those darn squirrels won over his heart.

Oh, What a Thanksgiving - Very traditional book about pilgrims and indians.  Quite a bit of text for the youngest crowd.

A Child's Calendar - Another book I pull out to read the poem of the month.  Each month is condensed to a one page poem.


I hadn't planned on being gone from the blog for an entire month, but life happens.  I'm glad to be back.

*All Amazon links are affiliate links.  If you click through and purchase any item (not just these books) I receive a small commission.  Thank you.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Cranberry Marsh Tours....(are coming to an end)

Technically speaking, cranberry harvest has come to an end.  A couple of truckloads of fruit still need to be hauled in and the trash rakers will still work a few hours and all the specialized harvest equipment will be put to rest for another year, but the cranberries have all been harvested and the harvest party is over.

I still have plenty of pictures to share and plenty of recipe posts in my draft folder waiting to be finished up.  Today is a mish-mash of pictures as cranberry harvest comes to an end.

These two boys enjoy one of their last days on the marsh during harvest.  It's one more chance to walk in the water with boots.

Running water down to the short beds.  Our own little Niagara Falls.

And yet another picture of a cranberry bed being boomed (corralled). 

A look at the berry cleaner getting set up.  Only has to happen a couple more times before the end.

Climbing up to watch the cranberries fall into the dump truck never gets old for Joseph.  He would stay up there all day if I'd let him.

Peter loves being just like dad with his hip waders, even if they have to be folded down to fit right.  

In the spring the irrigation pipes get put out for the growing season.  Before the bed is harvested in the fall all the pipes have to be pulled and placed along side the bed up on the dike.  It's a very unglamorous job, but Amber and our friend keep a good attitude.  Their motto is "pull the pipes, to get pipes".  We've had many a harvest worker quit after the first day (and more wishing they had) of pipe pulling because it's hard work.

Look at those smiles.  They are so happy to be pulling the last bed of pipe.

And Joseph is super happy to have something to jump over.

Another beautiful day of cranberry harvest in the books.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Cranberry Cleaning & Binning Station - Field Trip

Yesterday I had the opportunity to ride along in the dump truck to the cranberry receiving station.  Dump trucks are not luxury vehicles.  They are loud and the ride feels a bit like jumping on a trampoline, not something I'd want to do all day.  And getting in and out requires a bit of skill when you're only 5 feet, 3 inches.

Once at the cleaning station, the berries are dumped into a pool.

The cranberries are elevated into a washing station where a pressure washer rinses/blows away any leaves.  The fruit also moves over a "bouncing" machine.  Fresh, ripe berries bounce, rotten berries do not.  The good berries continue on while any rotten ones drop into a waste box.

 The cranberries make their way to another hopper where they are metered out into large wooden boxes - 1000 pounds at a time.

The forklift operator picks up the boxes and transfers them to a semi trailer which in turn drives the cranberries to a freezer until ready to be made into sweetened dried cranberries or juice.

It was a fun outing.  Just me and the hubs alone in a dump truck.  It was almost a date.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Today on the Cranberry Marsh

It's cold out there today.  And windy, too.  And I'm not feeling well, came down with some sort of flu-like bug yesterday.  Still recovering today.  So our walk was short, but I still want to share a bit of what we saw.

Enjoy a look around at cranberry harvest from my view which is at ground level and sometimes from the top of a dump truck.

And for a look at cranberry harvest from drone's view click here.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Recycling Water....(it's an important step)

Cranberry Harvest is well under way, which means it's time to start moving water from one bed to another.  Our style of marsh is completely reliant on gravity to flow water from one end of the marsh to the other.  In a perfect world the cranberries would be harvested from the high end to the low end.  I don't know about your world, but ours is not perfect.  Each bed is assessed based on color, variety, and age of bed.  These factors determine the order in which they will be harvested.  Sometimes a bottom bed will have to be harvested before and upper bed and that's where the ability to recycle water is crucial.  We are blessed with a huge water supply, but we still need to be stewards of our natural resources.

Water from the bottom beds flows into the pump back ditch where we then transfer it back to our main reservoir to reuse.  The means of transfer is through an above ground/under ground hose.  The pump below pumps 12,000 gallons/minute.

A couple of farm boys wait for the hose to fill up with water.

Watching the water empty into the main pond.

After a couple minutes of watching, the boys settle into their favorite pastime - throwing rocks.

I can't help but look around at all the fall textures in nature.

Rural life and working outdoors affords us plenty of time for seeing the little things nature has to offer like this grasshopper Peter spotted in the sand.

One more look at the giant stream of water before heading back home.

I hope you enjoyed another tour around our cranberry farm.

For more on cranberry harvest 2015 click here


Saturday, October 10, 2015

Suzuki Violin & Piano Recital - #14

First the musicians performed.
This was Emily's senior recital - #14
Recital #5 for Sam.

Then came the party.

Friday, October 09, 2015

Cranberry Marsh Tour....(in the comfort of your own home)

How exactly do those little ruby reds get from the cranberry bed to the truck?

First the bed has to be flooded.  This bed is in the process of being flooded.  Like a four-chambered heart, cranberries have four tiny air chambers inside, which allows the fruit to float, but still attached to the vine.

A tractor with a harrow rake is driven through the bed in a rectangular spiral.  

This is a closeup of the front harrow bar.  The spring steel bars push the vines down, allowing the fruit to float upwards and is then plucked off the vine.  The berries float to the surface.

There's a back rake which picks up any straggler cranberries because every berry counts.

The process of booming a bed corrals the fruit and pulls it to one end for the harvest.
Here, Nick is actually doing the cleanup round.  The first booming corrals the vast majority of fruit, then the boomers make a 2nd corralling using blowers to get every berry that has wedged itself in the grass along the edge.  

Depending on the wind direction, this can be a berry wet job.

 Once the fruit has been boomed and pulled to the pickup end of the bed, the berries are elevated from the bed into the berry cleaner.

Here's the first elevator carrying fruit, twigs, leaves all up to the water sprayer.

The white PVC in this picture is the water sprayer bar.  The water is used to clean the majority of leaves from the cranberries.

Then the clean fruit is elevated into the dump truck, and eventually delivered to another cleaning station.

 There you have it, another day in the life of harvesting cranberries.

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Down Syndrome Awareness

And apparently that's the chromosome for 
because I have extra of both!