Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Another First Time Trapper

Amber and dad set traps yesterday and were eagerly awaiting their morning trap check. The wait paid off. Look what she caught. Her first and was she ever excited. She came running into the house holding the muskrat by the tail screaming for me to come see.
Just as soccer season is a given for some families, trapping season is a given for our family. Trapping season starts just before cranberry harvest when Emily and Nick set the bulkheads to clear out the muskrats looking to drain away the harvest flood. See they don't like it when the water is raised because it can flood out their dens. When the water gets too high they start digging and keep digging until the water has a way out. For our business that spells trouble. The water is being held high to either protect the fruit from frost or prepare the cranberry bed for harvesting, so draining the water away is detrimental to the success of cranberry harvest. The days catch is skinned, stretched, dried and then sold. Before you have any thoughts about cruelty to animals or wildlife preservation or enjoying nature just as it is I'd like to share a few thoughts.
**Many people don't think twice about getting rid of a problem mouse in the house, gopher tunneling through the yard or rabbit in the garden, not to mention ticks, house flies, mosquitoes - we get rid of those without any thought. All of those animals can be deemed pests to some people. Muskrats, although larger and pretty cute, are pests to a cranberry marsh. We find it necessary to control their population as best we can.

**Living in rural central Wisconsin, we love nature and find plenty of time to soak in all we can. Because of trapping our children are near expert animal track identifiers. They can spot and identify animal signs such as scat, feed beds, feathers, scrapes, and wing drags. Trapping allows the kids time in the outdoors which many educators, including Charlotte Mason, claim to be beneficial to their overall development. Emily and Nick are usually the first to spot sandhill cranes, red winged blackbirds, mourning doves, the gold in the goldfinch coming back, swans, whooping cranes, turtles and frogs in the spring. I dare say trapping gives them a purpose to their outside explorations and keeps their observation skills alive.

**The Catechism of the Catholic Church states in sections 2415-2418 how we should treat animals. In 226




")'>2415....Animals, like plants and inanimate beings, are by nature destined for the common good of past, present, and future humanity. In 2232

")'>2417....God entrusted animals to the stewardship of those whom he created in his own image. In 2446

")'>2418....One can love animals; one should not direct to them the affection due only to persons. These statements taken from the CCC show the delicate balance between man and animal. Animals can and should be used in a moral way and for moral purposes.

Trapping continues through the fall and winter months. Snow, ice, freezing rain, bone chilling cold nothing stops the trappers in this house. Then comes early spring trapping. Still ice on the pond, but it's open around the edges. It's pretty muddy out there, but they forge on with hip boots at 6:30am.

I'm interested. Is anyone out their a trapper or know a trapper? Share if you will.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Early Spring Bike Ride

The round about plans for the bike ride all started with an idea to take a vacation of some sorts to somewhere warm. As a family we hovered around the laptop typing in cities and states that had potential to be warmer than central Wisconsin. We didn't find much - Hawaii, Arizona, and Miami, Florida. We really wanted something a bit closer. Something close enough that driving wouldn't wear us out before the actual vacation started and wouldn't leave us bleary eyed once back home. Then after a little closer look at our weather forecast things began to look pretty good. This week was expected to be in the low 60's early on and then turn cooler and even down right wintry as the weekend neared. So in an effort to take in all the sunshine we could we opted for a 45 minute drive to Stevens Point's Green Circle. We chose Schmeeckle Reserve as our starting point/parking area. The total miles biked was around 12-14. I chose the Moses Creek trail as I had never biked it and it included two boardwalks which I knew would excite the kids. What a great trail. We did have to do some biking on a busy road, but that's over now and all they keep talking about was the cool boardwalk.

A couple of my favorite lines overheard:

At the beginning of the trail still in sight of the parking lot and van we intensely looked at the map deciding which way we should go. It took a minute to figure out the orientation of the map.

Nick: We're Lost.

The word single file was hollered out a lot, mostly directed to Samuel. About 4 miles into the ride he finally yelled back:

Sam: What is single file anyway?

Once we told him, the problem subsided.

And now for a couple of pictures

Happy Saint Patrick's Day

As I arise today,
may the strength of God pilot me,
the power of God uphold me,
thewisdom of God guide me.
May the hand of God protect me,
the way of God lie before me.
~Saint Patrick

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

I Had An Appointment Today

When I got home this is what I saw:

Notice the alcohol on the counter. The hand sanitizer was there, too. Amber with the lighter. A little fire. School's cool with dad. This doesn't surprise, but what does is that he put his farm paper at risk. See it underneath the plate.

A Very Soggy Day

Rain moved in last evening and continues still today. The forecast shows rain through the weekend.
Lot's of reading again today.

The Seven Silly Eaters

by Mary Ann Hoberman

Little J practicing Amber's spelling words. She happily said, mom I can't do my spelling because Little J stole my Magna Doodle.

Emily found a way to create blue skies for us. We all, even dad, gave it a try. By golly it worked. The day looked so much happier through the blue lens.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

For What It's Worth

Amber: I have a golden dollar and it's probably worth a million bucks.

Not quite sweetie.

Today's Thoughts

Soggy days are in store for us this week. Gloomy gray skies too. I should expect this, after all we are nearing spring and that means moisture and mud here in central Wisconsin. Still the sun is a welcome visitor after the dreary days of February. We definitely took advantage of it the past few days. Lot's of backyard baseball, horse riding, tipi building and bike riding.

But now here we are a little more homebound and colds making their way through everyone. Last week it was Emily with a terribly sore throat and now Sam is coughing, Amber has teary eyes and a drippy nose and Nick is stuffed up with a sore throat. Little J's top tooth has been showing through for well over a month and finally it seems to be ready to make its appearance. Emily just said she sees a corner of it peeking out. I'd say it's about time. He's had his bottom two teeth since about 13 months, but that's it. Now at 19 months (almost) he's getting his third tooth, I think.

Talking about Little J he's really mobile. He crawls up and down the hall looking in the bedrooms for things to eat. Tell me why a rubber twister tail (fishing bait) is appealing, but a cooked carrot.....no way! He crawls through the end table which is a sight to see.

And loves to be read to. Sam does a great job of memorizing books and then reading them to Little J. The current reading favorite is My Silly Book of Colors by Susan Amerikaner.

Last week was a birthday week. Warren's turn this time. I feel bad for him having a birthday during Lent. But we celebrated as much as possible.

Happy Birthday. We love you.

Monday, March 8, 2010

40 Bags in 40 Days

Have you read about this yet? It's everywhere.

Shower of Roses
Faith and Family
Simply Catholic

The idea is simple. Rid your home of clutter 1 bag at a time throughout Lent. We made a paper chain of 40 links. Each time we gather up a bag of donations, recyclables or trash a link is torn off the chain. Fifteen links are gone leaving 25; that's a pretty hefty number of bags to fill yet. So far we've bagged up:

Donations - 9 bags
Recyclables - 2 bags
Trash - 4 bags

More than anything we've found lots of stuff in the wrong place creating clutter. Next up is our bedroom closet and Little J's closet, a major catchall. Amber shared our challenge with her friend's family. The mom thought it was such a great idea, but wasn't sure it was Lent worthy. My response was clearing away the real clutter in life frees up mind space making it easier to focus on the meaning of Lent: prayer, fasting and alms giving.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Menu Planning...Again

A healthy dose of peer pressure can be a good thing. A couple of weeks ago at a homeschool Valentine party the kids heard about another family whose kids take turns making meals. My ears piped up and I started asking questions. What do they cook? How involved are the meals? Do they plan ahead or just dig through the pantry? Well, J got Emily thinking and on Monday morning she was dividing up the week and telling us all when we had to cook.

Cooking Schedule
Mon - Emily
Tue - Mom/Samuel
Wed - Amber
Thur - Mom
Fri - Nicholas
Sat - Mom/Dad
Sun - Mom/Dad

We've done this for two weeks and it's been working great, except for the lack of vegetables. I decided to pull each child aside and have them plan their meal ahead of time so I could strongly encourage the addition of vegetables. We decided to plan for one week and then have the same exact menu the next week, too. That makes for easy planning and shopping. And if they choose something a bit more difficult than macaroni, making it two weeks in a row reinforces the skills needed to make that particular dish. For example, Emily chose to make chicken pot pie for Monday suppers. Today she made two and froze one for next week. Making double saved time and really gave her lots of practice making pie crusts and gravy.

Our 2 Week Lunch Plan
Sun - pancakes and sausage
Mon - homemade cheese fries, applesauce and pickles
Tue - pizza burgers and carrot sticks
Wed - homemade macaroni and cheese, summer sausage, celery w/PB
Thur - leftovers
Fri - grilled cheese, carrot sticks and pickles
Sat - ramen w/dumplings and salad

Our 2 Week Dinner Plan
Sun - grilled Italian sausages, rice and peas
Mon - chicken pot pie, salad, jello squares
Tue - freezer pizza and canned fruit
Wed - ham, mashed potatoes, spring veggies, cranberry sauce, rolls, angel food cake (Warren's birthday dinner)
Alternate Wed - venison steak, cheese curds, carrot sticks
Thur - leftovers
Fri - fish, green beans, pork 'n beans

Monday morning we chopped, sliced, thawed, mixed, boiled and roasted a variety of meat and veggies. We prepared as much of our respected meals as we could ahead of time so during the week cooking time was minimized. The pile of dishes rivaled Mt. Everest, but we did it and boy are we glad. Meal prep will be a breeze for the kids and me throughout this week and next.