Thursday, July 30, 2009
So here's a suburbanite's understanding of the harvest:
First the weather has to be warm and dry (ever mown the grass in the rain?)
The combine harvester both cuts and threshes the wheat. During threshing, the grain is separated from the stalk and chaff and collected in a tank, which is periodically emptied into a grain truck. The leftover bits are dropped back onto the field among the 'little standing up stalks'.
Then a baling machine comes along and gathers the stalks into straw bales, which are used mostly for animal bedding. (Hay is grown in its own right, rather than a by-product, and is more nutritious than wheat stalks, which become straw.)
Finally the last bits of stalk are tilled back into the ground.... and the 'short standing-up stalks' (stubble) are now 'lying down'.
The wheat crop was the most obvious, as it was being currently worked on, but we have also been driving, walking and riding bikes through fields of corn, rye and oats. Today we picked a sample of each of the cereal crops and then went home and looked in our cupboards for things that were made from these plants.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Sunday, July 19, 2009
Saturday, July 18, 2009
We have two areas the butterflies especially favour: first, the rockery with lantana and assorted herbs which are now starting to flower. Secondly, a collection of pots with zinnias, impatiens and petunias. This is actually "Emma's Garden". She chose the flowers, planted them and has been diligently watering them. The pots are in an ideal location for us to watch during snack time. Emma likes the idea that she and the butterflies get to snack together.
Today we went to a Butterfly Festival, where, among other things, we witnessed a butterfly release of hundreds of fritillaries. That would have been impressive, except the butterflies didn't want to leave their cosy little box so it was a little anti-climatic!
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Photo credit to Barbara Simpson
Saturday, July 11, 2009
Friday, July 10, 2009
The hose was a great place to start on a hot, hot day, and delighted squeals accompanied a small thumb over the end of the hose as Emma sprayed all those in her path. Once the novelty of this wore off, she was intrigued to see a rainbow in the spray. The next afternoon we found rainbows in bubbles. At other times, we had fun dressing up with an item of every colour and chalked rainbow coloured paths on the patio to run on. The original crayon rainbow and a wet-on-wet watercolour painting of a rainbow became backdrops for a new colourful nature table, and we heard a lovely Native American tale "How The First Rainbow Was Made". At the end of the week, believe it or not it rained - while the sun shone bright in the sky. We were driving, and as I craned my neck at each traffic light, all Emma's response was: "You still looking for a rainbow, Mama?"
Saturday, July 4, 2009
- Some can fly up to 30 miles per hour
- They are carnivorous, eating among other things mosquitoes, tadpoles, butterflies and spiders
- Some dragonflies live up to four years
In folklore the dragonfly has been a symbol of both good and evil. In Japan, it represents strength, victory and courage; while in Europe, the dragonfly was in past times considered an envoy of the devil. The Zuni tribe of Indians had a legend in which a boy and a girl were left behind after the village's corn crop failed. The boy made a toy dragonfly for his sister from corn husks. The dragonfly eventually came to life and appeased the corn maidens, who created a bountiful harvest of corn to welcome the villagers back.
The dragonfly's a timid thing,
He's very pretty, too;
His lacy wings are clear as glass
And delicate as dew.
I don't know why the dragonfly
Has such a fearful name.
I never saw a dragon
That was nearly half as tame.