Sunday, January 17, 2016

Outdoor Mom's Journal - January 2016

On the Handbook of Nature Study website, Barb started a Outdoor Mom's Journal. Each month, she answers some questions to give a glimpse into what's happening in her world as it relates to nature.

Last year, I did some entries for my own Outdoor Mom's Journal, but wasn't as consistent with it as I had hoped. This year, I'm trying again. Below are the prompts and my responses for January.

During our outdoor time this week we went....for as short as possible distances since temperatures are in the double-digits below zero. In fact, the time spent outside focused more on functional and necessary more so than optional and enjoyable.

As I write this, there's a Wind Chill Advisory that is in effect until noon on Monday (it started yesterday). The Advisory said:
* Expect wind chills to range from 25 and 35 below zero through Monday morning.
* The dangerously cold wind chills will cause frostbite in as little as 30 minutes to exposed skin. This morning it was so cold that it was lowered to only 10 minutes outside.

It offers this precautionary/preparedness action since frost bite and hypothermia can occur if precautions are not taken: Make sure you wear a hat and gloves.

I had to laugh at that. A hat and gloves? Let's try multiple layers of socks, pants, shirts, and gloves/mittens. A scarf or face protector. Some boots. A coat. Even with all those layers, I still come in and my feet and legs are cold.

The most inspiring thing we experienced was...seeing the variety of birds visiting the bird feeder. I enjoy seeing so many birds relying on the food we are providing for them. Some of the smaller birds who visit the feeder have their feathers all puffed up to stay warm.

Our outdoor time made us ask (or wonder about) horses make it through these sub-zero days and nights.

One winter, after getting our horses, it was frigidly cold. By the morning, one of the horses (Bailey) was shivering. I felt so bad seeing her like that; and called the vet not knowing what to do. I had never seen this happen before. They told me to feed her hay right away and she should stop shivering within five or so minutes. Sure enough, that's what happened.

They also suggested putting extra bedding down so there was a thicker layer between the ground, cement floor, and their bodies. Keeping this advice in mind, over the past two days, I have put nine bales of wood chips down in the barn. It is nice and thick now. I noticed today that Bailey had been rolling in the chips during the day.

One website I visited, Quora, said that "...quite often, even when shelter has been provided for them, they don't use it except perhaps at night or when dozing. They're fine, really. If you can see snow on their backs, that means their body heat is not escaping to melt the snow."

It isn't snowing (it's too cold) so I can't test that theory. Later this week, when it is supposed to snow again, I'm curious to see if that's true.

On Homesteading Today, one horse owner said, "A wind block, free choice hay, and unfrozen water and they will be fine."

Our horses have a barn and plenty of areas that provide a block from the wind and unfrozen water (I have two heated buckets that keep the water from freezing). When the weather started to go below zero and not move above it even during the day, I put extra hay in the barn at night so they can have it i they want it plus extra hay out during the day (on an approximately five-hour schedule). The horses are leaving some of the hay which is good. It means they have enough to keep themselves warm.

In the garden, we are to expand our vegetable gardens. Last year, we had seven 3'x4' gardens that had different varieties of tomatoes, peppers, onions, carrots, herbs, and marigolds. We've tried larger vegetables in the past in the same space, but there's not enough sunlight throughout the day.

Back in the late 1990s, I had a very large garden. That area is now the horse pasture, though, so I can't use it for gardening. In addition, the trees have grown in beautifully so it is more shaded than when we first moved here.

So, I'm thinking of how to change the backyard a bit so we have more space to do gardening - fruit and vegetable. There also are a couple of ways of gardening that I'd like to experiment with (e.g., keyhole, straw bale).

Last fall, I planted a lot of bulbs and transplanted some of the flowers that belonged to my parents. I'm hoping these make it through the winter and that we'll have some new colorful flower gardens.

I added nature journal pages about...I printed some pictures at Target to include with my January nature journal entries. Also invested this past week in some Prismacolor pens and Prismacolor watercolor pencils as a way to expand the tools I use for journaling.

This is what the Prismacolor pens look like. 
The tips are fine which is great 
for printing and handwriting.

I am reading...Wildlife Habitat Education Program manual that is part of the 4-H Wildlife Project Bowl reading requirements. As the coach for a junior and senior team this year, I need to read this manual and develop some questions to test the team members. It's an interesting resource. It's just a lot of reading in a short period of time.

I am dreaming about…warmer weather. Even temperatures in the 30s (which are projected for later this week) will feel tropical compared to what the weather is like today.

Two photos I would like to share...are from the last Wildlife Project Bowl meeting. The activity focused on horns versus antlers.

I gave each child and some of the mothers a slip of paper with a description of a quality of either a horn or antler. Each one had to read her/his description and determine if it was referring to a horn or antler.

Once they were in their groups "Horn" or "Antler" each one took a turn reading her/his description. For the most part, everyone was in the right group (there were only two who needed to move over to the "Horn" group). I think everyone learned at least one new thing about horns and antlers.

The photos above show a bison skull with horns (notice they are attached to the skull) and a moose antler. The antler is quite heavy; and it gave us all a good perspective of how large each one is and the weight that a moose carries atop his head.

The bison head is one I've had now for well over a decade. It was from Eichtens in Chisago City. When we were reading the Kaya series (as part of the American Girl books), I wanted to provide Sophia and Olivia with some hands-on experiences related to buffalo. Eichtens said I could look at the bones they had in a pile there. Found the skull with horns which was a great find!

The antler was one that Casey (my dog) found when I was walking her on the Gunflint Trail. It was about mid-Trail and off the side of the road in a forested area. She smelled something and was insistent on wanting to go find it. On our way back home, we stopped on the side of the road and put it in the back of the Jeep. I've had it ever since...a nice reminder of Casey and our many hikes and trips up north.

1 comment:

Rita said...

I, too, have wondered how the animals survive in the cold. Those tiny birds with their stick legs--goodness! Horses must be really tough. The pens look like fun for journaling and you got the watercolor pencils, too--fun! Been so very cold. Like last winter, but at least we have some snow this year up here. That helps. :) Stay warm!!