"We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike." ~Maya Angelou

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

(Updated) Summer Farm Camp 2016

   (Apparently I forgot several important items last night when I was blogging at 3 am, so I am including them now, hoping I will have the whole story in one place. My apologies.)

Yep, it's that time again, time to saddle up the ponies and head to the farm for some nature adventures with the cousins and grandma.

     Here is the crew on the traditional explore down Skeleton Creek. You can't see it in this shot but Zach was chasing a big bull snake that was in the water at the time.
    Every year we welcome some friend or friends who are interested in joining the fun. This year it was Audra's friend from high school, Brandi, and her newly adopted son, Thomas. Thomas doesn't say much but I think he loves being with our boys, playing in the tree house, swinging and such. Thomas could use your prayers, by the by, because he is undergoing a kidney transplant in OKC as I am typing this post.  Hope all goes well, little man.
     This part of the creek is where we used to swim with our kids when they were small. It's where they had their first swimming lessons.  One of the joys is making it to the south bend where the water is deep and the flat outcrop of rock is located. That's where you can do cannonballs safely. On the walk south there are shells and other treasures to be found on the sandy beaches.
 Thank goodness we had six adults along this time because it really does take a one on one ratio of adults to kids to keep everyone safe, especially with the little guys (who honestly think they are as big as the big kids.)  It's a creek you know, and there are drop offs and muddy banks that will toss you A-over-T into the water if you're not careful. Sometimes someone needs to be jerked up out of the water when they can't seem to get their feet under them.
     Here's Abbey with Ro and Ev, standing on Treasure Island.

              And this is the money shot of the day, everyone on the flat rocks.

 Of course we had the obligatory cookout on the patio in great-grandpa Dotters little black stove...with S'mores. I love it that the bigger kids are old enough to do their own cooking, most of the time.

 We all went on a hunt for animal tracks on the oil well road. We took our plaster of Paris this time and made molds.

And then they had to go back down to the creek in order to find some raccoon tracks. I stayed up on the bank to be the photographer, and because that bank is steep and rocky and I couldn't face it right then.  They are contemplating wading to the dugout from the north in this shot, but decided to climb down the tree roots farther south instead. A wise choice, as this spot is deep and full of big rocks. Little Ev managed to sustain an injury there on the rocky shore, but we had Nurse Audra on staff and his mom at hand for lots of cuddles and snuggles.
 This year Uncle Brent had a tutorial on how to put together a bug collection. Thanks, Savory Spice Shop, for the great little kill jars. I think Brent had to do all the pinning but these two campers were very interested in the process. The finished product is pictured here, along with the neat little book we took an a nature scavenger hunt later. It even had pockets in which to carry home interesting tidbits of nature.  Aunt Audra was on leave from work because she had her wrist in a cast, so she had made lots of wonderfully crafty ideas for us to do if the windows of opportunity opened. Since Farm Camp looks an awfully lot like a regular week end at grandma's house, it is a little difficult keeping all the campers pulled together and doing camp activities together.


 Here are Mags and B, working on the color chromatography. This is an activity Danny used to do with his classes, showing how you can bleed all the different colors out of mixed colors of sharpies, using rubbing alcohol. We were making paint shirts and it worked great. They end up looking like tie-dyed shirts, sort of.
Abbey had helped B's class make wolf-track necklaces at school this spring so we also made those one afternoon. Here is Ro with his Cheesy the Toad track necklace.

     We called our neighbor, whom the kids call Farmer Tim, and got permission to visit his zoo, even without him being there. Wow! We found some clean wild turkey feathers and a long, long peacock feather for the nature collection.  Farmer Tim's chicken flock is way, way down in numbers and we saw lots of extra precautions around the chicken house so I guess he had one of the famous night massacres from the racoons and skunks. I may have to take him a few of mine to pay him back for the three he gave us a couple of years back.
    In the picture below, they are wandering back to look at the Royal Palm white turkeys. Audra was reminding Zane to stay away from the wire fences because they were 'hot', meaning electric and ON. The very next second, he reached out and touched one. Of course. They were hot alright, and now he remembers what 'hot' means when you're talking about fences. Zap.

    Another one of Audie's friends has horses now, so we traveled north so everyone could curry and ride a horse. Ro looks a little unsure in this shot but he warmed up to them. That's him at the top of the post, in the saddle by himself.

 When we finished, we noticed a Killdeer going nuts so we looked around until we spotted her eggs in the grass and gravel. There are always four, tucked neatly pointy ends facing in. What a funny bird.
 Yes, we did go on a snake hunt and found one, and a lizard and they got upclose and personal with the cows.

Then, to wrap it all up, we had a scavenger hunt with clues and hidden treasure that needed digging.

 Though there is a magnificent tree house to be played in (and it was ), Z and M spent a lot of time chasing/sorting/catching/petting and loving on the chickens.
Who knew they would be such a big hit? They brought the little boys into the pen one morning and caught some of the hens so they could have some pats. The chickens are grown, by the way, and stomping around in the yards and gardens, eating bugs and weeds and making those lovely chatty sounds that make me so happy when I sit outside in "the golden hour", breathing in the beauty.

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