Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Frozen Bubbles

Have you ever tried to blow bubbles outdoors in near zero weather? It is so much fun- an exciting adventure waiting to happen. As the temperature recently was right at zero degrees Fahrenheit, we decided to see the marvelous wonder once again. We mixed up some dish washing liquid and water, formed a wire loop from a floral wire and bundled up to head outdoors.
Right before our eyes, the bubbles began to crystallize! The surface clouded over, but the rainbow colored swirls remained. They still looked like a bubble, drifted like a bubble, but were frozen!
You could actually wonder if they were indeed frozen until you saw one burst. It was obvious at that point that something unique had taken place when the confetti-like material from the shattered bubble fluttered to the ground.

Other times, you could watch as one slowly ruptured and collapsed.

Has it been a long time since you have played with bubbles? Near zero temperatures can give you a reason to feel like a kid again!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Arrival of New Goats + 1 pig

We recently purchased a small flock of goats and one pig to add to the entourage of animals here on Providence Prairie. One of the kids was full of energy as we rounded them up to load. He was doing acrobatics by balancing on the pig's back. One goat is a full blooded Alpine nanny, which happen to be very good milk goats. Mixed in the lot was one Pygmy nanny, small, shaggy, and cute. The rest are Alpine/Nubian crosses, so they should produce milk well and have a little higher butterfat content in their milk than the Alpine, as Nubians are prized for their high butterfat. Three of them came with babies, and three are yet to deliver. Baby goats are a joy to be around! Watching them run and frolic together puts a smile upon anyone's face. All of the equine were very curious as to what was playing in the pen beside them- especially Spanky Hank. He didn't know quite what to do when we introduced him to one of the pygmy kids!

The goats are all settled in and cozy warm, having become comfortable in their new home. We welcome them all to Providence Prairie!

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Knob

In years past, the Knob- or Gobbler's Knob (as it is affectionately referred to by local residents) has been a serene place hidden in Hamilton County; a spot all its own, one that pictures cannot begin to fully express, located just a few miles from Providence Prairie. From the moment we began hiking there, we sensed it was special, as it held so much history in its paths from days gone by. Many years ago while hiking there, we topped a hill and came upon a beauty- a sparkling lake; vast, yet hidden among the trees, away from all the outside world. It was breathtaking, concealed by its own forest borders, yet there for those who had permission to partake of its splendor. The sun sparkled across its waters as the few lily pads that grew along the water's edge swayed in the breeze. The Knob was a world all its own, cared for by those who used its hidden paths and those who desired to keep it tranquil and secluded. At the topmost knoll of the Knob, there stood a mature grove of Pine trees that seemed to sing of the joy that was known in its own lovely world. The breeze always seemed to blow there, whispering its memories of old. Little could this entire secluded world foresee that one day in the future its beauty would pass away.


It had been a few years since we had taken a hike on the Knob, but news had spread that the old beauties were quickly disappearing. As we hiked along the ridge, the reports we had heard came to life before our eyes. Where there once was green grass along the paths, it was a devastated waste area of brown of mud.
The old pine trees along the knoll now seemed to mourn with sadness of things bygone; no longer did they sing with joy. As we made our way toward the once beautiful lake, before our eyes unfolded a sight which was heart wrenching. The levy along the east side had a large break in it and most of the shining waters had drained. Left in its spot was a large area of mud- just a world of mud. All that remained was a vast sea of brown earth and a puddle of a lake in comparison. The way that trespassers had no respect for this once wonderland tore out a little piece of our hearts. The Knob, once a picturesque place had been transformed. Its serene world was gone. It reminded one of the part in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy when Treebeard was grieved at Saruman's destruction of the Forests of Fangorn. Utter ruin.

The memory of a once better place and the hope that it will return once again will always be in our hearts. The Knob- a beautiful piece of God's world is lost, nevertheless in our minds, it will be a special spot- forever.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Lycopodium digitatum

Lycopodium digitatum, also known as Fan Club-moss, Crow foot Club-moss, Southern ground-cedar, Southern running-pine, or Trailing ground-pine has been found growing on Providence Prairie. Lycopodium digitatum is a type of fern, native to the U.S.. It is a non-invasive evergreen ground cover, having a strobili that flowers on a spike from July to October. It most commonly makes its home at the base of moist wooded slopes, often on acidic substrates, which describes where we found ours. As it looks like a mix between a fern and a pine, and is often used for greenery in Christmas decorations.Our discovery is in the Family of Lycopodiaceae (Club moss family), the Genus Lycopodium L. (club moss), and it is the Species Lycopodium digitatum.

There are several different species of Lycopodium L., and some varitieties are used to make Lycopodium powder. This fine yellow powder comes from the spores on the strobili of certain Lycopodium L. and is collected to make an explosive powder. When a lighted match is dropped into a pile of the powder, it does not burn. But, when the powder is blown through a tube in a fine mist across a candle, it ignites into a spectacular ball of fire. This results from increasing the available surface area for combustion: when the powder is dispersed into a mist, the particles are surrounded by enough oxygen to support a combustion reaction. Lycopodium powder in the past was used in fireworks, photographic flash powder (to resemble lightning in filming), fingerprint powders, as a covering for pills, explosives, and as an ice cream stabilizer.

Although our Lycopodium is not the type specific for Lycopodium powder, it is exciting to add it to the collection of known flora that thrives on Providence Prairie!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Creating a Guitar case

What to do when you need a guitar case for a small guitar? Using an old coat came to mind. Using the sleeve for the neck of the case, we worked and crafted, using pieces from here and there, and taking the zipper off and putting it in a new place. The finished product was quite pleasing and it fit the guitar perfectly! Complete with a pocket on the front, carrying strap, etc. it is the perfect example of the frugal minded saying: Use it up,
Wear it out,

Make it do,

Or do without!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Tapping Maple Trees

It is that time of year again! The sap is running in the Maple trees and it is time to tap the trees. Polly consented to carry all of the jugs to collect the sap for us on the first day. She had quite a load!We used PVC pipe this year for our spiles, and although not as authentic as the sumac spiles, they were much more convenient and are giving better results.

Now we have to wait for the temperatures to become freezing at night and above freezing during the day. In Southern Illinois, we have to tap earlier (late December to early January) than most places since our sap begins to flow earlier in the year. With Red Maples, it takes about forty to fifty gallons of sap to boil down to one gallon of syrup! A lot of tree sap goes into that little bit of syrup that you put on your pancakes. But, it is worth all of the hard work collecting the sap and boiling it down for the wonderful taste of "real" maple syrup on a good hearty pancake breakfast! Especially knowing it came from your own farm! Mmmm!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Great Duck Roundup

The Muscovy ducks were awaiting our arrival as we pulled up to the fence they were kept in. Jerry had told us about the opportunity to acquire some ducks and since our last one had previously kicked the bucket, we jumped at the offer. Muscovy ducks are good for meat, etc. and there were around thirty ducks to round up. Jerry worked as the gate keeper, while Trey and Mark helped catch the ducks. When we arrived home with all of the ducks, we let them out into the garden to get used to Providence Prairie before letting them onto one of our ponds. These are white Muscovy's and they are unique to their kind with the funny looking red on the male's heads.

We welcome them to Providence Prairie!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A Visit from the Cox Family

January 2 brought a good time as we visited with the Cox Family. They arrived at Providence Prairie early in the afternoon and after we said our hellos and they settled in, we all gathered around the piano for a little A capella "barbershop style" singing. What fun! We laughed and sang and laughed some more. Laughter is such good medicine!

While it was still light outside we decided to traverse to the barnyard to take a short ride on Spanky Hank and Polly. After we had saddled up, several of us took a turn riding around the drive that encircles the barnyard.

Polly even did quite well, allowing us to sit for a spell. After eating, the Cox's brought all of the supplies to play Hand and Foot. Ryan shared with us his love for hot lemonade. We all enjoyed a mug of that as we conversed and played together for the rest of the evening. (mmm!)
Before we knew it the time had come to say goodbye as they had a drive ahead of them to return home. It had been a good day filled with fun. We feel blessed to have the friendship of the Cox's!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

2009 is here.

This new year is one that has never been lived in before.

What will you do with it?

Each day is like a blank page waiting to be filled with what you will choose to fill it.

Choose wisely.

"Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." Romans 6:4