Sunday, March 28, 2010

Things Are Just Ducky

I have resisted getting ducks until now. I am not sure why I didn't get any before, maybe I didn't have the mental energy or something. I have a little woodland pond that I am sure they will discover and enjoy until it dries up in late August. I bought nine little ducklings, three each of Rouens, White Pekins and Indian Runners. My plans for them are mostly farmyard ambiance.

Now that is quite a face right there!

I have a one gallon waterer for them and they go through that twice a day. I think I am going to have to give them the five gallon container! It is amusing to sit and watch them in the brooder box go from thrusting their heads all the way under water and then waddle over to get a mouthful of food and then head back to the water.

This is the little "crate" in which they came home to the farm. They didn't want to stay in that for one minute longer than necessary. They spent their first two days in a 20 gallon aquarium in my third grade classroom and created quite a stir. We had lots of visits from other classrooms, and most of the younger kids at my school got a chance to hold one of the ducklings. After getting a chance to hold and cuddle with one of the ducklings, I had a little six year old tell me, "This baby needs a mommy and that mommy needs to be me!" I didn't point out to him the obvious, but that was a nice moment. My school is in a suburb, and most of the kids only have contact with dogs and cats, so a few moments watching chicks hatch, of holding and naming a duckling can be a good connection back to our roots; back to days when we had gardens and animals because we needed them in order to survive.

Sitting and watching these ducks is so fun! They have such little antics. I am going to let each of the students name a duckling. This will be interesting as some ducklings will have multiple names. However, I want to help them make a connection with a little life that is different from anything they have experienced. Maybe we will write in our Reflection Journals about how it feels to name a creature that will live forever in our memories.

"Take a good look," I told my class as they were leaving for the weekend. "These ducklings will be all feathered out and look very different the next time you see them."

After school on Friday, as I was getting the ducklings ready to go home, three 15 year-olds, whom I had in class 6 years ago, came into my classroom for a visit. I realized that the words I had told my class earlier takes place with people too.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Maple Syrup

Saturday was a beautiful day to be outside and boil sap. The temperature was in the mid-forties (F) and the sky was as blue as it could be. I put together a little outdoor sugar shack and boiled the ten gallons of sap I had collected last week.

First, I collected a good supply of firewood. Next, I took my bonfire ring and put it on the gravel driveway and set up some concrete blocks to make an outdoor stove. I have several sturdy grill tops that I set across the fire pit and put my trays of sap on them so the fire could get to work boiling away the sap.

And the sap cook looked upon what he had wrought and said, "it is good enough."

Now all I had to do was tend the fire, keep adding sap, and wait.

And wait...
And wait...

And wait...

(March is "Reading Month" and I got in several hours of reading Sherlock Holmes)

Ahhhh, but this is definitely worth the wait. I ended up with about 7 cups of pure maple syrup. I expected it to be a little darker, but I do like the nice light amber color. Depending on the sap flow, I will be out there for the next two Saturday mornings boiling and reading.

Come on over, and let's have a little book club while we watch the sap boil.