Monday, April 29, 2013

Cub Scouts "Brush Up" the SFL Nature Trail

In the last week, Cub Scout Pack 582 of 
Farm Life School set about to earn their
World Conservation Badges by laboring to
improve the school nature trail.

It began with a tour of the trail at their
Monday night meeting to evaluate the
existing needs on the trail.  The meeting
started with the flag raising.  The flag
would be at half staff in memory of recent 
bombing victims in Boston.

The scouts and leaders identified several
possible projects with the input of Mr. Loyd (me).
Perhaps the most challenging of all was to
try to straighten "Old Man Poplar."  Oh well.

What a fine looking bunch of young men.
By the end of the evening they were pumped by
 about working on the trail the following Saturday.

On Saturday, one project was to replace wood
 chips that recent downpours had washed away.

For safety reasons, only adults helped
load these concrete and iron fence poles
that had been dumped in the woods years
earlier.  Later, they would be taken to the landfill.

One of the dads is a civil engineer.
He helped design a makeshift dam
to slow the flow of rain water over
one of our problem areas.

A real plus of this project is that
we utilized old brick and concrete
rubble that had been dumped on
the trail decades ago, perhaps when
an existing building was demolished.

Through steady work by many
willing hands, our retaining wall
took shape.  Using existing materials
in a productive way will serve as a
constant reminder of the environmentally 
sound practicere-using rather
than adding to the landfill.

During a well-earned break the
scouts crossed the stream and posed
on Big Rock.  This was a reward for
showing up on the work day, because
typically school groups don't get this
opportunity-- too much risk of falling in!

This log and the sandbar were
our crossing point.  The log is
not very reliable-- it's the last
remnant of a mammoth tree that
fell two decades ago.

Back at work, the scouts manned
several hedge clippers to attack the
invasive kudzu that is encroaching
on the trail.

The trail looks as good as new
with wood chips raked back in place.

Here's a pile of kudzu vines
that were wrestled down and
piled near the trail. This is a 
major defeat for the evil kudzu,
but it will be back!

Here are some of the faithful
laborers as our work time drew
to an end.  Several others had
served for at least part of the morning,
but family plans kept us from having
all boys together at any given time.

With work done, the scouts and
families relaxed and enjoyed the
trail a little bit more.  They would
have a picnic lunch at the adjacent
ball field.

A huge "Thank You" goes
out to all the scouts, leaders,
and parents who gave up their
Saturday for this project.  I have
conferred the title of "Keepers of
the Nature Trail" upon every scout
who contributed to the effort.  They
are quite deserving of the World
Conservation Badge and I hope they
achieve this goal.

Now is a wonderful time to enjoy 
the trail with your own family.  Here
are some things you can expect to see.

White Oak

Black Oak

Sugar Maple
(Red Maple is also on the trail)

Poison Ivy!!!

Lady Fern

Netted Chain Fern

Royal Fern

Cinnamon Fern

(near the stream)

(newly discovered patch near
the trail's beginning)

Green and Gold, a wildflower

Sweetgum, a tree

Seed balls of a sweetgum tree
These are commonplace on our trail.
Your trail is open for business.
Stop by anytime, and bring a
friend or your whole family.
More improvements are in the
works for the coming year.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Best of April Videos

Here are some of my favorite
videos from April.  Most are
brief.  Times are listed so you
can pick and choose if you're busy.

(1:27) Hunter says,
"Birdees ... time to eat!"

(0:28) Claire and Evan experiment on
Grandpa's super duper tire swing.

(1:25) Claire decides making a big
splash is more fun than fishing.

(0:20) Evan hangs out with Grandma
on the bridge.  Pretty cool.

(0:22) Hunter takes the Batman
Motorcycle for a Spin.

(0:20) Evan puts his spin on
the Batman Spin.

Yep, all of that has now been thoroughly
documented.  And the month isn't even
over yet.  Can't wait to see what's next!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Snake, April Family Night and More

If you didn't see our snake story on
Facebook, here it is again.  Talk about
an unwelcome house guest!

But for us, anything involving a snake
seems pretty routine.  So I told Judy to
go ahead and brush her teeth while I
fetched the camera.  What a trooper Judy
is . . . to put up with all the snakes and me!

Here's a closeup before we say goodbye to our
little reptile friend.  You can tell he's quite small.
Now that I've taken preventive measures to keep
him from revisiting us, I hope he's eating up all the
even less desirable bugs and rodents near our house.
Well, let's move on.  We just hosted our
monthly family night.  Here are some images.
Dinner is served!  What ladies and gentlemen they are!

There were absolutely no spills by the kids this
evening.  So apparently everything got into their tummies.

Bri clambers up to join the others.  This old bed has
become a favorite spot for viewing videos or reading.

While Hunter eyes the camera, Bri is transfixed by
some action in "The Jungle Book."  And she does a
nice job of balancing and eagle and my strawberry
salt and pepper shakers at the same time.

Bri is very attached to the balancing eagle.  It is
a point of pride that she can stand the pain of his beak!

Evan and Hunter mix con-struction with de-struction.

Trucks, balls, and factories finally win out, even
over the roaring T-Rex.

Claire lovingly clutches her baby.  Historical footnote:
That beautiful dress is the one our Jennifer wore to
church the very first time she went, 33 years ago.  It
was a gift from our long-time friends Catherine and
James Williams.

The boys love to watch things on the computer, and
their favorites involve watching each other.  Often,
upon these two-year olds entering the house the first
thing I hear is "Watch Hunter" or "Watch Evan."

Evan hams it up with Amanda.

Hunter isn't jealous.  He's oblivious.

And why should he be jealous?
He gets to take Amanda home.

Hunter: "I'm ready to go home.  I've got
my jacket."  Uh Hunter, you've forgotten something.
Okay, let's change gears again.  The following
Monday, Claire and Evan were back at our house.
Claire absolutely adores painting with water.  We even
have some vintage paint-with-water books.

And where better to let them dry than the woodbox.
NO!  We would never use them for fire starters!

Dr. Evan is now seeing patients.
More trusted than Dr. Oz.  And less expensive.

I don't know about these shots to the neck.  Uh,
where did you get your degree?
What degree?  I just said I'm practicing medicine!

Grandma's don't even need an appointment with
Dr. Ev.  I'll even knock a coupla bucks off your co-pay.

Claire eyes us from the wrong end of a New Year's
Eve party horn.  It's never too early to party, she says.

Evan offers to help Grandma clip coupons.
Especially for Goldfish and other good snacks.

Grandpa isn't very soft, but the kids don't seem to
mind.  Snuggling with them during a cartoon is so fun.

Evan thinks he'd better climb on Grandpa's
knees while Grandpa still has the originals.

Hmm.  I think maybe we'd better take a look at that . . .

Next blog will feature videos starring these very
same lovable kids.  Check back soon.