Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A Dash of This, a Dash of That

That's my way of saying this is going to be a random blog. Just a little bit here and there. Which, of course, leads to bullet points. I love bullet points.

  • From the farm: We lost a chicken. Our original ladies number 9 now. We looked out and she was sitting on the ground. And couldn't get up. We isolated her and she never got better. The kids found her when they went to check on her. I think the ladies miss her. On the flip side of that, we have 6 new chicks! When we got our original ladies, we decided on pullets. They were a little more expensive, but I would have felt bad if I killed a chick. Well, rule of thumb, never enter a raffle for something you don't want. Hubby entered a raffle outside the feed store, just for grins and giggles. Lucky duck won!! We won 6 chicks and a bag of starter feed. We wanted Ameraucanas, but they were all out. They were a straight run, too, which meant we could possibly get a rooster. Or 6 roosters. Yuck! We ended up picking 6 from a menagerie of types that were all sexed to be females. Right now they are living in a plastic tub in my kitchen. The chirping is amazing. I thought it would get old, and quick, but it's actually very relaxing. Happy chicks make happy cheeps! And they are so fuzzy, I'm going to die!!!! Cutest. Thing. Evah!!
  • From the schoolroom: We have a little over 2 months of school left. Where did the time go? Tick, tock, baby. The big girl is behind in her Algebra 2, and if you tell her I said anything I will deny, deny, deny. She is trying to complete 2 assignments a day to get caught up because she will school all summer. Who wants to do that? I am researching curriculum for next year. I am trying to stay away from a computer based program. There is one computer in this house and I do not need them making a fuss about who's turn it is. I perused my cabinet of curriculum to see what I need for next year. It turns out I need quite a bit. I thought I had more, but apparently, I didn't think that far ahead. There is a huge curriculum sale coming up I am bound and determined to go to. I'm hoping to pick most of it there or on a couple of chat boards I belong to. And I think I may have the big girl take American Government and US History. She may kill me in my sleep if I make her do that. So maybe not since she will also have to complete her first ever research paper. Don't judge.
  • From the kitchen: I got a new crock pot!! I am so happy!! It is a quart bigger and I can set it for a specific length of time. I love it. I am a little intimidated by that extra quart, though. I feel like I should be adding more food to the pot. The baby's birthday is coming up soon. She wants an ice cream sandwich cake. Not a problem. If I don't eat it all while I'm making it. 
  • In the garden: There is not much happening in the garden. The rabbits have decimated the cabbage. The broccoli started to grow back, and the scoundrels just eat it as fast as it can grow. Hubby's looking into traps. Our poor tower has sat neglected for too many months. That is getting a good cleaning and set up for planting. We are going to try a lot of greens: lettuce, chard, bok choi, and kale. Wish us luck.
  • At the studio: We are into recital dances. This is one of my favorite times of the year. When the dances start, they are rough for sure. By recital time, they are polished and so good! The kids are working so hard. The instructors are not making it easy on them, that's for sure. I am having a hard time dancing. My foot just aches and aches. It is usually swollen for the rest of the night and part of the next day. Blech!  We are into company rehearsals as well. There is a ton in this dance and it will be an amazing number come recital time. I have a feeling it will be a show stopper. 
  • Around the house: Not much. The mountain of Mt. Washmore seems to always grow back again and again. We still need to paint the boy's room. We got the paint free with a coupon I got from my Better Homes and Gardens magazine. Now to actually use that paint. And new blinds are in order. Not only do we just need new blinds, but Stella doesn't wait for me to open them. She just dives right through. I'm not sure we have a whole set of blinds anymore. Ours have big Stella size gaps in them. Crazy dog.
That's about all I have for now. I'm getting some stuff together for a picture blog. Yea, more pics of my kids!

Have a great day. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Something's Fishy

That was actually the title to an email I sent out to the coo-op parents, but I liked it so much, I decided to use it here, too.

We took a field trip! Yea! We went to the Florida Bass Conservation Center. Hubby found it while searching for some things for a project he's working on and wanted to take the family. Instead, we waited until biology was studying fish and used it as a field trip opportunity. I thought it was one of the better field trips we've taken in a while. Here's some of the things we learned. And pics! You know I got a couple of those.

This particular center is state run and is part of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission. Florida is the fishing capital of the world and generates $1.4 billion annually for the state. That is third behind tourism (duh!) and citrus (again, duh!). The FWC is broken down into 3 parts: fish management, wildlife management, and law enforcement. The FBCC is a fish hatchery. They supply fish to some of the biggest of the 7,000 lakes in our state. This facility was built in 1965 and originally used ponds. As technology has progressed, they now use concrete raceways and have more than tripled the amount of fish they can hatch and raise and release.

Some fun facts we learned:

  1. There are 2 types of largemouth bass. There is the Northern Largemouth, which live in most of the United States. And then there is the Florida Largemouth bass, which only lives from Gainesville and south. Florida Largemouth is what this center focuses on.
  2. The catfish is the only fish in North America that has skin.
  3. Spawning depends on light and water temp. Without the right light and water temp, no new eggs are happening.
  4. The eggs of a largemouth bass take 1-1 1/2 days to hatch. Trout eggs take up to 40 days!
So how do they do what they do? Well, here's where the pictures come in handy.

The 2 pics above are of the male bass. They find their territory, in this case the black mats, and they sit there until the females come along. Then they start courting the females.

These lovely ladies swim by and try to attract the attention of the males. (Fun fact, females are the larger of the 2. If you catch a bass over 4-5 pounds, it will be a female. The boys get the pretty colors and the girls get the weight. That seems backwards.) Once the eggs are spawned and fertilized, the female goes along her merry way and the male hangs out and protects the eggs.

It's a hatchery. Of course, they aren't going to just let the eggs sit. Other fish would eat them, then when they hatch, they are vulnerable to being eaten. It is a fish eat fish world out there. The mats are collected and set into a different raceway and protected until they hatch.

This is not the best picture in the world, but follow along. See the little golden spots? Those are the egg remains. The little dark spots are the fish that have hatched. They are itsy, bitsy, teeny, tiny and are living on the yolk from the egg that they were hatched from.

When they get to a certain size, they are moved into yet another raceway. These are the bass that are growing up and getting to release size. They don't release full size bass because that would clog up the lakes with big fish. Start small and let them do their fish thing.

The fish that they use are wild caught. They are tested to make sure that the are Florida Largemouth and then they go in the raceways. Since these aren't store bought fish and they want to ensure that they stay healthy, the FBCC provides fish for the bass to eat. That would be the above pic. They hatch goldfish and koi. A lot of them. This pic does no justice to the amount of goldfish and koi.

And because the eggs of the goldfish and koi have to come from somewhere, here are the moms and dads. These are beautiful, beautiful fish.

This is at the entrance to the FBCC. I just liked the way it looked.

This is our group of kids, minus a few. There were some that couldn't make it, one that was sick, and a couple that were running a little late.

This big guy was in a huge aquarium that they have in the visitors center. Just a quick note about the visitors center. They have pamphlets and handouts and activity books and bookmarks and stickers and bumper stickers and posters and cute little plastic bags to put it all in because it is all free. If you know anything about kids and frugal homeschoolers, you know that we just about cleaned them out. The baby's bag was so full, she broke the handle and we had to double bag it. Too funny!

I thought this was pretty interesting. This is a map of what kind of fish are stocked and where. I was astounded.

I just thought this was a cute poster.
So that was our field trip. It was very informative and enlightening. And now here's my advice and plea: Please take advantage of the services offered from our local and state governments when it comes to things like the hatchery and your local library and museums and so many other entities like that. Sign the visitors log! You don't have to leave your address and phone number. Just leave your name and where you're from. That shows that there is interest from the public and hopefully these places will be available for others. If we're paying for it, let's get our money's worth!
I kept thinking of that line from Nemo "Fish gotta swim, bird gotta eat!" There were so many birds that were hanging around outside. There are huge bay doors they open to let the light in to encourage spawning. We kept imagining birds flying all day for the buffet! And, strangely, even though these are freshwater fish, I left with a craving for seafood. Wonder what that means?
Have a great day.