Friday, February 17, 2012

A Barley's Journey

A grain of barley is eaten by a bird. The barley goes through the esophagus into the crop, which softens and stores the food until it can be digested. The food then goes into the stomach, where it mixes with juices. The barley then passes into the gizzard where it is ground up with small stones the bird ate to help digest. Out of the gizzard and into the one intestine the bits of barley travel, and inside of the intestine the nutrients are taken from the food and is given to the blood vessels running along the sides. It's job now done, the food is passed out through the vent as solid waste.

This paper was written today for my 13-yr-olds Science/English lesson. I was impressed by how I expected the barley to grow and be produced for humans but instead I was brought into a story about birds digestion. I was pleased. It was funny because early today we discussed her love of birds and my lack of caring for the creatures. This captured my interest in a very fun way. Also there was no spelling errors...she gets that from her grandmother and her father. :)

What did you think?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The circle of life in mice

Now, you might be guessing, why in God's name would I write such an essay. I would never do such a thing, but my 13-yr-old, lover of all things animal, would. This year has been an interesting one with our homeschooling. I have not stressed as much about what I want them to do or study, but instead have encouraged them (in their English) to write every day and usually write what they want to write. This way they can work on their cursive, punctuation, spelling, grammar and over all how to write a paper. They love it and writing now seems to be easy and not a chore for them. It has been fun for me in the process. I'm amazed (still) at how different my 6 kidletts are and how their interests are so vastly different.

The other day my daughter asked if she could study mice and write a short paper on it, I obliged. Here it is:

A baby mouse is called a pup. Newborn pups, or "pinkies" are almost transparent. Pups are weaned at about 4-5 weeks. Mice can mate at 5 weeks old. Female mice (does) come into heat every 3-5 days. After the buck (male) breeds the doe, extra semen forms a waxy plug in the vagina. The gestation period in the doe lasts 18-22 days.

The doe needs fattier foods such as sunflower seeds during pregnancy. The doe normally gives birth between midnight and four in the morning. A doe's average litter size is 8-12 pups. Does can have anywhere between 1-32 pups.

And there you have it. Isn't that interesting? I never knew...

Monday, February 6, 2012

New love of canning

I discovered a few years ago how much I loved to can, but this year I discovered something new.

Tattler lids.

They are plastic, made in America, BPA free (I don't know what BPA is but others don't seem to like it) and best of all they are REUSABLE!!!

I decided to purchase about 6 dozen of wide and regular mouth lids when a lady in our town was doing a large bulk order from Tattler. Earlier in the year another friend had given me 4 boxes full of Classico spaghetti sauce jars (3 cups each) and other miscellaneous jars she had collected over the years. So here I sit with FREE jars and REUSABLE lids.

I quickly used up all the free jars and decided to just spend money on more jars. We "invested" in more jars and it was like I had a playground in my kitchen. I even borrowed my neighbor's caner so I could do 2 batches at a time.

My husband made me promise that I would actually USE the food that I canned and not just let it sit there for years looking pretty. I have done a pretty good job, I think, the stock has been wonderful, the spaghetti sauce delicious, the carrots are so handy when I don't have any in the fridge, and the canned moose and chicken are so handy.

In this picture there is:
moose meat, cubed for stews
ground moose meat
hummus (not recommended for canning just like re fried beans, learned after I canned it, they are both too thick and should not be canned, now I just freeze all hummus and re fried beans)
stewed tomatoes
spaghetti sauce
carrots, plain
carrots, pickled
beets, plain
beets, pickled
pinto and black beans, plain
rhubarb jam
rhubarb/raspberry jam
fireweed jelly
blueberry/rhubarb jam
cucumber pickles
Red salmon, smoked
Pink salmon, smoked (pink smokes up really nicely! I was shocked, here in Alaska it's a "reject" fish but because if it's extra soft texture the smoked pink is not so jerky like like reds are, they are soft and great on crackers with cheese)
Chum salmon, smoked (edible, but we won't bother with chums again, too slimy and don't taste nearly as good)
Red salmon, plain
Pink salmon, plain with skin on (yuck, take the skin off or smoke those bad boys)
zucchini relish
Chow Dixie relish
chicken stock
lamb stock
salmon stock
rhubarb/apple pie filling
lentil soup (turned out very mushy so I will add small amounts other recipes a little at a time to use it up)
spicy caribou and moose stew (not to impressed with the lack of flavor, not having the best luck with canned soup)

Update on use of our canned goods: I discovered that having them nearby made a huge difference. We used most of the spaghetti sauce, about 1/2 the moose meat, all but one jar of carrots, almost all of the jelly/jam, and generally ate a lot of it all before the next fall. I didn't can as much in 2012 but canned up a bunch of the things that were needed and bacon bean soup, this links to the video I made that had a better flavor.