Sunday, May 22, 2011

More Visitors

The hummingbirds just seem to keep coming out of the woodwork, although we had a cold snap last week and were concerned that they might freeze to death!  Right after sunset every evening there is an explosion of activity as they try to store up enough food to make it through the night.  At this time they look like yellow jackets with all the swarming and hovering and fighting.  We've been sitting outside each evening watching all the activity.  I'm still working on that "perfect" hummingbird picture, but in the meantime, this one was pretty noteworthy.  I counted thirteen birds in this shot, and there were probably several more hovering outside of the photo.  While this was going on at one feeder, we have three more set up that are just as busy!
 We also have been watching the turkeys feeding in the field. They are very skittish, but seem to be getting braver over time.  Mark came home one day to see a turkey feeding away at the bird feeder which is right outside the front door!  More often they are down closer to the pond, and seem to notice me if I even get close to a window to try and photograph them.  I will also keep working on the "perfect" turkey photo!

School's Out!

The students are gone, but we had a lot of fun before they left!  We had a picnic in the park one day, a field day, and then two awesome "animal" days!  We had a visit from the "Reptile Experience" of St. Louis, and I can't brag about this guy enough.  Totally hands on, totally incredible.   He had all sorts of reptiles, scorpions, lizards, snakes, a four foot alligator, and best of eight foot green anaconda that is "domesticated!"  I could not pass up the opportunity to hold this incredible creature!  When she reaches adulthood she will be up to 20 feet long, 200 lbs, as big around as a basketball and could crush me pretty easily. For now, she's 30 lbs and gets handled everyday, and is such a rarity in the reptile world that she is insured by Lloyd's of London.  I'd love to brag and say that I was the only one in the audience that got to hold her, but there were a lot of brave students who also took the opportunity. Admittedly, I tried to hide when he brought out the hissing cockroaches, but snakes are not a problem for me.

And then, by some cruel twist of fate, Dr. Sands' lab was scheduled for the day following the anaconda (I'd like to say I had nothing to do with that, but it was TOTALLY my fault!). What a show to try and top! He brought Jacquie and Marie, who shared their path to their science careers, as well  as details on their work responsibilities and some of the mice that they work with (including glow in the dark ones!).  Below is an example of a "rotarod" test, one of the behavioral tests that are given to the mice. 

Jacquie talking while Mark appears to be studying the ceiling tiles....
 I had to laugh at the pictures of the two groups of students....the first one is the seventh and eighth graders, who appear bored and not very interested.  The second one is the sixth and fifth graders, who have kept me hopping with questions all year long!  Check out the expressions between the two groups...
(jaded seventh and eighth graders...)
(enthusiastic fifth and sixth graders...)
Hopefully it was just the timing of my photography!

 Here are two of the "nonglowing" mice that they brought.  The one on the left is a normal, healthy mouse, scurrying to get away.  The one of the right is a "twitcher" mouse, called that because of the frequent tremors that they exhibit.   This mouse is a model for Krabbe disease in humans, one of the LSDs that Mark studies. 

Most of the students really enjoyed the talks and had questions and were involved.  If I do this again, I'm make sure they are not competing with big, scaly creatures!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

We have grass!

After months of mud and hundreds of pounds of grass seed, we are proud to announce that we finally have some grass growing!  It is pretty sparse, but we're still thrilled!

Sunday, May 1, 2011


We've had several interesting visitors lately.  This moth was hanging out on one of our window screens and I was able to pick him up and move him to a little sapling (window screens are really not a great background for photos!).   He posed for a few minutes then flew off into the woods. Mark and I were unable to find this guy in our field guide, but I'm going to send a picture into the Missouri conservation department and see if we can get it identified. 
This little critter showed up last night, but we didn't know what we were hearing.  We were eating dinner and heard something thumping near the wood stove, but decided it was hummingbirds hitting the house.  This morning Mark heard noises again and decided to investigate.  The poor thing had gotten trapped in the wood stove!  Mark was able to capture him and let him go outside.  He flew off looking unhurt so hopefully he's okay.
 And lastly, the hummingbirds are back!  We saw the first one a few weeks ago, but they are coming back strong now.  There are nine in this picture.  When I refilled one of the feeders this afternoon they were landing on the feeder before I had gotten it hung back up!  I was mesmerized by how close they were.  Such energetic creatures!


We had a short but sweet trip to Georgia for Easter.  I had Friday and Monday off so as soon as I got out of school on Thursday I headed into St. Louis, picked Mark up and then we were off!  We stayed with Ryan's parents, Donny and Nancy, and had a wonderful visit with everyone.  I got caught up on Emmy time and caught a few good photographs of her.  
These are geese that are hanging out at the lake close to Donny and Nancy's.  The babies were too cute!

Emmy playing on the dam.

I love this photo of her handing a wildflower to Sara.  Too sweet!
Easter dinner at the Glenn's. Megan had to work Easter, so we missed having her around.

We got up Saturday morning and went strawberry picking.  It was a great outing and we got lots of wonderful berries to munch on.  Notice Mark in the background with a mouthful!
Emery loves strawberries!

Sharing the picking with her two grannies.

We're not sure how she ended up with strawberry juice on her forehead, but she left there with a full belly!
Next on the agenda was dying Easter eggs.  Emmy loves the color blue, so we had plenty of blue Easter eggs.
Two pretty girls!
Emery had a birthday party to attend at Gymboree.  She spent most her her time on the trampoline.
Saturday night we had dinner at McCray's in downtown Lawrenceville where Megan is the new chef.  We had wonderful crayfish tacos which she had created and added to the menu.
Sunday morning brought the Easter egg hunt.  She loved the ones with chocolate the most!