We kicked off our pond study on Monday with a walk to the pond in the woods behind the house. Andy was home after working most of the weekend, so we made it a family affair. (Actually, I wouldn't have taken the kids if he hadn't been there. It would have been too hard with a baby on my back to help the twins over slick rocks, pull them out of the muck, and keep them from falling into the water. Luckily, the pond -- or ponds, actually -- are only a quick walk from the house, so we can visit them often, as long as Daddy is around.)
We collected two jars of pond water to bring home, so we could view some pond water samples under the microscope. We also ended up with 3-5 tadpoles, a leech, a bunch of water bugs (the technical term, of course), and a whole lot of duckweed. The water and its residents now inhabit a fish bowl on our china cabinet.
Of course, I came right home and got to work on pond-related books. Our library is fairly awful; the system it belongs to isn't that bad, but only 6 reserves per library card are allowed, and for some reason I can't get my card to work on the system. (If we ever move again, my first question is going to be, what is the library like? I miss the St. Charles County, Missouri library system like you wouldn't believe, although dealing with the anti-homeschooling librarian at the "children's" library was very, very annoying.) Anyway, I do buy a lot of books, and most of the books I bought for the pond study I'm fairly pleased with -- and Farmerboy is enjoying them, too. Seeing as how Farmerboy's relationship with being read to has, in the past, been somewhat turbulent, I am glad he is enjoying them. Right now we're reading through One Small Square: Pond at the rate of several pages a day, and he has been in the possession of From Tadpole to Frog all week. I'll post the rest of our books on the sidebar, hopefully soon. I'm directing the bulk of this study at Farmerboy, in the hopes of luring him into kindergarten a little at a time, so the sidebar will be heavy on the picture books. (Although I discover a series of books that I am excited about for Katydid: the Naturalist's Apprentice series, which includes a Pond-Watching book. These we do have on reserve at the library -- our 6 book limit. Sigh.)
Now, for the pictures:
Heading off into the woods... We use an ex-snowmobile path, which used to cut across our property. The former owners did not want snowmobiles going across their property, so they blocked the path with a bunch of a rubble. When we first moved in, the Snowmobile Club came to ask us if they could again run their snowmobiles in our field. Andy politely told them no. The snowmobiles moved across the street, where they can sometimes be heard and seen at the prime snowmobiling hours of 3 and 4 AM, and the rubble stayed to block the path on our land, just in case. It makes a good path to walk on in the woods, though.
The seasonal stream that runs down the hill toward our house. Yellow marsh marigolds are plentiful this time of year. (An interesting aside: this site explains the history of marsh marigold's association with the Blessed Virgin and one of its other names, marybud. Katydid had put a cupful of these blooms beside our statue of Our Lady of Grace when she discovered them in the woods, before we knew what they were. I always think it's neat when connections like this are made.)
We crossed many mucky patches on our way to the pond... the result of a few days of rain.
I think this is a raccoon track. We didn't see any actual animals (I wonder why, considering the amount of noise we made), but we did see many signs of animal activity.
A deer track here, and just trust me that we saw some coyote scat. (You don't want me to upload all the pictures of poop that I've found on my camera. Not even in the name of science.)
(I had Chipmunk on my back, a mason jar in one hand, and the camera in my other hand... and apparently a big fingerprint on the lens. Sorry about the smudges in some of these photos.) Here we are at "The Pond". There aren't very many places where once can approach the water, and the shore is quite marshy.
Looks pretty slimy, doesn't it? The whole surface is practically covered in duckweed. I'm still not sure whether to call this a "pond" or a "swamp".
While the kids skimmed the water -- and argued over who had more tadpoles and who was going to take care of the tadpoles (Repeat after me: The tadpoles belong to God. The tadpoles belong to God...) -- I poked around with my camera. This is all that remains of a road that ran through the woods. The bank was shored up by these rocks.
And now we're going to switch ponds, because Farmerboy wanted to see the stone wall that cuts through the woods. There is another we place, directly behind our field, which is somewhat vaguely known as "The Swamp." But when we headed there this time, we found that "The Swamp" now looked more like a pond than "The Pond". It was also bigger than we remembered it. We did not sample the water here, because we had no more jars, but I think it would be interesting to come back and take some samples so we could compare the water in both ponds.
Or swamps. Whatever they are.
More uncurling plant life...
This pond (or swamp) has horsetails, which delighted Gareth.
I think this is a trillium -- not blooming yet. I wanted to remember where it was.
More marsh marigolds, growing at the edge of the pond. Or swamp. Whatever it is, this is where the peepers live. I should go outside right now and record them for you... at night, they are so loud, you wonder how many millions of them are back there.
Dawn recently posted about how her blog has become a stand-in for a nature journal. This is also the case for me. Katydid keeps a pen and paper nature journal, and I would love to as well. But it's a lot harder to draw while holding a baby (or babies) than it is to hold a camera or type.