How to Make a Nature Journal

The kids went to an outdoor event a couple years ago and came home with the most fantastic nature journals! They were made with typical household items, plus a stick they’d found. It was so cute and so easy.

I thought I’d write it all out to share with others, but also to encourage us to recreate the project at home. This is a perfect project for a rainy summer day.

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Materials:

copy paper (water color paper would also work and make a lovely book)

brown paper grocery bag

rubber band

small stick, about 6-7 inches long

Scissors

Hole Punch or Awl

Decorating Options:

Markers

Nature Magazine to cut and paste pictures

Scrap Fabric

Instructions:

Cut 3 pieces of copy paper in half, so you have six sheets. Fold in half, so you have a little booklet.

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Cut a piece of the paper sack about half an inch larger than the cut copy paper. Fold in half.

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Decorate the front of the brown paper with markers, pictures from a magazine, or fabric scraps. Label it as a “Nature Journal” and put the date somewhere, so you’ll always remember when you made and recorded your nature findings.

Now put the copy paper into the folded brown paper. With the hole punch or awl, put a hole about an inch from the top, along the fold and another an inch from the bottom, along the fold.

Thread the rubber band through the top hole, along the inside of the booklet, and out the bottom hole. Put the stick through the rubber band at both the top and the bottom to secure everything.

Now tuck it into your adventure bag, along with your colored pencils or water colors and you’re ready for your next adventure!

Make A Nature Journal with Kids

Best Cocktails from the Back Yard

Just a quick post, because we love this book SO MUCH! It’s been such fun to browse, learn, and create the cocktails.

Gift giving (or receiving) is not my love language and because of this, I kind of stink at it. I’m just not very creative or thoughtful in this regard, even though I want to be!

But this book actually went over really well! I got it for Andrew to Father’s Day and it seemed to hit a number of his interests – outdoors, nature hikes, and drinking!

It is called The Wildcrafted Cocktail. It’s a book of cocktail, syrup, and infusion recipes using wild foraged ingredients.

We made the mulberry liqueur using mulberries from the yard. It made a beautiful spritzer when we mixed it with club soda!

It’s definitely a book that will take us a long time to work though completely. It’s full of ideas and recipes, some of which have to steep or sit for long periods of time. Also, since it is all foraged ingredients, you can only get them at certain times of the year!

I’ll be sending the kids out to harvest young walnuts for the nocino (I don’t know what that is!), that goes into the drink called Ducati, soon! I wonder what young walnuts even taste like!

And nettle cordial! It’s hard to choose what to make next.

Wild Things Garden Update

As we approach the Summer Solstice, gardens everywhere are bursting with goodness. Little flowers on long stems are slowly turning to the beans or squash or tomatoes that will soon grace the family table.

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This hasn’t been the easiest year to get the garden in, here at Wild Things Farm. I was still enormously pregnant when it was time to start the seeds in late winter. And as the time came to move seedlings into the garden, we had a sweet, fresh baby.¬†None the less, we all worked together to get the garden in. It was a bit late, so some of our plants are a little behind, but even still, I think we will end up with a decent harvest this year.

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After a couple years of trial and error, we finally set our garden up as 8×4 boxes with four foot mulched pathways. This is our third year with this set up and it has worked beautifully for us. It truly does keep weeding down to a minimum.

Mulch can be expensive, if you buy it bagged or even by the truck load from a landscaping company. We get it for FREE! by flagging down the county road crews as they are trimming trees. They love it, because they don’t have to drive all the way back to their dump site. We love it, because we use so much mulch in the garden, pig shed, and chicken coops.

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A couple years ago, Andrew and a couple¬† kids made some trellises from our garden boxes. They’ve held up really well and are perfect for beans and peas. We have planted Kentucky Pole Beans every year and just this year we added Asparagus Yard Long Beans. The plant is beautiful, but the beans are yet to be tested.

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My squash plants were taking over the pathways, so I knew I needed another trellis. I mentioned it to Andrew and the next thing I knew, I had a hog panel trellis arching over the box of squash! Easy, beautiful!

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My one other experimental plant this season is luffa. Have you planted luffa before? I’m excited to see how it does. One plant is huge, but the other is still small and neither have flowered.

What are your growing or experimenting with this season?Wild Things Garden Update

The Hog That (Almost) Got Away

Hogs are graceful in the way they run up and down steep ravines with only a two-pointed hooves to balance their massive bodies. Yet, they can also be found unrecognizable while wallowing in self-made waterholes. They are gentle, yet powerful and sweet, but also destructive. A picture tells a thousand words, and this one tells a story.

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Yes, this is the picture I took when I arrived to the butchering facility and checked on the hog before I went in to fill out my “livestock drop-off” paperwork. Except that, I had NO LIVESTOCK to drop off! I could blame it on a thousand reasons, but here are the top 5:

  1. I should have reinforced the crate with 2x4s across the sides.
  2. When I was driving, I didn’t check the passenger side rear view mirror often enough.
  3. My co-pilot and son, PeterXavier, fell asleep on the drive, exhausted from a day of pig wrangling.
  4. I was driving too slow.
  5. I am being punished by the corporate gods for raising free-spirited, pasture roaming, all natural pork.

At any rate, I had no hog. She was about 250lbs that just vanished into thin air. She was our Christmas ham, our sausage and gravy breakfast on the weekends, our pull pork BBQ sandwiches, and the list goes on. Then, to think we were splitting her with another family and they too had lost out on all those wonderful meals and family gatherings centered around a delicious free-roaming and pasture raised hog.

What happens next?

We called the sheriff’s department on the off-chance that someone would call it into Animal Control. They were very friendly and helpful, even suggesting we post our lost hog on the local Lost and Found Pets page on Facebook! Then we drove the same route back to the house scanning for a slow-moving black and white mass on the side of the road or rooting up a McMansion’s perfectly manicured lawn (praying for the latter).

Finally, we resigned ourselves to the fact that we may never see her again. We said a few peayers to St Anthony and headed to the ball field for PeterXavier’s game. We were sitting on a picnic bench waiting for the baseball game to start when my wife got the call from the sheriff’s department. A farmer had our hog in his barn! Our call in to Animal Control had paid off.

I headed home to repair and reinforce the crate, before heading off to retrieve my livestock. I also picked up my teenaged son, for some personal reinforcements!

When I got to his house, you can imagine my gratitude and excitment. We backed the trailer to pen in the barn and loaded her up. He said a neighbor from a few houses down the road had called him to say that a large pig was eating her flowers, digging up the lawn, and making a mess of the landscaping (I teach my hogs well). He walked her down to his place via the road, got her into the barn, then called it into the Sheriff’s office.

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As it turned out, the processing facility had another drop-off time the next morning and I could still bring her in for processing. I have no idea how I got so lucky. This time, the crate was reinforced with added 2×4 boards, I made sure PeterXavier was looking out his side view mirror the entire drive, and not taking any naps on the way. It worked!

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Oink!

We got her dropped off at 7am and she had a live weight of 254lbs. When I pick up the meat, I’ll be sure to stop by the generous rescue farmer’s house and give him a share of the bounty!

The Hog the (Almost) Got Away