Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Hey, look! Bison!

    My boys were raring to go early again this morning-- so much so that we were done with our meager schoolwork by 9!  The older boys took their math minute and each picked a page to work on in their math workbook.  I worked with Ian on reading pie charts and converting the fractions shown into numerical answers using the information given in the description.  We added fractions, reduced fractions, divided numbers and read charts.  Alec picked a page that worked on ordered pairs again and flew threw the page.  Evan decided to work in his Star Wars math book and wrote addition sentences to go along with pictures of Star Wars guys.  He was so proud and excited to show me how much better his 8's and 5's are now that he's writing more.  The minute math was over Alec was back to burying his nose in his book and had hoped to finish it by the end of the night.  He was half-way through the book by lunch so he had a pretty good shot at making it to his goal!  Evan and I sat and worked on three more pages in his reading lesson book, then we all piled in the car and headed to karate.

   The boys had so much today.  Many of the kids in their class just went through a graduation/ grading to go up a belt level and, in honor of all their hard work, today was a fun class.  The kids played karate Simon says, relay games and karate tag.  In karate Simon says they had to listen very carefully to the teacher and only do the karate moves called for when she said Simon says.  The entire class was out on the first call when she asked them Po-do!  They all laughed at that and got better as the game wore on.  Ian was the last one standing for one of the games.  In the relay games they crab walked, duck walked, and scooted along on the floor using only their bums and feet.  In karate tag the kids were paired off into teams of two and one person had an extra tag/ string looped through the back of their belt.  Using only blocks they had to try and prevent the other person from stealing their tag.  All the kids looked like they were having lots of fun and no one cared about winning or loosing; especially once they learned that the winners got to do 10 pushups each time they won.  Somehow that made loosing so much more bearable and yet the bragging rights of winning made the pushups more bearable so that worked out perfectly. 
   We came home from karate and made our lunches.  We needed to eat early since we were heading out for yet another field trip today.  While we ate lunch we read a little bit of our Harry Potter book and then we piled back into the car to head to a bison farm.  A fellow homeschooler had arranged a tour of a local bison farm complete with pumpkin picking and decorating!  There were supposed to be 40 homeschoolers going and I wanted to get there a bit early to make sure we'd have a decent place to park. 
    We had a great time at Creamery Brook Bison, even if we barely had the 15 people required to host the event.  I felt really bad for the woman who put all her time and effort in coordinating the trip since she was thinking she would have a turn out of 40 people and by the time I arrived we were questioning if we'd even have enough to bother hosting.  Luckily we did end up with around 15-20 of us and we had a ball.  We took a wagon ride out to the field where the bison were out roaming and got to see them up close when the farmers put some piles of grain around the wagon.  The grain is a real treat for them and so that entices them to come up nice and close to the wagon.  On the way to the field we learned all about their business, how they used to be dairy farmers and why they slowly got rid of that part of their business.  We learned about the difference between bison and buffalo and how they got into the bison business.  We saw lots of males, females. and babies wandering around the field.  We got to pet them, hear them, and watch them do everything from eating, to peeing, to rolling in the dirt and scratching their backs on the trees.  On our way back from the field we learned about how bison were almost wiped out of extinction back when the government was trying to get all of the Native American Indians onto reservations and so encouraged the hunting and killing of bison in hopes of taking away their food source.  Bison declined in numbers from millions of bison across the land to just 200-1000 left.  Luckily, the bison numbers continue to rise today.  We learned that bison milk is used to make mozzarella cheese and that all females that have had babies are called cows-- weather they be manatees, whales, bison, cattle, etc.  We learned about the difference between antlers and horns and that horns do not denote males and females when it comes to bison.  Many of the babies had horns already too and they'll have them for life unless something happens to one of their horns; if they fall off they will not grow back. 
getting ready to take off

Learning about the farm

here come the bison

A baby getting milk from it's mom

Watching them all crows around us

Checking out their split hooves

We watched this one roll around in the dirt and shake himself off
several times

   On our way back from the field we also stopped to pick pumpkins.  The boys each chose their own for decorating.  I warned them to only pick ones that they could carry themselves, though we did help all the kids with the pumpkins getting on and off the wagon since it was quite a bit step.  We got to see the pumpkin patch up close at a time of year when they're starting to die back out.  We saw some rotten pumpkins and looked inside them, we also saw lots of bugs and worms.  The boys noticed that some of the pumpkins had smooth stems and some had prickly stems.  We even noticed a few prickly cactus type growths on the vines in certain places too.  I was thinking we needed to get a few books about the different types of pumpkins and what differentiates them. 
I'm not sure which was bigger-- Ian's smile or his pumpkin!

We got to see a double army helicopter fly overhead too

   Once we got back and off the wagon the kids were given stickers, buttons, pompoms, glue, markers, and paint to decorate their pumpkins however they'd like.  The boys had all made friends with another slightly older girl who is just as big a Minecraft fan as they are and they all chatted while they decorated.  My two youngest even made Minecraft pumpkins while Ian chose a more traditional vampire image.  They had great fun painting and creating outside in the fresh, sunny air.  As they finished painting and we let the pumpkins dry we walked around to look at the peahens, turkeys, dairy cows, emus, horse and bison up near the farm house.  The kids tried feeding the horses and petting the horse and bison.  It was a great day! 
getting crafty

Evan starts painting his Minecraft guy

Ian's vampire mouth

Alec made an enderman pumpkin

not all that surprisingly, Alec was the last one left painting his pumpkin

The dairy cows

the horse



Some cool facts about bison

more details about the American Bison populations
Their completed pumpkins on our hearth 

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