Great Plains Roadtrip - Nature Study on the Farm

We spent five days hanging out in North Dakota. A lot of that was spent exploring the family farm.  While I was hoping that going north would mean we escaped the heat a bit, that didn't quite work out. But we still managed to do quite a bit of nature study. It's so much fun to do this as the kid's get older and can understand more. Things we saw:
  • A (bloody and dying) salamander. I didn't let the kids touch it like Jonah wanted to because 1) eww and 2) I wanted to let it die in peace but we watched it for a while and they went back every day as it shriveled up. This is not my particular favorite type of nature study but they loved it. 
  • Garter snake
  • Richardson's ground squirrel
  • Cottontail rabbit
  • Cows. Okay, this might be cheating a bit since I'm not sure they really count as "nature" study but they were there. We saw them. We mooed at them. You have to moo at them. It's really hard to walk up to a cow with a small child and not moo. Try it, you'll see. 
I wasn't able to determine what type of gulls we saw and I also saw this funny looking bird sitting on the power lines. It was small-medium in size with a long neck. I didn't get a picture and my memory is starting to fade but I'll definitely be looking for it again next year. And I'll be doing more record keeping/drawing/picture taking up there. Trying to remember a week later was much harder than I thought.

One day we took a walk down to the pond and on the Craig was took them out into the fields and show them wheat and barley and soy. Once we got to the pond, we grabbed some cattails for them and on the way back, Lucy was trying to decide what her favorite crop was. She finally decided barley. Jonah said his was cattails :-)

And then, Grandpa and Uncle Chad started combining and they got to tag along for a little while! They both thought this was so cool. Lucy went first and Jonah kept changing his mind about whether he wanted to or not. I could tell he wanted to but was scared it would be too high and too loud. I finally took him out to watch the truck unload the barley into the bin and that convinced him that he really wanted to see more. 

We saw several Swainson's hawks as we were driving but Craig also said they saw them out in the fields when they combined, waiting for the mice to be flushed out and Lucy and Craig were able to watch one swoop down and grab a mousey snack. I'm sorry I missed that but babies and combining on a really hot day don't mix. Maybe next year?

We also talked extensively about hay and straw on our drive. Pretty much every time we saw bales, they talked about it. And when you drive through Iowa, South and North Dakota, that's a lot! 

 I've been visiting ND for 11 years now but it's amazing how many new things I saw this time when I was making a real effort. It was a very nice reminder of how much I've grown in my observation skills.

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