Tulip Fields

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Yesterday, we visited the Wooden Shoe Tulip Fields near Woodburn, Oregon, USA.  The flowers were in full bloom, and the sun came out for just long enough for us to enjoy our outing.

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You can see the mud puddles, but there was a path made of hazelnut shells that we followed to reach the tulips, so even Ja’Ana’s white tennis shoes came out unscathed.  (Of course, when she was a toddler, she could go outside and play in the dirt in a white dress and come back clean–how does she do it???)

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They loved going on a field trip instead of doing book work for part of their homeschool day.  Two cousins, forging memories in a field of flowers.  It doesn’t get much better than that!

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4-H Outdoor Cooking Workshop–Beef Stew in a Dutch Oven

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We were able to teach 2 4-H workshops about outdoor cooking.  It was great!

We got there early to set up and get the fire and coals going.  We chose to use liners for the Dutch Ovens, to help us clean up.  Rob ordered them from Amazon, but feels he could have probably purchased them at some place like Cabelo’s.  We just were not going near any of those kinds of stores.  The event was held 1 hour from our house, and we needed to take every single thing we needed except water.  So, we spent the week making sure we had what we needed, and loaded it up into the van, a little each evening.

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Rob got a good fire going in the portable fire pit and we spent the next 2 hours making sure it did not get too big, or go out.  He also got the charcoal going on his Dutch oven table, in the metal charcoal starters he uses.  We had to be very careful to keep everything contained, and very safe.

The kids came, and the first thing we had them do was listen to Rob tell them how to be safe with fires and how to build them. Then, they rolled 10 cotton balls in 2 spoonfuls of petroleum jelly (squished in a baggie) for fire starters, and we also gave them some fire starters in a box.  They put that all in their big Ziplock, with instructions about fire building and recipes they could try at home.  We figured they could provide their own matches:)

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We had 10 in one session, and 11 in the other.  We gave everyone a job on the stew we were making.  Some browned the meat, someone else opened the can of tomatoes, a couple cut the carrots, and everyone who ran out of jobs peeled potatoes.  I had a simple recipe for them to follow, but we let them put in more potatoes.  For some of them, it was their first time peeling potatoes.  For others, they obviously had had practice before.

1-2 cups beef (either raw and browned, or cooked, leftover)

2 cups beef broth (either homemade, or 1 14-oz can)

2 cups baby carrots

1 onion, chopped

4 potatoes (they used more)

1-14 oz can tomatoes

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon thyme

Brown the meat if it is raw, in a little bit of oil.  Put the ingredients in the pot.  Put coals under the pot and on top of the pot once the lid is put on.  We were not careful to count them.  Cook for about 30-45 minutes, stirring a couple of times.

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It came out great.  I made one batch at home, which we warmed up for class #1 to eat.  Class #1 made the stew again, and it was cooked for class #2 to eat.  Class #2 made a batch and we took it home, uncooked, because by that time, we wanted the coals and fire to die out so we could transport our equipment safely.  While they ate their stew, Rob told them how to properly take care of cast iron properly.

After they enjoyed their stew, we roasted Peeps in honor of Easter, and then moved on to regular marshmallows.  They loved that part, of course!  Rob made sure they knew that the sugar on the Peeps would get super hot, so they needed to be careful to not burn themselves.  They did great.  These were supposed to be 4th-6th graders, but we could tell that a few younger ones had slipped in, so we wanted to be extra careful with them.

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It was an awesome day.  The sun came out, which made it even better, and the kids were receptive, polite, and eager.  Our daughters, Ja’Ana and Patsy helped, as did our niece, Alissa.  Part of the idea was for the older 4H members to help with the younger ones, and that’s what they did. At the end of the day, we felt like the kids had learned something, and had a great time doing it.  We heard many nice compliments, and one little girl said the stew was her favorite, which surprised me!  It was good, I’ll have to admit!

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A Strange Place for a Nest

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Today, when we took our daughter and niece to their Driver’s Ed class, we were amazed to see a mama goose had decided to make a nest right outside the office buildings where the class was held.  Nestled into the dirt of the flowerbed, this goose has decided that she is hidden enough behind the tiny, green bush.

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Daddy goose wandered the parking lot.  He wandered around the Driver’s Ed cars, the downed branches and trees from the recent wind storm, and away from my daughter and nephew, who were trying to get a closer look.  We were a bit early, but soon 20-30 teens arrived and filed past near the nest.  Mama goose put her neck out and looked a bit nervous, but stayed put.

We talked to a man who was waiting for his teen’s class to start, and he said the mama goose had stood up and there were eggs under her.

I can’t wait to see if she’s still there next Sunday afternoon.  Now, that’s determination!  Let’s hope we can show the same tenacity while teaching our daughter to drive:)