Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Unit Study

We did a unit study today. Okay, probably not a real unit study. I did not go to the library to pull a lot of things together. In fact, I did very little, okay NO research at all. I did draw on past experience with the topic, which I've had some. Here's what happened.

First, shock of all shocks, the glowing orb made an appearance today, right over my house, slanting in through my glass-paned door so boldly that I called the children from their rooms to gaze at it, for perhaps the last time this year! We soaked it up. I headed out to the barn where my very crabby 800 lb. and 1100 pound gorillas horses were imprisoned, testing the ground to see if I darest let them out.

I did. The almost galloped over me before I got the gate open. Once they settled down a little I did some maintenance work on our trench. We call it the pasture scar. We just laid the cable to hook up power to the barn a couple of weeks ago. (It's my Christmas present.) Said cable went in a 3 foot deep trench which I filled in that day (250 yards of shovelling and raking, thank you very much.) Madonna never had such biceps--and you should see my latisimus dorsi! Hoooooo!

As all trenches do, this one is settling and filling in. The glowing orb thawed enough of the dirt (that and the 60 degree weather this week) to allow me to fill in some more, which I did. That's when I had the delightful experience with our soil. I am using the term "soil" pretty loosely here. While it looked a lot like mud, when I would scrape it up, it would not come off my shovel. Now I know you have all experienced mud clinging to a shovel. There are several can bang the side of the blade on the ground, the clump of mud will break loose and fall off...tried it, many, many, many times. Did not work. Not once. I would bang the side of the blade on the ground and the first problem was that the blade would slice neatly into the soft earth. No jarring impact. Mud is firmly seated on shovel. Shovel is completely vertical, no change. I tried banging the straight bottom edge of the shovel into the ground...same result. I tried turning the shovel over, so mud is "hanging" upside down. There was no hanging. The mud had no fear, did not budge.

I come prepared for this stuff...I have the coolest boots, Muck brand chore boots. They are serious outdoor boots, rubber and neoprene. Love 'em. I put 'em to work. I tried scraping the mud off the shovel with my big black boot. Mud loves my boot. Adheres immediately to my boot. Not some of it, while some falls off. ALL of it transfers smoothly to the bottom of my boot. We're talking mud the size of a half a cantalope or more. Sooooooo, I scrape the bottom of my boot on the shoulder of my shovel and mud returns to the shovel. No sagging, nothing. I thought to myself, this should be a Lucy and Ethel show. I could not, COULD NOT, dislodge this stuff. I was lucky to be able to scrape it into the trench at all. When I left that work, I dragged the shovel behind me in the damp grass, thinking this would sort of clean off the blade as I walked. Nope. Not a bit. It was kind of creepy. I should sell it for Christmas crafts or something.

Anyway, the unit study...I went to check out the water tanks that are now being filled by the downspout from the metal roof. Way cool system, I must say. That end of the paddock holds water pretty badly, must be that terrific soil we have. So I started trying to dig little trenches under the fence to move some of the water out. It got a little fun making little rivers and dams. I remembered that the Children's Museum in town has an activity a lot like this, but with way less horse manure in it. I decided to head up to the house, while the orb was still showing and see if I could recruit some help.

I burst into the kitchen calling them to come. I'm having fun out here you guys--yeah right...but I did convince them to come. We took the pointy hoe and a little kiddie hoe and sure enough, it got to be fun and then obsessive. Each horse footprint in the silt was a little pool of water waiting to be released. #3 of course fell to her knees more than once in the silty, poopy, muddy muck and then the orb headed off to Colorado or New Mexico or wherever it winters, so I volunteered to head up and make lunch and begin the industrial laundry. #1 admitted that she thought I was just fooling when I said I was having fun, but it was indeed, fun. She stayed behind, working on, considering a career in drainage, hopefully not sewage, but we all know and must admit, that advances in plumbing have saved civilization. I don't know if ditch digging qualifies for DOE credit, but it certainly helps out around here.

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