Pictureless Post

Disclaimer: this post isn’t actually picture-less. Ha! But it does involve more words (and less pictures) than usual.

Today (March 3, 2016) I saw a bunch of blooming white snowdrops and small yellow crocus and thought that was a good enough reason to write a blog post. Alas, I don’t have pictures of any of the cheery spring flowers from today; but the bulbs in our yard are growing fast and soon spring will be in full swing and photos like these:

The other day

The other day

Shall be replaced with photos like this:

The other day

The other day

Our weather is indeed capricious. All of the pictures here are from roughly the last 10 days. Snow, sun, hot, cold; winter is Missouri is the best! No wonder it’s my favorite season; you get all four seasons in one; talk about variety! Who could ever be bored?!

We’ve seen lots of wildlife lately; Smoochie saw a coyote. I’ve seen a fox, a great blue heron and several Barred owls. Also, Dexie chased a groundhog right in front of me when we were running in the forest. It was a big fluffy groundhog that looked like a teddy bear; a desperate and angry teddy bear. Lumbering clumsily down the hillside, stopping at times to stand its ground to a barking Dexie. It must’ve known she wasn’t brave enough to eat it (she eventually left it alone). Dexie’s daily routine involves cornering possums and chasing deer around our house after the sun sets. On another recent jaunt in the forest she cornered a possum against a tree and I watched as it fainted (very convincingly).

Dawn and dusk are good times for animal-watching. Even if I just go out on my front deck and stand there for a minute I will likely see a bat if it is close to dusk (at least on one of our warmer days!). We’ve been wondering about the snakes. Did they spend the winter in the tree? Did their eggs ever hatch? I wonder if that big skink will appear again this spring (at least I think it’s been the same one!)? And I also wonder if that copperhead on our front steps last year was just a loner or part of some copperhead community den living under our front deck; is that paranoid?!

Animal-ing (I think I’ll trademark that) is a fun hobby. It is sort of a mindless and enjoyable to just think about the animals you’ve seen lately, take pictures of animals, read about animals…

I snapped this today near our home. 18 deer/turkeys in this photo!!! It almost looks fake!

I snapped this today near our home. 18 deer/turkeys in this photo!!! It almost looks fake!

Baby’s class (called the (kid-named of course): “Cantaloupe Camels”) was brainstorming ideas for the spring semester project. The kids are supposed to pick the subject matter for the project (part of Reggio philosophy). The Cantaloupe Camels picked “Fire”. And got vetoed. I was all for the fire project. I mean, it’s not like the kids had to set fires, they could’ve learned about famous fires, or learned about what is flammable or fire retardant. Famous paintings featuring fires? Candle-making? I mean, pyromania is just one aspect in the wide umbrella of the topic Fire, right?


And 2016 is the Red Fire Monkey Year according to Chinese calendar.

So basically Baby’s class is in touch with the universe. But I get it, they’re 3 (turning 4)…maybe it was a little too extreme. And so, Fire Project is postponed till Pre-K (win!) and the runner’s up project topic is: Animals!

Baby’s teacher sent out an email asking parents for help with direction on the Animal project. Here’s an excerpt:

So far the Cantaloupe Camels have successfully spotted fish, several birds, a dead snake, a crayfish claw and lots of animal evidence (scat, fur, feathers, prints). But where are all the animals? The children tried feeding the animals bread, hiding behind trees, fox walking very sneaky and sitting very still. Still, no new animals seen in weeks. The plan must be reconsidered.

We want to know what animals prefer to eat in order to better be able to serve them. If you have information or experience in this topic, please get back to us with how you can help.

Questions to consider:

Are there native plants that attract animals for a food source or other reasons? What plants are getting nibbled by your house? Have you planted anything specific to attract animals or insects? What type of feeders, if any, do you use? How can we feed the animals without disrupting the ecosystem?

Thank you for taking the time to make this project awesome! The Cantaloupe Camels are determined individuals and continue their search relentlessly.

So I can’t really think of any good tips for this animal project. Like I said, Animal-ing™ is a lovely mindless pursuit for me and might involve an hour in the woods with no animal sightings at all. How will this project develop? Je ne sais pas. I just hope it doesn’t involve a trip to the zoo (far too pedestrian an idea for Forest School). Haahaha

The thing about real animal-watching is that it is an ephemeral thing: fleeting moments, that you really can’t plan for or predict. I spend loads of time in the woods which is why I’ve seen so many animals in the past few weeks. But, a field trip to the woods doesn’t guarantee an animal-sighting, much less an entertaining display of action (e.g. happening upon, say, a snake mating). But what about the searching; isn’t that where the meaning lies?

Orange lichen

Orange lichen

Forest floor

Forest floor



Mindfulness, patience, a quiet meditation on the existence of animals; aren’t those good Animal-related project topics for three year olds?! Hahahahahahah

How about paintings of animals? If I had to plan the thing I would probably go the art-show route. An art show of animal paintings. Performance art? Animal topiaries? Something like that. When Spy boy was just a little spy he also did an animal project at Forest school (back when the school didn’t have a forest!) that culminated with an animal parade in which the kids created their own type of animal and designed their own costumes for an Animal Parade.

Baby Spy as part giraffe/part hawk

Baby Spy as part giraffe/part hawk

If you have any good tips for Baby’s class about the direction of the Animal Project/responses to their teacher’s questions, please leave them in the comments!


9 thoughts on “Pictureless Post

  1. narf77

    Could you take photos of deer etc. and turn them into a flip book or could baby illustrate a book about what deer eat and turn that into a flip book? You could collect leaves etc. and dry them to add to the equation? Maybe Baby could illustrate a book about Dexie and all of the animals that she meets in the woods? From this post alone, I would say that Dexie was the most successful at Animal-ing off all. Might be best to put that to good use? By the way, no point suing me for using your trademarked word. I doubt there is anything of worth on Serendipity Farm to make it worth your while ;)

  2. Eliza Waters

    An important point that most teachers bypass is that we are animals, too. It’s not an us/them duality, we’re all in it together. I think kids need to learn this very important point: we are a part of the whole. If kids grow up feeling a connection, they are more apt to want to take care of the ecosystem in which they live. Okay, off the soapbox I go!
    Do you think any of the parents have a motion-sensored wildlife cam the school could borrow? They could set it up near a watering spot or along a trail that would likely have animals passing by.
    We feed our squirrels (crows, bluejays and the occasional turkey) whole corn cobs on a simple feeder – two boards forming a ‘L’ with a long screw coming up through the bottom onto which you skewer the cob. Depending on the traffic, you could have multiple skewers. Or simply scattering corn on the ground works, too.
    Salt licks would attract deer, but some places have laws about them, so you might check. Some hunters bait deer this way, which I totally abhor, what a sneaky trick! >:-(
    Does the school have a bird bath? Water is a great attractant, if there are few sources nearby. We are surrounded by streams so our birdbath went unused, I no longer bother with one as they must be scrubbed and refilled often.
    Here’s a good link and they also have ideas for kids: http://www.nwf.org/How-to-Help/Garden-for-Wildlife/Gardening-Tips/Using-Native-Plants.aspx
    Have fun!

    1. Spy Garden Post author

      Yes, they used one of those motion-activated cameras last year (in a project that involved determining if any horses lived in the woods hahaha) so that is a great idea. There is a great creek at her school but it is far down in the woods (which they don’t necessarily go down to every day) so maybe a smaller water source (a little pond?!) could be cool closer to the main playground area. The teachers loved the feedback on this post ;) Thanks for all the great ideas!!

  3. TheDigger

    Wow, your wildlife sounds much more exciting than mine! I’ve seen quite a few people have those motion-sensor cameras to film wildlife now, they must be getting cheaper- not sure if one of those is an option for you? I don’t know how cheap they are exactly but you might be able to borrow or rent one maybe.

  4. g

    Love the very textured photos and the young spy photo! Maybe how do the animals relate to each other as well as the environment?


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