Filed under: cold, Farm, farm animals, food, Ice, Minnesota, rain, school, snow, spring, Trees, weather | Tags: cold, farm, fluffy snow, Food, Minnesota, nature, rain, snow, spring, travel, trees, weather
Wow, talk about some weather. We’ve been almost two years without a major storm in our area of Minnesota and now we get it all at once.
Monday we got a bit of rain, it was looking like our usual tenth of and inch and done storm.
Tuesday things started to ramp up with nearly an inch of rain, still not very interesting since it was only rain with a bit of thunder.
Wednesday things turned serious. Icy rain had fallen throughout the night. Area schools were called off because the road crews were having trouble keeping the ice and snow off of the road. Traffic was nearly at a standstill. Almost an inch of ice on trees was bringing down branches and power lines. Some areas have lost power but we were still in business. The days rainfall total was again nearly an inch.
Thursday dawned with nine inches of soft, fluffy snow on the ground. Most area schools were off for the day. It continued to snow for most of the day, but the temperatures stayed just above freezing so we also had quite a bit of melting going on. Tree branches that had held out for the ice were now breaking with the added weight of snow. Our area lost power about 11 a.m. Standby generators for the hog barns went into action.
We went into town to see if someone would feed us. All stores were dark and many were closed. Subway was feeding people until they ran out of bread. Runnings had employees with flash lights helping you find the things you needed. Hy-Vee was in full operation since they had enough backup power to run the registers and some lights. Food in need of being kept cold was being moved to refrigerated trucks. Power came back on for us about 3:30 p.m. but many are still in the dark.Today is friday and this April Fools joke still continues. School is finally in session, but area roads are not in good condition. We still have snow falling. Because the ground had started to thaw we have mud under our snow, if you break through the crust there is no traction, so it is easy to get your vehicle stuck. Much of the ice is now off of the trees, but the damage will take a long time to clean up. When the snow and rain have all been added up we are nearly a 3 inches of precipitation. If we can get it to stay this will start to get us on the way to a good crop.
Tomorrow the sun is supposed to come out and I would like to get started on branch pickup. By Sunday we are expecting more rain and temperatures are supposed to get more normal. That just might melt this latest snow fall. Spring may be here, but first we need to get rid of some snow.
It’s been wild, but we continue on.
Filed under: family, school, travel | Tags: children, deaf education, family, Gallaudet University, school, travel
With our daughter studying at Gallaudet University this year, we decided to take a trip to visit her. Emily has tried to explain what happens at her college, but until you experience it, you do not realize how different it is. It is like going to a different land.
In Washington D.C. it is not unusual to see many people from many lands. The embassies are considered to be part of the country that owns them. The folks at Gallaudet are mostly Americans who grew up in typical American homes, and except for one difference they could all be the kid next door, they are deaf. For many years people who were deaf were thought to be unteachable, after-all they lacked an aspect that any other learning child had, hearing, and because of that they were pushed to the edges of society. Here at Gallaudet the deaf are in control. When you enter Gallaudet you enter the land of the deaf.
From the bus driver who picked us up at Union Station to every food service, security, and sanitation employee there is silence, but every gesture and facial expression speaks volumes. All are here to help the deaf learn. Not all employees and students at Gallaudet are deaf, but every person on campus is dedicated to learning in a deaf world. The rules and language of Gallaudet are not the rules and language of the hearing world around them. As parents of a student there we were given a bit of slack, but it is expected that everyone at Gallaudet speaks American Sign Language.
Our Emily is not deaf, but since her early years in school she was fascinated with American Sign Language. In college she studied to teach in a school for the deaf. She has been both challenged and fulfilled in her early years of teaching as she helped young children, many of whom had as yet received no language training, express themselves. Now she is seeking her Masters degree so that she can better understand and better help the deaf to be full partners in the American life she leads.
As parents we are curious to learn about her life, and this was another good chance to experience the life she has chosen. We were blessed to have visited her in this new step in her life.
Filed under: family, school, science | Tags: A Chance to Grow, art, children, dance, education, music, TED Talks
I was introduced to TED talks last night by our pastor. In particular he showed our boards the talk given by Sir Ken Robinson says schools kill creativity from 2006. In his talk he speaks of the creativity in each child and of how our society and our schools crush that creativity as they push for tests and teach for the test. Sir Ken speaks of how this is a good way to turn out factory workers and academics, but seldom people who think creatively.
My wife and daughter both have taught in elementary education. They have both used techniques that help children learn by moving as they are taught. There is a large body of evidence that without certain types of movement the child’s brain cannot develop properly. In particular they have used the services of A Chance to Grow to develop skills in channeling childhood squirms into learning.
Sir Ken tells the story of a girl who could not sit still. Until her mother took her to dance class she was having a tough time in school. This girl grew up to be a world class ballerina and choreographer, all because she was given a chance to move, a chance to dance.
I am pleased that our local school still gives children a chance to experience art, music and theatre, but more and more schools are cutting the arts from their programs in the push to teach every child to pass tests. Teaching to the test is an educational practice where curriculum is heavily focused on preparing for a standardized test. These standardized tests are good at turning out factory workers and academics, but they do little to produce healthy creative adults. Children are not made in factories, so how come we expect them to all turn out the same?
So here is my challenge for you. Teach your children to be creative. Give them open ended projects and let them figure out how they should be done. Get them away from the TV and outside learning from the world. Let them run, jump and climb. Children need to get out and make mistakes, they need to get hurt and learn from the pain. Giving children a chance to create stimulates the brain. Who knows, your little squirmer may be famous one day. You’ll never know if you do not give them the chance to dance.
Filed under: Minnesota, rain, school, snow, weather, winter | Tags: farm, Minnesota, puddles, rain, rain gauge, snow, southwestern minnesota, weather, winter
Well, this is different. This morning started out with snow, then it started to rain. By 6p.m. my rain gauge had three quarters of an inch of water in it and most of the snow was either melted, or turned to ice.
The gauge also had ice hanging from it.
We have water running across the yard, something that is not typical of a Minnesota February.
Even the goldfish pond is running over.
They are calling for possible thunderstorms tonight and more rain. It may start to snow tomorrow, or it may just continue to rain. We sure are lucky this is not snow. Now we get the call that school will start 2 hours late. What a winter for southwestern Minnesota.
Filed under: school, School bus | Tags: children, debate, school, school bus, shirt and tie, speech, speech team
It was an impressive sight looking at all of those dressed up young people, where was I?
It’s Saturday and I have an out-of-town bus trip with the speech team, they sure are an impressive sight. Not only that but they are polite and dedicated, and working hard at something that many kids would not dream of doing. I mean, who wants to be able to do the Gettysburg Address from memory, or an old Ellen DeGeneres monologue, or maybe debate the use of food as a weapon? The kids are taking on some hard stuff and making it look easy.
It is interesting walking through the halls seeing young men and women talking to walls as they practice for their round, these kids really have to be focused. Yes, the boys are at least in a nice shirt and tie, but most of them are in suits. The girls are well dressed also, not prom dressed up, but better cloths than most of them would ever wear otherwise.
Yep, these are our future preachers, teachers and business people. The future is in good hands.
Filed under: school, School bus | Tags: caps, children, gloves, lost and found, school bus
My bus has started to develop a mini lost and found. So far I have 2 stocking caps, a small tan glove and a ram headband. That is just from the last two weeks. I know the pile will get higher, winter has only begun. And despite my keeping the pile right by the door where they can see it both going in and out, no one will ever claim these items.
As the weather changes again to warm, or cold, we will get coats and boots added to the pile. At anytime of the year we can get book bags, lunch bags, note pads, art projects and occasionally a cell phone. All of them in good shape, none of them labeled.
When children get to school with out their outdoor gear, they will miss out door play time. No boots, no coat, no hat and gloves, you stay inside and look at the walls.
It is understandable that some of these little people will forget where they left their things. They have so much to keep track of. What bothers me is that the parents do not think to get a laundry marker and add a name inside. It really would help get the stuff back.
So what becomes of these items of lost clothing? They end up in a box at the bus barn waiting for parents to claim them. It is really rare that anyone comes looking. Eventually they will be donated to Good Will. Is your child missing something, check at school, or in their bus. Oh, and please don’t leave empty handed. There must be something in that pile your child can use.
Filed under: Christmas, Holidays, safety, school, School bus | Tags: children, Christmas, December, safety, Santa hat, school bus
For years now I have been wearing a Santa hat on my morning bus route in December. It gets me in the holiday spirit, and it’s warm. Oh, and yes, I do quit shaving for a few weeks, the white beard is a good seasonal complement to the hat. Although the kids on the bus may look at me a little funny when they first see me in it, I get few comments from them on it except a few “Hi Santa”s from them the first time they see me. The effect on the adults has been much more interesting.
The hat is a conversation starter. Usually the conversation comes around to the fact that I wear the hat for the school bus route, and then the stories start.
I also get comments from others about how they could not drive a school bus, and questions about how kids behave. Stories of out of control kids on the bus are often told to me, as are other stories that involve school and bus trips. I have a few stories, no names included to protect the guilty, but very few stories that I tell. After 17 years of driving school bus, I can tell you that most kids today are really good. I tell everyone that I have good parents for my route. That may be the most telling remark about kids.
I understand that kids will be kids. They all need to learn, some just take longer to learn. Younger children need to be told the rules more often, and older ones will usually keep out of trouble if they are allowed to. Mistakes will be made, and kids do learn from mistakes. Parents are my biggest help. Stopping and talking to parents when the kids are present really cuts down on problems. If a phone call must be made when a problem arises, so be it.
A school bus ride should be safe and fun. The Santa hat is part of the fun.
Filed under: Animal care, cats, cold, dogs, family, Farm, farm animals, Minnesota, school, snow, travel, weather, wind, winter | Tags: car, cars, cold, farm, machines, Minnesota, snow, travel, weather, wind, winter
The temperature was eleven below as the school day started this morning and some high school boys were coming to school in shorts and no socks, they did have a long sleeve sweatshirt on. I know of several men who will not wear long pants unless they have to, no matter what the weather. Today’s high will be 18 degrees, and for some, coats are optional in Minnesota. Minnesotans have been known to leave home for a three hour or longer drive in the winter and not even bring a coat or boots. Yes, we raise them tough here … or do we?
I also see cars warming up outside houses for ten minutes so that the owner can make a five minute drive to work. Heated garages are a requirement for any new house built today, and apartment buildings with underground heated garages are common. Most folks here in the north are able to go from heated house, to heated car, to heated business and rarely do they experience the weather. Are we tough in Minnesota, or have todays modern conveniences made life so easy for us that we do not have to dress for the weather.
We take pride in Minnesota in our good roads. Our winter road crews are second to none when it comes to keeping roads open in nasty weather, but this has lead to the illusion that you can drive anywhere at any time. I grew up on the prairie, not in town, and I know better.
The last few winters have taken a toll on snow removal equipment on the farm. There are days you seem to be doing nothing else other than moving snow, and if you have livestock it can be worse. The animals have to be cared for. Free range is not possible when the wind blows snow into the yards every day, our animals need shelter. Larger cattle and horses can survive cold up to a point, but pigs and poultry need to be indoors. Sheep, goats, dogs and cats will make it in the cold, but will benefit from a place out of the wind and food and water every day.
The real tough one here in Minnesota is the livestock farmer, always making sure that his animals are cared for. Newborn calves in the shower stall, baby pigs warming on the oven door, these are what the livestock man does to keep his animals alive. Waterers freeze and he has to fix them despite the temperature. Feed must be delivered and if the tractor does not start, or something breaks, it can mean many hours of unexpected labor even if there were family plans. Yes, the tough one here in Minnesota is not the kid who comes to school in shorts in below zero weather, no, it’s the guy bundled up until only his eyes show, out feeding his animals. His sacrifice for the animals he raises is a true sign of being tough.
Filed under: Ag education, Farm, Farm Bureau, Minnesota, P & E, safety, school | Tags: Agriculture education, children, farm, Farm Bureau, machines, Minnesota, safety
I spent the last two afternoons at the University of Minnesota’s Southwest Minnesota Experiment Station talking to area fourth graders about safety, especially farm safety. It was an interesting, exhausting two days. First off, fourth graders are very busy, and almost totally self centered. If you want to get their attention, you have to be both persistent, and insistent. You also need a message that will grab their attention. Unluckily there have been enough bad things that have happened to me and to people I know so that I have learned to hold the attention of a fourth grader. We did these presentations 8 times each day to a total of over 700 kids.
I had the help of Dave Van Loh on the first day, and Marilyn Nickel the second day. As members of the Farm Bureau, we were presenting our deadly serious information to try to scare these kids safe. Our stories of mishaps in flowing grain, and with animals, augers, tractors, atvs and combines helped to show some of the bad things that could happen.
We used props like toy tractors, wagons and a magnetic farm yard scene to explain how the accidents had happened, and why. We talked about the injuries we had experienced and those we had seen others suffer.
We also had the use of a combine harvester to show how power moves from place to place on machinery and talk about the accidents that can happen if things do not go right.
The toughest presentation for me was the Power Take Off (PTO) demonstration which we did only once each day. We placed newspaper in disposable coveralls and showed what happens if you get caught in a machine. Since I had lost a friend last winter to a PTO accident this one hit home hard. It was my hope to scare some of those kids safe. If we can prevent one farm accident the whole effort was worth it.
Filed under: cars, church, food, friends, Kwazamohkuhle, Music, school, School bus, South Africa, travel | Tags: children, ELCA, ELCSA, Food, school, school bus, South Africa
Fifteen people from the Shetek conference of the ELCA flew to South Africa on an agricultural mission that departed on January 31, 2011. Among the things we packed to bring were the supplies for putting on a bible school program like we do in Minnesota. We knew that some things do not transfer to different areas of the world, but we figured they were Lutherans so it should work.
When plans were being made we asked the folks to give us some idea of how many to expect. They estimated that we would have about 140 people at the event to be held on Saturday, February 5, 2011 at the Kwazamokuhle School for the Disabled.
The program we used was Avalanche Ranch.
When you are doing a program in another country where most of the people grow up speaking another language having a native speaker at registration is important and we had the services of a bright young college student named Sinde Xaba to help put our participants at ease.
The school has hallways open to the air, but covered and paved to make wheelchair access possible.
The buildings are fairly new with construction continuing on campus as they continue to improve the school.
When you do a Vacation Bible School (VBS) in Minnesota you expect to get grade school students. In South Africa you get students that range from 11 to 52. Registration was also a bit under what we expected, but Saturday is the traditional day for funerals in the area, and with a funeral for a young person happening that day, numbers were below what we expected.
Travel is also not as easy as we are used to. People were invited to attend from all over the circuit. Some would have to travel for quite a distance. Not all of the travel plans worked out. All part of learning about life in South Africa.
One thing was not a problem, getting the participants up and singing. Zulu tradition is one of singing and dancing in church. When we were teaching new songs and doing actions to them we found ready participants.
Craft projects of all kinds found eager participants. We were very impressed with thought and originality they put into their work.
Although the food was a bit different than we were used to it was very good, and there was plenty of it.
Free time was spent playing with the kids from the school who were not high enough functioning to attend the program. Some students did attend if they were able. The left over balloons and a few frisbees were left to brighten the day of the younger students.
I had not planned to attend the program. As a driver I planned to drive participants over to the school, take a few pictures and then go back to help at the center. The learning experience was one I would not have traded. It was well worth staying.
Sunday will be a busy day. Hope you join me on my travels.