On The Trail

Homeschool Hiking

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Rangers, Owls and Shakespeare! What we’ve been up to!

Maddie finished her PASS test on Saturday morning. As a reward for completing it we headed up to the Saratoga National Historic Park to see a program with a wildlife rehabilitator. She brought raptors for everyone to see! Maddie was delighted and took many photos. They were so neat and some of the information the rehabilitator shared was so interesting. Did you know that the barred owl’s hearing is so good that he could hear everyone’s heart beating in the room? I couldn’t imagine the noise inside that poor owls head…the room was packed!

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screech owl                                                falcon


Maddie and the barred owl-her favorite!


Snowy owl named Oz. He immediately coughed up an owl pellet much to Maddie’s delight and several groans and “EEEEEUUUU”s from the audience.                                     .


Harry Potter display! Snowy Owl on the right and a European Eagle Owl on the left.


European Eagle Owl which is Draco Malfoy’s owl in the Harry Potter movies! Maddie got shots of him flying across the room to his perch!






Then we headed out to check out a used bookstore and have some dinner at The Farmer’s Daughter. I couldn’t resist this shot!


After that it was back to the park for a walk with the park naturalist. We were supposed to be seeing woodcocks but unfortunately we only heard them. Our big news of the night was spotting a Great Horned Owl sitting in a tree then flying across the field. We were thrilled. Unfortunately we weren’t able to get a good shot of the owl as it was too far away. We did try but really it looks like a blob in the tree! We did see a lot of other birds, heard a symphony of wood frogs and saw 3 deer.

Here are Maddie and Brian before the walk!


Here are some of Maddie’s photos. We were out in the park until 9pm so we got to watch the sun go down while waiting hopefully for a woodcock to “dance”.


Proof that Momma was indeed there!


Can you spy the bird in the tree? It was a yellow bellied sapsucker.


Maddie loves shots of trail or roads leading around the bend. At least they seem to show up often in her photos!


It was a beautiful night. We could see all the way to Vermont!

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The photos above were all taken by Maddie at the Barber’s Wheat Field stop while waiting patiently for the woodcocks to put in an appearance!

We got home late, very tired but happy despite the woodcocks staying hidden!

Tonight we celebrated Shakespeare’s birthday (well, maybe…a best guess is April 23 but we haven’t had time until now). Maddie made some signs to hang up for Daddy when he got home.

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I made shepard’s pie which was the closest thing I could think of that would be easy on a weeknight to make for the time period. It may not have been exactly the right thing but meat pie was at least in the area! I used my new favorite recipe for shepard’s pie from The How Can It Be Gluten Free? cookbook. We also read some questions about Shakespeare’s life and some quotes from the plays to determine what the meaning might be. So many of our phrases and words today come from his plays. We had fun with that! Especially since many of them had some very silly incorrect answers.


I also made cupcakes for dessert. The activity pack I purchased had the cards with questions, the poster and these cupcake wrappers among some other things.

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After dinner Maddie used her finger puppet theater to do parts of A Midsummer Night’s Dream for us. That was a lot of fun to watch!


(yup, I know she spelled his name wrong! We need to work on that I think!)

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I am quite please with how the Shakespeare unit turned out! Maddie is picking up the book by Charles and Mary Lamb to read the stories on her own now. She has read 2 of the plays using No Fear Shakespeare and liked them too. She is asking to read more of the plays so we will keep right on going! Brian was researching some of the plays that were made into movies so we can watch some too.

That has been our busy week! We are looking into more busy fun ahead!



Yarn Along!


I am working on a prayer scarf…well, actually several….for our church. I hope to have enough that each graduating senior will have one to pack for college. We often do prayer shawls but I had read about this idea and liked it.This particular one is for someone entering the military. My Ravelry notes are here. I am reading many things at once! The ones in this picture though are The Canterbury Tales which I am reading aloud to Maddie. Maddie is coloring in a coloring book about Chaucer while I read. We are both enjoying this version which quite surprised me! The other book is The Harp and the Laurel Wreath which I am reading to find some poetry for next year. I am not sure yet if I will have Maddie copy it over or memorize it or just read!


I thought I would add this picture in too! This was the first really nice day of spring that we had last week. I was able to sit out on the porch for some knitting while listening to The Lord of the Rings on my Kindle. The sparrows were all quite upset that I was back out there in their world and lined up on the railing to let me know how upset they were! I tried to get a picture but I guess they felt they had said enough. The notes about the sweater are here.

I hope you are getting some spring weather too!! Joining Ginny for the Yarn Along!

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District Presentations and fun at the Battlefield

This morning we headed up to the Saratoga County Cornell Cooperative Extension for District Presentations. Maddie was one of 4 kids selected to represent our county. She got to go first and did an excellent job. One of the presenters said “Wait! You said you are 11? You are very mature for 11!”. She got good marks and some suggestion on things to work on for next time. She is not old enough to go to the State Level but our county coordinator said she would send Maddie to the State Fair if she wanted to do her presentation there as well. We will wait a bit before making a decision on that! Go to our youtube channel here to see Maddie’s presentation.

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After lunch we headed up to the Saratoga Battlefield for Junior Ranger Day. There didn’t seem to be much going on for that but it was a beautiful day and the tour road was open so we headed out! Maddie had her camera but hasn’t had time to download her photos yet. We will get them soon! Here are some of Momma’s!

The beaver dam is a new favorite spot to stop since the naturalist told us about it last spring.

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There is something about blue sky, puffy clouds and bare trees.                                                IMG_0636 IMG_0637 IMG_0638 IMG_0639 

We could hear a pilated woodpecker (Well we think it was! It was LOUD and it was a woodpecker so…) and then we saw this hole in the tree. In the photo of Maddie and the cannon there is a swallow sitting right inside the cannon mouth. Brian and I got in rather large trouble with the photographer right after this shot as she felt the bird flying away before she could get a shot in was our fault. Fortunately some deer wandered in and stayed around posing right at that very moment distracting her! Phew!

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Now we are home having some dinner and watching Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince! Fun day all around!

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Easter and the rest of the week!

We have had a busy week! The kids have been off from public school which meant that I had a whole different crew of kids for day care. Some stayed home with teacher parents and others came for the week whose parents were working. It made for a busy week following a nice 3 day weekend for Maddie and me!

The day before Good Friday we made yummy hot cross buns with the day care kids and tried to make a Seder platter to go with our dinner. I messed up the platter a bit but we still discussed the elements on it and the Seder meal itself. The historians in us like to put things into perspective so talking about the last meal Jesus had with his disciples makes sense! Next year I promise to remember some meat on the bone!

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On Good Friday we walked in the cross walk around our little village. The churches all come together on that day to tell the Easter story a little bit at a time in the different sanctuaries around the village. Maddie loves to help carry the cross at some point and to see the other churches. She wore her new coat from Poppa Bill! The coat was part of his Navy uniform and has been around the world. She loves it and has worn it often since receiving it.


IMG_0580 IMG_0581 IMG_0582 The man in the orange shirt came over to Maddie later in the walk to ask about her coat. He had also been in the Navy and was proud to tell us he still fits into his uniform! This impressed me more than Maddie I have to admit. He was pleased that Maddie was wearing her grandpa’s coat and that she expressed pride in his service.

Saturday was spent doing our usual chores and dying eggs. I suspect this is the last year of the egg hiding fun! In fact Maddie sort of went along with her crazy parents this year. We had fun at any rate and Maddie enjoyed her basket in the morning. Somehow we managed to miss getting a picture of Maddie on the front porch so I am sorry to say you will miss her Easter finery. She looked so pretty and grown up! We were the greeters at church which is always fun then came home to make dinner. This was my first shot at deviled eggs! Brian and Maddie declared them delicious then proved it by eating them all!

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The rest of the week has been spent doing schoolwork and taking care of day care kiddos! One of Maddie’s favorite things from the  week was a Shakespeare Finger Puppet theater.


Tonight Brian took over dinner and I had a few minutes out on the porch in this beautiful weather! The sparrows were not too pleased by my presence though! I took my camera out in hopes of getting a picture of them all lined up on the railing telling me exactly what they thought of my knitting out there but they didn’t come back!

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Here is hoping for more knitting on the porch this week!!