Friday, August 30, 2013

A Day at the Lake

We spent a few hours at the lake today with some new friends. On the drive to the lake, E saw some trees that had been cut down. She started talking about how cutting down the trees hurts the animals and destroys their homes. We had a great conversation about logging, ecosystems, forest fires, and sustainability. We talked about how even if cutting down the trees doesn't directly ruin an animal's home, it can still affect it. I used the example of ground squirrels eating nuts from the trees. Cutting down the trees doesn't ruin the ground squirrel's home, but it does reduce it's food source. Then when the squirrels have to go somewhere else to find food, the snakes have less food, and so on.

I reminded the girls that we have lots of things in our house made from wood, so it's a good thing there is some logging. I told them that some loggers do clear cutting, but other loggers only cut some of the trees and plant new ones in their place, and that the practice is called sustainability. They thought that was a pretty good idea.

Then we drove by an area that had been destroyed by a fire years ago. Some of the grass and bushes have grown back, but the trees are still blackened skeletons.

Then E asked me if there was a job that a person could do where they helped animals that were hurt by fires or logging. I told her about wildlife rescues. She said she might like to do that when she grows up rather than be a dancer. I reminded her about Smokey the Bear, since we were driving right through that area burned by fire, and how the firefighters had taken him to a wild life rescue. I also reminded her about our visit to the horse rescue last summer (or the summer before?). I told her that the lady who owns it helps horses when their owners can't care for them anymore or if their owners are hurting them and the police take the horses away.

On the way back home, E asked me about the area burned by the fire again and how long ago the fire was. I said I didn't know what year it had happened, but that if I was remembering correctly that when she was one year old, we had driven that road and we saw that fire damage. So she figured out that since she is seven now and we saw it like that when she was one, that it had been at least six years since that fire.

While we were at the lake, the girls caught a couple of half dead, tiny fish.  We brought them home and they disected them, as much as is possible with something the size of my thumbnail.  They looked at their gills, fins, eyes, and tried to find the heart, stomach and intestines.  That led to talking about human bladders, gallbladders, intestines and colons.    

They also pulled up a few different varieties of sea (lake?) weed.  By the time we got it home, it was dried out and I couldn't figure out what it is, but we had fun for a few minutes looking at different types of fresh water submerged plants online.  

E wanted to catch some birds at the lake, so she put out some watermelon rinds to see if they would eat them. Ten or so birds immediately flocked to the rinds. It was a great treat for them! I was trying to remember the name of the birds, which are very common around here.  My friend said they were black birds, which sounded right, but I thought they had another/a longer name.  It turns out they are Brewer's Black Birds.  They have iridescent feathers that the girls love to collect.  We spent some time this evening learning about their nests and what they eat. 

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