Young Cultivator Merit Badge: Get Buggy, Intermediate Level

The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 7,504 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—10,886 total! Take it away, MBA Jane!!! MJ 

Wondering who I am? I’m Merit Badge Awardee Jane (MBA Jane for short). In my former life   

For this week’s Garden Gate/Get Buggy Intermediate Level Young Cultivator Merit Badge, Piper and I wandered out to the front yard with our trusty notebook journals, magnifying glass, and a couple of glass jars with holes poked in the lids.

I think you can tell where we were going with this, righto? You got it, we were looking for some bug lovin’!

Furry, spindly, fat, eight-legged, four-legged, winged, cute, ugly (or bugly, as the pun-loving Pipes liked to say), we were all about dem bugs.

What we were not about was the anthill we accidently disrupted. Talk about ants in our pants. Okay, okay, I exaggerate, not so much in our pants as milling about our toes, but you get the drift. We apologized to the ant family (They didn’t even pause to listen though. Busy little buggers, aren’t they?) and moved to a different area of the yard.

For the Intermediate Level badge, you won’t really need the jars with lids, but we like to be prepared in case of bug adoptions. You never know when you might find a rare, exotic type lurking under your hydrangeas or scampering past your garden gnome! Why, just one of these finds of the Top Five Rarest Bugs in Nature would cement our notoriety in the world of entomologists:

  • Euspinolia militaris (the panda ant): Oh, it may look all cute and fuzzy, with black and white patches that appear positively snuggable, but this ‘ant’ is actually a member of the wasp family. And we never recommend snuggling a wasp. Lest you think you can take this little guy on, we’re here to tell you his nickname is “cow killer” (and yes, they can!). Yikes. Luckily, these stinging devils are mostly found in Chile.

photo by silamtao

  • Atrax sutherlandi (red-fanged funnel spider): Also called the Vampire Spider, this somewhat terrifying arachnid has red fangs. Gulp. Surprisingly though, for its fierce appearance, the atrax sutherlandi mostly just eats other insects, and won’t suck your blood.
  • Lycaedes melissa samuelis (Karner butterfly): Finally, one that won’t keep you up at night with bad dreams, this vibrant blue butterfly can only be found near New York, where it sadly has nearly become extinct due to deforestation. It’s a particular and persnickety butterfly and wants its habitat exactly just-so (kind of like me, now that I think about it).
)

photo by Hollingsworth, J & K via Wikimedia Commons

  • Titanus giganteus (the titan beetle): Back to the frightening kind, this beetle, native to the Amazon rainforest, can be 9 inches long! Let that sink in. Bigger than my whole hand. Or my favorite sub sandwich! Well, at least at that size, it won’t be sneaking up on me anytime soon.
  • Dryococelus australis (the tree lobster): This ginormous walking stick insect (about 6 inches long!) only lives on Lord Howe Island, between New Zealand and Australia. Entomologists thought this amazing creature was extinct back in the ‘20s but luckily for bug lovers everywhere in the early 2000s, they began popping up again. Now, experts are breeding them so as to populate the island once more. How do the residents feel about this? Unsure. How do I feel about that? Glad I don’t live on Lord Howe Island!

photo by Granitethighs via Wikimedia Commons

Well, Piper and I didn’t find any of these remarkable bugs, but we did find some beauties to mark down in our journals. And a roly-poly named Earnest lived in a Mason-jar habitat for an afternoon before we let him go back to his family.

Continue reading

Hear Ye!

Welcome New Sisters! (click for current roster)

Merit Badge Awardees (click for latest awards)

My featured Merit Badge Awardee of the Week is Jennifer Chappell!

Jennifer Chappell (AdeleHale, #6346) has received a certificate of achievement in Cleaning Up for earning a Beginner Level My Fair Farmgirl Merit Badge!

“I researched the difference between conventional products and cruelty-free organic beauty products and shared it on my personal Facebook page. I replaced my toothpaste and all of my skincare products with organic alternatives. I made scented bath salts with Epsom salts and essential oils.

I like using the organic beauty products—they have improved my skin health immensely.

For the bath salts, I combined three pounds of Epsom salts with 3 drops eucalyptus essential oil, 3 drops tea tree essential oil, and 2 drops peppermint essential oil. The scent and the salts lasted about an hour and my fibromyalgia is better today than it was yesterday.”

Continue reading

Young Cultivator Merit Badge: Horsing Around, Intermediate Level

The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 7,466 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—10,836 total! Take it away, MBA Jane!!! MJ 

Wondering who I am? I’m Merit Badge Awardee Jane (MBA Jane for short). In my former life   

For this week’s Garden Gate/Horsing Around Intermediate Level Young Cultivator Merit Badge, my crew of Nora, Piper, Andy, and Yours Truly headed to the library.

Seeing as how we’ve been banned from snacking at this particular institution (We may or may not have spilled a tall mocha with whip on some encyclopedia volumes. It was only B-Y, so I feel like they were making a mountain of a molehill, but I find it’s best not to argue with librarians.), so we were forced to make sure our bellies were full. We made a pit stop at the local all-you-can-eat buffet for a midday nosh of barbequed ribs, mashed potatoes, salad bar, catfish, and tacos. You know, a little pick-me-up between meals.

Feeling refreshed—and possible slightly stuffed—we made our way to the library with smiles on our faces and a skip in our steps. Our job? To research and find books about our favorite new pet, the horse. We were to take notes, doodle or sketch, and find our favorite breed in order to earn our Intermediate Level badge. Seemed easy enough, but that librarian has eagle-eyes and insisted on doing a pat-down on me, searching for sticky snacks, liquids without lids, and other culinary weapons of mass destruction.

She says I was picked at random, but I remain skeptical.

By the time I had been detained, spoken sternly to, had my emergency stash of chocolate confiscated, and watched the required viewing of the documentary Books and How to Respect Them, the kiddos were practically done with the entire horse section. I was quite behind (and feeling a bit famished, to boot. Lobster and mashed potatoes just don’t stick to your ribs the way you’d think) and was forced to thumb through the books the children had already gone through.

How did I know? I could tell by the suspicious grape jelly and taco sauce stains on page 11. I do so feel as though I’m passing on my best traits to them, you know. It’s a feeling to warm my heart.

Actually, that may in fact be heartburn. I don’t think that buffet skimped on the hydrogenated oils.

Anyway, Piper had to tell me all about her new favorite breed, the Lipizzaner, before I could get too far in my own research. The Lipizzaner is a breed associated with the Spanish Riding School of Vienna, Austria. They would probably be anyone’s favorites even if all they did was stand there and look pretty (because they are breathtaking), but they are talented too. They prance and dance in a movement called the airs above the ground.

photo by Lucie Provencher via Wikimedia Commons

It made me feel like my childhood pony, Scamper, really didn’t apply himself in his dance classes, to be honest. I spent hours training him to dance, and he could barely trot with any amount of enthusiasm. Ah well.

Nora’s favorite she decided was Little Old Man. A breed, you may ask innocently (as did I)? Judging by her glare at me and putting her book up to her face, it is evidently the name of Pippi Longstocking’s horse.

photo by Sigismund von Dobschütz via Wikimedia Commons

Andy found his favorite in a book about American cowboys: the small but mighty Morgan.

photo by Fritz Mäder/Heidi Fontana via Wikimedia Commons

I got distracted by a book about donkeys (and a small package of Raisinettes I found that Miss Librarian of the FBI missed).

All in all, it was a good day to be a horse lover. Exhausted by all our learning, we hit the taco truck on the way home for nourishment.

Continue reading

Hear Ye!

Welcome New Sisters! (click for current roster)

Merit Badge Awardees (click for latest awards)

My featured Merit Badge Awardee of the Week is Kimberly Calvert!

Kimberly Calvert (KimmyC, #7479) has received a certificate of achievement in Stitching & Crafting for earning a Beginner Level Sew Wonderful Merit Badge!

“I put together a travel sewing kit with straight pins, safety pins, needles, scissors, buttons, and five spools of thread, including one heavyweight. I also put a small retractable tape measure in there for the project that I plan to work on once we hit the road. I also put wide Velcro, reflective tape, and wonder clips. I made a bright, cheerful owl pincushion that was small enough to fit inside. I stuffed her belly with crushed walnut shells, as I read that it would help keep the pins sharp. Walnut shells are super dusty! I will do the stuffing outside next time.

As much as I love Mason jars, I needed a non-breakable container to take in our RV. I reused a bulk foods container, which is perfect! It’s transparent so that I can see what’s inside (and so that my little owl can see outside. hah!). It feels pretty sturdy and the lid will stay put, keeping my contents secure when we hit the bumpy roads.

I will be modifying dog coats for our three dogs while we’re en-route, so this sewing kit was just the thing that I needed. What a great idea! Thank you for the inspiration.”

Continue reading

photo-of-the-day

farm-romance_9377

Be like the bee, always seeking the nectar of knowledge. Life is sweeter that way.