Rock Tumbler Kits Bring out the Science in Kids

Living on a ranch is my ideal of having fun, and learning about nature. When I was younger, I remember going out to the country, and admiring the horses, the chickens, and yes even the pigs. You wonder if the farm animals have feelings, or do their brain work the same way mine do.

kids rock tumbler

This is the type of tumbler I bought my grandkids.

I spent countless hours thinking about this, and many more hours collecting rocks. I would find the most beautiful rocks, polish them, and put them on a shelf in my room. To me they were more than rocks, they were valuable assets. Now, as I look back at my childhood, I can see how important it is to stay in touch with your surroundings.

Invest in the Future of Your Grandkids

This is what prompted me to buy my grandkids, their first rock tumbler kit. Rock tumbler kits for kids are fun, easy to use, and very inspirational. Too many kids are not interested in geography, or science, and to me this is a shame. I believe that if I continue to talk to my grandkids, and share my personal experiences with them, they will eventually want to learn more about the world they live in.

The rock tumbler kits come complete with everything my grandkids need to make their next science project or personal collection the center of attention. If you have ever visited a rock museum, you are probably familiar with the well- polished rocks, and stones, setting inside a glass case.

Buy Age Appropriate Kits

Inside the kits you will a priceless item; a machine that turns the rocks and smoothens them, while giving them a luxurious shine. As the rocks turn, the gritty residue is removed, making the rocks even more appealing than before.

There are several rock tumbler kits for kids to choose from. I chose the ones that are age appropriate, because my grandkids range in ages from 6 to 16. Younger children can’t understand the instructions contained in the advanced kits, and the older kids may find it insulting to give them a kit that is obviously meant for a 5 or 6- year old.

Feel Good About Your Choice

After watching my grandkids collect their rocks, polish them up, and make them pretty and all, I realized I made the right choice. Now, I feel good knowing that I have just contributed to the next scientist or geologist, in my family. Even if they decide not to pursue their rock collection when they older, at least they would have had the exposure.

How I Pass Long Winter Hours At the Ranch

Living on a ranch is one of the most rewarding experiences I believe anyone can ever have. The hard work involved helps to shape people and build their character while the fresh air can help to calm even the wildest spirits. With neighbors few and far between, I’ve recently turned to reading to entertain myself during the downtime I have.

There is something peaceful about wrapping myself in a blanket, pouring a cup of Earl Grey tea, and sitting in front of the fireplace with a page turning book. Lately, I’ve come across a special book that I will be rereading again and again.

nicholas sparks the longest ride

What woman doesn’t love a good Nicholas Sparks book? I’ve read several of his more well-known works, but only recently picked up The Longest Ride. This book, published in 2013, is one that I needed to pick up before it was turned into a movie!

The story follows two couples many years apart in age with little in common. Ira and Ruth have been together for many years while Sofia (a college student) and Luke (a professional rodeo bull rider) are just in the beginning stages of their relationship.

Sparks is able to tie the two couples together with surprising twists and turns as only he knows how to do and of course, the book reduced me to tears several times. From the eternal love between the older couple, to the kindling ready to burst into flames between Sofia and Luke at a barn yard dance, the book is a beautiful testament to true love and the barriers we overcome to be with the one we love.

I found myself recounting my own first love while reading, even picturing myself dancing at the barn with Sofia and Luke. As with any good Nicholas Sparks book, I know I will pick this up again in the future to read, and I look forward to seeing the movie when it comes out in April!

Read my last post on improvements to my ranch life.

New Appliances in the Ranch Kitchen! A Rice Cooker!

Country living is relaxing and rewarding in most instances. As a wife and mother I enjoy our life on a ranch where the cattle, goats, chickens, dogs and horses are extended members of the family. I gather fresh eggs from our flock of free-range chickens each morning and we have some beautiful Jersey cows that provide us with all of the fresh milk that we could possibly need. With ingredients such as these I find it easy to whip up delicious meals.

There are days when I am asked to prepare lunch or dinner for a large number of people. Instead of just feeding the family I might be fixing meals for several dozen individuals. Not long ago I was the type of person who would just toss a package into the microwave and consider that cooking. It was when we first moved to our ranch that I discovered that it was much more fun to create meals from “scratch”.

best rice cooker

Of course my kitchen adventures began out of sheer necessity. We needed to save money and trim expenses once we purchased our small ranch. It became obvious that I could seriously cut costs by making homemade jams and preserves, baking bread and canning foods at home. Instead of using expensive packaged food products I learned how to make pasta and how to use leftovers in stews, soups and casseroles. I discovered that my garden bounty of onions, greens, beans, carrots and tomatoes were cheaper and more tastier than purchasing the same items at the store.

Our ranch is located almost an hour’s drive from the nearest town which also means that it is more convenient to make your meals from scratch instead of traveling back and forth for take-out food. I have become fairly expert at making pizzas, yeast rolls, pies and tasty casseroles. I think that our BBQ, hamburgers and grilled steaks are wonderful. These foods are flavored to perfection and then prepared outdoors. What could possibly be better than freshly cooked food being eaten beneath a canopy of twinkling stars?

Although I usually give the microwave a pass these days I do have one relatively new kitchen gadget that makes my life much easier. It’s a rice cooker, and I put it to good use almost every day.

For me it was always difficult to prepare rice that was perfectly cooked. No matter how carefully I measured the ingredients I was often left with rice that was either sticky, soupy, undercooked or overcooked. Now that I use a rice cooker I know that the rice will be fluffy, light and cooked to perfection each and every time. It took me awhile to decide which rice cooker I wanted when I was shopping online for it but I found the best rice cooker here.

Out on a ranch the convenience of a rice cooker makes it easy to prepare meals for 1-100 people. If I need more rice I just have to add the ingredients to the cooker and I have a new batch of perfect rice in a matter of minutes. No more guesswork. No more rice cooking mistakes.

Next time I plan to share few of my best home cooking recipes. I will also include some kitchen tips that save you time and effort when you are prepping food or cleaning up after meals.

 

Recent Improvements to My Ranch Life

Ranch life has changed a lot in the recent past.

There used to be a lot more hardship, even up to only 10 years ago. But recently we’ve had many technological additions to ranch life that have increased our quality of life.

ranch sunrise

One of the primary places that life has been made easier is in the kitchen. There have been several automatic cooking devices that have made my life easier, such as slow cookers. Being able to set the timer and let it cook while I go and get some work done outside is a fantastic feature. I’m pretty sure slow cookers have been around longer than 10 years, but I just got mine a few years ago, so it’s a new improvement for me!

Another factor that we used to struggle with was internet. Recently we were connected with a service called “Hughes Net”. We now have regular wifi just like any other family in the US mostly have access too. And the rate we pay doesn’t break the bank like it did with regular satellite internet.

One of my favorite new household items that we’ve added to our home is a down comforter in our bedroom. My husband and I turn the heat way down at night because we try to save money on the gas bill each month. I used to struggle to stay warm and have to stack the blankets pretty high on the bed in order to keep myself warm. I purchased an excellent down comforter online (after we got hughes net), by doing some research on different types of feather blankets before I decided on one. I bought a “pacific coast” brand comforter. This comforter allows us to keep the thermostat very low at night without having to use heavy blankets that suffocate my husband all night.

Nowadays with the cost of living rising every year, things like this that save me time or money are a fantastic deal. The hughes net price is so much lower than our previous attempts at getting internet out on the ranch, and the down comforter keeps me far warmer than any cotton stuffed bedding that I had in the past.

Ranch life can be as comfortable as city life, and it is far more beautiful. If you could see what I wake up to every morning for a prairie view with amazing sunrises spreading across the horizon you would be jealous!

Read my last post on my daughters new baby gadgets. 

The Fun New Baby Products My Daughter Uses

Last week, my daughter Sam came home to visit and I was overly excited as she brought along Henry, my grandson! I can’t imagine the preparation that goes into traveling with a baby. Henry, who is now one, has all sorts of gizmos and gadgets to make his life (and Sam’s life) easier, but the one item that I never gave much thought to was a nursing pillow. Definitely something that didn’t exist when I was raising my daughter!

 

nursing pillow

I sure never had one of these raising my daughter!

Even with Henry being one, the nursing pillow seems to be a great addition to the arsenal of baby care products. When he was first born, Sam was able to wrap the pillow around her body to help comfortably feed the baby. When he was learning to sit, she would let him sit with the pillow wrapped around his body, offering the support he needed to stay upright. Even now, with Henry being able to sit up and hold his own bottle, he continues to sit in the nursing pillow when eating. Sometimes he even just uses it when wants to sit or relax on the floor!

 

I know that the pillow helps my daughter and I have to admit that I am a little jealous that I didn’t have one when I was raising Sam! I think I’ll be buying nursing pillows for all future baby showers I am invited to.

Water Conservation Tips for Ranchers

Conserving water is really important in today’s world and conserving begins in the home. In some parts of the United States, saving water is really important, especially if you live in South Dakota on a ranch. You can save about 240 gallons a month if you tried hard enough. You can start saving water the easy way by first starting with the bathroom. Here are just a few tips to get you started:

* Don’t leave the faucet continuously running when you are brushing your teeth.

* Take showers instead of baths.

* Trade in your dishwasher and wash dishes by hand.

If you live on a ranch, then conserving water outside is just as important. If you have a garden, then watering after sunset will help to lessen evaporation. Check out a few weather-smart sprinklers.

 

**Did you know that a washer machine can hold up to 40 gallons of water for one load of clothes. Only use your washer machine to wash clothes when you have a full load. Using less hot water will also help you to conserve energy.

** Fix your toilets if they continuously run, this can use about 200 gallons of water when you have a leaky toilet.

 

energy star logo** When you shop for appliances you need to shop for Water Sense or Energy Star. These will help conserve energy and water.

 

** Build a rain garden where there is runoff from gutters. This is sustainability. The water s being used to water a garden naturally.

 

You can also join a water conservation program which offers useful resources on saving water. You can install low-flow shower heads.

Living on a ranch and conserving water can be really easy with a few helpful tips. You will also be making a great contribution to going green. With global warming progressing, it is important to conserve resources and water is definitely a valuable resource. Share these tips with your friends, family and neighbors and together you can make a difference. Each person who contributes to conserving water will make a difference. By using water wisely, you can save hundreds of gallons each week. Some places have irrigation restrictions due to water shortages.

** Ground water runoff can be used for irrigation when it rains. This water runoff can be used for watering gardens, building a rock garden or rain garden. You can make your Dakota ranch beautiful and at the same time you will be conserving water.

Check out the South Dakota Water Conservation website.