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Monthly Archives: April 2013

Take a Tour of the Tractor

We’d love to have you come out to the farm sometime and take a ride in the tractor.  Especially now that spring planting is finally underway!  You could watch the monitors, observe the planter action, and bump over the terraces with us, if only you could make it out our way.  But if you can’t, don’t worry, because today I’m inviting you to take a tour of the tractor without ever leaving your computer!

Take a virtual tour of a modern tractor!  {DaddysTractor.com}

As you climb up the stairs one of the first things you’ll notice is the handle on the bottom of the door.  It may seem odd, but you couldn’t reach it if it were placed in the middle like a car door!

Take a virtual tour of a modern tractor!  {DaddysTractor.com}

The next thing you’ll notice is the pedals.  Why?  Because they will be eye level as you climb!

Take a virtual tour of a modern tractor!  {DaddysTractor.com}

The one on the left is the clutch, the one on the right is the brake.  The little one in the middle adjusts the steering wheel.  The yellow is a decelerator pedal.  You may notice there is no gas pedal.  Instead the tractor moves forward by using the clutch, throttle and the orange forward/reverse lever here behind the steering wheel.  Kinda crazy, huh?

Take a virtual tour of a modern tractor!  {DaddysTractor.com}

And since we’re now sitting here in the driver’s seat, take a look to the right.

Take a virtual tour of a modern tractor!  {DaddysTractor.com}

Here you see screens, monitors, control panels, ipad, and smart phone all working together to gather data about what’s happening in the field.  Pretty cool!  Find out more about our modern tractor technology in this previous post.

Actually, this side of the tractor has so many buttons and knobs they even store some under the arm rest!

Take a virtual tour of a modern tractor!  {DaddysTractor.com}

Above you are the climate controls and stereo.

Take a virtual tour of a modern tractor!  {DaddysTractor.com}

To the left you can enjoy the convenience of cup holders, or…. the buddy seat!  Loved by farm families world-wide, this fold down table pops up to hold a child.  Or two.  Or three!

Take a virtual tour of a modern tractor!  {DaddysTractor.com}

And behind you is the back window, complete with a pull-down sun shade.

Take a virtual tour of a modern tractor!  {DaddysTractor.com}

And if you’d care to climb back down, I’ll show you the outside!

Take a virtual tour of a modern tractor!  {DaddysTractor.com}

Behind the tractor lots of cables and wires attach from the planter.

This pic show how the planter hooks up to the tractor with a three-point hitch.

Take a virtual tour of a modern tractor!  {DaddysTractor.com}

Take a virtual tour of a modern tractor!  {DaddysTractor.com}

Take a look under the hood, but first you’ll have to climb up the steps, maybe even climb up a tire!

Take a virtual tour of a modern tractor!  {DaddysTractor.com}

Case used the space under the step to store a toolbox.  Having all the tools you need to fix break downs right in the field is critical since timing is so important to spring planting.

Take a virtual tour of a modern tractor!  {DaddysTractor.com}

Just a peek under the hood– there is so much stuff under there it would take a whole other post to tell you about it!  Hmmm, actually that sounds like an idea!  Would you like to stop by again soon?

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Categories: Technology | Tags: , , , , | 9 Comments

Insect Thematic Unit

A few weeks ago I shared a lap book activity we did as part of our Insect Thematic Unit.  Since the creepy crawly bugs were a big hit at our house and the activity was at least noticed online 😉 I thought I’d post the whole thing.

Insect thematic unit—activities and printables {DaddysTractor.com}

We started by learning what makes a bug– three body parts, six legs, antenna.  And since no theme unit in our home is complete without making something out of play dough, we went ahead and got that part over with had lots of fun making bugs!

Insect thematic unit—activities and printables {DaddysTractor.com}

Our Insect unit was full of science, so it was nice to add some dramatic play for social studies.  The kiddos acted out a butterfly life cycle, starting as a bunched-up ball to represent the egg, then crawling on the floor like caterpillars, hanging upside down and being a chrysalis, and finally emerging and being butterflies.

Insect thematic unit—activities and printables {DaddysTractor.com}

After emerging and allowing our wings to dry, butterflies of course, must find food!  So we had a drink of flower nectar with our long, straw-like tounges!

Insect thematic unit—activities and printables {DaddysTractor.com}

(That’s lemonade in cups with a construction paper flower laid over the top.  I made holes in the middle of the flowers and gave them our smoothie straws for sipping!)

Insect thematic unit—activities and printables {DaddysTractor.com}

And because all lessons are learned better with food, we also learned how bees, butterflies and other insects pollinate flowers.  First the kids cut and glued petals to the outside of a brown paper lunch bag.  Then I filled them with (a small serving of baked) Cheetos.  They ate the snack and wiped their fingers on the front of the bags as if it were pollen– what’s not to love?!

Insect thematic unit—activities and printables {DaddysTractor.com}

For art we painted a paper plate red, allowed it to dry, then cut it up the middle and attached the two pieces together with a brad.  Then they both glued a head and dots to their ladybug.  Naturally Brett added a face like the grouchy ladybug in the book.  While Anna worked on her gluing technique, Brett wrote down different ways to represent the dots on his ladybug.  He wrote a six first, then made an addition problem by adding the dots from each side of the body (3+3=6), then wrote a fraction showing how many of the bugs were on the left wing (3/6).

We added a few more things to our lap book.  There was the Grouchy Ladybug clock activity from the first post.Insect thematic unit—activities and printables {DaddysTractor.com}

Grouchy Ladybug 1   Grouchy Ladybug cards 1   Grouchy Ladybug cards 2

And then we had fun with a life cycle circle with Velcro pieces that can be put together over and over and over again!

Life cycle 1   Life cycle circle

Insect thematic unit—activities and printables {DaddysTractor.com}

We collected pictures from magazines and printed some from online and then sorted insects from non-insects.  Watch the pictures you choose, cutesy ladybugs don’t always have six legs or three body parts!  We taped these Bug Sorting pockets into our lap book and used them for storing our pieces.

Brett was interested (for a few minutes anyway) in watching YouTube videos of bees “dance” to show the other bees where the flowers are.  He had more fun gluing his own dancing bees into patterns on the back of his lap book.

Insect thematic unit—activities and printables {DaddysTractor.com}

And the Body Part activity on the top half of the folder was a funny way to teach “head,” “thorax,” and “abdomen.”  Making sure each body part touched the edges of the paper we took turns drawing insects.  Then we lifted the flaps to create funny, mix-matched bugs!  Anna wasn’t much help drawing, but she laughed uproariously each time we made a silly creature!

Naturally, books are the most important part of any unit!  Our library had lots of non-fiction books about butterflies, bees, ladybugs etc., for all reading levels and but our favorites were The Very Hungry Caterpillar and The Grouchy Ladybug, both by Eric Carle and several Magic School Bus books.  Oh!  Try Nexflixing Sid the Science Kid Bug Club too.  Enjoy!

Categories: Homeschool, Thematic Unit | Tags: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Getting Ready for Spring Planting

This shows farmers getting equipment ready for spring planting—so cool!  {DaddysTractor.com}

The sun seems a bit shy this year, but despite the cold, Daddy is getting ready for spring planting! Today’s task is getting the planter ready. The planter is one of the most important pieces of equipment on our farm because it puts the seeds into the soil.  Without that, there is nothing to farm!  Getting each seed at the right depth with soil pushed in on all sides is a big goal, but Daddy keeps working to make that happen.  After purchasing the planter we have now, Daddy took off many of the parts it came with and replaced them with parts from a company called Precision Planting.  And each spring he checks each part, replaces broken pieces, oils, cleans and otherwise repairs the planter.

This shows farmers getting equipment ready for spring planting—so cool!  {DaddysTractor.com}

Here you see Daddy using a tourch to remove a bolt that was stripped.

This shows farmers getting equipment ready for spring planting—so cool!  {DaddysTractor.com}

This is the part he was working on.  These are 16 of these on the planter and each one must be in perfect working order!

This shows farmers getting equipment ready for spring planting—so cool!  {DaddysTractor.com}

To adjust the row openers Daddy crawls in under the planter.  All is well and good until he needs a tool and has to crawl back out to get it!

This shows farmers getting equipment ready for spring planting—so cool!  {DaddysTractor.com}

Brett, Anna, and the farm dog Ben are great help to our hired man, Cory.

This shows farmers getting equipment ready for spring planting—so cool!  {DaddysTractor.com}

But Cory gets the job done anyhow!

This shows farmers getting equipment ready for spring planting—so cool!  {DaddysTractor.com}

The planter isn’t the only piece of equipment that must be prepared for spring.  In this photo you see a line-up of the tractors and the equipment they run that are ready for the sun to start shining!

This shows farmers getting equipment ready for spring planting—so cool!  {DaddysTractor.com}

The green and yellow thing on the end may look like the planter, but actually its a drill.  A drill does the same job as a planter- it puts seeds into the ground- but it does it a different way.  We use the drill to plant seeds that aren’t as picky about perfection, like wheat.  Some of our soybeans are planted with the drill too.  There simply aren’t enough hours in the day to plant everything with the planter.

What about you?  Are you as ready for spring as I am?!

Categories: Technology | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Farm to Table– Where Your Food Comes From

How many of us really know where our food comes from?  Sure, it grows on the farm.  Sure, you may go to the farmer’s market and purchase your veggies or visit a U-Pick to get the whole apple orchard experience.  But there is so much more to food than even farmer’s think about each time they sit down to the table!

Sure, farmers planted seeds, but where did the seeds come from?  Yes, farmers grew the wheat, but who baked that bread?

So here’s a look at a small piece of the big food picture; these are pictures of what we do with the corn after it has been harvested.

Hauling Grain (15)

Daddy drives the semi and trailer to the grain elevator. This elevator, part of a company called Ingredion, is in Kansas City. Ingredion is a smaller elevator than others, but it has some neat technology others don’t. The huge, concrete cylinders store grain. Imagine how much grain they can hold and then remember this elevator is small!

Hauling Grain (27)

Depending on the day, Daddy and Anna must wait in line for their turn to unload. Some days they wait for several hours.

Hauling Grain (63)

This is a scanning system. Our truck has a card on the dashboard with all our farm’s information. As you drive across this computer scans the card so the elevator knows who the grain is coming from.

Hauling Grain (37)

These trucks are waiting in line just in front of the probe. This machine takes samples of the grain to be tested for moisture, foreign material, to see if it is the correct kind of corn (waxy), and for a fungus called aflatoxin.

Hauling Grain (42)

This shows the probe sampling our corn.

Hauling Grain (49)

The machine will take samples from a couple of places in the trailer, often once in the front and once in the back.

Hauling Grain (71)

Then its into the office to await the results of the tests.

Inside the office Brett watches an employee test for foreign matter.

Inside the office Brett watches an employee test for foreign matter.

Here they check for alfatoxin.

Here they check for alfatoxin.

This screen displays information about the automated grain leg system.  The grain leg moves the corn from the shed where farmers unload to the concrete silos, which you'll see soon in another photo!

This screen displays information about the automated grain leg system. The grain leg moves the corn from the shed where farmers unload to the concrete silos, which you’ll see soon in another photo!

And now the appropriate thing to do would be to play in the semi truck while waiting yet again for your turn to unload.

And now the appropriate thing to do would be to play in the semi truck while waiting yet again for your turn to unload.

If test results are fine the next stop is this green shed.  Grain is unloaded from the bottom of the trailer and goes under the floor.  Then the yellow grain leg, using a belt and buckets, hauls the corn up and over to the storage silos.

If test results are fine the next stop is this green shed. Grain is unloaded from the bottom of the trailer and goes under the floor. Then the yellow grain leg, using a belt and buckets, hauls the corn up and over to the storage silos.

Daddy cranks open the hoppers on the bottom of the trailer and corn flows out!  This, I might add, is about the best part and the whole reason to sit for hours in a semi truck!

Daddy cranks open the hoppers on the bottom of the trailer and corn flows out! This, I might add, is about the best part and the whole reason to sit for hours in a semi truck!

Here Brett sweeps up each and every kernel, making sure it falls into the grate.  You might also see that the truck is parked on a plate of metal.  This is the scale which weighs the truck before unloading and after.  The difference is the amount of corn the elevator will pay him for.

Here Brett sweeps up each and every kernel, making sure it falls into the grate. You might also see that the truck is parked on a plate of metal. This is the scale which weighs the truck before unloading and after. The difference is the amount of corn the elevator will pay Daddy for.

And this is the last of the corn, trickling out of the hopper bottom.  All that is left of the trip is to close the doors and grab a ticket from the scale house telling us how much the truck weighed.  And then its back to the farm to pick up another load and do it all over again!

And this is the last of the corn, trickling out of the hopper bottom. All that is left of the trip is to close the doors and grab a ticket from the scale house telling us how much the truck weighed. And then its back to the farm to pick up another load and do it all over again!

Categories: Technology | Tags: , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Grouchy Ladybug Insect Activity or Lapbook

The Grouchy Ladybug lapbook or center activity {DaddysTractor.com}

If I ask you what bugs eat you might say “leaves!”  In which case you would be partly right.  Many bugs eat leaves; tree leaves, soybean leaves, corn plant leaves.  These types of bugs can be a problem at times.  There are other bugs, however, that can be a farmer’s best friend.  One of these is the ladybug, which is why we had to include “The Grouchy Ladybug” by Eric Carle in our recent insect lessons!

The Grouch Ladybug lapbook or center activities {DaddysTractor.com}

Eric Carle dedicates the book with an explanation of how ladybugs eat aphids, a rather destructive little critter.

So in honor of ladybugs, here is a free Grouchy Ladybug Insect Activity that works great as a center in your classroom or in a lapbook like we did for homeschool.

Grouchy Ladybug lapbook or center activity

The Grouchy Ladybug activity for centers or lapbook

Grouchy Ladybug 1

Grouchy Ladybug cards 1

Grouchy Ladybug cards 2

{Update!  To see an entire lesson plan for insects, click here!}

Insect thematic unit—activities and printables {DaddysTractor.com}

Categories: Homeschool, Thematic Unit | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Easter on Grandma’s Farm

Easter on the FarmEaster at Grandma's Farm Easter 13 (181) Easter 13 (184)Easter at Grandma's Farm

My children and their cousins are the fifth generation to hunt eggs on my Grandma’s farm.  A couple hundred eggs, scattered over several acres.  Its a great time.

But the city of Blue Springs is crowding it on one side, the city of Grain Valley on the other.

Easter at Grandma's Farm

I wonder if this family farm will be here for my grandchildren?

Categories: Family | Tags: | Leave a comment

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