Thursday, June 24, 2010

Meet Angus

So, it's time to introduce the snakes. I'll start with the baby of the bunch, Angus Buchan. He is a Kenyan Sand Boa, native to ... Kenya! I named him after an evangelist in Africa, Angus Buchan, who is doing wonderful work there with orphans!
My Angus, is a male sand boa, who will grow to a whopping 15"-22" (15-22 inches) long. He will get chunky, but will be a relatively small snake.
Kenyan Sand Boas are non-venomous constrictors. Yes, they can bite, but any animal with a mouth can and will bite.
They are basically the equivalent of our grass and garden snakes. They live predominantly in dessert type areas, but can also live in grassy areas. Their heads are shaped differently - their snout is slanted slightly downward, somewhat like a spade, enabling him to dig into the loose ground. You can feel this difference when he crawls on your hand - he presses downward to try to hide in the sand. He can be frequently spotted under the sand with only part of his head exposed, laying in wait for prey.
His scales are also very different from other snakes. They are smaller,more circular, with a slight indentation. This helps him to burrow quickly in sand to hide from predators, or prey. His coloring is same as giraffes - a yellowish orange with dark brown-black spots and a cream colored belly. However, he lacks the "shiny" look of many snakes, due to his scales.
Currently, he is "in the blue" meaning he is turning a gray color and eyes will have a blue tint. He will shed within a week to 10 days, under his water bowl. Once he sheds, his skin will look much brighter!
Snakes shed frequently when growing, as their skin does not grow with them. Once they are adults, they shed when injured, if they grow, and just to rid themselves of old, skin.
Angus eats thawed frozen feeders, 2 pinkies per week. He is a predator and thinks he has to hunt for food. I feed him with feeding tongs, making his food "run around" so he can attack it. Once he attacks, he sometimes constricts around the food, as he would do in the wild.
He is our slowest eater and our smallest snake. He is a favorite of small children, as he is so small, himself. Also a favorite of those who fear snakes. He looks like a snake, but is smaller, not as scary! (he's actually quite adorable!)
Angus lives in a 10 gallon aquarium that has sand and ground walnut shells for substrate. His habitat also has a large boulder (with a hideaway), a toy giraffe and a toy 4 wheeler. It is decorated in what I see Africa as. (I had wanted a lion deco to sit on the edge of the boulder Lion King style, but haven't found one I like)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Our new project

David, Kevin, Kaitlyn, and Hailey all love animals. They have all been homeschooled from the start. They all learn through reading and hands-on activities. If you ask any of them what their favorite class is, they will say the field trips/hands-on activities. We can cover parts of speech at the zoo!

So, how does a single income family accomplish paying school taxes, purchasing a variety of curriculum, and field trips and outings? Well, it's not always easy. One way we wish to add more science classes and camps, is through a fundraiser.

Now, since we aren't typical homeschoolers, a typical fundraiser just would not do. And, it has to be something to learn from. When you stop learning, you stop living.
Our fundraiser is a class, AND.... well, sort of unconventional. We have purchased several corn snakes for breeding, selecting them by color, to sell hatchlings this summer.

This blog section will be devoted to some of the curriculum I'm writing up for them, pictures of the snakes (hopefully video of laying eggs or eggs hatching) and a record of the Corn Snake Project.

I can hear the "EWWWWW" crowd already. Here is some snake myths we have debunked so far. (wow, feel so X-files right now)

1. Snakes are misunderstood. They are not mean, horrible creatures waiting to attack you. Think about it, if something big comes at you, you will protect yourself. Well, that's all snakes do when they strike. They are protecting themselves. Except for the venomous ones, most are pretty docile, and learn to be handled with little effort.

2.Snakes are slimy. Snakes have scales, different types. Our corn snakes, found here in North America, have very smooth scales. Some vipers, such as the Gaboon Viper, appear velvety, but have almost prickly scales. Our Kenyan Sand Boa, has a rougher scale, allowing him to easily burrow in sand. If you see a very shiny snake, he has probably just shed. A snake "in the blue" will have blueish eyes and look rather dull and gray. This guy is about to shed. His vision is obscured, and he may strike as a defense, as he is partially blind and vulnerable.

3. Snakes are dangerous. Venomous snakes can be dangerous. Exotic snakes, growing to excessive lengths, can be dangerous. Your iron can be dangerous. You must carefully research ANY pet you are getting and plan for its growth. IF you cannot keep up with licenses, and provide a proper habitat, then yes, exotic snakes can be a dangerous pet for you. We have opted for smaller snakes that pose no dangers. Corn Snakes grow, in captivity, 3-5' in length. Our Kenyan Sand Boa may reach 15". (yep, that's right 15 inches!!) Remember, you car can be dangerous. Your kitchen knives can be dangerous. You must care for your possessions, including pets.

4. Snakes eat live animals and that is gross!
Ok, snakes eat mice, rats and other "varmits" in the wild. However, it is not recommended you feed captive snakes live mice. Mice, being the prey, will fight back, and can injure your snake. It is much easier to purchase frozen feeders (little bags of frozen mice or rats), thaw them and feed your snake using tongs. Our Corn Snakes are COLUBRIDS : any of a large cosmopolitan family (Colubridae) of chiefly nonvenomous snakes. They are constrictors, meaning constrict their food. Much to our joy, some of our snakes will even go through the motions of constricting the thawed feeders! Especially the Sand Boa!

5. Snakes carry salmonella. ALL reptiles and amphibians CAN carry salmonella. Usually, reptiles and amphibians in captivity will not carry salmonella, as long as their habitats are properly cleaned. Those in the wild are a bit more questionable. If you are going to handle any reptiles or amphibians, it is wise to wash your hands BEFORE and AFTER handling them. (Note: frogs breathe through their skin, take caution using any products and handling frogs - you may accidentally poison them.)

6. Snakes aren't good pets. Snakes are great pets, especially for someone wanting an easy pet. They are fed once a week max. (unless you have new hatchlings or are preparing to breed). You clean poo from their cage once a week. Check or change their water daily. If you have set up a decorated habitat, the rest of the time, you can just enjoy watching them.

We, me or the one of the kids, will update this page as our snake project continues. We will add pictures of the snakes, links to videos of snakes how we built our incubators and habitats. Once we have the hatchlings, we will include information on how to purchase one.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Taco Soup

Here is my version of taco soup.

1 lb ground beef
1 onion diced
1 cup salsa
1 can diced tomatoes & green chilies
1 clove minced garlic
1 pk taco seasoning (or mix your own and add)
1 pk ranch dressing mix
2 cans black beans, drained
2 cups frozen corn (or drained canned corn)
1 TBS beef bouillon
Water – as preferred
Pepper to taste
Grated cheddar cheese (garnish)
Tortilla chips (garnish)
Optionals: (you can sub another bean if you prefer)
Celery chopped (cook with onion & beef) green onion (topping)

Brown ground beef with onion, add garlic when beef is almost fully browned. Drain. In large pot, add beef mixture, and all ingredients. Add water to preference (I add less water, as we prefer less broth). Bring to boil and let simmer for about 30 minutes. Serve with chips and grated cheese.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Spicy Chicken Tortilla Soup

4 lbs chicken (whole fryers, leg qtrs)
1 onion
2 cloves minced garlic
2 cans black beans
2 cups corn
Chicken bouillon
2 cups salsa
Salt to taste
½ tsp pepper
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp cumin
Tortilla chips
Shredded cheddar cheese

Boil and debone chicken, reserve broth. Skim fat from broth. Add bouillon and salsa. You may need to add more water. Drain beans and add all to pot except chips and cheese. Bring to boil, simmer 20 minutes.
Serve over broken tortilla chips – top with more broken chips and cheese.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Oatmeal Muffins

I've come up with my own version of a few recipes for oatmeal muffins.

1 cup old-fashioned oats, uncooked
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 large egg, slightly beaten
1/4 cup applesauce
1 teaspoon flavored extract
1 cup raisins, diced apples, blueberries, etc.

Mix oats, flour, brown sugar, baking powder and nutmeg in a large mixing bowl well. Add buttermilk, egg, oil and extract into oats; stir just to moisten ingredients. Add fruit.
Use cup cake papers or spray muffin pan with nonstick spray. Fill muffin cups to almost full, as there is not much rising with this recipe.
Bake 20 – 25 minutes, or until golden brown.
Makes 12 muffins.

My easy meat loaf

Easy Meatloaf

2 lbs ground beef
1 family size can cream mushroom (or other flavor)
1 box instant stuffing mix
2 eggs
OVEN: 425
Mix beef, stuffing, eggs, and ½ soup well. Shape loaf and place into foil lined meat loaf pan. Bake 30 minutes. Remove from oven and top with remaining soup and bake another 25-30 minutes.

You can substitute 2 cups salsa – 1 in mix 1 for “gravy” for a different flavor.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Baked Chicken Spaghetti

This recipe made dinner for 6, with leftovers for another complete meal! (woo-hoo - a night off!!)

Spaghetti pasta (I measure by full handful - use 1 handfull)
1/2 lb bacon
small onion diced(I prefer yellow)
1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 cup salsa (can use rotel if you prefer spicy)
Family size can Cream Mushroom soup
1 cup milk
1 lb velveeta cut in cubes
3-4 lbs cooked chicken, deboned and pieced
Parmesan cheese (fresh grated, not canned)

Break spaghetti noodles and cook. Drain. In large saucepan, cook bacon and onion until onion translucent and bacon is done to your preference. Add flour mix well. Add salsa, soup and milk. When thick and creamy, add cheese cubes and stir until cheese melted. Add chicken and spaghetti. Mix well.
Pour into casserole dish, sprinkle with parmesan cheese and bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes.
I may add green onions next time I make this.