Fall season has arrived here at Pathfinder Ranch and many new exciting staff, programs, and animals have sailed in with the crisp Autumn air. With Summer behind us our new Naturalists are channeling their inner Dusky Wood Rat and scurrying to perfect lesson plans as we welcome our first students of the season.
This new school year has also allowed us to revamp old power point presentations as well as begin a new evening program. We have added Catapults to our evening programming that explores students’ creative side. Students will construct and test their own method of catapulting using just a few materials and basic physics concepts. The students will launch little piggy’s to test their catapulting devices (no animals are harmed in this activity).
Another program we have added to our rainy day activities that we are extremely excited about is Weather! What better time to explore weather patterns then during a rain day? The students will conduct and test different experiments to help better understand how weather works.
Pathfinder Ranch has been lucky enough to add two exquisite animal friends to our mammal family. Barkley, who is a Hanoverian Thoroughbred, is our newest member of the Equine family. Barkley is the only Warmblood horse in the herd who formerly competed in dressage and jumping!
Terwilliger is our newest member to the wonderful nature center. Terwilliger is a very cute, rambunctious, and furry Chinchilla. Speaking of furry, Terwilliger has 60 hairs per follicle! Chinchillas hail from the Andes Mountains in South America. We will be celebrating her first birthday in October!!
There is much to be excited about here at Pathfinder Ranch from our excited new Naturalists to the changing of seasons to the new and revamped programming. We are looking forward to all the schools attending our program this fall!
Peace and a warm fleece,
I am very pleased to introduce you to some of Pathfinder Ranch’s lovely animals, the chickens.
There are a wide variety of chicken breeds that all have unique traits and personalities, and these are able to fill different purposes such as food, pets, or novelty. Here at Pathfinder Ranch, we have a mix of all three.
Our Red Stars, Ameraucanas, Leghorns, and Wyandottes lay on average one egg every 26 hours (yum!). We also have our delightful Silkie chickens that make great pets and look amazing.
And of course, normally used for novelty, we have a magnificent Polish hen. Only at Pathfinder Ranch can you find our very own Beyoncé. As one can tell from the pictures of the glorious black and white hen with the crown of feathers on the top of her head, Beyoncé is one beautiful bird. Beyoncé had her name bestowed upon her due to a trial equal to her glamor.
One fateful day our then-nameless Polish hen was discovered with a mysterious leg injury that left her unable to walk. Now, any normal chicken would have been the next pot pie for dinner, but not this one! No! Instead, one of our staff members gave her just the chance she needed: a safe place to heal with food and water in pecking distance. Slowly but surely each day she could move a little more, and after a week she could prop herself up. Then, a fortnight after the fateful day of her injury, this hen was hopping around. And finally, after a month of recuperation, our polish hen could walk again. She was indeed a survivor. Needless to say, any animal, man, or beast, that is such a survivor and still has such great hair should be given a proper name. Thus Beyoncé earned her keep as well as her name.
Come be in awe and visit her soon!
What a week here at Pathfinder Ranch! The rain came down hard this week, but that didn’t stop us from having a blast! The kids threw on ponchos and loved playing games and even hiking in the rain. Our students got to spend some great one on one time with the horses including feeding, grooming, and saddling on their own! We also got to take advantage of our great Nature Center, where Gwar the ball python got lots of love from excited kids.
Although the rain makes it a little more difficult to get outside and play, we all breathed a sigh of relief knowing that we are finally getting some much needed rain here in California. The below average precipitation over the past decade has led to some serious situations such as drinking water shortages, salmon habitat destruction, farm shut downs, and increased prices for crops and livestock. A study on tree rings recently discovered that we are in the worst drought that California has experienced for 1200 years!
So, when we get a good rain storm like this, does that mean the drought is over?? Unfortunately not… Though our washes are full of rain water, and our trees are sucking up moisture for now, we must still remain aware of water conservation! Keep those showers short, and don’t forget to turn off the faucet while brushing your teeth. At home you can also save water by washing only full loads of laundry, not washing cars as often, watering plants early or later in the day, and using drip system irrigation for gardens and plants. Think of other ways you can help save water! Here at Pathfinder, our leftover drinking water from meals is used to mop the floor, we are limited to 3 minute showers, and all of our unused water from hikes goes to our garden and farm animals! There are lots of ways that you can continue helping out with water conservation at home and at school. And of course, it never hurts to do a little rain dance…
Time is flying by here at the Ranch; we can’t believe it is coming up on the end of our fall season! We are having such a great season, and since Thanksgiving is a few days away, we figure, why not look back at all we have to be thankful for!?
First, we are thankful for the rain that the Ranch got this past week! You know we will take any rain or snow we can get, but the fact that it came over night and didn’t force any of our classes inside was even better! Plus, who doesn’t like waking up to the fresh smell of rain and ribbonwood?
We are also thankful for the cool fall temperatures and the beautiful leaf colors all over the Ranch! One of the most beautiful views to see the changing leaves is on the horse trail. What an amazing sight!
We have had a few new additions to Betsy’s Farm! We now have three Silkie chickens and two Silkie roosters. They are loving their new life at the Ranch and are a great addition to our farm. The students love watching them and getting the chance to pet them while out at the farm!
Pathfinder is also thankful for our friends and supporters! In case you missed it, we had an amazing time at the Food Truck FriendRaiser on November 16th at The Living Desert! We saw so many old friends and made a lot of new ones, too, all while listening to great music, eating delicious food and enjoying The Living Desert exhibits!
Last, but certainly not least, we are thankful for all of the students, teachers, and chaperones that have been up here at the Ranch this season and all those who are still to come. We love sharing this gorgeous place with you and teaching more about the world we live in!
And what post about the Thanksgiving season would be complete without a recipe for you to share at your table this holiday season!? Hope you love pumpkin as much as our Naturalists!
Yield: 3 loaves (16 slices each).
As always, things have been busy here at Pathfinder Ranch.
Recently, Pathfinder Ranch hosted a semi-annual conference for the California Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education (www.AEOE.org or www.facebook.com/caeoe). We had educators coming from all over the southern half of the state. We spent time in the professional development workshops as well as learned some new campfire skits and songs. Several of our own staff presented some of these workshops.
Our Outdoor Education Director, Ryan, facilitated a discussion with other directors to talk about issues we face, and how to improve each of our programs.
Luna and Willow brought out the horses to show how we use them in our classes, and gave participants a taste of our ExCEEd (Equine Centered Experiential Education…team-building with horses) class. Imagine our team challenge programs with a horse as your teammate! There are pictures on our Facebook page of this class in action.
Canyon gave a tour of our nature center including meeting our animals, and discussed how we can make nature center experiences more engaging and meaningful for our students. Look forward to a few more displays and activities when you visit later in the school year!
We went to a workshop on solar energy where we built a solar powered wheelie robot similar to what you can build in our energy class. We also learned some things about solar energy that we will be sharing in our classes.
There was a good workshop on using poetry as a kinesthetic learning tool with some great tips on helping students be very creative while working within the limits of outdoor education.
We also had a great workshop on sustainability, parts of which will go nicely into our permaculture class involving farm animals, garden plants, and energy cycles. It was taught by the Green Camps Initiative (GCI- www.greencampsinitiative.org). The GCI Director shared a lot of fun and thought provoking activities that you will be seeing soon in some of our classes. Visit the website to see some great activities that you can implement back at school and at home. We learned that it takes 5,200 gallons of water to process the ingredients and produce one chocolate bar. Staggering!
We also went to workshops about inclusion, Common Core standards, astronomy, Ant-O-Lympics, citizen science projects, and team-building. We are excited to start using the new things we learned in our classes, and we hope you are excited to see them, too!
See you down the trail!
Hello there! Just like the recent weather changes from hail flurries one week to highs in the 70s the next, Pathfinder Ranch has also been constantly changing with new additions and improvements happening every day.
One of the additions that we are most excited about is our brand new climbing wall structure and zip line! The climbing wall structure has been getting lots of use from our school groups. The students love trying the new routes and obstacles on the different walls. There are now three sides that have been named after places here in California that our Naturalists like to hike and/or rock climb– Taquitz, Joshua Tree, and Yosemite.
Along with the climbing wall we have added two new zip lines! Although the zip lines are not ready for this spring’s school groups, we are planning on having them ready for Adventure Camp (June 23-28) this summer. Come and join us for six days of climbing, hiking, explorations, and other fun adventures. Don’t forget about our summer camp (spots are filling quickly so email or call our office for openings), and the fun we’ll be having with all of these amazing additions!
We also have a new living addition, Cleopatra (Albino Kingsnake), to our Nature Center. She is doing well adjusting to her new home. She is still very young and is getting used to all of the love the Naturalists are giving her. We can’t get enough of little Cleo!
We have our fingers crossed that turkey chicks will hatch and add to our flock at the farm! Our mama turkey, Jenny, is currently sitting on the eggs she laid. The eggs are slightly larger than chicken eggs, are brown in color and have dark brown specks. Stay tuned via Facebook and our blog to see if the eggs hatch into cute baby turkey chicks!
Hope spring finds all of you well and excited for summer!
See you down the trail,
Pathfinder Ranch Naturalists
Oh, the stories we hear working at the Ranch. Stewart, our Facilities Director (a.k.a. Do-Everything-Extraordinaire), told me about the story of Betsy’s Farm.
One of our wonderful donors, Deana Brix has a mother-in-law, Betsy, who is very prim and proper and doesn’t like to get dirty. Betsy’s Farm at Pathfinder Ranch is actually named after her. Their family joke was to name a place where kids can get their hands dirty after a family member who doesn’t like to get her hands dirty. And boy, do the kids like to get their hands dirty at the farm.
The last two weeks we have had students explore and learn about the farm and our animals. I think their favorite thing was to chase the chickens around. Usually our farm classes get to help feed and interact with the animals, particularly the pigs and goats. What a better way to learn more about where our food comes from than to give it a little scratch behind the ears!
New Farm Faces
A gracious member of our local Garner Valley community recently donated some new goats to Pathfinder Ranch. We’re always excited to add new faces to our farm, but these goats are a pretty unique addition. Both of our new goats are smaller in stature than what you’d imagine for a goat. We have a new pygmy goat and a Nigerian Dwarf goat, Miss Daisy Mae and Blue Jasmine.
Miss Daisy Mae is a Pygmy goat. Pygmy goats originated in the Cameroon Valley of West Africa. They were imported into the United States from European zoos in the 1950s for use in zoos as well as research animals. They were eventually acquired by private breeders and quickly gained popularity as pets and exhibition animals due to their good-natured personalities, friendliness and hardy constitution. (from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pygmy_goat)
Blue Jasmine is a Nigerian Dwarf goat. The Nigerian Dwarf goat is a miniature dairy goat breed of West African ancestry. Originally brought to the United States on ships as food for large cats such as lions, the survivors originally lived in zoos. Nigerian Dwarf goats are popular as hobby goats due to their easy maintenance and small stature. (from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nigerian_Dwarf_(goat))
Both of our new goats are female adults about 5 years old, and at full size. They are dairy goats, but we don’t plan on milking them, plus they no longer produce milk anyway. They have already taken a liking to the students that have had the chance to visit with them.
Tune in for our next blog update where we’ll tell you about some of the exciting things going on at our garden and new hydroponics plant bed!
Gravy the turkey joined the Pathfinder family last spring when she was hatched in the incubator. From those very first moments onward, Gravy (formerly thought to be a male) has been a favorite among naturalists and students alike. Why do so many people fall in love with Gravy? It probably has something to do with Gravy’s friendliness and her heart-warming tale of confusion and family.
After Gravy hatched, the mama turkey who laid Gravy’s egg had laid and successfully hatched other eggs; with these new poults around, the mama was sure to reject baby Gravy, so she couldn’t live in the same coop. The chickens in the other coop were too big for tiny Gravy to live with safely, so she couldn’t live there, either. She had nowhere to go on the farm. So, Gravy stayed in the Nature Center, where she was hand-raised by naturalists and met many loving students, but no other birds. Naturally, this led Gravy to believe that she, too, was in fact a human, albeit a small and fluffy one.
Gravy grew happily in the company of visiting humans for several months, until one day a new batch of baby chickens arrived at the farm. These chicks were just the right size for Gravy to live with, and she soon moved in with these news chickens. Gravy took to her new chicken family quickly, and soon seemed to decide that despite being significantly taller than her new family perhaps she was, in fact, a chicken, and not a human after all.
Throughout all of this, Gravy’s mother continued to raise her three other poults, all of which were most certainly turkeys. Eventually, all of the farm birds at Pathfinder were allowed out of their coops to free-range around campus. Gravy came into contact with other turkeys for the first time in her life! But, she did not recognize them as her own, and she continued to hang-out with and occasionally defend her adoptive chicken family.
Once in a while, Gravy seems to look longingly at the other turkeys or will follow them around a bit. Other times, she will look in the window of the staff house as if she wants to enter. These are only moments, though, and Gravy always returns to her true home – in the coop with her chicken family.
Things were busy here at the Ranch before our season ended in the middle of December! We’ve had a lot of schools visit us over this past fall (about 20 in total). Thank you to all of our fall schools. What a great season! We’ve enjoyed the holidays with family and friends, cooking delicious foods, and building fires to keep us warm on cold nights. Even some of the animals at the Ranch have had the holiday spirit. Take a look!
When they aren’t playing with the animals and teaching classes, the Naturalists at the Ranch have been hard at work this season designing new programs that can fit into our classes! One of the newest additions is an indoor planetarium that will soon be used during our Astronomy evening program! Sometimes the weather doesn’t cooperate the way we wish it would, so on rainy or cloudy nights we can potentially use this to help students see constellations and stars in our night sky!
Once inside we can project pictures of different constellations, stars and planets that we talk about during astronomy!
If you’re interested in building one of your own or seeing how it works, here is the website: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/education/videos/playVideo.cfm?videoID=28
Hope everyone is enjoying this beautiful time of year! Besides the current week of oddly warm temperatures, it has definitely gotten colder and colder here. So, why not warm up with this delicious hot chocolate recipe?!
Slow Cooker Deluxe Hot Chocolate
4 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 (6-oz.) pkg. (1 cup) semisweet chocolate chips
1 (14-oz.) can sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated)
2 quarts (8 cups) milk
1 tablespoon vanilla
Miniature semisweet chocolate chips
Peppermint candy sticks
Assorted liqueurs and flavored syrups
Chocolate cookie crumbs
Happy Holidays and See You Down the Trail,
Pathfinder Ranch Outdoor Education Staff
“When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light, for your life, for your strength. Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living.” -Tecumseh
Here at Pathfinder ranch everyone is embracing the season of being thankful! The Naturalists are extremely grateful to work with amazing students in such a beautiful place. The Jeffrey pines are smelling as sweet as ever, the the weather has been perfect for our hikes, and the night sky is lit up with constellations like Orion! The Naturalists aren’t the only lucky ones up here on the mountain. Gwar, our ball python is thankful for his heat lamp that keeps him warm during those chilly nights. Our chickens, turkeys, and garden plants are thankful for our compost. The poultry love pecking at the fruits, and the remaining compost turns into nutrient rich soil for our garden!
There are so many things to be thankful for like our families, our friends, and our schools. Many of our students are grateful for nature and what it provides for us. It’s great to be aware and thankful for what we have and it’s even better to give back and take care of the things we are thankful for!
“We need to take care of nature because nature takes care of us!”- Pathfinder Student
How have you shown your appreciation for the things you are thankful for? How will you show your thanks in the future? If you’re thankful for the food you have, try volunteering at your local soup kitchen with a parent, or plant a garden in your backyard. If you’re thankful for your planet, try picking up the trash you see (like Dash 4 Trash) or recycle your old soda cans. If you’re thankful for your friends and family, try doing something nice for them or writing them a kind note!
The Pathfinder Naturalists challenge you to create a change and show your appreciation for the things you have so that others may have a reason to be thankful, too!
Be grateful for what you have and spread thanks wherever you go!
-The very thankful Pathfinder Naturalists