As yet another season comes to an end here at Pathfinder Ranch we take a moment to reflect back on this fall’s accomplishments. By the end of this week we will have seen almost 2,400 students. We started the season with sunshine and some thunderstorms, and will be ending with rain and cold. Through it all staff and students alike have kept positive and enthusiastic attitudes.
We were lucky enough to make it through this busy fall with minimal illness for Ranch residents including our horses, farm and nature center animals. Unfortunately, some of our free range chickens were taken away by local coyotes, but we’re hopeful for new Silkie chicks in the next few weeks! Hopefully our January and February schools will get a chance to see newly hatched chicks!
One of our most exciting additions to the Ranch is the High Tunnel. It is currently home to many seeds and starter plants that will weather the winter inside, and give us a head start on next spring’s garden plans. It has also proven an excellent shelter from the much needed rain showers over the past few weeks.
Overall this season has been full of improvements, growth and excitement. Here’s looking forward to an equally amazing spring!
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…
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
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
Every Friday when we meet for our staff meeting we start out by sharing our thorns*, roses, and buds. The thorns are our rough points from the previous days. Our roses tell about the highlights and moments where we laughed. We save the buds for last. The buds tell about what we’re looking forward to down the road.
One of my buds recently has been the arrival of the wet season. The idea of me being excited about rainy and snowy weather would likely raise an eyebrow or two among the other outdoor education staff here at the ranch. After all, I’m usually one of the first to opt out of any scenario where I might end up cold and wet. Still, it’s a bud nonetheless.
Why? It’s because the precipitation now and in the coming months will ensure that there will be life throughout the valley and mountains later in the year. Without the rains we would miss our Desert Sand Verbenas, Goldfields, and Miner’s Lettuce. Should the snows pass us by the frogs and toads would have no vernal springs for their tadpoles. I’m also pretty sure Dandelion and Dragonfly would be really disappointed if they didn’t get to go sledding at least once this winter.
In the past couple of weeks we’ve run the gamut of weather at the ranch. We’ve hiked in t-shirts in the sunshine, woken up to a fresh blanket of snow over the ground, seen ice on the lake, and endured three-day stretch of gloom and drizzle. As cold as it’s been at times there has even been a sighting or two of lizards. Lizards! In January! The grass is starting to peek through the sand down in the wash, too. Winter can be so weird here. I like it! What’s your favorite season of the year?
OTR (On The Road): If you’re looking for someplace to go enjoy the wet season I’d recommend checking out Tahquitz Canyon down in Palm Springs. We visited there recently to learn more about the cultural history of the area and about the local plants. It’s a great place to learn about the Cahuilla even if it’s your first encounter with their culture and traditions. The 2-mile roundtrip hike up to the huge waterfall at the end of the canyon trail will make the trip totally worthwhile! Be aware that there is an entrance fee that goes toward taking care of the canyon and sustaining the Agua Caliente band of the Cahuilla.
That’s all for now from the ranch. I hope you are enjoying the weather wherever you are!
Your favorite naturalist ever,
“All seasons have something to offer.” – Jeannette Walls
* Did you know roses don’t actually have thorns? They have prickles instead. Thorns are really modified branches or stems; prickles are a bit like nature’s equivalent of having spiked hair.