Life on the Farm + BIBPC

I thought I’d do a little post about what’s been going on around the farm lately. Heh heh, it kind of turned out to be a big post, but anyway…

The main thing that Dad has been doing is harvesting corn. Some of the corn grew almost 15 feet tall this year! That’s really tall, even for corn.

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Ahh, so peaceful.
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Dad uses a GPS system to plant his corn in nice straight rows.

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The corn harvester (or chopper, as we call it) is on the left.

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For Nature Study this week we learned about corn. Even though I already knew a lot about how it looked, it was neat to learn the reasons behind corn’s appearance. Here are a few fun facts:

  • If you break a corncob in half, supposedly there will always be an even number of kernels around the circumference!
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    Corn stalks look kind of like bamboo, with little “joints” at intervals. These joints are called “nodes” and they help strengthen the stalk while still keeping it elastic enough to survive strong winds.

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    Corn has the parts of a flower, even though you can’t see any pretty blossoms. The tassels are the stamen, and the silk is actually the pistil. Pollen falls from the tassels through the silk (yes, each piece of silk is actually a tiny tube!) to pollinate the seeds (corn kernels).

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    There is one piece of silk for each kernel! If a corncob isn’t fully filled out, it’s because the kernel wasn’t pollinated correctly.

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    When it’s really dry, the leaves of the corn roll up to preserve moisture.

Here are the two corn pages in my nature notebook:

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Wow. How amazing is the attention to detail God has shown in this seemingly simple plant?!

So there’s your mini nature study for today. 😉

Now for BIBPC. This is the poster I made to get extra points. 😉

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And this is my entry! The category was “Shiny.”

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Story Behind the Photo: I took this picture of Violet, a barn cat, several months ago. She has super pretty green eyes! They’re also shiny (well, obviously), so you can see the reflection of me and my siblings on the other side of the wire.

These are some edits I made just for fun:

The original picture edited:

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The cropped picture edited:

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I LOVE THIS PICTURE!

 

 

I enjoyed BIBPC, Megan! Thanks for hosting it. 🙂

My my, this was quite a long post. XD Thanks for reading!

Did you learn anything new about corn or how we harvest it? Do you do Nature Study in your school/homeschool?

***Allison***

P. S. I’m sure you all know that today is the fifteenth anniversary of 9/11/01. Please take time to remember the heroes of that terrible day and to pray for those who lost loved ones . ♥♥♥

Moon Photography (+ BIBPC)

Greetings and salutations, my friends! XD

I recently got some really neat photos of the moon that I thought I’d share. I love moon photography, but it can hard to get a moon instead of just getting a picture of a white blob in the sky. :/ This time it worked out pretty well, though!

I had fun making the moon look like a marble on a marble track… (aka a barn roof)

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Or a bead on a necklace (the moon behind a power line). 😀 Have you ever done this kind of moon photography? It’s really fun!

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And of course, I took plenty of “normal” pictures of the moon.

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This is probably the best moon photo I’ve gotten so far! 😀 You can even see little craters and details!

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I got this next, rather strange photo by using a higher exposure (more on that in just a minute). The lighting is really weird! It looks kind of like a mini moon-set. XD

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I figured out that it really helps to capture detail on the moon if you set your camera to a lower exposure.Here’s a little chart of how exposure affected my pictures:

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Kind of neat, huh?

Lower exposure is helpful for a lot of things – from making roses redder to fixing bright photo conditions. I’m sure some of you already knew this, but it was helpful for me, so I thought I’d share it! 😀

Do you have any tips for moon photography? Isn’t the moon such a beautiful thing? 🙂

And now for my BIBPC entry. The category this time was “Weeds.”

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Story Behind the Photo: I took this picture several months ago in spring (I love spring!). This is a picture of speedwell – that little weed with blue flowers that grows everywhere. The tiny flowers are so cute and pretty to me! When I was little, I used to collect a bunch of blossoms and float them in a blue bowl full of water. 🙂 It was actually really pretty.

Before I leave, I’ll give you a little sneak peek of future posts: I’m hoping to write the second chapter of Beauty from Ashes and do a post about my fair entries soon! 😀

Bye for now!

***Allison***

Beauty from Ashes, Part 1 (+BIBPC)

Hello, hello! How are you lovely people doing? (Isn’t that sort of a rhetorical question though?)

I have some writing and photos for you today.

First up, Beauty from Ashes. Beauty from Ashes is a short story I’m working on. It’s basically a medley of Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast, ’cause you’re never too old for fairy tales, right?

I’m still looking for a picture that fits my idea of Cinderella. :/ Hopefully next time I’ll have it.

Enjoy the first part!

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Beauty from Ashes

Part 1.

“Cinderella!” a whiny voice rang out from upstairs, “Come up here at once!”

I sighed. It was all I could do not to run out the door; not to run, run, run, and never come back. I would never have to answer to my stepsisters again. But I wouldn’t survive and I knew it. Even though my life was miserable here, at least I had a life, if you could call it that. I heaved my tired body up the winding staircase. With every step, the arguing voices grew louder.

“I said I wanted roses first!”

“Did not! You stole my idea!”

“Oh no I didn’t. You just won’t give me credit for anything, Anastasia!”

“That’s because you never have any good ideas! I’m going to have roses, whether you want me to or not. So there!”

“Motherrr!”

I could hear Lady Tremaine shushing her daughters. “Now girls. If you are ever to impress the Prince, you absolutely must control your tempers. Anastasia, you will have red roses, and Druscilla, you will have white ones. Listen to Mother, dears. Don’t be like that nasty Cinderella who never obeys anyone.” Lady Tremaine directed this last remark at me as I entered the room. Anastasia and Druscilla instantly forgot their enmity in their mutual delight at my poor, embarrassed face.

Lady Tremaine didn’t lose a beat. “Cinderella, go fetch twenty red roses and twenty white roses for your sisters. If they are to have dried flower crowns for the ball, we must start preparing them now. Go, child! Don’t just stand there looking stupid! Away with you!”

The girls snickered and turned back to their preparations. Oh how I wished I could join them! As the date of the Prince’s ball drew ever nearer, our household was in an uproar over the various preparations necessary to present Anastasia and Druscilla at their finest (which wasn’t saying much). But though I had begged and pleaded, Lady Tremaine refused to let me go to the ball. It was an unnecessary expense, she said. But the King had ordered all eligible maidens to come, I protested. She only scoffed at this, saying I was hardly “eligible” with my dusty, ash-stained face and dingy clothes. I chose not to point out that all that could be fixed with a bath and a new gown. I knew when I had lost. I knew because I always did lose and always had lost, ever since the day my father died.

I stomped outside, gritting my teeth to keep from exploding. At least I got to visit the forest. I picked my way sluggishly to the two lush rosebushes in the middle of our woods, trying to drag out my freedom. When I arrived, I plucked the roses as slowly as possible, carefully avoiding thorns. I had only gathered the red roses when a crackling noise made me freeze in mid-pluck. Some great animal was snuffling and stomping its way through the woods. It drew nearer and nearer to me, but I was afraid to turn around. My heart pounded madly in my chest like a captive bird desperate to escape. Finally the crackling stopped. The beast was so close I could feel its hot breath on my back.

I just had to turn around.

Immediately I wished I hadn’t. I was face to face with an enormous beast – what looked like a cross between a bear and a lion.

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It was by far the most terrifying thing I had ever seen. My breath came in ragged gasps; my sweaty hands clutched the roses as if to protect them.

Then the beast spoke.

“Who are you?” it questioned in a deep, growling, voice. If I hadn’t been terrified out of my wits before, I was now. A talking bear?

I gulped. “M-my name is Ella, Sir… Sir…”

“Call me Beast,” it snarled.

“My n-name is Ella, Beast.”

Beast growled menacingly. “Very well, Ella, give me one of your shoes.”

I blinked. “Excuse me? But, Sir – I mean, Beast, these are my only pair! My mother will be furious! Please, may I give you my hair ribbon or-”

“Your shoe. Give it to me.” His voice left no room for doubt. I passed him one of my forlorn slippers with trembling hands. He nodded and continued, “If you want this back, you must return to this place tomorrow at this time. Or else-” he opened wide his mouth and roared like a lion.

I shielded my face with my arm. Sweat plastered my yellow-gold hair to my head, and tears streamed down my dusty face. “Yes, yes Sir – I mean Beast. I will do that. I promise I will. Please, please may I go now?” Beast nodded his huge head.

I lost no time in racing back to the safety of home, sobbing with terror all the time. When I was halfway there it occurred to me that I hadn’t picked any white roses. Nevermind. I was NOT going back there, no matter how angry Druscilla would be.

But the worst part was, I had promised, and my promise was backed by the terrifying threat of the Beast’s roar. I had to go back tomorrow, like it or not.

Oh. No.

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There! I hope you liked that! It was a lot of fun to write. 🙂 More parts are coming up soon!

And now for my BIBPC entries. I know the first one is late, but since Megan is my sister, she’s already seen my photo. Yay for sisters! (Unless the sisters in question are Anastasia and Druscilla.)

BIBPC #4 – Category: Broken

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OH MY GOODNES IS HE NOT ADORABLE?! Oh. Right. Perhaps I should explain that the bunny isn’t “broken” like that. It’s just a technical way of saying “spotted.” And you thought… Shame on you! XD

This is one of our five baby bunnies, a. k. a. cuteness itself. I believe my brother Logan chose this one. He named it “Higgledy Piggledy” for some strange reason. Don’t look at me! XD Never fear, a bunny post is coming up soon with lots more juicy details and fluzzy pictures.

BIBPC #5 – Category: Old Things

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Last night we acquired a few lovely, ancient books from my great-grandma. One is called “Human Use Geography.” I find that quite funny. Human Use? As opposed to what, penguin use? XD But seriously, it’s a really neat book! There are notes and names and scribbles all throughout the book, and some pages are practically falling out.

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This would also have been a good photo for the “Broken” category. Broken is often quite beautiful, isn’t it? We’re all like old books in that way, I guess – broken but beautiful. 🙂

***Allison***

CWWC #4 and Last BIBPC

Yep, another contest post. 🙂 The story today is the fourth part of the Beyond the Looking Glass. (See the last part here. If you want to see all of the parts, just search “Beyond the Looking Glass” or “CWWC” in my search box.) Thank you guys so very much for your lovely and encouraging comments on it so far! You are so sweet. ♥ ♥ ♥

Anywho, I have a plot twist in mind for the next part which I think will surprise you. Heh heh. (Loren, I used the three prompts from this challenge.)

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Beyond the Looking Glass, Part 4

I eagerly approach the fairy, but when she feels my shadow drop on her, her face suddenly contorts with terror and she rushes back into the toadstool house, slamming the tiny wooden door. A few seconds later I see her miniature pixie face peering anxiously out of a curtained window. She scans the forest. When she sees me, her face freezes in terror again, then melts into intense relief. Strange. What is going on?

The fairy scurries out of the toadstool and beckons me to lean down.

“Why are you here?” she whispers fearfully. “I don’t… I can’t believe that you’re one of Them…” She trails off and mutters to herself. “No, she can’t be on Their side. She is not one of them, I just know it.” She gazes up at me with her wide, green eyes that sparkle with fear. “Why are you here?” she asks again.

So I tell her. I tell her how I got to the land beyond the mirror; I tell her about the strange schoolroom, the riddle, and my surprise when I learned that silent, angry Mademoiselle Trumente is my mother who once loved me so much that she sacrificed herself to save me; and I tell her about the last message on the blackboard: “Go to the fairies. They will know what you need.”

During my story, the fairy’s eyes had constantly roved the forest, then returned for me. She was obviously afraid of something. Now I can’t stand it anymore. I have to know what she is afraid of, so I ask her.

She sighs. “So you don’t know Them. Very well, I will tell you, but you’ll wish you had never asked.”

A shiver runs up my spine like a mouse with cold feet. The fairy begins a sort of ballad in her soft, silvery voice.

They are cunning, they are brave,

They are brutal, they are relentless,

And they are hunting us.

White creatures, ghostly in the mist,

Stooped and spiny.

Horrible creatures that flit from tree to tree

As tall as trees themselves,

Or small as flowers growing in the sun.

We can never know what form they’ll take,

But we can always know

That they will be terrifying.

They steal into our village on silent feet,

But their silence is a loud and terrible silence.

In the morning, our village wails and mourns.

One more fairy gone to the land of no return,

One more friend lost to Them.

But now, we will fight back.

They are brave, but we are braver.

Bravery is overcoming fear;

We will overcome our fear

And destroy Them.

Now the fairy lifts her head and she looks beautiful standing there, proud and defiant. But she is tiny. How can such little fairies ever hope to conquer such strange, terrible creatures as tall as trees?

“I am so sorry.” I say, meaning it. “But what about me? Was the message right when it said the fairies will know what you need? Do you know what will save my mother?”

The fairy looks me in the eye. “I do. There is a plant called the Healing Lily that grows in the mountains. For centuries the fairies have prized the Healing Lily as a cure for blindness or deafness. It will cure your mother… if you can obtain it.”

I nod my head with excitement. “Oh, that is wonderful! How am I to get this Healing Lily?”

“That part is not so wonderful. The plant lives on the mountain, but so do They. You will come with us, and help us fight Them, and when They are conquered, you may take the flower.”

I gasp. I have no experience in war; I am not strong; I do not know how to use a sword or shoot a bow and arrow. And I most definitely do not want to meet Them. I struggle to find my breath.

“But – but isn’t there some other way? I won’t be much help to you – I don’t know anything about fighting.”

“We will teach you.”

“But…” It is no use. I know I must fight Them or never save my mother.

That night at dusk I cloak myself in a dark cape. The fairies have given me their largest lantern, which is still rather small for me. I return to the fairy ring to see dozens of fairies standing solemnly in front of their houses, watching me. Young and old, men and women, boys and girls, all are watching and waiting. The first fairy I met – who I now know as Gwendolyn – nods at me. I take a deep breath and wave to the fairies. It is time. It is time for me to test my bravery. I must carry the message to the surrounding kingdoms: “War on Them tomorrow.” The elves and dwarves and all the other people of the forest have been preparing for this moment for months. Now I will be the spark that lights the match, and tomorrow the fire will burn against Them.

I turn and hurry down the woodland path, consulting the fairies’ map every so often. It is certainly true that I can cover ground much faster than the fairies ever could. My hair streams out behind me as I run silently over the moss. I pass a dwarf graveyard, spooky in the misty night. Are They lurking behind every tree that I pass? Are They waiting for just the right moment to jump out and capture me? Will they put out the spark before it has time to light the match? I take a deep breath and remember what the Gwendolyn said: Bravery is overcoming fear. You can do this, Adele.

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Oh no! What will happen? 😛

And now for the BIBPC entry. This is the LAST category, guys! BIBPC was lots of fun – thanks for doing it, Megan! The category this time was Photo Editing.

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Story behind the photo: You may have seen the unedited version several times already on my blog, because I just really like it! It’s a picture of bubbles on the top of our aquarium. On PicMonkey I tinted it purple (obviously XD ), and added a few effects and basic touch-ups. Ahhh, purplicious! 😀

***Allison***

AAWC #5, CWWC #1, and BIBPC #5!

As you can see by the monstrous title, this post will be a conglomeration of contest entries. I combined the AAWC and CWWC prompts into one story, which I think turned out really well! (If you wonder what all of these acronyms stand for, click on their linked names to find out. 😀 )

First, the story. Misty, I used the word prompt (“Fade”) and my team mascot (“Swan”) in this story. Loren, I used all three prompts. (Click here to see the prompts for CWWC #1.) I had a lot of fun writing this, and incorporating some poem-ish things into the prose.

Duh-duh dun! I present…

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Beyond the Looking Glass

Tonight rain and moonlight are tap-dancing together on the roof. Mademoiselle Trumente hates the rain because it will not obey her rule of absolute quiet. I slip out of bed in bare feet and steal silently over to the mirror. I have had much practice in being silent, for if I make a noise, Mademoiselle Trumente will be up the stairs in a moment, a silent apparition of doom. She will stand there in her threadbare slippers, strands of her greasy hair trembling and quaking about her thick red face as if they too, are afraid of her wrath. Her anger is a fierce fury, hotter than any fire, sharper than any sword, and deathly quiet. Everything in this house is deathly quiet. Even her punishments are quiet.

Down to the cellar for a day and a night;

No food; stale water; darkness; silence.

But tonight Mademoiselle does not appear at my door. I carefully avoid the third floorboard which always heaves a long groan of sorrow if I so much as touch it with a toe. I snatch up the lit candle and hold it in front of me as I gaze into the mirror. A girl’s face stares back at me from the gilded frame on the wall.

Long tangles of wavy, red-brown hair.

Pale face; drawn and thin and colorless.

Chocolate brown eyes with flecks of gold.

Small nose. Thin lips. Sharp chin. Black dress.

Me.

The mirror is unforgiving, but I want it to forgive. It will not show me what I need it to show. I have to know who I am.

I gaze far down into the depths of the dark eyes, pulling with all my might, willing secrets to come to the surface. There! Far down in my eyes, something moves. I concentrate, grasping the thought with my mind until the picture fills the eyes of my reflection, then my face, then the whole mirror. It is a beautiful scene. Torrents of water tumble over boulders, crashing into milky froth where they leap into the lake below. Pearly swans glide on the lake by the dozens, preening, eating, swimming. Graceful willow ladies and strong, ancient gentlemen trees stand shoulder to shoulder by the river. And… there it is. The familiar picture of two silhouettes sitting on a log-bridge. One of the figures is a young girl reading a book. The other figure is strange and fantastical: a cross between a dragon and an enormous bird crested with swirling plumes. The dragon-bird is listening intently to the girl as she reads aloud.

My mirror is a window to another world, a world guarded by strange dragon-birds called Ferrymen. How do I know what the dragon-birds are called? How can I see this land behind the looking glass? I do not know. I only know that I belong there. The girl swinging her legs on the log-bridge is me, I just know it. And the dragon-bird… I strain my mind, rifling through memory files that stretch back 16 years. As always, I come so close to solving the mystery. My mind clenches the memory, but cannot rip it open.

Why, why, why am I here?

Why do I live in this dark, old house?

Why must I always be quiet?

Who is Mademoiselle Trumente,

And why must I obey her?

What is the spell hanging over this house,

And how do I shatter it forever?

But mind is too weak. It lets go of the memory, and the picture in the mirror begins to fade. But this time I will not let it go. I cannot live like this, with my life shrouded in heavy clouds of mystery and loneliness and silence. I squint my eyes hard and force my mind to keep the picture before me. But it is no use. My legs are weak, and my mind is weaker. I cannot hold the picture. Wait! I need you to give me the answers! Don’t go…

Suddenly, I am angry. Angrier even than Mademoiselle is when I drop something and it clashes to the floor. I will not let the picture go until it answers my question. I will not let my mind give up until it finds the memory.

I.

Will.

Find.

The.

Answer.

The picture comes nearer and nearer. I can hear the faint roar of the waterfall reaching me through the glass. I can hear the murmur of the girl as she reads to the Ferryman. What is she saying? Will it solve the mystery? Why, why, why am I here? My brain is churning. The picture is fading again. No!

If my mirror is a window to another world, I will break the window-panes and crawl over the windowsill. In desperation I pick up the wooden chest on my dresser and hurl it at the mirror. The glass shatters with a tremendous explosion. All I can think is Mademoiselle Trumente will be up the stairs now. How long will I stay in the cellar this time? Three days? A week? The rest of my life? I close my eyes and crumple to the ground. I give up. I wait wearily for Mademoiselle to glide over to me, outraged. I don’t care what she does. I give up. I have never been so tired in my life. Still Mademoiselle’s shadow does not fall on my face. With an effort, I open my eyes.

Broken shards lay scattered on the ground beside me, but I pay no attention to them. My eyes are fixed on something much more interesting.

What happened?

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CLIFF HANGER! 😀 I’m probably going to continue this story later. Somehow I tend to write in the first-person point of view for contest entries. What do you think – which POV is your favorite to read?

Okay, now for my BIBPC entry:

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Story behind the picture: These strange flowers are called Dutchman’s Breeches. Don’t they look like puffy pairs of pants hanging on a clothesline? 😀 I took this picture when we made a trip to the Arboretum. There were SO MANY pretty flowers there! (See my flower overload posts here and here.) Did you know Dutchman’s Breeches are related to bleeding hearts? (I mean the flower bleeding hearts, not literal bleeding hearts. XD That would be funny if the flower names were literal: pants are related to bleeding hearts. XD XD )

Phew! I hope you enjoyed that super long post! It’s really, really fun to do these contests, but next time I might not do so many at a time. 😉

***Allison***

P. S. And before you go, you absotutely posolutely MUST check out Hayley’s amazing ATC trade if you like art! (And maybe even if you don’t. 😀 ) Basically, it’s a way to trade mini works of art with bloggers and people all across the country. I’m so excited to be a part of it!

BIBPC #3: Doggie Nose

I know we were supposed to post our BIBPC pictures by yesterday, but Megan gave us a sort of bonus day because she thought the deadline was the 27th instead of the 26th. 😀 Yesss!

In case you’re wondering what BIBPC is, it’s a fun photo contest that my sister Megan is doing. BIBPC stands for Boring Into Beautiful Photography Contest. (Read about it here.)

The theme this time was Textures. Here’s my picture:

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Story behind the picture: This is a photo of our friends’ dog, Snoopy. They recently got an ADORABLE Miniature Schnauzer puppy! I took this picture while he was resting on my friend’s lap during an Arboretum trip. This picture kind of has two textures: his nose and his fur. Such a cute wittle nosy-wosy, yes it is! XD XD Dogs’ noses have a really neat texture, don’t they?

Sorry this was such a short post. 😦 I have an AAWC post, Flower Overload Part 2, and a craft post planned for later. Until then!

***Allison***

BIBPC #2: Praying Mantis’ Feast (and Other Critters)

Hi, guys! I’m participating in my sister Megan’s fun photo contest, BIBPC. (Read about it here.) The second prompt was “critters,” meaning animals like insects, frogs, etc. I collected several fun critter photos, but I can only enter one. 😦 😉 So I decided to show you the one I’m entering, and the other ones I wish I could enter too! 😀

I’m entering the first of these pictures, and the second one is just a bonus. 🙂

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Isn’t it neat? And super gross?! XD

Story behind the picture: I took this photo a couple of years ago in September 2014. These particular pictures are actually still photos from a video I took. (You can see it here on my YouTube channel. I’m afraid the video is a bit jerky. Hold on tight! 😛 ) One day right outside our porch I saw this amazing and gross scene on one of our chrysanthemum bushes: a praying mantis was sitting there, calmly eating a bumblebee! I was so excited to get to see that! It seems like the bee would have killed the praying mantis first by stinging it, but apparently not.

So, Megan, since I have two critters in the picture I get double the points, right? No? Aww, shucks. XD

Now here are the ‘reject’ pictures. Poor lil’ guys. Don’t worry, I like you too! 😀

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Spring peeper: so cute and tiny!

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Cicada (from this post)

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Honeybees (from this post)

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And I believe this is a bullfrog. I was almost going to enter him in, but I thought maybe a frog was too normal. (More normal than a praying mantis eating a bumblebee anyway. 🙂 )

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His eyes were so pretty!

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Which picture was your favorite?

***Allison***

 

 

 

 

 

 

BIBPC Entry #1: Baby Killdeer

I’m participating in my sister Megan’s fun photo contest, Boring into Beautiful Photography Contest, or BIBPC. (Read about it here.) The first prompt was “Little Things.” So here’s my little thing: an adorable baby killdeer!

Story behind the photo: We were going up to gather eggs when my brother told us that there were baby killdeer over by the creek. I rushed down to the house to get my camera, and when I came back, Megan was holding one of the babies in her hand! He was so warm and fluffy and tiny! Baby killdeer look hilariously cute because they have such long, gangly legs. We played with him a little bit, took pictures, then put him back. I’m sure the poor distracted mother was wondering what strange machines we were pointing at her little baby. XD But not to worry, we returned him safe and sound. And I captured some cuteness for you with my “strange machine.” XD (But let me tell you, this little guy was really hard to take pictures of – he was FAST!)

This is the photo I’m entering for BIBPC:

 

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 ♥ Look how tiny! ♥

And here are several more pictures for your enjoyment. 🙂

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He’s hiding behind a grass blade – if he can’t see us, we can’t see him… right? XD

This next picture makes him look even tinier and long-legged-er. (I think this was the first lil’ guy’s sibling.)

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This next row of pictures are stills from a video I took. GAAHHH he’s so cute! Look at his huge feet in the third picture. XD (He reminds me of S. Q. Pedalion from The Mysterious Benedict Society. XD )

Have you ever seen killdeer? They are rather strange birds. They make their nests on the ground – sometimes right in the middle of the road! Their eggs blend in with the gravels, which is good because predators can’t see them, and bad because people in cars can’t see them. 😦 (See another post I did about baby killdeer here.)

***Allison***