One of my favorite outings while my parents were here was our trip to Ardenwood farm. Ever since our first trip there, I'd been wanting to take my folks to see it. I thought my dad, especially, would enjoy it. If the number of pictures he took is any indication, I think I was right!
As it was last time, the manual water pump was very popular.
BB, as usual, enjoyed collecting little bits of nature. Or big sticks, as the case may be.
The kids had a great time preparing food for the animals and then feeding them. Who knew grinding corn by hand could be so entertaining?
The sheep loved it!
The chickens took a little more coaxing...
For me, the highlight of the trip was the train ride into the eucalyptus grove where monarch butterflies make a stop during their winter migration. Unfortunately, BB had decided she wanted nothing to do with the train, so S stayed with her while we went.
All at once, we looked up....
And there they were! Lots and lots of lovely butterflies, fluttering around.
Thanks to Dad for all these great pictures! I really think BB would have liked it, if she could have convinced herself to endure the train ride. She certainly has liked seeing the pics. I hope that one of these days she decides that trains aren't evil after all.
As it was, the monarch viewing made for a nice setup for our own little household nature show. A week ago, we discovered that our passion vine has been inhabited by quite a few caterpillars!
The vine is right outside our dining room window and has even grown over to the side door of the house. Now I don't feel so badly about letting it grow wild, since it's given us a perfect view of the action. I tried to get some pictures, though that was challenging. I really needed a tripod and a clean window to do it justice. But here we are at the screen door:
As best I can tell, they are gulf fritillary caterpillars. I'd seen the butterflies around the vine quite a few times. Now it seems they were laying eggs!
We noticed that one of the caterpillars had begun to form a chrysalis right outside the dining room window. It's the spiky dark shape hanging upside down, right in the middle of the shot, above the dead leaves.
Now, a week, later, that chrysalis has changed significantly and looks like a real cocoon. We check it daily (and often several times a day). I hope we'll be around when the butterfly emerges!