Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Cool and Warm Light

To answer a question posed a while back. I shoot a Cannon EOS Rebel 1i. It was the latest edition when I bought it in December or I thought it was but they've come out with a 2i now. I'm still learning to use this one though so it will be a long, long time before I need another. Lens, that is another matter. I wanted a much better macro lens than the one I just recently bought but at the time I didn't have the money and couldn't justify getting anything but the bottom of the line which is a 50. Oh how I'd love a 100 or even sweeter a 180. Sigh, someday when I'm selling photos maybe I can use the money to purchase one. $500 to $1500 is just out of my range. money to purchase one.

Let me know though, if most of you have a point and shoot. We have an old one of those and this camera will do that also. I think I'll take some pictures with this camera and that one to compare. I know the color and mega pixels is much much better but most people can do so much more with what they have if they just understood lighting and composition.
Of course there is a whole other level that can be accomplished on the computer. Me, I'm computer illiterate so besides darkening a little or lightening a little, or cropping on rare occasions, what you see is what I took.My daughter on the other hand within minutes can change the above photo which was taken in the evening in the shade. Shade gives you blue tones unless it is very light shade. I shot roses the last two mornings using my body to throw a light shade because it was just a hare too late in the morning to be shooting them but my husband and I were up at 4:00 this morning hauling bees and yesterday morning---.

So if you can't get just the right light but your close, then you could always tweak the photo. Of course you also have to have a more expensive computer program. I've have it since I have our oldest daughter's old lap top from photography school but the know how I don't have. This weekend I'm suppose to take my first lesson. Remember, I'm a slow learner so don't expect any great things coming soon. Yet, our daughter with all her knowledge can't make a poor photo great, just better. That is where you have to do a pretty good job in the first place.

The key is knowledge and practice, practice, practice.

I know some kids who do some amazing things playing with photos and a computer program. I'm not in to putting peoples faces on potatoes etc. but I can appreciate the creativity that went into it. I want my pictures to reflect what I actually saw so that those who view them are transported there.
So your first lesson on light is that if you want warm tones, then early morning and evening are when the air has a warm golden glow. Scroll back through the photos of our middle grand daughter. All these shots were taken within a few feet of each other and within few minutes also. It was pretty late, too late really and so the sun was setting. The golden glow was a bit much in this photo and not enough in the shade from the shed.
The first photo was using the shade of the shed and the sunset to cause an accentuating shadow upon her face. There is different types of use of light and shadows and they have names but I can never remember them. I have to ask my daughter. I just know how to get what I want.
Water can be tricky. Because it really reflects what is around it and the sky in particular. That is why I have spent so much time at the pond trying to catch the correct light with the geese at the right composition. This first photo was taken with an overcast sky. That can be perfect for so many shots since the light is even.
Note the orange in the water. This had it been a little bit earlier with the geese in the right spot could have really accentuated the photo BUT.
Things weren't all in the right location at the right time. This is what made the orange glow.
You will also notice that the neck of the goose is causing a distracting shadow. Shadow are a big issue in the middle of the day and photos have a tendency to look over exposed or in other words blow out. Some times we just don't have a choice when we have the opportunity to take a picture. That is when you can do a bit of fudging if you have a more complex camera. Of course if you are doing a photo shoot you can use reflecting boards and diffusers which are really just big white sheets in a fancy form. I've used white poster boards, poster boards covered in gold foil or covered in silver foil to reflect light where I want it and reduce shadows or cause them.

Once again knowledge is your best friend. But today I want you to pay attention to when the light changes from a cool blue to a warm yellow. That is another reason why I often shoot something more than once. I also pay attention like with the rose bushes when the sun hits them and when they are in the shade. There position at the neighbors makes it impossible to shoot them in the evening since they are completely in the shade.
So let me know how fancy your cameras are and I can tailor my photo lessons to fit you. And if you haven't learned anything else it is that I most of my pictures find there way into the camera's trash can.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Get Ready Shoot!

Yup, that time is a comin and you'd better get your camera out. Because if they haven't already, the fireworks are going to be lighting up the sky. This one has to be one of my favorites even though it is mainly just the smoke from the fireworks.
These colorful shots of light were taken at our town's recent 25 anniversity. Yup, wer're only 25 years old. Not that the houses haven't been here longer but before becoming a town it was a spot in the road owned by a coal mine. We received $5000 from the mine my husband worked at to put down on a house if we'd live here. Dont know how many years the coal mine ran the town but eventually they gave up ownership and the residents began ruling themselves. That is what was celebrated was the 25 years of the residents having their own government. We have lived in this home for just short of 30 years so we've seen this town grow from a few houses and a large trailer court to mainly houses. It still isn't very big, just 1200 people but that's kind of big for me. And nope, we're not prone to wonder.But since you missed the opportunity to photograph our light display, get ready to take shots of the fireworks that will fill the sky on the 4th of July. That is unless you aren't in the USA and then I'd love to hear when or if you have fireworks for a holiday.
So those in the USA grab your camera, even if it is a snappy. Set it to the little guy running and if possible put it on the mutliple window pane looking setting where when you hold down the button the camera just keeps taking pictures. Know what I'm talking about?
Snap away and see what happens.
You might just get a beautiful blossoming bush.
Or a galactic looking shot.
Then again ribbons may streak through the sky.
Or it might just look like fireworks. Though these were taken with my more expensive camera, I didn't set it to anything special. I just wanted to enjoy the view and not have to think too hard about what I was doing. This was my first time of pointing a camera at the sky when fireworks lit the darkness. Give it try. I'd love for you to e-mail me the results at hollyrexroat@gmail.com It reminds of of fingerpainting as a child but without all the mess.

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Big Swarm / and Kids of Course

Oh my she is cute!!
But what I really need to tell you about is the bees. Remember this swarm that arrived on the day of the triplets birth? Well, this is a lot of bees hanging off of one another and filling the inside of the hitch since it is angle iron leaving a good sized pocket for them. Not to mention the gazillion flying around in the air and a few clusters on the ground not shown in the photo. If you doubt watch the hitch shrink in the next picture and the amount of bees flying around me.
In the center of this mass somewhere is the queen. The objective is to get her inside the hive without hurting her and as many of the bees as possible. The problem is with this massive cluster you couldn't find her if you wanted too with everyone wearing almost identical striped suites. So the next best thing is to scoop up a cupped shaped handful and place them over the opening of the boxes, shake my hands downward in a fairly forceful manner and the bees fall into the hive. There are two frames missing in the center of the top box to allow the bees a cavity to fall into. It's that simple, scoop shake downward, scoop, shake downward over and over again.
Of course some come flying back out and some cluster on the ground, on the sides of the box and everywhere else but inside. Not to mention all those who took flight taking an area view of the whole process. It reminds me of teaching your kids to go to bed. Placing them back in to their beds to turn around and their out again, back in - out again, back in - out again until they finally stay.
I had a few problems that made the matter worse. I didn't have the right kind of boxes. Oh there was a main entrance but no smaller secondary holes. I didn't have any brood chambers with frames. So these kiddies wouldn't stay in bed. My hives right now aren't set up exactly correctly with the entrances. I have lots of brood chamber boxes but little to no frames so I've made do. Been going to get to that issue. Today in fact I ordered new frames for three hives worth of brood chambers to solve the shortage problem.
Plus, mine have been used too many times and in doing so the bees end up hatching smaller and smaller in size because of the cluttered cells the larvae live in.
So soon all the new eggs will have clean new rooms.
To expedite the process of getting the bees to move quickly inside the hive, I placed a brood chamber with its small entrance hole on top the honey supers. The main entrance had a huge traffic jam. I know that isn't the way it goes. They go on the bottom but a girl has to do what a girl has to do when she's got three unattended children in the house and she doesn't want them coming out again before she's done. I knew I'd hit the jackpot when I scooped up a handful and held it near the hole and they quickly scampered off to climb inside to see their new home. Before they had just kept massing in clusters on the ground and on different sides of the boxes since they were waiting for the entrance traffic to clear a bit.

If the queen is inside when night come they will all go in but then again if I didn't have the queen I was in trouble because they might leave. When your handed such a nice big gift, it isn't wise to throw it back out again. I know the new tenants are going to trash the place, sorry a set up as it is. I've left way too much play space. A whole box full and I know they are busy as I type filling it with creative Burr sculptures like the one in the picture. BUT, tomorrow I take them out to the Buffalo Ranch to their new home. It takes two to lift the hives and my hubby will be home tomorrow afternoon. Boy, does he have a back log of projects I just couldn't manage by myself. We'll do it at night after all the bees have gone home and we can close them up with tape and haul them off. Frames please get here in a hurry would you. Yes, life is never calm at the Rexroat's abode.

I just know that some of you sharpies are wondering how do I know if I got the queen when so many bees are still in the air and some in small clusters on the ground? Well, the majority of the bees will stay inside if the queen is present as she holds a commanding presence. Plus they will all cluster up again like they did before with the queen tucked safely in the middle. Had that happen before. Time is of the essense when capturing the cluster as they will soon take off to go house shopping. That's why I added a little treat to insure they would want to stay, a half gallon of sugar water in a sippy cup. Okay, not quite a sippy cup but a half gallon canning jar turned upside down with a cap that has bee mouth sized holes in it for sipping through.

Yes, I've done this a few times before, capturing swarms. Once when the buffalo tore down the fence and rubbed on several of our hives, dumping one all the way over. They were swarmed on a nearby fence post. Luckily, one of the ranch hands saw them before they took off leaving no forwarding address.

Another couple times a bee truck had been going through our area and the cover wasn't tight. We received phone calls from people we knew to come and get the SCARY cluster of bees out of their yard. Actually, those swarms are some of the tamest bees you'll meet. They don't have a home to protect so they are quite docile. In comparison to this cluster those swarms were a fourth of the size or less. It's always nice to work your way up to a big project. Both those clusters had queens. Sometimes the trucks just loose worker bees and their behavior is different. Okay, different to a bee keeper but then I tap on a hive now and then just to hear them hum. You can tell a lot about the home by the sounds made inside. If momma ain't home or in other words the queen has died, then no-ones happy. There are a few other more subtle rumbles but a nice sweet hum is music to my ears.

Even with a home to defend, I find bees quite amicable most of the time. Oh there is a few crankies. I've had a couple from one hive in the back that I've been looking for an excuse to squash. They buzz rather irritatingly around my blond hair for no reason. But really, if I can sit a foot in front of the hive with a macro lens taking pictures, no bee suite or veil, then bees aren't that hard to get along with. The grand kids sit with me part of the time and we just watch. It's fun to see the color of the pollen they are bringing in and just observe their behavior. They have personalities too.

You've thrown the first punch and they are willing to die in the fight, so your likely to get stung. Move slowly with smooth motions and your not likely to pose a threat.
The bee story has been told so come along with me and
I'll take you on a little photo tour of our kids.
(Note, our grand daughter has tried to lead both our Nubian does.)
Look at that flat rump, and classy body on this doeling.
And this little girl ain't no slouch either.
If they get mom's fore udder, wow!
And her rear attachment, yeah. We've really got something. The best thing is the buck that serviced this whole operation lives right across the lane and we can do it all over again next year. Of course there is Cracker Jack. What can I say, he's not ugly for he's adorable in his own way, especially when he's bucking and playing. But he's not in the same class as the girls. The triplets remind me of the show Lady and The Tramp II where they have puppies. No, Cracker Jack doesn't have a tramp for a dad as he too is well bred but just the contrast in offspring.
Michelle and I are toying with the names Cicely and Cassia for the girls. What do you think or do you have other suggestions? We're just at the point of throwing names back and forth. We don't even know which girl will receive what. If you want to get in your two cents, please do. There are I'm sure, names we haven't even thought of yet. So what names do you suggest for these velveteen beauties?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Midwife Delivery

What thoroughbreds these little ones are. Okay, maybe not Cracker Jack here. (The oldest wanted to name him Cracker. Why not he's not staying.) He has splashes of color here and there and looks a bit like someone dabbling in the paints. I told the kids they could handle him all they wanted but they could only pet the doelings.
Of course instructions were needed.
What I wanted to show and tell you today was the delivery of these three delightful additions. If you don't want to come into the delivery room I'll understand. You can just wait out in the lounge area until it's over. I'll have cute pictures for you in a couple days but those who don't mind and can handle the ER in the goat shed - hang around I'll give you a play by play tour of the blessed event. Sorry, no video and I didn't record the sound effects of Chicory's moaning and groaning but I figured you could figure out by the photos just when that occurred. Add them yourselves if you'd like when you scroll through these photos. Some of you have probably heard them often enough you can make a pretty good imitation of the actual sounds. Let's start with the goo. I'll back track to the labor and show the progression another day but I've always like to eat dessert first so lets get to it.

Some call this a mucous plug but can you really call it that when it runs more like a dripping faucet for eighteen hours? Never had such a gooey goat before. Oh it wasn't a constant stream but a dribble here and a dribble there, kind of like a geriatric Old Faithful. Being the attentive owner, I got up ever few hours to check on Chicory. Now that isn't a trot out to the door to the barn for me but a 3/4 mile walk one way if I was so inclined to do so in the middle of the night or a 2 mile drive since taking a road is a round about way. By the second trip at about 3:00 am my clothes were strewn down the hallway instead of in a neat pile by the bed.

The third trip it was early morning and I was pretty tired and disgusted with her. Michelle said that most goat's deliver around 3:00 in the afternoon and I thought at first maybe Chicory was confused about whether it was 3:00 am or pm but when five am arrived I knew better.

The wind was calm and the sun shown bright so I went fishing. You heard me. It is just a couple more miles from the corrals to the town's small pond. Couldn't cast worth a hoot but none the less I caught one fish and another bit. Good enough for me and then I dilly dallied around the house long enough until it was time to checked again. Alas, no labor. This was getting rediculous so I stuck two fingers inside, just a couple inches, to feel the pin bones to see if they had spread any and the answer was NO. That little move did cause her to go into labor, YEAH!!

My next move if she hadn't started would have been to milk her and saving the colostrum for the babies. Milking would stimulate the uterus to contract. Did that on a Saanen once and she went into labor 9 hours later. Don't know for sure it worked but milking does at this stage cause the utuerus to contract. And since Chicory was at 152 days something had to be done. Kids held inside too long may deliver fine but because the umbilical cords has begun to shrivel, less nutrients pass through, then the kid or kids are born weak and often die.

Feeling all happy I went home again and grew quite confused as Chicory labored harder and harder each time I came to check on her but not much progress was being made. What I learned as the morning progressed is that she only labored if I was present in the shed with her. My good friends Michelle and Lindsay helped me learn that little fact.
They came to keep us company and lots of the photos are curtesy of Lindsay since I can't do what I'm doing and photograph it at the same time.
When it was getting close to noon and she had labored hard enough to get something done but hadn't, I washed up with some Bentadine and stuck my arm in.
Hint, hint, This is where you moan really loud!!!
Actually, this photo is from the second kid I pulled but I had to pick the most explanitory photos. You can tell because their was no water bag before the first kid and of course no blood.
I could feel the kid with its front feet forward and its head laying on top just barely inside. So I worked the top of my hand in a circular motion stimulating Chicory to open up further until I could slip my palm around the top of the kid's head and down the sides.
Yes, this is the part where you moan really loud.
Then I worked the skin around the entrance.
Keep moaning!
It just wasn't stretching.
Take a deep breathe because your about to beller.
I broke the water bag with my finger and took a hold of the legs and began to pull.
Once again keep in mind this is a photo of the second delivery so no blood involved or hanging down water bag on the first kid but you can see me trying to peel back the skin as I'm firmly pulling.
Note the mucous, I've never had a goat so gobbly gooey. Now this is a photo of the third kid coming out but the point is I'm pulling firmly but not fast as at this stage I'm trying to make sure the head remains in the correct postion laying on the legs. If I rush this point, it will flip the head backwards blocking the entrance and can cause neck damage.
When the head begins to come out I begin to pull with more force. Especially pay attention to the angle I'm tugging on the kid.
Not out, but downward.

Oh yeah, you're suppose to be bellering loud at this point!!! I had to pull pretty hard but no ripping occured partly due to the angle I was pulling.

(remember - downward.)
This is a natural postition for birth. It is not natural for an animal to walk across a corral with a newborn flopping back and forth, the motion of the waddling gate causing the baby to flop out, the mother never missing a step as she travels - never stops and never returns to the lamb until forced to by the shepherd. Yup, that shepherd was me once at lambing camp. I was so ticked at that old ewe I could have shot her. Yes, she did except her offspring once confined to a small wooden pen. This has been known to happen on rare occurances.
But as you have already guessed by the photos, I had to pull all three. After the first kid we waited, Michelle, Lindsay, and I sitting on over turned buckets for 35 minutes, nothing. No real labor pains nothing. Oh I had threatened Chicory that I was going in again if she didn't get moving but that didn't make any difference. When a water bag came and still no little hooves, I went in, pulled the kid part way, broke the water bag to give me more room and pulled out Cracker Jack. Since I was all disinfected in again I went pulling the third kid, a doeling. The skin never did stretch any further than on the first doe. Next year, Chicorys getting some Blue and some Black Cohosh, both birthing herbs. 20 minutes between deliveries is what they told me at lambing camp. Oh I think you could wait a bit longer but don't wait around for ever. You just might get a dead kid as a reward for the hesitation. Going in isn't that big a deal. Especially if you're skilled.
By the second birth, my daughter and the grandkids had arrived. Chicory had a regular audience. She loves attention and is pretty laid back or this delivery would have been a private affair instead of 7 in attendance.
Chicory and I went to work cleaning up the kids and though I like wood shavings as a bedding, it is rather a mess when your kidding. Most straw available to us has a tendency to be moldy by this time of the year and difficult to find.
Before I leave, I always make sure everyone of the kids has a healthy dose of cholosterum via through a baby bottle

and they've nursed.
The afterbirth was starting to come out and the color inside the water sacks was good, not a deep red and bloody, a sign something inside ripped. That was my signal to go home. If that wasn't enough, a large swarm of bees in my yard back home was. I'd love to stay and talk but one of the doelings isn't nursing and I've been bottle feeding today. Grandma duty until eleven last night and this morning at 8 am so I'm off to see if I can't get that little doeling nursing well. Just don't have the time to fuss with her and the grandkids.

Also got to make somemore sugar water for the new hive and get some things done about proper hive boxes for them. So very much to do. I'll have to tell you the tale about capturing them. My daughter took photos. Yes, I haven't forgot about telling you what camera I'm using etc. So much to tell and so little time to do so. I'll try and get some better pictures of the kids tonight to show you. Have a wonderful evening.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Yes, I've been busy today. I delivered Chicory's triplets. She refused to labor unless I was sharing every moment with her in the shed. A complication meant most of my day was gone but I've all the details in photographs.
Then just as I was settling her and the little ones in, our daughter called and said there was a black cloud of bees and to come quick. Yup, there was a BIG swarm. There were more in clusters on the ground just beyond the photograph and somewhere in the middle of this mass of bees hanging off of bees is a queen. So I suited up and began to capture them.

Then before this task was done it was grandma duty as our daughter left for work. The kids remained in the house watching a movie as I rushed as fast as I could go before they came out to check on me. Only got stung once today but I was stung once yesterday.

So pardon me if I cuddle, and bathe three grouchy children, do livestock chores, and dunk the kids in the tub before stories and bed. Tomorrow I'll fill you in on the details but you'll just have to be patient. I'll will tell you that Chicory had two beautiful doelings and a buck. One doe for Michelle who owned the buck and one for me and a buck we'll have to find a home for.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Versatile Blogger Award

From http://pumpkinpatchgarden.blogspot.com/ Thanks Rina for the award, I'm very honored and so glad you come to visit with me. The greatest reward is knowing that your efforts are appreciated and I thank you for telling me that you have appreciated mine. I especially enjoyed learning more about you and thought oh no, it's my turn to tell seven things about me. What haven't I reveled?

Here goes!

Number one - I dislike clothes shopping but I love to shop for groceries. If that doesn't say a lot about me I don't know what does. Now don't confuse that I love to grocery shop with going down every isle because I skip 3/4 ths of them . Of course not the chocolate isle as that's where I score big points with my hubby. Where I get stuck is in the fresh food isle and the cooler with cheese. Wouldn't I love a good farmer's market. Alas, not much grows but grass in this country.

Number two - I got married when I was 19 to my college sweetheart and had three kids in three and a half years. Yes, I know what causes it but in our family we call ourselves the fertile myrtles. I swear half the tribe has gotten pregnant on birth control pills. Okay, maybe not quite that bad but you get the idea.

Number three - I grew up in a rodeoing family. My dad started calf roping when he was 21 and competed until he was in his late 60's. My brother and his boys still rope but the only one of us girls that rodeoed was me. I quit when I left high school and stopped tying goats and started milking them.

Number four - Man this is hard. How about this? I couldn't tell you one make of car from another unless it was a pickup and then I can tell you if it's a Dodge, a Ford, or a Chevy and that's it. Well, not quite. I can tell if it is 4-wheel drive or not but then there isn't hardly a pickup in this state that isn't 4-wheel drive. My main criteria in a vehicle is that they run when I need them too and the pickup has a full bed not a half bed which is worthless when you've got work like I have to do.

We once owned a 1949 Ford 1 ton pickup called Ole Reliable, (loved that truck, I've got to tell you stories about it sometime.), which you had to double clutch, a Ford stick shift pickup we called The Gutless Wonder because we wondered why we didn't sell it and get something else except it was paid for, and an automatic transmission car. You guessed it, sometimes the car's brake was used as a clutch by mistake, and the Ford was double clutched now and then for good measure.

Number five - I love to try new things but nothing comes easy for me and I need to quit trying so hard and relax for then things come more naturally. I'll have to tell you about learning to fly fish. What a patient son I have. Yes, I write stories too. Once again not an easy thing for me as I'm still trying to put my adjectives ahead of my nouns, and I jumble up where I put my phrases.

Number six - You probably already know this but I have way more plans than I have energy. It comes from an insatiable appetite to learn. Sometimes like this year, I have to put on the brakes and reevaluate what's really important to me. We are working to streamline our lives a bit.

Number seven - I have a sweater fetish. I love sweaters and wool socks. If I had the money, and loved to shop, my drawers would be filled with them. But instead I order most of my clothes through the Cabela's women's catalogue. No, I don't own anything in camouflage but my husband does.

Lest you think I have forgotten, I haven't. So those of you who have asked what camera I use etc. I will tell you in the next blog along with giving a photo lesson or two. I also need to show you the pictures I took of the fireworks on Saturday to celebrate our town turning 25 years old.

Watching the Clouds Go By

As you can see our town sits on the wide open prairie. It amazes me that there are air currents that run across this open space but there are. As we walk down off the hill toward the corrals hill we reach a point at the bottom where we often step into a refrigerator. Well, it feels that way. But really its an area where a wind current blows through and though there no visual change in the landscape, the temperature at times drops dramatically for approximately fifteen feet. Not every day mind you but when the weather is changing. The same things happens on the 45 minute drive to the next town. Along the way we know where the road is most likely to have icy spots or low cloud cover and we slow down if the day hints that the stretch might not be clear. Some has to do with elevation changes such as the bottom of the hill others on areas on the open prairie and who knows why? The open plains does give view to some spectacular skies. Sunrises and sunsets fill the sky line for miles. My favorite sunrises are in the fall, sunsets in the summer. This unobstructed screen lends us a wonderful scene of clouds as they form and storms collide.

With nothing to block the wind we get our share of it and then some. It feels pretty nice on a hot day in the summer but winter winds carry a real bite that works its way inside your clothes chilling you to the bone. And the clouds sometimes in layers get to racing in opposite directions at times.

It isn't the winter clouds that have the most interesting shapes as they are flat and grey but the summer ones that demanding a command performance. It's the warmer weather that develops them like this thunderhead just back of our house.
It's not only the clouds we watch but lighting. Two nights ago we had three storm systems moving around us. One to the southeast, another separate system to the southwest, and a third to the north east. Lighting flashed in each of them in turns which made for a pretty site. But what I want to capture on digital this summer is the sheet lightning where the whole sky is lit up with multiple rods. What a majestic picture of nature. July and August are its months to perform. This will keep the fireman busy as the winds fans the flames started by the lightening.
One time I remember we were at state fair when a fire lit on a friends ranch. going The wind blew at 60 miles an hour leaving the firetrucks bouncing crazily across the prairie in an effort to outrace the flames. The fire was whipped into such a frenzy that it didn't even have time to stop long enough to dine on the wood fence posts, instead just left them smudged. This is when the local ranchers with county fire rigs stored inside barns turn out, often the first at the scene to try and thwart the flames before they get too big a head start.

We've had lightening strike by our house a number of times, talk about shake the ground and bust your ear drums. One time we were saying family prayers and had just said Amen when it struck the light pole in the front yard. Our two girls started to scream for just as they opened their eyes the room was filled with light, the the whole house shook, and a deafening sound sent us scrambling to cover our ears.
But what we really watch for is the cotton ball look on the bottom of the clouds. These puppies produce tornadoes. This one Saturday was harmless as the cloud wasn't big enough to do anything. There might of been three different storm systems but they were playing nicely by themselves. What we scan the skies for frequently in the summer afternoons is two systems headed on a crash course. An aqua green is a bad color for clouds when it stretches across the sky for lots of times that's another indicator of a tornado.
We've seen lots of them, little ones that touch down upon the open prairie. One such beast our kids were out racing in a tiny little Geo car, the pedal pressed hard against the floor boards as our son's large frame in the back seat caused it to sway back and forth as he kept watch the tornadoes progress and scanned the sky around them to see if others were forming. Since it was crossing the highway they needed to just get out of the way. Behind them police cars were screeching across the highway blocking it to traffic.

Five years or so ago a tornado swept through our town's trailer park, (What makes tornadoes love trailer parks?) and damaged 90 some homes. Some trailer homes they never did find anything they could recognize as belonging to it.
Where was I and our oldest daughter? The governor of Wyoming asked me that. In the basement of course. I told him since our oldest daughter and I had been watching the clouds for some time. We didn't actually see the tornado coming but we did see the very aqua green sky and the clouds a whirling with the puffy cotton bottoms and headed for cover.

After it passed it left the air cold, almost freezing. That's what causes them, a battle between cold and warm fronts.So if you asked what do we do in the summer time? I'd have to answer watching as the clouds go by. For if there is a storm brewing, we aren't laxed about waiting for the sirens to sound. I prefer an early warning system, knowlege. So if I act like I've got a crink in my neck, I probably do from tipping my head back frequently to check out the clouds as they form on the horizon and swirl over head.
So the next time you see those thunderheads a moving in, keep an eye out for their bottoms. Smooth and flat no sweat but bumpy like these then you'd better be looking to see how big the cloud is and if another system is on a crash course with it.

If you are passing through our area be aware if the radio starts blaring a warning and know the difference between a tornado watch (conditions are right) and a tornado warning (one or more tornados have been sited).

Don't worry, it's just summer weather but do educate yourselves so that fear doesn't ruin a good time and you can keep yourself safe.