Marysville Library Blog

Friday, January 27, 2012

Farming Resources at Sno-Isle

A photo from last summer of our goats (Little Tart, Truffles, Cotton, Ivory and Bo) and the three lambs we raised for meat.
All my life I have had a farm dream. Even though I grew up in the city, I fantasized about collecting the morning eggs, riding my own horse and harvesting vegetables and herbs from my garden for dinner. A year and a half ago my husband and I were able to begin to realize that life (lucky for me he had a farm dream too!) when we purchased our first home on a 10-acre property a little south of Granite Falls. Since both of us were born and raised in Seattle we had quite a lot of learning to do about farm life! Fortunately for us one of the first things we did after we moved was get a Sno-Isle library card. Sno-Isle had so many resources to teach us how to do all of the new tasks we were suddenly presented with. From gardening to goat rearing every project we’ve begun has started with the library. Here are some essential resources we’ve used:

by Carla Emery 

The most important book on this list! Emery’s encyclopedia provides step by step instructions and information on all aspects of country life. This exhaustive reference tool includes how to cultivate a garden, buy land, bake bread, raise farm animals, make sausage, can peaches, milk a goat, grow herbs, churn butter, build a chicken coop, catch a pig, cook on a wood stove, and much more. Even if you don’t have a farm of your own this book will prove an informative and entertaining read.

This well organized and easily accessible guide is full of gardening information specific to the Pacific Northwest including entries on composting, soil issues, pests and recommended plants. Solomon provides lots of helpful information for how to deal with no-sun winters, no-rain summers, and low-nutrient soil.

Another great book for gardening information. This one is especially useful for learning ways to extend your growing season and utilize greenhouses to maximize vegetable output.
Bradley offers natural solutions for many common edible garden problems. Covering topics from animal pests to watering, weather, and weeds, the guide includes pest profiles, control methods, resources, recommended reading, and the USDA plant hardiness zone map.
Longtime goat rancher Yvonne Zweede-Tucker draws on twenty years of hands-on experience to help you raise your own meat goats. Illustrated throughout with color photography, this instructive handbook includes advice about breeds, feeding, housing, safety, health, kidding, butchering, and selling product. Included is a glossary and a resources appendix.
Storey’s guides are a great place to start when you need to find information on raising livestock. This guide is a good source of basic information about choosing a goat breed, day-to-day care, addressing common ailments and breeding.
This is a good one for the whole family. Complete with wonderful color photos and simple explanations Woginrich’s book is a great place to start if you are thinking about raising chickens. Although it doesn’t provide much in-depth information, Chick Days chronicles the journey of three chickens from newly hatched fluffy butterballs to grown hens laying eggs. Day by day and week by week, readers watch the three starring chickens grow and change, learning about chicken behavior, feeding requirements, housing, hygiene, and health-care essentials, and fun facts on all things poultry. 
If you have a farm dream like me this is the book for you! Salatin, a small-family-farm revolutionary, explains how making a living by farming is a realizable goal. Full of information on general farm management and suggestions for possible farming endeavors this book offers step-by-step how-to’s for beginning a profitable farming enterprise.
Last summer we raised three lambs for meat. In the fall we sheared them before dropping them off to be butchered. I’d never encountered a “greased fleece” (unwashed wool) before in my life and had no idea what to do to transform it into yarn. This DVD shows how to card or comb the wool to make roving and then how to make roving into yarn using a spinning wheel. Even though I don’t have a spinning wheel (I am spinning the roving using a drop spindle) this DVD was very useful.
Preus provides information on herb-growing basics; planning and creating herb gardens of various types (including diagrams for themed herb gardens); harvesting and preserving herbs; and using herbs in cooking, healing, and crafts. She also offers superbly detailed coverage of 50 herbs and a month-by- month calendar of herb gardening in the Pacific Northwest.
A well-organized and illustrated guide for home veterinary care. Dr. Spaulding gives instructions for handling emergencies, diagnosing problems, and coping until the vet arrives.
The Backyard Orchardist includes information on selecting the best fruit trees and details about each stage of growth and development, along with tips on harvest and storage of the fruit. Those with limited space will learn about growing dwarf fruit trees in containers. Appendices include a fruit-growers monthly calendar and a trouble-shooting guide for reviving ailing trees.
A great magazine with information for hobby farmers. We love to flip through the articles for inspiration on ways to improve existing endeavors and to get ideas for future ones.
This is a great database full of articles and books on all sorts of crafts. It was a great resource for learning how to wash and use raw wool. Remember that when you print from a database at a Sno-Isle library you can print as much as you need for free and it doesn’t even count against your 70 page weekly limit. How awesome is that?! This means that you can print out that article on how to felt wool or create a block print and bring it home for your reference.

This database provides how-to instructions for all sorts of projects; outdoor, electrical, remodeling, plumbing projects, wood, decorating and maintenance. Included in the database are videos, books and magazine articles.

* You access either of these databases through links on this page or from our "Databases and Research" tab on Sno-Isle's homepage.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Come Run Away with the Circus

What is it about the old-style traveling circus in literature these days? Recently I’ve read the popular “The night circus” by Erin Morgenstern, and also “Water for elephants” by Sara Gruen. There’s even a movie coming out on the latter starring the erstwhile vampire Robert Pattinson. Is it because they are their own magical world separated from the mundane, stick-in-the-mud world of everybody else? Is it that they live in a world dedicated to putting on the illusion (?) of magic? Could they really be satanic traps for the unwary? Here are some books for adults, teens and children that have come out recently about circuses or the even older medicine shows.

The night circus by Erin Morgenstern. Waging a fierce competition for which they have trained since childhood, circus magicians Celia and Marco unexpectedly fall in love with each other and share a fantastical romance that manifests in fateful ways.

Water for elephants by Sara Gruen. The memories still dwell inside Jacob Jankowski's ninety-something-year-old mind; memories of himself as a penniless and newly orphaned young man, tossed by fate onto a rickety train that was home to the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. It is home to Marlena, the star of the equestrian act, who was there because she married the handsome circus boss with a wide mean streak. And home to Rosie the elephant because she was the new act that was supposedly going to be the salvation of the circus. Love and trust were their only hope of survival.

Circus Galacticus by Deva Fagan. Trix's life in boarding school as an orphan charity case has been hard, but when an alluring young Ringmaster invites her, a gymnast, to join Circus Galacticus she gains an entire universe of deadly enemies and potential friends, along with a chance to unravel secrets of her own past.

The boneshaker by Kate Milford. When Jake Limberleg brings his traveling medicine show to a small Missouri town in 1913, thirteen-year-old Natalie senses that something is wrong and, after investigating, learns that her love of automata and other machines make her the only one who can set things right.

The nine pound hammer by John Claude Bemis. Drawn by the lodestone his father gave him years before, twelve-year-old orphan Ray travels to the post-Civil War South, meeting along the way various characters from folklore who are battling against an evil industry baron known as “The Gog”. For much of the story he travels as part of a medicine show.

Circus Mania by Douglas MacPherson (791.3094). The ultimate book for anyone who has dreamed of running away with the circus.

Henrietta Hornbuckle’s circus of life by Michael de Guzman. Twelve-year-old Henrietta Hornbuckle and her parents perform as clowns in a tiny, ramshackle traveling circus until a family tragedy jeopardizes Henrietta's whole offbeat world.

Mechanique: A tale of the circus Tresaulti by Genevieve Valentine. Outside any city still standing, the Mechanical Circus Tresaulti sets up its tents. Crowds pack the benches to gawk at the brass-and-copper troupe and their impossible feats. War is everywhere, but while the Circus is performing, the world is magic. Yet even a careful ringmaster can make mistakes. Two of Tresaulti's performers are trapped in a secret stand-off that threatens to tear the Circus apart, just as the war lands on their doorstep.

Tiger’s Curse by Colleen Houck. Seventeen-year-old Oregon teenager Kelsey forms a bond with a circus tiger who's actually one of two brothers, Indian princes Ren and Kishan, who were cursed to live as tigers for eternity, and she travels with him to India where the tiger's curse may be broken once and for all.

Tom Thumb: The remarkable true story of a man in Miniature by George Sullivan. This biography explores the life and career of the dwarf Tom Thumb, who toured the world as a curiosity at the behest of showman P.T. Barnum.

The autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb by Melanie Benjamin. Never growing beyond two feet and eight inches, Mercy Lavinia "Vinnie" Bump spent much of her life in seclusion. However, when she impressed legendary showman P.T. Barnum, she suddenly became the world's most unlikely celebrity. A fictional imagining of a true life.

Something wicked this way comes by Ray Bradbury. Okay, so this is older than the others in this list, but how can I omit a classic Bradbury? A carnival rolls in on a chill Midwestern October eve, ushering in Halloween a week before its time. A calliope's shrill siren song beckons to all with a seductive promise of dreams and youth regained. And two inquisitive boys standing precariously on the brink of adulthood will soon discover the secret of the satanic raree-show's smoke, mazes, and mirrors, as they learn all too well the heavy cost of wishes -- and the stuff of nightmare.


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Free Voluntary Reading Proves Valuable in School Success

Did you know that the kids who read more do better in school and on standardized tests than children who don’t read?  Researchers have compared the test scores of those who read regularly and those who receive grammar and vocabulary instruction in school. Children who read regularly actually test as well as those who receive specific test instruction, and over a longer time continue to improve. Teachers spend lots of class time specifically on preparing their students to take tests. Yet surrounding their students with lots of interesting and appropriate books and letting them read has been proven to work just as well.

Here’s a follow-up question: Did you know that kids who get to pick what they want to read, read more than those who are told what they have to read? This seems obvious to me; “Well, duh!” If you are forced to do something unpleasant, would you want to continue doing it when the force stops? Of course not! If your child associates reading with only hard or boring stories that they have to suffer through, rather than a fun acvtivity, they will have no reason to read more than they absolutely have to. If they associate reading with fun or pleasure or as a source of valuable information, they will find the time for it.

So you are a parent, and you want your child to do well in school. But this “letting kids read whatever they want” - also known as “Free Voluntary Reading” - sounds awfully wishy-washy to you. You think your children should challenge themselves! You think they should read “at the level the school says they’re at”! Yes, I know who you are. You come up to me at the Reference desk and want the Level H books, for instance, or the books with the 3.6 AR level. I can ease some of your concerns:

1)      You are worried that your child will stay with the easy books. “Easy books, however, can provide the taste and background knowledge that will lead to … reading other books.”

2)      Reading for fun is the bridge to making harder reading more understandable.

3)      Assigned reading levels don’t always translate to age appropriateness or interest. Are you really going to tell your elementary-school-aged Harry Potter fan that the books are too difficult for them? Are you really going to tell your squealing teen girls that the Twilight books are inappropriate for them since they are only at a fourth grade reading level? Of course not!

We as librarians know this, and so every time I talk with you or your children I love to find books that they will find fun and interesting. What have they enjoyed in the past? If I can get your child to start talking about a book they have liked in the past, I can find other books that are also likely to appeal to them. If they are interested in a particular topic or activity, I will find books about it for them. My goal is to get a book into your child’s hands that they will want to read, and their reading level is only a small issue. If a child is interested in a book - even if it is a little too hard - their interest in the story or topic will carry them through the reading difficulties. If a child isn’t interested in a book, even an easy reading level won’t make them want to read it.

What can you do to encourage free voluntary reading?

1)      Surround your children with lots of interesting reading material (books, magazines, etc). It doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg, just stop by the library on a regular basis. Browse the stacks, talk to a librarian for ideas, check out the Sno-Isle Kids web page for book lists and encourage your child to talk about books with their friends.

2)      Give your child the time and a comfortable place to read. A cozy, quiet corner, and a quiet time - perhaps just before the bedtime routine - are perfect. Choose a book together and read to them, or sit quietly next to each other and each read your own thing. You don’t have to stop reading to them just because they may have learned how to read on their own. It is also important that they see you reading to yourself, too.

3)      Talk with your children about what they’re reading and what they think about it, but don’t make a big production about book reports or formal “What I learned”. You can even talk to them about what you are reading.

Reading for fun and pleasure is a proven way to do well on school tests. As your knightly librarian gallops away into the sunset, she charges you to have fun and read!
Bibliography (I'm citing my source!):