Friday, March 18, 2016

Cows behaving badly

Taking a "vacation" to my father's farm in Virginia I certainly expected to do some work.  Life on a farm is work every day, sometimes with projects that were planned but often with unexpected chores that need doing.  The start of our visit was all tractor rides and playing in the hay.  Then just before we sat down to eat supper one night four cars, including two sheriffs, pulled into the driveway.  Word got out as quickly as the cattle.

Apparently this happens often; cows get out and someone calls the sheriffs department and the sheriff calls the farmer they suspect is missing some animals.  But being new to the neighborhood no one had my dad's number so they dropped by instead.  After a long southern conversation that included football, food and cattle breeds we went back inside to grab a bite of our own cold supper before heading out.  I drew kid duty for the night mission so my husband went with my parents out to walk the fence and try to find the missing beasts.  They came back with clarification that the cows had in fact walked right up a gully and under the fence, where the stream had washed out the fence posts.  The ladies were nowhere to be found that night.

When they returned from the reconnaissance mission we spent about an hour discussing strategies and looking at maps of the property.  Had I had more time I would have uploaded an elevation map and parcel map to myObservatory desktop.  How nice it would have been to know whose yards were possibly being consumed overnight!  The plan for the next day was made. Dad was going to buy some electric poly wire, fiberglass stakes, and a solar powered electric fence charger to close in the cows once they were retrieved.  Until he returned it was decided that I would stand guard by the gap in the fence to make sure that none of the cows got too far away from their reentry point.

What a morning it was with the fog rolling in and out all around me and the anticipation of seeing the beasts at any moment.  I reveled in the solitude of playing sentry.  After walking back and forth by the road looking for tracks (of which I only found deer tracks thankfully) I pressed deeper away from the road and into the brush beyond.  As I neared the first backyard I looked up from my tracking efforts and saw the black back of one of the escapees.  Around her I could see at least three more backs and could hear the contented munching of cows feeding where the grass is greener.  Since I was alone and could not see all of them I didn't want to take the chance of spooking them toward the road or away from the fence.  I fell back into position in the field and set myself up to be able to see if they left the poor neighbors yard.  And I waited for reinforcements.

Help arrived.  My step-mom and I pushed the cows through two different back yards.  We waited for dad to come back with the fencing and made sure the gals didn't do any more damage to the neighbors property.  The cows must have been anxious to get back to the herd for as soon as dad cut a hole in the fence they went right into the pasture.  Fencing projects ensued for the rest of the day to keep them out of the gully.  Head counts were completed and all 88 cattle were accounted for.  And nothing that was originally on the docket for the day got done.  Such is the life of a farmer, and his daughter on vacation.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

myObservatory is headed to Nashville! #NSTA16

I am excited to announce that I will be going to the National Science Teachers Association National Conference in Nashville in one month.  I think this will be a great opportunity to show off what myObservatory can do and to find some educators interested in partnering to develop education modules.  Over 10,000 K-16 science educators from all over the world participate in this national conference each year.  I attended a conference in Boston 8 years ago and am excited to go again.  I will be looking at what other education products are offering and talking with teachers about what they want in a teaching and learning tool.  But I will also be using our NEW and IMPROVED mobile app to document my journey!

We are hard at work preparing for this journey...and mobile app testing is number 1!  By the end of March (and the start of my conference experience) we will have a new version of the mobile app available in the App Store.  We are working to beta test this new app with all of the latest features.  I am particularly excited about the map view landing page. Here is a sneak peak.

I will be traveling from scenic Cape Cod (this is a view of the surrounding area of Cape Cod Community College, where I have my other job!) to historic Nashville.  I know very little about Nashville other than some vague notions about the music connections.  But instead of going to Nashville to "make it" in country music I am going to Nashville to "make it" in educational product development and marketing.  I'm sure someone could write a country song about that.  Maybe I'll ask while I'm there.

If you are a regular follower of this blog you know that I have two small children...who will NOT be coming with me to Nashville.  With all the free time I will be plotting my way around Nashville and collecting data about my journey.  The mobile app will allow me to organize my trip photos on the map so that I can come back and show the boys all the fun things I saw where I saw them.

If you want to come along on my journey in real time, follow me on Twitter @KateTCondon
I will also make regular posts to our myObservatory Facebook page.

Nashville, here we come, with our new app to show the world (or at least the world of science teachers!)