16. March 2010 · 2 comments · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: ,

Today I stayed a bit more diligent with the iPhone in an attempt to capture snow geese and I had an immediate success! This formation was flying right over Jacob’s school while I was waiting to pick him up, stretching from the southeast towards the northwest! Before the schoolbell rang, you could hear the geese honking like crazy. Then the kids started pouring out the door. Starting at about 20 seconds into the video, if you look closely you can see the formations undulating and changing shape. Geeky, yes, but also very fascinating.

You try flapping your arms from the Gulf Coast all the way up to the northern coast of Canada!


14. March 2010 · Comments Off on Nebraska Discoveries 10: Snow Geese · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , ,

For the past 2-3 weeks, it’s been slowly warming here. I wish I had blogged a little more about the extreme bitter cold we experienced here, and the record-after-record-after-record snowfall we had here in the Omaha area since December. I’ll be updating our “Vollmer Weather Curse” post soon with this past winter’s craziness and I promise more details then.

With the ever-so-subtle signs of spring coming, we’re noticing the skies (“skies?” there’s only one sky!) absolutely full of snow geese. Thousands of them flying in their trademark “V” formation…as far as the eye could see across the sky. The first couple times the boys and I have seen them, they were clearly flying north.

I haven’t taken any pictures of the geese migrating (I know, Maryann’s going to murder me!), but I found this blog post that summarizes my first impressions of the geese in the sky, along with a picture of what I’ve been seeing. Note that the post was about the same time of year, just 3 years prior.

At first, I assumed that these were Canada geese. After all, they were loud and prolific, right? But driving down Platteview Rd., which is the way I usually drive from my house to our church and our local shopping center (Shadow Lake Town Center), I saw one of the formations put themselves down on a rural field. Again, since I don’t take pictures while traveling 55 m.p.h. down the road, I’ll just steal this picture here, which pretty accurately captures what I saw:

Wait a sec — those aren’t Canada geese! What are those?

So I went home and consulted my handy-dandy Peterson’s Field Guide…

…and discovered that they’re actually snow geese. Here’s a close up picture (which I again stole from someone else…):

So I read a bit more about snow geese and that was all well and good. Yep, there are a lot of them. Yep, they migrate up the Missouri and Mississippi Valleys in the late winter/early spring towards their summer breeding grounds in extreme northern Canada. Yep, the state of Nebraska has a special extension to their hunting season from February 6 – April 18 of this year expressly to help with the populations of these geese as they continue to grow.

Last week I noticed something strange. I saw more and more “V” formations NOT flying north. I saw some moving west south of our neighborhood. I’m guessing that movement is related to their following the Platte River. We live about 1 1/2 miles north of the Platte River, just before it dumps into the Missouri. I was okay with that explanation.

But what about a couple of “V” formations flying in huge circles? Big circles…like 1/2 mile radius circles. I was driving Timmy to preschool when we saw that happening, so I mentioned it to Mrs. Brown, Timmy’s preschool teacher. She said that snow goose flocks were very territorial and the circling flocks were probably looking for a place to put down near a water source, and were being chased off by other flocks already in place. At the time, the snow hadn’t completely melted, so many food sources were still under snow pack, particularly in the corn and soybean fields.

I do wish I was more a Johnny-on-the-spot with getting pictures of video of these formations. I just got a new iPhone 3GS last week and it has a video capability, so maybe I’ll get lucky that way.

09. March 2010 · 4 comments · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , ,

I’m currently in possession of a Big Top Cupcake pan.

From 2010 03 08 Big Top Cupcake

A giant cupacake. The ad claims it’s 25x larger than a standard cupcake, but I’m not sure what they’re using to measure that —

Math Time!

I put about 1/4 cup of batter in a single little cupcake. For this cupcake, I used 4 cups of batter.

By my calculation, that’s a 16x larger cake than a standard cupcake. However, as you’ll see as I go through the pictures, I probably could have gotten away with up to 6 cups of batter, thus making a 24x larger cupcake. Then you have to trim a bunch off…so I personally think 25x is a stretch.

Our neighbor behind us, who I affectionately call “Dave the Neighbor”, posted some Facebook pictures this past Saturday of his son’s Big Top Cupcake creation from this past weekend. I commented about how cool that cake was, and we conversed some about the pan. I asked if I could borrow it sometime, and about 15 minutes later his son ran over with the pan. Quick service!

I rifled through my pantry, looking for what ingredients I had on hand to use for a recipe with the cake pan. I found enough stuff to make a modified version of the Boston Cream Cake recipe in the book that comes with the pan:

– 1 box of yellow cake mix, plus the oil, 2 eggs and a carton of egg whites (for the equivalent of the third egg)
– Two packets of vanilla Jell-O singles
– Half a bag of Hershey’s MILK chocolate chips
– 1 can of condensed milk.

Hmmmm….most of the recipes call for about 1 1/2 boxes of cake mix, but I figured we can make do. As for the chocolate chips and condensed milk, I can combine those for a yummy chocolate pourable frosting.

So here we go…

Here are the pans. The apparatus at the bottom goes over the “bottom” pan to put a pocket on the top of the cake with which you can fill with icing, pudding, etc.

From 2010 03 08 Big Top Cupcake

And here’s the cake mix — nothing spectacular. Jacob will like yellow cake:

From 2010 03 08 Big Top Cupcake

Mix the ingredients together:

From 2010 03 08 Big Top Cupcake

This is what I use to grease my cake pans. It’s so easy to use, much easier than shortening and flour!

From 2010 03 08 Big Top Cupcake

So I messed up in forgetting to take pictures of me filling the pans, but the pan on the left is the bottom of the cupcake, while the pan on the right is the top. I wish I had put more batter in the top…and you’ll see why in a moment:

From 2010 03 08 Big Top Cupcake

I’m not completely sure that 350 degrees is appropriate to bake these — the edges got VERY brown, and the center was barely set. If I try this again, I should try it at 325 degrees.

From 2010 03 08 Big Top Cupcake

And then these huge cracks appeared:

From 2010 03 08 Big Top Cupcake

I have to admit, when I turned out the cakes, they didn’t look bad.

From 2010 03 08 Big Top Cupcake

But when I put the top onto the bottom, it seemed that the top of the cake could have been more substantial. That’s okay, it’ll still taste good.

From 2010 03 08 Big Top Cupcake

I used this Jell-O Singles shaker thing to mix up the two packets of vanilla pudding.

From 2010 03 08 Big Top Cupcake

Then I filled the pocket:

From 2010 03 08 Big Top Cupcake

Whaddya think?

From 2010 03 08 Big Top Cupcake

How about some chocolate icing? Using my poor girl’s double boiler, I mixed together 1/2 a can of condensed milk with what was left of my milk chocolate chips.

From 2010 03 08 Big Top Cupcake
From 2010 03 08 Big Top Cupcake

This tastes JUST LIKE chocolate doughnut icing — YUM! I poured it on top of the cake:

From 2010 03 08 Big Top Cupcake


From 2010 03 08 Big Top Cupcake

I had my boys laughing their heads off at this mess…

From 2010 03 08 Big Top Cupcake

Oh wait! Let me put a fork next to it so you can see how big it is!

From 2010 03 08 Big Top Cupcake

It cut pretty cleanly, and we all enjoyed a yummy dessert:

From 2010 03 08 Big Top Cupcake

There’s one happy Timmy!

From 2010 03 08 Big Top Cupcake

So do I love it or loathe it? I don’t know…neither. I’m glad I had a chance to try it out, and as it stands right now MAYBE I’ll buy one. Maybe I’ll get one as a gift? I currently have quite a repertoire of cake pans and there are several I haven’t used in years. Thank you Dave-the-Neighbor for letting us make a yummy dessert with your pan!