Monday, February 29, 2016

Stranded in Arkansas

My plan for coming back from Texas was: to leave early Tuesday morning, stay the evening at my dear cousin Carrie and family's house, and get up super, super early Wednesday evening to get back home that day... But apparently God had other plans. A major snow storm was blowing north that day. So due to my families major pleading and my cousin's really sweet hospitality, I stayed in Arkansas for one extra day. It was one of the best decisions, and I had the most fun and lovely time!

When I had stopped by on my way down to Texas I got to see their 1 day old little darling Jersey calf Ginger. 

This time 2 weeks later, she was a lot more energetic, bouncing around the pasture. Super cute! 

And her Mother Nora was pretty sweet too!

Had such a fun full day. Went out and visited a real neat state park with an aquarium....

And turtles to hold...

And bees to watch..

And a neat interactive map.
But my favorite part of the day was after we got back to their house. It was an awesome crazy afternoon, of playing games, coloring, chatting, chasing and wrestling pigs, and amazing dinner and dessert, and crashing on the couch to Mary Poppins before bed! 
So thankful for being able to re-meet and spend time with such a wonderful family!
 So you see being stranded in Arkansas wasn't so bad after all!


Sunday, February 28, 2016

Michigan View

So while I was basking in the Texas sun, many miles north my family was experiencing the joys of Michigan weather. While I was gone, I think they went through 3 or 4 major weather changes. Here's a glimpse.

You all saw this photo. I believe the temperature was around -11 when it was taken. (this is what happens when you throw boiling water into the air in a sub - 0 day) The day after I left, Home was covered in 3 inches of cold fluffy snow. And then that weekend my family and all the animals lived through some pretty cold weather. Actually our first negatives this year! Not bad considering how the last 2 years have been.

But give Michigan a week, and welcome to another season!! By the next week, temperatures rose, and everything began to melt. 

Josiah worked on clearing paths outback, on the barely still frozen marsh... 

Duckies happily marched around making mud puddles and relishing their freedom... 

Robins came flocking in, and Blackbirds were heard, their song splitting the warming air... 

And Josiah's trees began running again in earnest and he was busy boiling in his newly built Sugar Shack to keep up with it! But once again.. you can never rely on the weather staying the same for so long... don't want to get bored now do we?

 Look at this. Yup. In one day, from nothing on the ground to over 10 inches. I was down in Arkansas that day on my way home, and was convinced by my family to stay there (story coming) because of this whiteout happening back home.

Look at all of that white stuff!! 

By mid day on Thursday, the skies was clear and the sun peaking out, feebly peering down on the heavy laden white world. 

With the wind picking up at the end of the storm, drifts became rather impressive. 

Sadie looking like a ferocious wolf leaping through the snow. 

This is Josiah's leg... that should give you a hint at just how deep the snow was! 

I have always loved walking through the woods after a windy snow storm. All the trees were plastered on the side with heavy wet snow. 

Such a beautiful view!! I made it home in time to see this lovely landscape, but as I said before... don't count on it to stay a certain way for any length of time. The view out of the window now is a lot less white than the above photos. All melted once again!
Please stay tuned here, for continued coverage of this slightly spastic early spring. 


Friday, February 26, 2016

A New Little Friend

On one of Josiah's many expeditions clearing paths in the bog, he suddenly realized that something was watching him. Watching him intently with a large round dark eye...

An eye that belonged to this quite adorable creature known as a flying squirrel!! 
Research is still being done on whether the darling little rodent is a Northern Flying Squirrel, or a Southern Flying Squirrel... but whatever it is we are very happy to have it inhabiting our woods!


Saturday, February 20, 2016

My View: Two Weeks in Texas

So, as you saw in the last post, I'm obviously NOT in Michigan right now. Texas, is my current location. I'm staying with and helping out John with his little baby.
And these have been my views.
Left early Monday morning... and this was my view of the sunrise.. 

My view of each state as I drove through (my word, Illinois is long!!)  The sunset was gorgeous after I entered Arkansas. Close to my half way destination for the day.

 I was so blessed to be able to stay with my wonderful Cousin and her family in Arkansas. They have a really neat farm there, and can I just say, what an awesome family!!? So much fun spending even a short amount of time with!

Took off the next morning, and probably mid day crossed into Texas... And I drove and drove and drove and drove... Texas is huge. And of course my brother lives at the bottom of it!

This was my view come 6:30.... through to like 7:30... yeah. Not the best time to try to traverse Houston... But I made it! Late and slightly weary, I made it. Drove all the way, just me and Cubby (my car) pretty much across the entire country!  (well from top to bottom, almost)

This was my reason for being down there. Meet beautiful brown eyed Isabella Grace.

One of the most chill, happy easy going babies I have ever met! And so gorgeous!!!

Did I say something about her being happy!! :) Bella turned 4 months old when I was down, so we had to take some photos!

While the main reason for my trip was Bella, and most of my time was spent with her, there were days where I wasn't needed to watch her. And what with John working all the time, I was left to explore Texas by myself. :) I was able to volunteer at a couple places. The Farmers Market was pretty awesome! I volunteered there one night, as well as doing a bit of touring. First week here, I went to the South Texas Botanical Gardens. This place was gorgeous!!! And fun! If you are ever in Corpus Christi, seriously check it out! There is plenty to see, plenty to do, kids would love it, and it's very affordable. With lots of neat birds (some you could hold, and some that talked!!!) Lizards, Tortoises, in neat outdoor enclosures, it had a zoo, or animal sanctuary vibe. But then there were also the conservatories, and gardens, a play ground, (a butterfly house, and HummingBird Garden too!) and to top it off, it's set on  180 acres, and has an extensive board walk and trails and lots of wildlife to watch!! I spent a good half of the day there, and came away with lots of photos, fun memories (just ask me about the talking birds..) and a major sunburn.

This last bit of Texas I just discovered. On one of my free evenings, I finally decided to get out of the apartment, and head down to Mustang Island, just in time for the Sunset. It was breathtaking, beautiful, aweinspiring.. Well, I'll just let the photos speak for themselves. 

I had a lovely time there.
Well, my time down in Texas is drawing to a close. I had such a wonderful time caring for my darling little niece, catching up with John, meeting new people, and viewing another part of God's amazing creation!!
Here's to the next adventure!


Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Two Different Points of View

 My family up in Michigan just lived through some freezing temps; literally in the negatives for quite a few mornings in a row. 
The reason I say "up in Michigan" is because I'm not there.... 

This is my family's view.

This is my view.


Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Strange Weather, and the Beginning of Maple Season

January is done and over (and February half way there) and speaking of January.. it was one of the mildest we've had to date!! So mild in fact that the unthinkable happened.

Josiah tapped our Maple Trees the last few days of January! This (as far as I know) has never happened before here in Michigan! 

Josiah was a little nervous about starting so early, in case of a long run.. but he didn't want to miss out on this first bit.

So off he went through the fast melting snow with his stack of buckets.

Mr. Precision himself had his clipboard with him. This time he not only is recording each tree's sugar content but also the volume of sap they produce! Details, details! :)

Dad and I (oh, and Sadie) went along with him when he started tapping the hill and swamp trees. We helped him with hammering in the taps, setting the buckets, and writing down stats. 
"Drip... Drip... Drip..."  On those warmer sunny days we had early in February the buckets filled up rather fast!

After a great run over a couple days, Josiah knew he had to get his Sugar Shack up quick. And I am SO kicking myself that I didn't take the time to take photos of this in progress..

Josiah did an incredible job as always with limited supplies. This is a temporary structure. Well a permanent temporary one. What I mean to say is, he is planning on building a bigger more wind proof and well, "real" Sugar Shack in the near future but on this site. 

Now from the last 2 pictures you might be thinking.. "Wow! How does Josiah fit in there!? It looks kind of short!"

Well fit he does! Quite nicely! You see, using Faith's little blue Tractor, he dug into our hill at the top of the bowl, where it starts sloping down toward the bog.  
Setting up the insides! 

This is one of our biggest Maples out back. It has a beautiful branch spread. Three buckets on this one!!

For a wind break, Josiah stapled clear plastic feed bags all around the structure.  

Here's the side view =, going down the hill. 

And the front all finished, with a door, complete with a country latch. :) 
This current Temporary Sugar Shack is 10x10. But as you can kind of see in this photo, the area is much larger, and Josiah is planning the final project to be somewhere around 20x15! He also is planning on leaving the tree stump, and making a table!! Josiah, never ceases to amaze me with his creativity and talent!

With 34 trees tapped, a total of 65 taps, combined with the good stretch of warm weather, he was able to start boiling in the sugar shack right away.  In all, he collected 90 gallons of sap which boiled down to more than two gallons of syrup. (yum!)  Some of the syrup was made into maple sugar, which is a very interesting process. I am unaware of the currant happenings on the farm (though I do know it's been too cold for the trees to run the last week plus, but might get there this coming week) because I am not at home! But that's another story all in itself.