Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Country Folks Visit the City

I'm finally posting pictures of our spur-of-the-moment trip to NYC. The weather was absolutely gorgeous and we had a wonderful time taking in the sights of the city. There wasn't nearly enough time to see everything, so another trip is definitely in order. We loved the city--such a stark contrast to what we are used to on a daily basis here in good ol' Lancaster County. We were thankful the opportunity came up for Brian to make a delivery to NYC. Once the delivery was made, we were on our way to see the city. I really wished I would've had a pedometer along--we walked and walked and walked some more. We were sure to take in a taxi ride (actually 3) to make sure the kids had the chance to experience a once-in-a-lifetime taxi ride. It was my first taxi experience as well! Let's just say Katelyn and I had our eyes closed for most of the time. When we finally got back to our van, I think Brian had taken a lesson or two from the taxi drivers. He was fitting right in--blowing his horn and changing lanes constantly. "It's what you do in the city," he told me with a grin on his face.  I think he was enjoying it a little too much ;-)

Pictures are worth a thousand words....

Trying to figure out where we're going!

Found the American Girl Place for Katelyn.

Deidre Hall, a TV actress, was at NBC Studios giving autographs.

The kids were fascinated by the street vendors, so we experienced eating 'on the street.'

Then on to the Empire State Building

This pigeon kept getting in the way of my pictures! 

After we gave this some thought, this pigeon flew up 96 stories to join us on the top of the building!  At least we got to ride the elevator!

Views from the top (minus the pigeon)

Oh how kind--it looks like he's actually trying to move to get out of my picture.  Not quite, Mr. Pigeon.  A little to the right yet please.

and again,

and again.  Could it be that a little girl with a big heart for animals is feeding him next to me???  Hmmmm ;-)


Where the World Trade Centers once stood.

In the Tribute to the World Trade Center.  This is piece of the airplane that they pulled from the debris.

And a piece of twisted steel beam.  Hard to leave that place with a dry eye.  Very moving.

We stumbled across a street fair on the Avenue of the Americas.  Wished we would've had more time to sample all the flavors that were wafting up the street.  All kinds of ethnic foods!

Driving home through Time Square.  Good night, NYC!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Three Not-So-Little Pigs

 Well, another year is behind us in showing pigs with the Lancaster County 4-H swine club.  It's always an experience, as is everything on the farm. 

Charlotte and Templeton even showed up!

Trying to make them spic and span!

Judge is really studying Brandon's pig.  Wish that pole weren't there.  I'll have to try to edit that one out.

This year, Brandon decided to buy 3 pigs instead of the 2 he had last year.  As with any animal that will not be here 'long term,' we had tried not to name them.  But with Katelyn's creativity and her love of animals, they somehow get names assigned to them.  This year, the three little pigs were eventually named Wheezy, Doug and Hammie.  Let me explain the names--Wheezy has a little difficulty breathing.  At first we thought he had pneumonia or bronchitis or something of the sorts; but after being treated, he continued with his 'wheezy' breathing.  The vet believed it was some sort of birth defect--he was born with too-small airways.  His health was fine otherwise, gaining weight right up there with the other two.  He just wasn't able to physically keep up with the other two pigs when we got them out walking, so he would stay behind, coughing, hacking and wheezing.  Thus the name :-)  We debated the week prior to the show if we would even take him to the show.  We didn't want people to think we were abusing him or he was suffering in any way.  The vet said he was perfectly healthy and not contagious, so we thought we might as well take him along.  Definitely glad that decision was made.  He ended up doing the best out of the three!  Unbelievable!  He got medium weight reserve champion! 
This was where the judge picked Brandon's pig as 1st in his class.  The pig's expression cracks me up--looks like he's just as surprised as the rest of us!  His jaw dropped too!
Doug's name has a very simple reason behind it--he was always digging holes and 'rooting' when he got out of the pen--So 'Dugalot' or Doug for short stuck with him.  And lastly, Hammie.  Well, that's self-explanatory.  You see, his most prominent feature is his hams, or in other words, his butt.  He's just got a wide load!!!!  The judge even commented on his 'rear-view.'  So Hammie was the name! 

There is so much preparation and anticipation for the show.  It becomes a total family project, which provides many great memories for the kids.  I'm hoping in the future, they will look back and not remember so much the ribbons or the money earned, but the time spent as a family.  It is so easy to get caught up in the 'winning' mode when getting ready for a show.  I will be the first to admit that I was secretly hoping he would win, but we try to teach the kids that in the long run, it's not the money or ribbons, but to somehow let this experience bring honor and glory to the One that makes all things possible.  If we can somehow bless someone through these pigs, then it doesn't matter if you come in last place or first place.  It's all in relationships!!!    I know that sounds odd to bless someone through pigs, but just to take the time to answer people's questions or to let a little child brush a pig that may never again have that opportunity has hopefully touched someone's life, even if in a very small way.

Brandon has already said he's doing it again next year.  Can't wait.  Now if we could only convince Katelyn to show pigs too ;-)  I think she'll just stick to horses.  Don't have to sell those!  The hard part (at least for myself and Katelyn) will be the auction--that will be Thursday evening.  Brandon is very stoic and takes this process very seriously.  It's a guy thing.  Katelyn and I take care of the tears.  We know in the beginning they will eventually be sold and try to keep our emotions at bay, but in a way, it resembles another year gone by, a fun summer spent with those crazy pigs.  But we have the memories and can look forward to another unpredictable year with the animals!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Labor Day Getaway

Over Labor Day, we had made reservations to go camping at a lovely campground near Ocean City, Maryland--Frontier Town.  The last time we stayed at this campground was BC (before children) and a hurricane went through and we had to evacuate.  Well, 15 years later, it looked early on as though history was going to repeat itself!  Earl was headed for the East Coast--but even though we needed the rain, we were very thankful when Earl made himself scarce and quickly disappeared.  What followed Earl was perfect camping weather--warm, sunny, picture-perfect days and cool, sit-by-the-campfire-to-warm-up nights.

I just finished taking an online photography course (which I absolutely loved!).  It helped me move past the auto mode and learn what all those letters and buttons actually do on my camera.  Now I just have to remember everything!  The beach was the perfect spot for practicing.  God's beautiful creation provided some awesome opportunities to try to capture some images of a fun family weekend.

The view from our campsite each morning!

Of course no family vacation is complete without a family shot.  Kids always love these ;-)  I was trying to figure out my camera's timer.  Most of my shots had my backside in as I was rushing to get in place.  Finally got one!

biking over to Assateague Island
Some wild ponies we saw while biking on Assateague Island.  I found it interesting that the birds perch on the horses' backs.  I'll have to research that and find out why.  The horses don't seem to mind one bit!  It looks like there's a line for the birds to get rides :-)
View of Ocean City, MD, from the bridge to Assateague Island

Monday, August 30, 2010

First Day of School

Well, it's that time of the year already.  School begins for another year.  Always makes me a little sad for the kiddos--I forget what it was like (pretty long ago already), but it just seems like such a huge adjustment going from a carefree lifestyle of going outside whenever they choose, barefoot and fancy free, to sneakers and backpacks and homework.  I know it's a necessary thing--we all need to learn.  I guess that's what makes summer vacation all the more special.  Makes it a little bit easier sending them on the bus with their Grandpa--I know he'll be taking good care of them.  Keep your eyes on the road Grandpa ;-)

As we reflect back on our summer, it makes me smile.  While we didn't do any huge trips this year, we definitely had lots of quality family time hanging out here on the farm--splashing in the creek, campfires, picnics and late summer nights just being outside enjoying the beauty of the stars and fireflies and all God's creation.  Makes me look forward to next summer already!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Back in the Saddle Again!

OK guys.  I'm trying this again.  I promise I will try to do a better job from here on out on posting to my blog.  I'm going to blame my disappearance from blogland due to facebook.  I thought facebook would be a good way to keep others updated on life here at the farm, but in reality, there just isn't enough of room!  And in the case of blogs, you the reader personally choose to come to our blog to read it, so I know you are truly interested.  With facebook, it's out there for everyone to see whether they like it or not.  So enough of my excuses--I'm back and will try my best to keep this posted on a more regular basis!

Egg Hunts Once Again!

Today is an egg-citing day (get it?? egg-citing, exciting???  I CRACK myself up!  Ha!).  We've been anxiously anticipating the arrival of farm-fresh eggs.  It's been several months--at least 6--where we have had to endure store-bought eggs!  Since those foxes cleaned out the chicken house, we had to start fresh with a new batch of chickens.  Our little chicks (silver laced cochins) came from Iowa back in March and are finally old enough to be paying their rent!  Brandon came in today from feeding the chickens with the two cutest little eggs I've ever seen.  Needless to say, we will still need to buy eggs for a little while until production and size pick up :-).  These little eggs won't make a very big omelette!  But, we eagerly anticipate the day when we have plenty of eggs for all our needs.  Hopefully enough to sell some day!   

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Everglades

On Tuesday, we ventured to the Everglades. In the morning, we went horseback riding through parts of the everglades. It felt like we were in the middle of the jungle. Palm trees, mangroves, cypress trees everywhere. Katelyn was all smiles from the time she got on her horse, Serenity, until she got off. She was a natural rider they tell us. Now she wants to get a horse next week she said. Oh my, another animal to add to the farm. We'll have to see about that.

In the afternoon, we headed a little farther south and took an airboat ride through the everglades. Brandon's favorite part was doing doughnuts in the middle of the swamp. Didn't see as many alligators as we had hoped, although we did get to hold a baby alligator!