Saturday, May 18, 2013

Baker Creek Spring Planting Festival

 . . . old time buildings . . . period clothing . . . plants in so many varieties . . . old-fashioned crafts . . . music . . . vendors . . . people . . . smiles . . . laughter . . . animals . . .

. . . all of which were part of the Baker Creek Spring Planting Festival!

Last week, Dad, Mom, Leah and I had the opportunity to go to the festival, and despite the cold temperatures, wind, and rain, we had a wonderful time! As some good friends of ours that we hadn't seen in quite awhile were there as well, most of our time was spent with them; and as they had booths there, Leah and I didn't see a great deal of the festival (which we didn't mind at all!) as spending time together with our friends was a special treat!

At one point, though, Leah and I took a walk around part of the grounds and enjoyed going into many of the buildings and visiting the seed store. (All of the photos shared in this post were ones taken during our walk.) We had a fun time together! And as we both have quite an appreciation for the time-period that is depicted there as well as old-time crafts, gardening and more, it was especially enjoyable.

My friend, Morgan, had a booth there selling the homemade soaps that she makes, so outside of our walk, Leah and I spent most of the day with her in her booth visiting with her when she had opportunity and helping her as needed. What a blessing it was to be able to fellowship and encourage one another in the Lord! And as we have many similar interests and pursuits (raising goats, gardening, etc.), there is never a lack of things to talk about. :)

At one point during the day, Morgan and her siblings were going to sing in the talent show so Leah and I worked her booth for her while she was gone. We really enjoyed doing that!

We also had the blessing of seeing and visiting with a young lady that we had met at the Worldview Weekend Conference last month. It was such an encouragement talking with her! Some of the topics of conversation were about how we are striving to put into practice the things we had learned, living for the Lord, studying His Word, and ministering to those we know.

Both Morgan's family and ours had brought a lunch so in the afternoon, we ate in shifts inside a building that was right by her booth. Leah, Morgan, her little sister and I had a pleasant and fun time visiting together during lunch, and it was also nice to be able to be out of the wind for a bit!

Because we are still bottle feeding, we couldn't stay terribly long, but we were thankful for the time we were able to have there enjoying the festival, the music, the many sights and sounds, fellowship with dear friends and brothers and sisters in the Lord, and much more!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Catching Up ~ A Family Outing - Birdwatching

Way back toward the beginning of April our family took part of a day to visit one of our favorite conservation areas and go birdwatching (and I am only just now getting around to posting about it!)  It had been quite awhile since we had last done that, and it was so enjoyable! 

We left early in the morning so that the lighting would be the best for viewing the birds. We saw quite a few different species, some beautiful scenery, and I captured some of them with my camera (though the bird photography isn't the greatest as my lens is small so I have to crop each photo . . . it's fun nonetheless! :)

-- Reflections --
It was so still out and with the morning sun brilliantly lighting everything, 
scenes such as this were especially striking.

A flock of American White Pelicans lounging on the bank

Northern Shovelers . . . two drakes and a hen
These were the most common waterfowl species we saw . . . there were a lot of them there! 
Aren't their colors striking?

Turkey Vultures sunning themselves . . . while a lot of people consider these quite ugly birds, I like them. :) And seeing them like this reminds one of how huge they are!

Two male Scaup (I believe Lesser Scaup)

At one point, a Bald Eagle was flying over head and towards us so 
Dad stopped the truck so I could photograph it . . .

They are so majestic! And always a treat to see. 
How diversified and amazing are the creatures that God created!

About the same time as the eagle flew over, a Canada Goose was taking flight and here is a series of photos of that (it was so neat to see it's mirror image reflection in the water, too!) . . .

Getting propulsion . . . see how it is 'running' with its legs?

Lifting off

And away it goes!
(Can you find any other bird(s) in this photo?)

Looking out across one of the pools

Lesser Yellowlegs and Greater Yellowlegs are fun to watch! There was also a Dowitcher in here that we watched/studied for a long time trying to figure out if it was the Long-Billed or Short-Billed. We never did figure it out, but at least we know it was one or the other. :)

Turtles sunning themselves on a log (one of my Mom's favorite animals to see)

And a Northern Shoveler just landing in the water with another in the background

Monday, May 13, 2013

Gardening Season Here at Last

For awhile here this month, it felt like winter had returned with winter weather advisories around and highs in the 30's (which is very unusual for this time of year!) . . . yet now, spring has resumed in all its beauty. 

The trees are finally leafing out, the fruit trees have blossomed, the spring birds are arriving, and planting the main part of the vegetable garden has begun. Finally! It felt so good to till under the weeds that had started to take over the garden and to mark and plant the rows and plots (with some help from Mom and Leah with the latter. :) 

Part of the garden is all planted! I hope to till the rest and plant it this week.

As mentioned in this post, I had made a detailed garden map of what was to go where . . . only after losing all of the broccoli, cauliflower, and most of the cabbage plants to an unexpected hard freeze, plans changed! I didn't draw out a new map, but had a basic idea of what I was going to change and what was going to be put where. 

In addition to having a functional garden, this year I hope to make a pretty garden as well with flowers and herbs intermixed and different arrangements of plants instead of all straight rows or square plots (though we still have a quite a few of both of those.) It was fun to do! And I am looking forward to seeing what it looks like once everything is growing.

A long row of carrots . . . Leah helped me make the raised bed for them and plant them as well.

A new experiment for this year . . . a pole bean teepee! (made from some of the small trees we had cut down) with lettuce and spinach planted underneath and nasturtiums scattered around it.

As I thought about gardening, planting the tiny seeds, and about the amazing transformation those seeds were about to undergo, there were a couple of things from Scripture that came to mind. Do you remember in Scripture the parable of the sower and the seed (Luke 8:4-15) and how the word of God is compared to a seed? And how we are to plant those seeds . . . to share the gospel with others. I thought about the preparation that takes place before I plant in the garden . . . preparing the soil to make a soft soil bed, removing the weeds to prevent competition, removing large rocks, and this year, killing any grubs I could find . . . all so that the seeds will have the best opportunity to grow and flourish.

Is not this the same that we should be doing as part of the sharing of the gospel? Preparing the soil of hearts by answering the questions, removing the doubts, refuting the false doctrines and beliefs, upholding the authority of the word of God? Then the seed of the gospel is planted as we share with others the good news of the Lord Jesus Christ, and we water that seed, and hope and pray that the seed will take root and grow.

"I planted, Apollos watered . . ." (1 Corinthians 3:6a)

The pure seed of the gospel brings life in a heart that receives it and believes it, and not as the plant seeds do with simply physical life, but eternal life in Christ. The seed brings life to where there once was only death! The Lord has entrusted these seeds to us . . . His gospel . . . may we be faithful with our trust and share this incredible good news of Jesus Christ with others!

There are so many spiritual lessons that one can glean from gardening, isn't there? I love all of the parallels that there are! And also the character lessons that one can learn as one deals with loss of plants, drought, too much rain, disease, etc. And speaking of those things, we lost quite a few of our red onion plants and some of the yellow onions to the aforementioned grubs that are in the soil (they eat the root of the plant so then the plant dies.) So in the empty spots, I transplanted the volunteer lettuce plants that had come up in the potatoes . . .

Interplanting is something I haven't really done before, and I have a difficult time thinking with that mindset and being creative enough to figure out how to mix what plants together, but from what I have read and seen, I really like not only how it works, but how it looks, too. So interplanting is something I am trying to do some of this year.

One of the surviving cabbage plants

Leah and I had planted a fairly large plot of potatoes last month, and slowly, slowly, they began poking their leaves above the soil and growing. There are still a number of empty spots, but we're hoping that they'll have plants growing there soon! Last week, I tilled between the rows and hilled the plants up some . . . .

So far the peas are doing really well! Mom has been 
 faithfully weeding and hoeing around them . . .

We had four crops that we overwintered this year: spinach, kale, scallions and celery. The spinach went to seed, but there weren't enough plants to make seed saving possible. The celery is doing really well, and we'll be able to harvest from the three plants soon . . .

The kale bolted and I'm going to let it go to seed so that I can harvest seeds from it . . . and it's nice as no other brassicas are blooming now so there shouldn't be any cross-pollination!

Not only are the kale blossoms bright and cheery, but the honeybees love them . . .

The scallions are going to seed as well and like the kale, I'll be harvesting seed from them . . . this will make the third generation of scallion seeds saved!

Over in the strawberry patch by the chickens, the ground is blanketed in little white blossoms . . .

We were pleasantly surprised and thankful with how many strawberry plants came back this year. The heat and drought last year were really hard on them so we weren't sure what the patch was going to look like this year! As it turns out, all the drought did was thin the plants out so we didn't have to. :) And now we're all looking forward to having fresh strawberries again!

My little perennial herb garden that has lavender, thyme and oregano in it is doing well . . . .

The Oregano

Besides garden photos, I captured a few other ones while I was walking around 
including this one of a curious hen . . .

She, as well as all of the others, have been enjoying the abundance of grass clippings and weeds that we've been giving them!

A view of our neighbor's pasture . . . the walnut trees still have a ways to go before they're leafed out

Four beehives again! One of the hives was so large that Dad and I did a split from it a few weeks ago. Shortly thereafter we had a cold snap so we were wondering if it would survive, and it did! All four hives are doing well, and we have four honey supers on them so far (and it shouldn't be long before I'll need to add some more.) Also in this photo is our rhubarb patch, blueberry bushes, and some of the goats in the background.

Our first ever apple tree blossoms . . . they were so beautiful!

This week looks to be a lovely one, and I look forward to hopefully tilling and planting the rest of the garden. It will be so nice to have it all in!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Sweet Nieces

The times when Adelyn and Gracen come over to stay for awhile are always so fun and special! And much to our delight, it happens quite often, and of course, their parents stay sometimes, too. (And not to leave you both out Ryan and Ashley :), we love those times with you both as well!)

Anyway, this past week, the girls were over twice, and I took my camera out for a bit each time, and took a number of photos. It was nice as the first day they came over it was warm and sunny so we could spend some time outdoors which Adelyn especially loved.

Leah bringing Adelyn and Gracen outside

Watching their Grandpa work on cleaning out the buck pens

One of the many faces of Adelyn! She was having so much fun running around!

Playing with Aunt Sarah
(It's so funny, though, as she can't say my name so she calls both Leah and I "eah" (short for Leah) . . . it is so cute!)

Gracen with her Grandma

Adelyn going to see her Grandpa!

Getting hugs from Adelyn . . . she is such a sweet and very much-loved little girl!

Watching the goats

Precious Gracen playing with Aunt Leah after her nap

Today while we had the girls, Ryan and Ashley were at a large neighborhood garage sale, and they came back with some treasures, one of which was this tricycle which Adelyn loved!

Her Daddy helping her to 'ride' the tricycle

While the rocking horse wasn't one of their finds (Mom got it at a second hand store awhile back), Gracen had a lot of fun playing on it with her Mommy!

 Adelyn and Gracen are both growing up so fast! Adelyn is talking quite a bit now (albeit there is a lot we still can't understand), and she loves to have conversations with us. She is so sweet with her 'yes', 'pease', 'tank you', 'you okay?' that she says as well as her many hugs! Gracen is standing a bit on her own now . . . an achievement just accomplished for the first time this week! And her grins are almost always on her face as she's such a cheerful little thing. Both Adelyn and Gracen are such precious blessings and bring so much joy to our lives!