Tuesday, July 30, 2013

hobby farming

Our long-term plan of becoming successful gardeners continues apace.  My pride and joy on the land are these black raspberry bushes.  Last year, we had about 5 berries due to some incorrect pruning and water shortages.  This year we probably had more than 100 from the south bush.  The north bush is producing a single berry this year, but is growing great.  I'm hoping for bushels next year.
 We have also enjoyed carrots and lots of greens (chard, spinach, lettuce, and such).  Tomatoes are growing well, and we harvested our first squash.  I planted some pole beans outside of the protected area, but the bunnies ate them.  Boo on them.

Rain has fallen from the sky this year.  We took a trip to Kickapoo recently to splash around in the river.  The kids didn't get much further from shore than shown below.  There is way more water flowing than last year
 I've decided to be less stingy with watering the grounds this year.  Also, water is super fun for the girls!  My water bill was a whopping $9 more last month as a result.
 We didn't plant too many flowers this year.  Thankfully some remain from the previous owners.  I've also started to care for our rose bush this year.  I noted that numerous holes were appearing in its leaves and found the tiny green worms that were responsible.  They were then squished.

Speaking of squishing, both girls are quite successful lightning bug catchers.  Janny is quite rough on them (and all bugs in general).
 Janny is getting big, but not quite clothesline big.  Clara wears the above dress every day (in the last photo below, it is underneath the dress you can see).  Both girls are extremely picky about their clothes.  Jill used to picked stuff out and put it on them.  Now every single item is negotiated.  Somehow, we eventually do get out of the house.
 After planning to do so for more than a year, we finally got out to former co-worker David's bison farm near Villa Grove.  He has 20 something bison, 8 of which were born this spring.  Did you know that bison are pretty smart and independent?  Birthing is handled without human help.  David feeds them some grain pellets every few days, but mostly they wander the pastures eating the grass.  What a beautiful place to spend the weekend!  Smartly, we stayed only for an hour, so we didn't have to put in any work.
Finally, there was nothing to worry about regarding the softball team's hitting.  We won our first two playoff games rather handily against two of Vineyard's finest, included the dreaded Black.  The championship game  is Monday night where we face mighty Savoy United Methodist.  Television rights are being negotiated.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

4th in Nashville

We spent our long 4th of July weekend with Jill's family in Nashville, or a good chunk of it anyway.  If you ask the machine for trip duration, it says something like 6 hours from Urbana to Nashville.  For us, it was more like 10, which is why I say only a chunk of our time was actually in Nashville.  The girls passed the time watching movies, napping (just a tiny bit), and eating Skittles.  Clara shared a few of her sour skittles (yellow only), which cousin Josh has been talking up for 2 years.  He's right, they are super good.

One reason the trip took so long is a huge positive.  Janny is now pretty well potty trained!  We had no accidents during the drive.  She has spent a couple of nights in undies without problem.  Hooray!

It rained most of the time down there, but we managed to find a few breaks between the torrents to play outside.  Matt and Lupita have a trampoline.  Fun for the whole family.  They also now have 3 chickens in their backyard, and are enjoying them so far.  We also can have a few chickens in our backyard, but I'll wait for the 1 year review from them before even considering it.
Lots of rain meant that there was lots of time for stories with Grandpa.  But running around the house and playing dress up were more common.  All the kids got fun toys called hex bugs to play with.  They chew through batteries like you wouldn't believe (or is that just because our kids leave them running all the time?), but are quite cool.  They run around just like the roaches on the U of I campus.
The local reservoir had a whole lot more water than the last time we were there.  A couple places along the path were flooded out, much to the delight of the kids.  We also learned that wet plastic slides are super fast through the bottom (literally).
Oh yeah, and the main reason we took the trip was to meet baby Linda!  She and Lupita are in good health.  She does what all strong one month-olds do-- not much. 
Clara and Janny were both intrigued by their new cousin.  Janny's first comment about Linda was that she didn't like her, but she warmed up to the new tiny person.
And now for the quick recap of other recent events. 

Andy Cline and family stayed with us for a day during the cross country tour.  I might have some pictures to post next time (not sure we took any photos, boo us).

The softball regular season ended with our record at 5-5.  Our hitting is hugely erratic.  In recent games we scored 24,13, and 4 runs.  I'm sure that trend doesn't mean anything.  Playoffs start on Monday.

I had my 6 month review at work.  They are keeping me around (and increasing my pay a skosh).  And I am staying.

We got reimbursed for our dentist appointments of 9 months ago this week.  In an effort to discourage such late payouts, our state passed a law requiring it to pay something like 5% interest on late payments (where does that extra money come from?).  IL-- we know money.

Jill is watching somewhere around a bazzillion kids this week.  Our two, neighbors' two, church friends' one spend a lot of time here.  Tomorrow, 3 additional kids come.  And she is still going to 5:30 am workout.  I can't say that I'm surprised she is sleeping while I'm writing this up.