Category Archives: kids

Another Great Rodeo Weekend

This past weekend we were at another Sparta Rodeo.  The oldest three and I went on Friday, to try and help out any way we could.  I am not a rodeo person per se, I didn’t grow up with rodeo events or horses.  The most experience I had with horses was a good friend of mine in high school having a couple horses that we could go ride wherever we wanted.  It was my first taste of riding without having my horses nose in the butt of the horse in front of me in line, and it was a lot of fun.  But I didn’t grow up in the country “culture” of rodeos, and FFA, and 4H.  I am learning, but it isn’t something I am extremely accustomed to being around.  That being said, it is just a fun, and relaxed atmosphere.  Rodeo people are nice, they let your kids ride their horse, or golf cart, or four wheeler.  They share their food and drink.  They teach you how to throw a lasso so you can rope a bull.  In short, they are good people.

Friday night was the speed show.  It was fun watching people of all ages compete in the events.  The contestants ranged in age from about 5 to 60 and while they all wanted to win the buckle, which is the prize for first place, they were all rooting for each other to do their best.  Some young girls all really wanted to win, but when the day was done, they genuinely congratulated their friend for beating them on that day.  It was nice to see.

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I think my favorite event was the rescue race.  It consists of a two people on a team.  One team member stands on a barrel at the end of the arena.  The other team member has to race down to them as fast as they can, get them on the back of their horse, and race back out of the arena.  It was quite fun to watch the different ways people tried to jump onto the horse.

On Saturday late morning there was an event called Cowboy Poker.  Everyone gets together for a ride from the camp grounds to downtown Sparta.  They visit seven stations around the town obtaining a playing card at each station.  Out of their seven cards they make their best 5 card poker hand, and the winner takes home the pot.  A good time was had by all.

Saturday and Sunday evenings were the main events, the actual rodeo.  People chose their spots on the hill surrounding the arena and cheered for their cowboy, or bull, and laughed at the rodeo clown’s antics.  My middle kids’ favorite event is the boot scramble.  They have the kids come into the arena and take off their shoes.  The clown and pickup men then scramble their shoes at the other end of the arena and the first person to get their shoes on and give the clown five wins an ice cream.

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Any time we are away from our home parish for a weekend we enjoy visiting different parishes.  Cathedrals are always a draw if we are near one, and this weekend we happened to be.  The Cathedral of St. James in Grand Rapids is a beautiful church.  The Mass time that happened to fit our timing also happened to be a Spanish Mass.  It gave me a chance to brush up on my Spanish comprehension skills.  I have to say I probably understood about half of the homily, which isn’t bad considering I haven’t spoken the language on a regular basis in at least ten years.  I was very proud of our kids, despite not understanding the language, they behaved well, and HB1 even understood some of the homily himself.


I was happy to be able to make it this year, last year I was sick so the family went without me.  I enjoy helping out where I can, visiting with people who I haven’t seen since the last rodeo, and relaxing around the camp fire looking at stars.


I hope to be able to get a video together on the rodeo soon, so look for that on the YouTube channel.

Until then…


When Internet, or the Lack Thereof, Gets in the Way

Since moving out to the Homestead, I have not had any regrets, not one.  This week tested that sentiment.  I have mentioned before that we have had to use satellite internet.  No other service will provide for us.  All of our neighbors can get internet, literally ALL of our neighbors can get at least DSL.  Apparently we are literally feet too far to push their signal.  I have been calling and emailing any nearby service to see if there is some way to get better and more reliable internet all to no avail.  I will keep trying, but at this point I feel defeated on this front.  First world problem, I know and am aware, doesn’t make it any less frustrating for me.

The reason this came to a head this week was I have been unable to upload several YouTube videos.  I have even tried going to two family members’ homes and tried uploading videos, but I would have to leave my laptop there for hours to upload and if something were to go wrong I wouldn’t be there to fix it.  For my blog, I have always saved on our data usage by using the WordPress App and uploading pictures from my phone using that instead of uploading them from my desktop.

Early on in the YouTube channel, I was making one take videos on my iPhone so I could also upload the videos using the YouTube app on my cellular data plan, no problem.  Since I have been trying to make more professional, and longer, videos I have needed to use editing software.  It has made the videos better, but uploading a 4GB video eats into our data allowance in a huge way.  I actually think part of the problem with uploading was the fact that I wasn’t pre-rendering the videos.  I use Corel VideoStudio X9, and when I was trying to upload a video it would render the video and upload it at the same time.  I think something about that timed out the connection.  Last night I figured out a way to render the videos to a file, and then upload that file.  It seemed to work even on our slow connection because I was able to upload three videos.  Here is one that has spent a week in the can, waiting to be shared with the public.

One of the three videos I uploaded was my son’s first video.  He has seen me taping for videos and wanted to start his own channel so I opened a Homestead Kids channel.  His first video was just scenery on the way home from a friend’s house.  He time lapsed the video, added music, and at title shot at the beginning and end, and he did it all himself.  If you have a couple minutes, take a look, and if you really want to give him a thrill subscribe.  While you’re at it, consider subscribing to my channel as well.


Bringing Home the Bacon

Today was the day.  Today we went to go pick up our American Guinea Hogs.  It was about an hour and a half drive each way.  We got on the road around 9:30 and arrived at the farm we bought the pigs from at 11, fortunately we didn’t have to make any stops which is never a guarantee when traveling with kids.

The man we bought the pigs from was very nice.  He has been rehabbing an old run down farm house and has been busy getting his hog facilities set up.  He has both American Guinea Hogs and Julianna Pigs.  We were able to walk around his farm a bit and the loaded up our pigs and got back on the road headed home.

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When we got home and got the pigs in their new enclosure it was time to get their hut finished.  It took less than an hour to get the pallets screwed together and get the roof on it giving the pigs some shelter and shade.  I was able to get the sides on it between dropping off HB1 at a church group, and picking him up.  It isn’t perfect, and it will still need to be winterized, but it’s good for now.  I forgot to take pictures of the sides on because I needed to run and pick him up.

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I ordered a pig watering nipple from Amazon and it should arrive tomorrow at which point I will use a 55 gallon drum I have to make them a waterer allowing them to use the small trough that I have for baths.

Watch out for a video on the YouTube channel soon.  They are cute little buggers.

Closer to Bacon

We are inching our way closer to being ready for pigs.  As of now I am planning on picking up the pigs early next week.  Things have been slowed down because a couple of the little ones have been sick.  Even so, we are still getting some work done, the latest of which was getting the gate hung, pounding T posts in between the wood posts, and fixing the corner where the wooded posts were slightly too far apart.

The boys have been a big help.  I do my very best to make sure I let them know when I am going out to do a project and to let them help in some way.  Lately that has even included working the cameras for making YouTube videos.  Always learning, teaching, or both(or at least attempting to).

Here’s the video from hanging the gate.


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I Go Ga-Ga for my Kids, Literally

When our oldest son and I went to camp with our church earlier this summer there were lots of games and activities for the kids to partake in during their off time.  The one game that most of the kids gravitated towards during that time was a game called Ga Ga Ball.  Apparently it has become pretty popular around the country, but I wan’t cool enough to know about it.

When we got home, B1 wanted to build our own Ga Ga Pit, the “arena” in which you play the game.  Giving the kids more reasons to be outside playing, I was in.  But with all the traveling we had been doing in the weeks after, building a Ga Ga pit got put on the back burner.  Well, B1 was hoping to have some friends over this weekend and he really wanted to try and get the pit built before they came over.

My original plan was to build the pit just like they had at the camp, with posts sunk in the ground and dimensional lumber between them to create the “octopit”, another name for a Ga Ga Pit.  Since we didn’t have time, and I wasn’t sure where I would want to locate a pit permanently, I came up with an alternative plan.  I would use pallets that we had for the sides.  I figured it should work.

So B1 and I got to work Saturday late morning.  B1 used the yard trimmer to cut the grass down low where we were going to locate the pit.  We then brought over 8 of the best pallets we had left, ones that didn’t have slats missing or nails protruding.  Then we set up the pallets and tried to get them into as regular an octagon as we could by eye and used some scrap two by fours to cleat the tops of the pallets together.  In a regular pit, with dimensional lumber and posts, the kids would just climb over the sides of the pit to get in, and then those kids who have been knocked out sit on the sides and watch the rest of the game.  With this pit being constructed of pallets I didn’t want them to be climbing the sides, pallets just won’t stand up to that kind of wear.  So I had to create a door.

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I had thought about using hinges, but where hinges would attach to the pallets the pallets just aren’t that strong structurally so I scrapped that idea.  The next idea I had was to cut a left over two by four and use it to make legs to hold up the pallet and hold it against the ball hitting it.  The two by four I had wasn’t long enough to cut in half and still use so I headed back to the scrap lumber pile.  While I was there looking for another two by four, I saw some balusters that I had left over from when we built our front deck, and I figured they would work perfectly.  I cut them to length and screwed them on and they worked great.  I may need to find a way to strap the top more securely, using shock cord or something, but it works for now.

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The legs to keep the door panel upright, they work pretty well

We were able to play some games Saturday afternoon and it worked just fine.  There may need to be some fine tuning, but considering I used things I already had around, the cost of the pit was a couple bucks in screws.  If you check the YouTube channel, I will be posting a video on the construction of the pit sometime this week.  Better yet, you could subscribe to the channel and share the video with your friends.

Until next time…

Odds and Ends

The weather has turned hot again.  We had three nice days, lows in the lower 80’s with low humidity.  Unfortunately we are back to highs near or into the 90’s with high humidity.  All that is to say working outside is no fun at all in that weather.  I am what you would call a sweat-er, and when it’s humid I sweat by the bucket full.

I have been able to get some things done over the last few days.  I am getting close to having the pig pen ready for our piglets.  I got the hog panels up and stapled to the fence posts.  I still need to pound some T posts in between the wooden posts.  I also need to hang the gate and strap a section of the hog panel onto that gate, but we are getting close.  I hope to have a video of my progress up on YouTube shortly.

I also got a small start on getting a tree off our path through the woods.  The boys and I went down there with hand tools and cleared out the area around the tree so I can get down there with the chainsaw and get that tree cut up.  It has been on the path since late last fall, so this is long overdue.  The boys really want it off there so they can take the golf cart through the woods.  There will be a video on the progress on that project coming shortly as well.

Other than that it is mostly trying to stay cool and keep the animals as comfortable as possible as well.  Checking waterers several times a day to make sure they don’t overheat.  With the heat we have been using the pool almost every day, definitely worth the Craigslist purchase.  It has also allowed B2 and G1 to become so much more comfortable in the water.  They have gone from not wanting to put their faces in the water to being very comfortable, to the point where they are talking about joining their older brother on the swim team.  It has been nice to be home, and not be re-packing for another trip.  As much as I love traveling, and visiting friends and family, being home is really nice as well.

Until next time.

Quad Parade, with Video

As I mentioned in my last post, when we were at my Aunt and Uncle’s house last weekend, the kids were able to ride quads.  My uncle has really done a great job of creating a “school” for the kids to go through to learn all the ins and outs of riding and controlling a quad.  I think he did it out of necessity for his grand kids, and it works just as well for his grand-nieces and grand nephews.

You need to be 7 to ride the quads solo, and G1 knew that going in, so she was really excited to be able to ride herself.  She drives the golf cart around our property all the time, I have trained her on that, so the concepts of gas and braking are not new to her.  This was evident in how quickly she picked up riding a quad.  My uncle was impressed with her abilities.

The boys also got a refresher course on riding.  B1 was a little rusty in shifting, but was able to knock off the rust very quickly.  Once everyone was comfortable riding, we were off to ride around my aunt and uncle’s property.  They have 40+ acres and have created a trail system for riding around it.  I was able to get some video, it’s a bit shaky as I was doing it while riding, but it was a ton of fun.  The last clip is me taking video off the back of the golf cart.

Until next time

Back From Vacation

As most of you probably know, I don’t talk about where I will be ahead of time, it’s just not something I do.  However, I’m happy to tell you about it afterwards.

This past weekend the family and I traveled to the great state of Wisconsin, place of my birth, and location of the majority of my extended family.  We left after my wife was done with work on Friday, and spent the night at my parents’ cottage.  It shortens the drive to WI by a couple hours.

The next morning we headed to WI to visit those who were available on my dad’s side of the family.  As an aside, I hate Chicago.  There is a very real possibility I will never drive through that city again.  Traffic is never good, among other reasons to hate it.  After passing that forsaken city, we were able to see my grandmother’s new apartment and then head to my Aunt and Uncle’s house.  It is one of the places we frequently stay when we visit WI, and because of this the kids especially enjoy spending time there with them.  It doesn’t hurt that they have 40+ acres, a pond, and four wheelers.  This year, HG1 knew she was old enough to ride the four wheelers so she was excited to go to my uncle’s four wheeler school.  He sets up cones and obstacles and has them master certain concepts before allowing the younger ones to turn up the speed on the four wheeler, and the older to ride the bigger quads themselves.  I didn’t have to pass the course.  I was able to get some cool video on my phone while we were riding, which I hope to get up in a YouTube video soon.

The next day we visited with my Mom’s side of the family after going to Mass in the morning.  This aunt and uncle have a great setup for family parties which allows for areas for the kids to play, adults to visit, and comfortable seating no matter the weather.  The highlight for me was watching a game of “red light, green light” that even the adults got in on.

Monday morning we were able to have breakfast with some of my very best and long time friends.  While they are not blood relatives, they are most definitely family and loved accordingly.

That afternoon we got back to my parents’ cottage and were able to spend the evening in the lake enjoying the bath like water.  We swam again Tuesday morning, before heading home to get ready for a short work week.  When we got home, there were a couple packages waiting for us including a thermal cover for the pool, and HB#2’s newest purchase.  He used some birthday Amazon gift cards to buy a remote control truck.  It is one that should last a little longer as it is a step above toy, but still a step below true hobbyist.

This past weekend away will end my streak of not being home for any weekend the month of July, spanning five weekends.  As much as I love traveling and seeing friends and family, it will be nice to get some things done around the Homestead.  The garden is being taken over by weeds, so I hope to get that under control and give the grazing animals some treats.  I also have a project that needs to be built for in the house, which I will be posting on.

I’ll leave you with a picture of one of my favorite places.

Until next time…

Pool Setup

I got the pool set up a couple weeks ago and I made a point of trying to video as much of it as possible.  That meant multiple video clips and pictures needing to be edited together.  Consequently, this is my first YouTube video that is more than a one take clip.  I’ve got no where to go but up with regards to quality.

The pool couldn’t have been set up at a better time.  Since we have gotten it up, the temperatures have been in the mid 80’s to over 90 on a regular basis.  The kids have enjoyed swimming in it daily (when we aren’t on vacation), and I have too.  I already am thinking about how I could put a door wall in the back room, add a small deck, and a much bigger above ground pool.