Tag Archives: exercise

Kayaks Spell Summer Fun, Garden and Flower Update

I have been coveting a kayak for quite some time. I eyed them longingly when shopping at Costco.  I could never convince myself to pull the trigger, $300+ is a lot of money for one kayak.  Recently I received a hot deal coupon for Dunham’s.  They had several models of kayak selling under $200.  I had planned on getting a future beach mariner 10.4, but changed tack and purchased a Pelican Ultimate 100 sit on top kayak.  My thinking was that it would be easier for the kids to enter and exit the kayak with a sit on top style.  I also purchased a Lifetime kid’s kayak from Sam’s Club for under $100.  Two kayaks would certainly be enough for our family, as we could take turns, and life would be good.  Right?

The kayaks themselves performed flawlessly.  The Lifetime kid’s kayak was great.  It came with a paddle and is extremely stable.  The kids are able to stand up on it without tipping it.  And it is highly maneuverable, allowing the kids to turn on a dime.  The Pelican is equally as fun.  It did not come with a paddle.  It is much faster than the smaller kayak, and is quite stable as well.  None of us have tipped the kayaks when we haven’t been trying to tip them.  The kids enjoy using them at my parents lake and they both seem quite durable so they should offer years of boating fun.

Now for the bad… two kayaks is clearly not enough for my family.  In talking with my wife and mother, we were all in agreement that more kayaks would be ideal.  A solution was crafted.  My parents would buy a full sized kayak, the one that we brought with us.  They would have it to use for themselves at all times, but it would allow for another kayak while we were there.  We would buy another Pelican to replace the one my parents bought from us, and another Lifetime kayak so we would have two kids’ kayaks.  This solution allowed for me, or my wife or mother, to go for paddles on the lake with the three oldest kids.  So far, this solution has worked out well.  I can still see situations where another kayak would be helpful, and that Future Beach Mariner 10.4 keeps tempting me…

Our watery playground
Kayak fun
Pure Joy

The wildflower garden that I planted around our septic tanks continues to fill in.  It is quite beautiful now, and the variety of flowers is pleasing to the eye.  I am glad that I gave it more time before plowing it under and starting again.  I may still add some more seed to it, but it is definitely getting there.  The kids and I are having fun searching out the new flowers that seem to be blooming every day.

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The garden keeps trucking along, weed choked though it is.  The grass and weeds obscure the view of the vegetables in many areas, but time has not allowed for any sort of weeding to be done.  I am lucky if I get the 21″ mower down there to cut some of the paths between rows.  Despite all this, the garden is producing.  While we were away this past weekend, the zucchinis blew up into club sized squashes.  The tomatoes are also starting to ripen, and are delicious.  I have even gotten a handful of beans despite very limited trellising. The one thing I did today was to set up a sprinkler.  The rain has stayed away for over a week for the first time this summer, and as such things are starting to thirst.  I purchased a tripod sprinkler that covers about 80% of the garden.  It will have to do for now.  I had plans of getting a drip tape system set up, but that has joined the other projects that will have to wait for next year.  It is rewarding to know that the garden is providing healthy food, despite not having as much time as I would like to devote to it.


Dealing with the Aftermath

Saturday was spent trying to get back to normal.  I spent the morning cleaning up after the butchering that was done yesterday and packaging up the things that needed to go into the garbage.  I still have a skin I have to decide what I want to do with.  It obviously isn’t a perfect skin because of how the sheep was killed, but I feel as though I should try.  I called a tanner and it would be $180 to have it tanned.  That seems ridiculous to me, so maybe since it is a flawed skin it would be the perfect one to try and tan myself.  I am also thinking about doing a European head mount myself as I saw a relatively easy way to do that on Facebook.

The ewes are off, and I hope the stress of the situation doesn’t make them susceptible to illness.  When they had a ram with them, they made almost no sound at all.  I hardly ever heard them bleat.  Now, any time I am outside they are bleating at me and coming up to the fence closest to wherever I am.  It’s a bit depressing.

After getting the barn cleaned up and everything put out with the trash I took the tractor down to the wood pile and brought a couple loads of rounds up to the house.  Using an old heavy maul I bought at the resale store and my Fiskars X17 splitting axe I split those two loads of wood.


I love the X17 for splitting the smaller stuff.  It is light, but has plenty of power for rounds that are about 12″ in diameter.  It is the right size where I can almost use it comfortably one handed.  It is also the perfect size that I could use it to teach my oldest son how to split wood.  He was a big help, and loves to help on projects like this.  I use the big heavy maul for the bigger stuff, and I used it on the littler stuff since my son wanted to help with splitting.  So we have already started heating with wood, even though the stove isn’t installed yet.  I always hear, “when you heat with wood, you heat twice.”  We definitely worked up a sweat.  Later in the afternoon I brought up three more loads of wood with the tractor and we got started on splitting that before I went out hunting.

This is after the first two loads, now it is pretty much full


On the subject of the wood stove… I am anxious to get it installed.  I am waiting on some information from the inspector regarding what covering I can use on the wall to decrease the necessary clearances.  The stove comes with a chart of clearances for each side, but that is clearance to combustible materials.  I am hopefully that we can reduce the clearances by covering the wall in tile.

I had actually planned on writing this blog while I was out hunting, but I inadvertently left my phone in the barn while I was getting ready to hunt.  It was actually quite nice.  I normally check my email every once in awhile, toy with the blog, or text my dad if he is hunting at the same time if I have my phone while hunting.  Not having it I definitely observed nature more.  In fact I entertained myself with watching a mouse crawl under the leaf litter from his home in a pile of sticks out to some corn I had thrown out for the deer.  He was so well camouflaged that most of the time I could only see the leaves lifting up slightly as his body passed underneath.  He must have made 25 trips gathering corn kernels.  I was also able to start planning my new path through the woods over to where the hunting blind I was in is located.

It was a mostly normal day, and for that I am thankful.  Getting things done was great.  I still have a lot of work left to do with cutting and splitting wood.


Snowblowers are Still Good Things

Last year I posted on my personal facebook page something along the lines of “snowblowers are the best invention…EVER.”  Despite my post about manual snow removal, I stand by last year’s statement.  Don’t get me wrong manually removing snow is great exercise, but it works muscles that at least for me aren’t used to getting worked.  I do actually like shoveling snow, but I have been falling apart lately(there will be a post on that forthcoming) so adding more aches and pains has not been fun.

Did I mention my snowblower’s starter was broken?  I hadn’t had time to fix it(can’t figure out why, I must be lazy) and small engine shops wanted $150 to fix it.  I can buy a new blower for $300 so that wasn’t happening.  A friend of ours heard that our snowblower was broken and offered to look at it for me.  I told him what I thought was wrong and he proceeded to fix it for me for $50.  I was so happy I gladly paid him $60.

All of this is to say that we are supposed to get somewhere between 5 and 11 inches of snow starting tonight and through the weekend.  I am happy to have my snowblower back and working.  Snowblowers are the best invention…EVER.

Forest Walk with Kids

Well even though the weather yesterday here was miserable for trick-or-treating all but the 19 month old went out for at least a little while.  Our oldest wanted to go out longer so we braved the blowing rain and he managed to fill his bucket with candy.  My sister-in-law, brother-in-law, their boys, my mother-in-law, and a good friend of ours all came over for dinner and handing out candy and I think a good time was had by all.

The day before I had to go out to the homestead to sell something I had listed on Craigslist.  It was the perfect fall day, with temps around 60, mostly sunny, and a slight breeze.  The kids enjoyed playing outside and since I figured this would be the best weather we would get for the rest of the year we went for a walk through the woods.  The kids wanted to take the golf cart, but I convinced them we would see more wildlife if we walked.  We saw a bunch of squirrels and birds, but to the dismay of the boys no deer.  It was a very relaxing walk, and I need relaxing right now.  I love walks like that.

This maple isn’t on our property but our neighbors, I love when maple trees turn

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I look forward to this being our backyard and being able to do this everyday if we want.

Orchard Phase One… Complete!

So I was able to borrow my dads truck on Friday while my mother-in-law watched the kids so I could go pick up some apple and peach trees.  I decided to use only trees from Tractor Supply as they are cheaper and more convenient to pick up.  I still hope to buy some of the good trees from a nursery next spring, but with everything on my plate that wasn’t in the cards this year.  So after picking up a 150′ roll of remesh to use as fences for the trees I stopped at Tractor Supply and picked up two Fuji, a Gala, a Cortland, and a Yellow Delicious apple tree.  I also picked up one Reliance Peach and one Redskin Peach.  All of the trees are of the dwarf variety so they shouldn’t get more than 10-15′ tall.

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It was Sunday afternoon before I was able to find time to try and get the orchard planted.  I dug the holes and then set the fences as I was able to drag then fence sections down.  To cut the fence sections I rolled out 20′ and used bolt cutters to make clean cuts in the wire.  I specifically only bought 7 trees because I knew that I wanted to use 20′ of fence so I would be left over with 10′ of fencing(which I might use to as a trellis for some concord grapes).  The first couple fence sections I rolled out didn’t have too much “memory” since they weren’t rolled as tightly.  By “memory” I mean the desire of the wire to return to it’s rolled state.  Despite not having much “memory” it was still difficult to wrestle around the trees with one person.  After the first two fence sections I started rolling the sections back on themselves to make them straighter.  This helped immensely with regards to placing them around the trees.

You can see the 1x board that I used under the roll to stop it from rolling back towards me. The patio umbrella weight was perfect to hold the loose end.

As you can see I was doing this myself so I needed to utilize some weights to hold the fencing in place.  Every fence section was harder to roll out since that part of the fence had been rolled tighter.  It took me three hours to plant the seven trees, cut the fence sections, drag the sections down to the orchard, set them in place, and stake them.  I was pretty happy with that speed.  If you were to do this with two people I think it would go more than twice as fast.

Here I already have four trees planted, two fenced, and all of the locations staked out.
Reverse angle of the last picture

Using all the math I could remember I believe a twenty foot section of fence creates a circle with a diameter of about 6’4″.  That is if they were perfectly circular, which they aren’t.  After starting to roll the fence sections back on themselves they were much easier to get into place and work with, the first couple sections wanted to keep rolling up into smaller circles so I was ending up with a heart shape.

The mosquitoes were out in force which made the work less enjoyable, but it was nice to get all the trees planted at one time and not have to find more time to get it done.  Now that I have done it once I think I could easily quicken the pace at which the trees get planted.  Hopefully, I can add several trees to the orchard next spring.  Our oldest son wanted me to plant a couple pear trees this fall but I couldn’t justify the expense of another roll of remesh for two more trees right now.  All said, I planted all seven trees and fenced them for around $265, which I didn’t think was too bad.  The fences should last several years or more, and could be used on future trees as well.

By the light of the golf cart headlights. You can see each fence is staked at 180 degrees with two oak stakes.

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Homestead Walk

Here are a couple pictures I was able to take the other day at the new homestead.  I hope you enjoy.

This daddy long legs thought he had a pretty good hiding place in the crack of the T1-11
Praying Mantis
I think they are such cool insects. This is the second one we have found in as many weeks.
Look how he is giving me the stink eye.

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This is where I long to be, but I fear I won’t find much time for it this year.
The path I cut through the woods years ago.


This dangerous fellow was hanging out on the side of the barn after the praying mantis had left
Some of the trees are turning, some have already dropped leaves
Can you see where I wish to be?
How about now?

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Unexpected Beauty

While on a training hike with a good friend I saw this flower.

The picture isn’t good, but we were on a hike and I just stopped and took a fast picture. Anyone know what it is?
I have no idea what kind of flower it is, but it was just sitting there at the bottom of the hill on a path through the woods.  Admittedly it is a bad picture, but we were trying to train, it was buggy, and like almost all of my other pictures it was taken with my phone.  I thought it was cool looking.

We were training for a GoRuck Light event, but two weeks before the event I managed to wreck my back so we pushed it off until next year when they are back in town.  This leaves me with no excuse to not be in great shape.  Hopefully that will be the case.

Seiko Solar Dive Watch Update

I posted about this watch back in March when I got it, so I just wanted to post a quick update about it.  They watch has functioned flawlessly, keeping near perfect time, I think in the 5 or so months I have had it, I have had to adjust the time once, and it was only a half minute or so off.  I have worn the watch almost every day including swimming in pools, swimming in lakes, taking showers and all sorts of other activities.  It looks as good to me as the day I received it, and I don’t baby the watch at all.  Granted I have only had it for about a half a year, but I would definitely suggest this watch for anyone who is active, and sick of watches with batteries.

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You’ll have to excuse my hairy arm, :).

Sore Body, Refreshed Soul

We were again able to spend some time at my parents cottage again this weekend and let me tell you I am sore.  But it is a good sore, really it is.  The physical activities we were able to partake in were many.

After cleaning the spark plugs on the boat (previously we had been running on only three cylinders and that just wasn’t going to cut it trying to pull my not-so-light-weight-behind out of the water) we were ready to go.  With all cylinders firing, the boat was able to drag me out of the water and onto my skis.  I can’t remember the last time I went water skiing but it has been at least ten years, probably closer to fifteen, but I still remember how.  I even worried the kids when I dropped a ski and slalomed for a bit.  They thought I had lost the ski, not on purpose.  My wife said it was really humorous.  Then I knee boarded for a bit, despite a warning from a good friend that my knees would not be happy with me.  I was even able to do a couple 180’s and so far my knees are OK.  For some reason I don’t remember it being that hard to hold onto the tow rope, must be higher friction skis and kneeboard.  Couldn’t have anything to do with carrying extra weight, right?  Then I drove the boat while my dad water skied.  He couldn’t let his son out-do him, so he too dropped a ski and slalomed.

The next day we brought the canoe down to the water.  It hadn’t been used in years, and was previously my grandma and grandpa’s.  My aunt, uncle, and cousins had it for awhile and used it, but it was going unused recently so it was brought to my parents lake.  After getting it to the water, we filled it up and started cleaning.  Spiders, webs, dirt, all got a thorough brushing and rinsing.  Once clean I took it out on the lake.  It took me a minute to remember how to canoe, and after a pointer on a “J stroke” from my dad (in order to paddle on one side only and still go straight) I was off.  I forgot how much fun canoeing is, the kids weren’t really interested in canoeing this time as they had made new friends, so we will see about next time.

On top of the canoeing, skiing, and kneeboarding, I swam quite a bit.  I had just read an article in Men’s Journal (at least I think it was Men’s Journal) about how swim training with swim fins, mask, and snorkel is great for becoming a more efficient swimmer.  I didn’t use the mask or snorkel this time, as I wanted to be able to keep an eye on the kids, but I used the fins quite a bit.  It is amazing how adding a little resistance can work your legs so much more.  One of the benefits to swim training, and doing it with fins, is that even with the added resistance of fins it is almost impossible to add enough resistance to pull a muscle.  Since the kids were almost always in the water, it made it easy for me to pull on the fins and swim out and back while keeping an eye on them.

All of those activities, and that doesn’t even count the paddle boat and playing and swimming with the kids.  I think the kids new favorite lake game, at least our oldest’s favorite game, is follow the leader.  I have a blast playing it too.  He even taught it to his new friend who was visiting their family cottage next door.

We also had some time to visit with our good friends who live near my parents lake.  It was wonderful to watch their son play with our kids, while we were able to visit and catch up on life.  Our kids even had their first “lake baths”, soaping off in the lake rather than going up to the shower.  And we even managed to sneak in a few minutes of fishing.

My shoulders are pretty sore, and my back has seen better days, but man do I feel good.  It was a great weekend, filled with many activities, the kids had fun, we played outside(I think the only time the television was on was after dinner before bed and that was watching educational shows on how things were made), and and relationships with family and friends were strengthened.  I call that a good weekend.

Photographic proof I water skied and canoed.





Swim Lessons

Our kids have been taking swim lessons for the past several months and last week was our last lesson as we are going to take the summer off.  At that lesson the woman in charge asked if we might be able to come back this weekend so they could use our kids as example kids for teaching their instructors.  With four kids in swim lessons at all different levels it was ideal for them to be able to teach with kids rather than just talk about it.  I have to say I was a little bit worried our middle kids wouldn’t be so enthusiastic, as they aren’t as outgoing right now as our oldest.  Our youngest I wasn’t worried about because I was going to be in the water with her.

It ended up going swimmingly(pretty funny huh?).  Our oldest did great, as expected.  Our second actually progressed farther today that he had in the two sessions of lessons, I think because it was really an hour and a half private lesson with 5 to 1 instructor to student ratio.  He was swimming by himself by the end of the day.  Even our oldest daughter, our third child did great.  She had been less enthusiastic than the rest at lessons, but did great even being handed off from one instructor to the next.  Our baby also got in on the action letting some of the instructors work with her, which she has never done because she has always been with me or my wife.

All in all, we couldn’t have asked for a better experience.  The women that run the program were extremely thankful that they were able to use our children to teach their instructors, and we got a super long free lesson.  Not only that, but they gave our kids goody bags and are going to email us coupons for money off our next session of lessons there.   Not a bad way to start the weekend.