Tag Archives: fun

Swan Lake, and Logging Miles

This past weekend we were, as usual, busy.  HB1 had a swim meet Saturday morning, at which he set personal records in the 50 and 200 Freestyle.  As soon as he got home we left to meet my mom to drop off our dog, she was watching him for the weekend.

We then left for the Sparta Rodeo to help my sister in law and brother in law any way we could with that.  Sparta was having their annual Sparta Town and Country Days so my bil and sil decided to add another rodeo for this past Saturday.  The difference is that it isn’t a big camping week and the only people camping were the rodeo people, and us family and friends who were helping work at the rodeo.  We set up our camper when we got there, had a bite to eat, and then got to work.  If you happened to be there, I was the guy selling 50/50 tickets.

The next morning we packed up the camper, and headed for Mass.  After Mass we headed back to my parents’ cottage to spend the afternoon there enjoying the lake and visiting with my grandma.

While we were eating lunch, my dad noticed a cygnet by itself.  There has only been one pair of swans on the lake this year.  They started with two cygnets but were down to one.  It was still young enough that it was all fluff and no feathers.  After talking to a friend who lived down the lake, we determined that the parents were on the other side of the lake and I would get in a kayak and try to escort the cygnet back to it’s parents.  The cygnet was already tired, and it was quite a paddle to get to the other end of the lake.  Fortunately we had a strong wind at our backs.  When the swan parents finally came into sight, they continued to move further away from the cygnet and I.  Apparently there had been a boater on the lake that had gotten far too close to the swans and they were keeping their distance.  About that time, my dad and HB2 had come down with the motor boat and was able to position himself in front of the swans so they wouldn’t go further away.  It was rewarding seeing the swan parents finally see their cygnet and swim rapidly towards him and take their positions in front of and behind it.

Rather than paddle against the wind all the way back to my parents, we brought myself and the kayak on board and powered back.  We then spent the afternoon swimming in the lake before eating a light dinner, packing back up, and heading home.

It was an extremely busy weekend, filled with fun activities, and lots of driving, but it was all worth it.  We are very fortunate that our kids are good travelers.

Until next time.

Awol No More – Fall Party

I have been gone from the blog too long.  In fact, I was recently told at a family party that I needed to post more so that this person could live vicariously through my adventures.  So here it goes.

The reason I haven’t been blogging is that I haven’t made time.  This past weekend we had our annual fall party.  This year was the 9th in a row and I have been spending most of my nights in the barn working until the wee hours trying to get things organized and put away.  It must have worked because several people yesterday told me they couldn’t believe how the barn looked.  But it took time, even Homestead Boy#1 spent his fair share of nights helping me while watching superhero movies.

Along with organizing and cleaning the barn, there were plenty of outdoor chores to get done.  This spring I had a load of crushed limestone delivered to add to the driveway, some of that had still been remaining at the top of the drive so that needed to be spread.

Behind where the dog is standing had been a large pile of crushed lime.


Also in the spring I had a load of topsoil delivered.  I had it put in a location that was convenient to get to, but not a good long term spot for it.  So that dirt was moved to several low spots, and the rest was added to the garden.  This job was mostly undertaken in the evening when my wife was home from work, after dark, so the headlights on the tractor were invaluable.

This is approximately 1/3 of the pile that had been there.
The pile no more
One low spot crudely filled in
The rest of dirt in the garden

The grass around the house needed to be cut, which Homestead Boy #2 helped with, and the grass on the trails for the hayride I took care of with the big tractor.  I also used the back blade on the tractor to try and smooth out the side yard so that it was more usable for the kids to play on.  This was the location that the “clean” fill was dumped.  I might need to buy some actual clean fill next year to cover it and seed it into a nice yard/baseball field.

A partly leveled front yard

These things were in addition to the countless small chores that add up to eat time and aren’t worth mentioning on a blog.  Thanks also to my wife, kids, and parents for helping get ready for the party.  Needless to say all the effort was worthwhile.  We had by my estimate between 150-200 people join us on a glorious fall day.  There were more kids running around playing than I could count, and parents with smiles on their faces watching them.  It is one more of the reasons I love living in the country, being able to share our little slice of Heaven on earth with others.

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.

IMG_6855 IMG_6851 IMG_6852

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.


Remote Airplanes and YouTube

I have always been interested in remote control airplanes.  I even went so far as to get one about 7 years ago.  I put it together, charged the battery, took it out to fly in an altogether too small of an area, and promptly crashed it.  The damage wasn’t too bad, so I put it back in the air.  And then I really crashed it good.  Since then I haven’t found the time to spend on it, or the money to spend on it since I crash so quickly. Enter FliteTest.  Flitetest is by far my favorite YouTube channel right now.  It is a channel that teaches about radio controlled airplanes, how to fly them, and other cool RC things.  They have a beginners series, scratch build videos, and reviews of airplanes.  The thing that I think is the coolest is they show you how to build airplanes out of Dollar Tree foam board, of course then you need to buy the electronics.  But if, really when, you crash if you built it from scratch to start with you should be able to repair it. This is the plane they suggest as a good starter build.  The Nutball.  Plans to build it can be found here for free.  There is also the scratch build video that walks you through the process of building it.  It is pretty simple, you need the foam, a razor knife to cut the foam, a hot glue gun, and some other small items like barbecue skewers.  They also sell speed build kits where they sell you the foam board pre cut and more or less ready to put together.  Here is the one I put together last night.

I used black foam board, but they have white too. The little square you see underneath the front is where the electronic and propeller go
This is a simple three channel design, the only inputs are elevator, rudder, and throttle. And it’s one sheet of foam board so my heart won’t be broken when I crash.

This is a plane that both my kids and I want to build.  But I think we should learn to fly a bit before doing so. The show uses humor to teach.  They are all family friendly.  In fact nutball video is by far the most risque because of the name of the plane.  If you have any interest in rc airplanes, check them out.  After you do, let me know what you think.  Be warned, they have a ton of videos and you could find yourself “wasting” a lot of time.

Review of a Couple Tubes

So the other weekend when we were at my parents cottage we had a chance to use the tubes that we bought this spring.  Along with the tube from Costco, we bought a tube-in-a-box from Amazon.  I figured while there was still enough summer left to enjoy these tubes I would go ahead and review them.


The tube from Costco is for pulling behind a boat.  It is extremely large.  I mean like really, really big.  It is 104″x85″.  It has three chambers to inflate and despite it’s size, a small shop vacuum filled it quickly.  The instructions say to fill it about 3/4 of the way and then to let it sit out for a bit before fully inflating it.  The logic behind it being that you don’t want to over-inflate the tube and the air will expand once you set it out in the sun.  I probably was a little cautious on filling it up and that, I am sure, affected the ride.  Next time I will fill it a little more.

Despite its size, we couldn’t convince our kids to take a ride.  Even after watching mom and dad take a ride on it.  When my wife and I rode it, she rode in the front middle, and I rode behind her on the kneeling platform.  The ride was actually very nice, it would have been more supportive if I had filled it up more.  With the size of the tube, I am not sure you could tip the tube even if you tried.  I am hopeful we will get the kids to try it before the summer is over.

tube in a box

The tube-in-a-box is a floating tube.  It takes me back to my youth, when we used actual tire inner tubes in the lake.  Those ones had long, right angled, valve stems.  This one has a much shorter, straight stem.  It is everything I expected from a rubber tube.  We got the large tube which is 45″ across when inflated.  The kids loved it.  Most of the time there were two of them sitting on the edges of it, floating around the beach area.  If these things are anything like the ones we grew up with, they will last forever.  They seem very durable, and should be easy enough to patch if the need arises.  I only got one, but I may have to get one(or two) more.

Happy tubing!