Tag Archives: lake

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.

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.


Too Long and So Busy

It has been far too long again.  Since my last post, a ton has happened.

Our new addition, our youngest son, was baptized.  All of our children have been baptized by different people, which had been a function of moving for the most part.  We kept the tradition with this baptism even though we were still at the same parish.  We had one of our newer priests baptize him, and were blessed to have had a wonderful baptism during Mass.  Unfortunately our younger daughter had been spiking fevers for the previous several days so we had to postpone the family celebration for that baptism until later.

My son had a fund raiser for his swim team where he got pledges per lap he could swim, and family members could get in on the fun so I actually swam with him too.  He wanted to swim about 60 laps, or 120 lengths.  I hadn’t been swimming much at all so I was just planning on swimming until he stopped and be happy with that.  Well he ended up swimming 70 laps, which is about 2 miles.  I swam 106 laps which is about three miles.  I swam for pretty much three hours straight, my son took a couple breaks.  He was fine the next day, I paid for it.  My one leg was killing me, I think from kicking on the breast stroke. My leg hurting will become important later in the post.

The next thing I needed to do was to empty the last of the things left at the old house.  That meant several trips here with stuff we have very little room for, and I had hoped to have a donation place send a truck out and pick up the rest.  Apparently I hadn’t done that soon enough because their next available pickup date was for after our scheduled closing, so that wouldn’t work.  That meant more trips with the truck, and some heavier lifting.  With my leg hurting I figured I would pick up one of those really heavy 32″ tube televisions using only my back, you know, to save my hurt leg.  There is a reason you are told to lift with your legs and not your back.  As soon as I started to lift I could feel my back spasm.  I was angry with myself for doing something I knew I shouldn’t have.  I managed to make two trips with the hurt back and all, and get everything out of the garage so that the house would be empty and ready for the new owner.

We then were able to go up north with my wife’s family.  We were able to spend some time with her parents, and a bit of time with her sister’s family and her brother’s family before we needed to come back home for a wedding.  For the past several years we have been able to do this every summer and one of the places we always take the kids swimming is Torch Lake.  For my two cents, Torch is the most beautiful inland lake in the world.  The kids also got to fish off the dock, which is always a favorite pastime.

The beach we go to on Torch Lake

This week we closed the sale on our house and have been preparing to have that postponed baptismal celebration party.  The bees seem to be doing well and it looks as though there should be surplus honey in both hives, which will be a nice change.

The bees are making sure they stay well hydrated so they can make me lots of honey, I hope

My container garden also seems to be doing well, probably all the rain we have been having.  I transplanted tomatoes, cilantro, kale, carrots, beets, and a couple other herbs and they all seem to be doing well.  Although if we don’t get a little warmer weather I am not sure if the tomatoes will produce anything.  I may have to make a mini greenhouse to get them to fruit.

Beets and carrots
Kale and basil
Hoping for warmer weather so we can have some heirloom tomatoes!

There are some other things that have been going on around the homestead I hope to post about soon, but that is all for now.









Long Overdue, and the Newest Member of the Homestead

It has been over a week since my last post. We have just been so busy. I will start with the most recent news and go backwards. Introducing the newest member of the homestead… George Washington!

My brother pointed out to me that he is tasting the fence. Hopefully he doesn’t test it.

He was received from a woman I met through blogging.  Her daughter is getting out of Shetlands but they wanted to keep him close in case they wanted to use him for breeding, so our Homestead is his happy new home.  He seems to be a very mellow ram.  He came right over to his former owners when we arrived and was very calm being held by one horn.  The stock trailer, however, was not a favorite place of his.  After being walked into the trailer, he started ramming the gate.  I have to say that hearing the impact he made on that gate brought home the reality of the damage he can do, no matter how friendly he is.  The kids have been told in no uncertain terms that they are not to go in with the sheep unless I have George by the horn.  After hearing that impact, my brother in law and I were wondering how easily he would be removed from the stock trailer.  Would he be ticked at the world and looking to bring the pain?  Fortunately he just wanted out of the trailer and walked very calmly into our pasture.  After some petting and sniffing we let him meet the girls, who were very curious, at first.  They have since been playing hard to get and keeping their distance.  Thankfully they all seem to be friendly enough with no fighting, I pray that continues.  So we have our ram to breed our ewes this fall.  It is starting to feel a little like a farm. The reason we didn’t go and get George earlier is that I knew we were going to be gone this past weekend and I didn’t want to have to be worrying about flock integration while I was gone.  With a forty gallon water tank and an abundance of grass, all that was necessary while we were gone was to have our neighbor check and make sure no predators had been around. Where did we go you ask?  To my parents cottage.  We were able to spend about three days visiting, enjoying the lake, watching fireworks, and flea marketing(if you can call it that).  My parents aren’t far from Shipshewana and if the flea market is going on we will often times try to go, fortunately for us with the holiday weekend they had an extended flea market this past week and we were able to go.  I question the flea market-ness of Shipshewana because it is more commercial than what I consider to be a flea market.  Many of the vendors are selling the same hot item for that season.  There are a few booths that actually have things for sale that have been picked elsewhere, but the prices are often very high.  I was able to find a custom sign make who made me this… 20140707-214441-78281125.jpgFor $10 I couldn’t pass it up.  We also found a street sign that says “Papa’s Workshop” for my dad’s shop area and some nick-knack type stuff for the kids.  Also while we were at my parents we were able to find some local fireworks and watch them from the comfort of our van. The other big news is that before we left for my parents we listed our house with a real estate agent.  He is a friend of mine from high school and he had luck selling a home a couple doors down last year.  I just wasn’t having any luck trying to sell it myself.  The listing went live Tuesday afternoon and we had a full price, no contingencies offer Thursday afternoon.  They still have to have their inspection and we have to get all of our stuff out of the garage and find space for it in the barn, so say some prayers that it all goes smoothly, but so far so good. I am sure I am forgetting other things and when I think of them I will post about them, but for now that is all my tired brain can recall.  Until next time, and hopefully not a week from now.

Great Lakes Levels Higher?

This is an article I was expecting.  Except the part where they omit mentioning that Chicago draws water from Lake Michigan and dumps it down the Chicago river, which drains to the Mississippi.  At .7″ per year, that adds up.  Think about it, that’s 7″ in a decade of water that is lost.  Here is where I found that number.


Rain Rain Go Away? No Thanks, You Can Stay!

Our kids, especially our oldest daughter, likes to sing the song, “Rain rain, go away, come again another day!”  She likes to do this pretty much every time that it rains.  I on the other hand, want it to keep raining.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not looking for a flooding rain, just enough rain to keep me from having to turn on the sprinklers or have to worry about watering the flowers or vegetables.  For the most part this summer, I have gotten my wish.  I have only had to turn on the sprinklers a handful of times.  Plus all this rain helps to keep the lakes, ponds, and waterways full.  It is a nice change from last year when we hardly got any rain at all.  Last year, the sprinklers were run far too often.  Last year, with the lack of rain and the late frost there were very few blossoms for my bees.  This year, the bees seem to be thriving with this great weather.  Last year, the water level at my parent’s lake continued to drop throughout the summer.  This year, the level of the lake has actually risen.  So while my daughter likes to sing, I will continue to be thankful for the rain.  As far as I am concerned, it can stay.

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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!


It Doesn’t Get Much Better

We were able to spend the weekend at my parents and boat, fish, tube(at least my wife and I, the kids weren’t interested), swim, play, and relax.  It was a great weekend and a lot of fun.  I even got to do some gear testing with a new emergency fishing kit I am putting together that I will have a post on forthcoming.  Here are two of the pictures that I like best from the weekend.  The water was so still you can see the clouds in it.






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Summer Dreaming

As I look out my window I am watching the 40 degree skies pour rain, literally cats and dogs falling from the sky.  I think it is too late to start building an ark, and I don’t have enough wood anyways.  It is supposed to stay this way for a few days and it has me dreaming of warmer weather and time at the lake.

My parents have a cottage on a lake a couple hours from our house.  My wife won’t have to work weekends this summer and my parents just got a new(to them) boat.  All of this adds up to what I hope will be a super fun summer with lots of time at the lake and with any luck the kids tubing and learning to water ski.  I think I was somewhere between the ages of our two boys when I learned to ski(6 and 8), but I have a feeling it will be a successful summer if we get the to enjoy the tube (that I am shopping for now).

This is the one I am looking at, all three older kids could ride on it with me, because I am not getting left out of the fun.


I do truly enjoy all the seasons that Michigan has to offer, but this winter has been long and cold, and I am ready for some warmer weather.  Watching my sons’ soccer practices in 43 degree drizzle is not my idea of fun, although the kids seem to enjoy it.

It will warm up soon, right?  Until then, I will keep dreaming.