Friday, July 30, 2010

Kickapoo Country Fair Weekend!

What a great day we spent on Sunday at the fair. It never disappoints. So many things to do and see that we can't fit them all in in a few hours time. One of these years we will be living our dream & be able to go to the fair both days.
 The highlight of the day was seeing Michael Perry in the Word Tent. That is where the authors speak about their books. We've seen others in the past, but Michael Perry was by far the funniest. If you have read his books, you know what I mean. He has written Population 495: Meeting Your Neighbors One Siren at a Time, Truck: A Love Story, Coop: A Year of Poultry, Pigs & Parenting as well as an essay collection, Off Main Street.
Michael Perry

Not only does he write, he has a great band. Later in the afternoon, Michael Perry & the Long Beds played for an hour on the main stage. We ended up buying his two CD's and listened to them all the way back to Illinois. During our book signing turn, he remarked on how we must be from Chicago due to the accent. He is a Wisconsin boy, but I didn't notice his accent :-)

Michael Perry & the Long Beds

In between the Word Tent & the band we walked around and looked at the displays, old tractors, baby animals and ate some great food. A company from Wisconsin called Xperience Green had a great product on display. They are solar powered warm air heaters. Check out their website. We are keeping this in mind for the farm.

After walking around & eating veggie egg rolls and drinking fresh lemonade, it was nice to sit down & be entertained by the band.
It was a very "up" day for us. Steve made the comment "We belong up here. We need to live here soon." I really needed to hear that. With so much going on this spring and so little getting done at the farm, Steve has been very stressed out. When stress enters your life & consumes you, it is hard to think about the present let alone the future and hard to be happy. I am always reminding him that what you think about is what will come to pass, so think about our dream of moving to the farm in the rolling hills of Wisconsin.  

Thursday, July 22, 2010

British Car Trip With a Visit to the Farm

Thursday afternoon we left for our annual British car trek with the final destination being Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin for the vintage car weekend. We went with our friends Bob & Pam who haven't had the chance to see the farm since right after we bought it. So much has changed since then. The barn was kinda nasty back then. The basement floor was dirt with manure & dead rats laying around. Yuck. We were in the process of having the well drilled and were still using the sawdust toilet. They were troopers for coming to see it then :-). Now, even though it is far from finished inside, it is very livable. It was dark when we arrived. A beautiful clear night after the hot, uncomfortable day with temps in the nineties & very high humidity. We grabbed the lawn chairs and a few beers and sat out back & stargazed. We were watching for shooting stars & satellites &  each saw a few. Then the weirdest thing happened. Three of us saw a satellite & then a bright (like flashbulb in the sky bright) light. So we discussed what it could be. A spy satellite taking our picture :-) or a satellite colliding with space debris. All we knew is that we had never seen anything like it before. Without Internet access (my computer was fried by lightening a few weeks back), we had to wait until we got home Sunday night to look it up. So this is what I found out. It was probably an Iridium flare. These are communication satellites. The antennas are the size of a door with a mirror-like finish. when in the right position, they reflect light from the sun. Thus the flash of light. Okay, so the space aliens or the government isn't watching us. After a beer or two, we were off to bed dreaming about our big trip across the state the next day.
We got up fairly early and went straight for the garden where we picked our breakfast. We picked blueberries, new potatoes & spinach along with zucchini & yellow crook neck squash.

Bob helping out in the garden.

Steve digging potatoes.

Me with some blueberries. That's Bob & Pam's car by the barn. Cute!

Shep, the Amish dog, hung out with us while we worked.
  Thanks Pam for taking all the pictures. (My pocket camera quit working :-()

Steve & Pam went up to Eli & Lizzie's to get fresh eggs. The meal consisted of eggs on toast with wilted spinach, hash browns & blueberries along with a couple cups of local Kickapoo Coffee. After packing up, we headed into town & stopped at the Viroqua Food Coop for snack & some iced coffee drinks. It was already getting hot at 11am. The area has been getting some torrential rains lately and we drove through parts of the Kickapoo watershed & the Baraboo River valley. You could see the swollen waters had left the banks but luckily no roads were impacted. We stopped for lunch in Montello at The Stonecutter restaurant. We did the same thing three years ago. The owners are very friendly & the sandwiches were great.

The Stonecutter

A couple hours later, we were glad to get to out of the hot sun & into the shade of the campground. That is until we were swarmed by mosquitoes. All that rain makes for lots of mosquitoes. After putting on bug spray (homemade, of course :-), we put up the tents, blew up the air mattresses and headed into town.
Bob setting up the tent.

It is always exciting on Friday night in Elkhart Lake. All the race cars come into town and park on the street so everyone can see them up close. Then, a couple hours later, they all take off, some a little faster than others. There are usually police watching so no one gets too out of hand, but that doesn't stop the crowd from cheering them on. We met up with Bob & Pam's son Charlie & wife Leslie along with Leslie's mom, dad & little brother in town before heading back to the campground.
Charlie, Leslie & family
After going to the race track to sign in as workers (Steve & Bob) and guests (Pam & I) and look at some of the displays, we headed back into town for the Farmer's Market. It gets bigger every year.
Love all the colors of carrots.

Pam & I spent the day at the beach in town talking, reading and people watching while the guys went back to the track to work gridding cars. We got the better deal, believe me. It was hot at the track but on the beach, we sat in the shade with the breeze blowing on us. Nice.
Saturday night in town is a car show & judging. Most cars are vintage. Anything from old Porsches to Mini Cooper wagons. It's fun to walk around looking at all of them.

Bob with an Austin Healy

We were back at the campground by dark. There was a storm brewing to the north that looked to be a good one. We sat at the campfire a while and went to bed by eleven. About 1:30 am, the tent stared to rock. (No, not that :-). The wind came up fast & then it poured. The little rain flap on our tent couldn't keep it out so we had water dripping on our feet. It lightening & thundered quite a bit but calmed down enough to get back to sleep. Charlie & Leslie weren't so lucky though. Their tent pole pierced the top of the tent so they had to sleep in the car. It was still raining in the morning when we went out for breakfast & we decided to leave for home. Pam & I knew that the guys felt guilty about not staying to work at the track & about a half hour after we got on the road, they decided to go back & work. It turned out to be a nice day. Hot but not rainy. They worked two races, we ate lunch, then back on the road for home. I have to say that I felt like I was roasted over an open fire by the time we got home. Riding in a convertible in 90 degree heat with the sun beating down on you is hard. But we always have such a good time, it is worth it. Something we look forward to every year. Good friends, fun little cars, the beach & a racetrack. Who could ask for more.
A cutie in her own vintage car.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Minnesota...I Miss You

Yes, we just got back. But this is a place I could stay all summer long and not get tired of it. Beautiful sunsets are only a part of it. It's the lazy days sitting on the dock reading a book. Or fishing while the loons pop up near the boat or call out in the distance with that eery cry. Maybe it is the fact that nothing is planned. No schedule to keep. Get up early or sleep in late. Your choice. No phone ringing, or TV or computer to distract you. Biggest decision? When should we go to the Sun N' Fun for a malt? And not just any malt. This is THE malt & I have had many over the years. Nothing compares to it. I think it has to do with the amount of malt powder they put in it. And that they make them in the old time green mixers with the metal cups. And the fact that we get served at the counter on old fashioned bar stools. The owners have also added a section of candy and pop from the 50's, 60's & 70's. How about an Orange Crush or Dog N' Suds Root Beer in bottle? Maybe some candy cigarettes or Jujubee's? Maybe some wax lips or some Pop Rocks?

                             A nesting Common Loon (taken with a zoom lens).

And then there is the campfire. We waited until the night before we left. Gathering twigs to get the fire started. Pulling up the metal multi-colored and slightly rusting chairs. The first smells of the birch logs burning. Two trips to the cabin for the graham crackers, chocolate bars & marshmallows along with the hot dogs (veggie dogs for us) , buns, catsup, mustard and roasting sticks. Oh yeah. Don't forget the beers and water.
Ah, but what about the mosquitos, you say? Yes, they can be bad but we have plenty of homemade bug spray & a mosquito zapper that looks like a tennis racket. Ir was a little cloudy this year but most years we go out to the end of the dock & lay down and watch for shooting stars. This year Steve, Shane & I did this at midnight on Thursday. It was a clear night with a waning moon that was just starting to come up behind the trees. Even thought the moon was starting to light up the sky, we still saw plenty of stars & one shooting star. Wish made. Hopefully answered.
We had no rain this year but a lot of wind. It didn't stop Addy & Noelle (our great-nieces) from swimming every day though. By the middle of the week it was in the eighties and the wind switched directions making it calm on our shoreline. Perfect for getting on the rafts and floating around, soaking up the sun.
Steve did miss out on some fishing & biking time this year. He hurt his back while taking the trailer off of the hitch on the first day there. His back had started to bother him a while before but he never made it to the chiropractor before we left. It tightened up as soon as he set the trailer down. So with forced relaxation, he read a couple books instead of riding his bike on the trails like we usually do. By mid-week we decided to rent the pontoon boat so he could get some fishing time in. If I ever live on a lake, I will definitely have a pontoon boat. How nice to be able to walk around & sit in comfort while you fish. On Thursday his back was feeling better so he went out in the smaller boat with Shane & me and was also able to ride his bike into town and on the trail the last full day there.
I have only missed three years of my life going up to the same lake. So that is 50 years of vacations there. No wonder it feels like home.
Shane with a large mouth bass

Thursday, July 8, 2010

So Much Rain at the Farm

We are back from Minnesota. We spent Saturday & Sunday at the farm, leaving Monday morning. It started raining Sunday afternoon. I mean it just poured! It was getting darker & darker so I looked out the west facing window & I wasn't able to see the neighbors farm. A sheet of gray rain coming at us. It didn't stop raining until Monday morning. In the weeks before that we had several inches of rain too. We had to have more gravel brought in for the driveway. In a hard rain, the water rushes down the hill & cuts gullies through the driveway. We have to work on the channels for drainage soon. On the way to Minnesota we stopped at the farm overnight. I noticed the computer wasn't working but it is old & I thought it finally just quit. When we were there this weekend, I tried turning on the printer/fax machine & it was dead too. When trying to hook up the laptop I couldn't get connected so I checked the phone & it was dead too. Our neighbor Jim came over & he said that there was a lot of lightening & one was really close. Maybe that is the problem. There is also a sensor on the solar hot water tank that is flashing an error code. I hope that is not something serious. We are having that looked at today. So next time I am up there during the week, I will have to have the phone company come out top fix the problem & will also have them hook us up for wireless. Then I can just bring the laptop with me. I have another printer I can use, it just doesn't fax. I do work for the shop when I am there during the week, so I will have to go to town to fax if necessary.
                                                    Steve loading up the bikes in the rain.

The garden is doing great & is almost all the way weeded. The Amish neighbors have been trying to keep up with it between the raindrops. There are a few things that just didn't grow because of the weeds, but there is still alot coming up. We picked blueberries, raspberries, Nanking cherries, radishes and lettuce last weekend. There'll  be a lot more blueberries  & raspberries to pick this weekend. I am freezing the cherries for later use in jelly.  The garlic is also ready to harvest so I am hoping it will be a rain-free weekend. Don't know how I am going to get everything done in two days but I'll try my best.
Work has been so busy this spring that we feel like we are ignoring the farm. Steve is stressed out about getting jobs done on time. He relaxed on vacation, actually more than he wanted to since he hurt his back the day we got there. (More on that in my Minnesota post later).

                                                             Daddy Tim with Jaelyn
Mommy Kristin with Jaelyn

                                                     Hope everyone is enjoying the summer!