Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Yellow Bud - Week 12

Yes, I know this is not Friday.  But this is going to be an extremely busy weekend and who knows when I will get a chance to be at a computer.  So, SUPRISE!  You get your picture of the week a couple days early.

Week 12 of 52

Location:  South Branch Chippewa River, Village of Barryton, Michigan
Subject:  Marsh Marigold Bud

So pretty, these little yellow flowers dotted the banks of the river where the boys were fishing.

This bud is opened a little more.  Can't wait to go back and see what the full bloom looks like.

Fishing the Chippewa

My boys love their fishing.  And now we live in fishing country and they have yet to go fishing.  They had big plans to go ice fishing this winter but somehow we never managed to find the time.  So this week we decided to be spontaneous and head out to scope out some fishing spots.  So we headed to the big ol' town of Barryton, well Village if you want to get all technical, and fish the Chippewa River.

First stop, the South Branch of the Chippewa River.  There is a cute little park on the east end of town.  So first the boys fished off the river banks.  A. wandered with bare feet and I hunted the cutest yellow flowers that dotted the banks of the river.

South Branch Chippewa River, Village of Barryton
This seems to be a good spot, but we are not fishing in earnest, just scouting, so we pack up the fishin' gear and head to the next spot.

North Branch Chippewa River, Village of Barryton, Hoover Road Bridge
This is our next stop a few miles up the M66.  This is the Hoover Road Bridge.  This is just down the road from the farm where my Dad grew up.  Also where I spent the first seven years of my life.

This photo was taken about 9:15PM.  It is crazy how long it stays daylight up here.  Yes, the kiddos should have been in bed long before this.  But who can keep track of what time it is when it doesn't get dark till waaaay past bed time!  And random adventures are fun, school is almost finished, and it has been a stressful few weeks.  So there!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Fun with the Kiddos - Week 11

Kiddos at Pretty Lake

Week 11 of 52

Location:  Pretty Lake, Mecosta, MI
Subject:  Kiddos

This week was hard to pick so you are getting two!  I know! Now try to contain your excitement.  This one was taken last Friday.  Little Miss Cutie Bug came to make cookies and while we were waiting for them to cool we headed down to throw rocks into the lake.  We managed to get her to hold still for a couple of seconds so we could get a group shot.  And no, Z. is NOT wearing tights.  He got new work boots so he could work "like a real man" with Dad and Grandpa and so he had to get long socks.  Well now he wants to wear those boots everywhere.  Silly kid!

And this one was taken the week before.  Z. and Little Miss Cutie Bug were getting a ride in the wagon.  They were having a blast!  Two of the 13 cutest kids on the planet!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Fungus, Weeds, and Flowers

Yesterday I started planting in our garden.  It was a fairly hot day - like probably in the high 60's low 70's when I started.  Yes Tucson people, be jealous - that is hot up here!  As I took all my equipment outside I stopped to appreciate all the "weeds" that are sprouting in our empty flower beds and around the lawn.  So I thought I would share with you how pretty our weeds are here.

Empty Garden :(
First, here is our garden area.  That is our tractor way over there in the top right to give you an idea of size.  It looks kinda small in this picture, well probably compared to other Michigan gardens it is small but to us it seems gigantic.

Wild Mustard
This is Wild Mustard.  Considered a weed and not one easily gotten rid of but you can actually use the leaves in a salad.  Hmmm, may have to try that - why not as long as it is already growing there.  But it is really pretty with all those tiny yellow flowers.



And this of course is the Dandelion.  You can also use this weed for many things.  The greens can be used in salads, and parts of it (I have no idea which parts) can be used to make a wine.  Some out front are starting to into the magical puff balls the kids love to blow around to of course make more of these "pesky" weeds.

And this gorgeous thing, I have no idea what it is.  But I love it!  So pretty, so green!  So if any of you Michiganders know what this is - please, please tell me.  I think it may be a "Leafy Spurge" or some kind of spurge anyway.  But I am not sure.

And these little boogers - well we have been stomping around the state land near our house in hopes of finding them because everyone keeps telling us how delicious they are.  We have looked multiple times with no success.  Cameron was cleaning the yard on Sunday and guess what he finds to the west of the house.  Right under the bedroom windows next to a pine tree.  Yep - Morel Mushrooms!  Now we just have to fry some up and see how they taste.

And lastly, I am patiently waiting for Mom and Dad to come back home so we can do something with all these flower beds.  In the meantime, Cameron and I went to the nursery in Grand Rapids to get some plants for the garden and I couldn't resist picking up this little beauty and bringing her home.

Begonia: "Camilla"
That's it so far folks.  Miss you all like crazy and can't wait to see you again.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

This Weekend Was For The Birds!

As mentioned before, we are keeping a journal of all the fine feathered friends that visit our place.  With spring finally deciding it wants to be here to stay, we have been seeing all sorts of new birds.  This weekend was crazy with all the new birds showing up.  Even Cameron got into the birdwatching and snagged the camera from me when I was looking up the new birds in our awesome book from my grandma.

So here are a few.  Mind you, they are not all perfect photos - I know, I can't believe I am posting them either.  I drive Cameron nuts with my perfectionist ways so I am going out of my comfort zone a little and showing you imperfect photos only because we were so excited to see all the new birds this weekend.   
Brown-Headed Cowbird - Male

Brown-Headed Cowbird - Female

These two are not the prettiest examples of what we saw this weekend but I think they are interesting little birds.  I kept seeing them in the bird book so I was pretty excited when they finally decided to visit our place.

Not in the sense that they are a welcome visitor but just to see one.  These little guys are NOT nice to others!

They are vagabonds - they build no nest, no home in a crevice of a tree.  So they deposit their eggs into other smaller birds nests.  The young hatch earlier than the other birds and out eat the smaller birds so the smaller, true babies of the host nest usually die off.  Big Meanies! 

Purple Finch - Male

Chipping Sparrow


These cute little guys are both pretty skittish.  The purple finch has been here before but stayed so far away I couldn't even get a picture as good as the not so good one here on the right.  But they are really cute.  And the chipping sparrow was so small.

The bird feeder hangs right out the front window.  So most of the time I am attempting to photograph through either dual paned glass or old glass that is warped and imperfect.  Apologies - or is that excuses?  Either way when I try to open a door - ANY door, to try and sneak outside to get a better photo - they fly away.

Rose-Breasted Grosbeak

Rose-Breasted Grosbeak - Female

The males of this species is quickly becoming Cameron's favorite.  They are very brave and fearless of us human types.  You can almost get close enough to touch them before they fly away.  Mostly we see males but this weekend we saw the female. 

Amazing how incredibly different they look.  Most of the bird world actually.  The males are so flashy and beautiful and the females are less colorful and a lot are so drab and dull looking.  Probably a good thing though since most need to be hidden from predators while they hatch those eggs.

Red-Winged Blackbird - Male

These blackbirds were also not new this weekend but we seemed to have more than usual.  And we also spotted a female but I could not get a good photo of her.  The red and yellow on their wings is much more visible as they fly.  Beautiful birds.

But these folks, these are what got us, well me anyway, so excited this weekend.  These birds are so bright and beautiful they almost look fake. 

Northern (or Baltimore) Oriole - Male
Northern (or Baltimore) Oriole - Female

Seriously, they are so beautiful in person.  Go to the grocery store and pick up the brightest tangelo you can find and that is the color of the male.  And unlike some of these other bird species, the female may be duller but her coloring is so soft and pretty.  LOVE these birds!

We also had our first hummingbirds of the year.  But those little guys are so fast.  I did get one shot but I refuse to wander THAT far out of my comfort zone! :o)  We also saw some cranes - not at our house but out in some fields.  They are such awesome birds, especially when they fly low overhead.

What a great place to see Jehovah's diverse creations!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Tree Swallow - Week 10

Tree Swallow (Female)
Location:  Mecosta, Mi
Subject:  Tree Swallow

Our birdhouse finally has occupants.  There were two nesting pairs fighting for the rights to this charming little birdhouse.  They have such pretty little songs.  The cute little female peeking out and her mate were actually there to claim their stake first.  So it was cute to see them fighting off the other pair.  Each time after they would successfully send the other pair packing they would sit on top of the bird house and sing to eachother.  Sometimes they would get rather loud with eachother too.  Maybe it wasn't all singing praises.  Maybe they are like most couples and were expressing their differences of opinions.

This photo is clearly out of focus but I was shooting in manual mode and action got intense.  The swallow on the right is the female and she clearly was voicing a strong opinion to her mate and he clearly was getting the picture. :o)

We are loving all our fine feathered friends.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Dirty, Stinky Work!

This week marks the next phase in garden work.  Fertilizer - yuck!  My cousins cleaned out their barn this weekend which means we got nice fresh fertilizer for our garden.  So yucky, dirty, stinky work began.

Zack and Grandpa worked pretty hard.  Of course the tractor helped to hold Zack's interest but he really did work hard with no complaining.  It also helped that all day Grandpa made jokes about "crap".

By the time we were done with our garden the older kids had gotten home from school so we headed to Reuben's garden.  By now Zack was kinda tired, Jake and Aubrey were not too happy to be shoveling poo.  But we got both of Reuben's areas pooified.

My poor city children.  :o)  They are actually adapting well and having fun and working hard.  But really, who likes to shovel poo?  Grandpa then took their whining and was making songs up about "crying over crap".  Us adults were amused but the children not so much.

Cameron and Z. get lessons in tilling from Grandpa.  We still have some work to do but by the end of this week planting will be done and the weeding and waiting begins. 

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Tea Parties

Yesterday I threw a tea party for my little three year old niece.  She just moved up here to Michigan and I wanted her to get to know all the other little toddler girls from the congregation.  It was so cute to see them having fun and playing with eachother and sipping apple juice from their little tea cups.

To help out with all these toddlers I had A.'s friends come over to help make cupcakes and decorations and act as waitresses for all those cute little girlies.  It worked out great - A. got a little mini slumber party of sorts and I got some help.  We made these cute little surprise in the middle cupcakes the night before.

They were delicious.  They have mini oreos tucked in the middle.  We made the chocolate hearts the night before but frosted and decorated them Saturday after service.  Oh yes, service with four giggling teens and preteens.  It was entertaining to hear them all giggle and sing in the back seat.

Then they decorated the table for me.

Then of course we did a mini-photo shoot before all the party guests arrived.

It was such a fun day and now my little niece has lots of little new friends.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Small-mouth Salamander - Week 9

Small-mouth Salamander

Location:  Mecosta, Mi
Subject:  Small-mouth Salamander

See this post for the story behind this slimy friend of ours.  He actually wasn't all that slimy, he was far away from water poor guy.  The latest news we hear from the Michigan DNR is that it may possibly be a Small-mouth so they are passing our photos on to an herpetologist for further identification.  How exciting.  Maybe they will come visit us.  If they do, maybe my little guy will get his photo in the local paper.  They tend to report on every tiny little thing that happens around here.  Now THAT would be cool!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Slimy New Friend

We have been loving discovering all the new animal friends here.  We have been keeping a log and trying to photograph each new bird that visits our yard or bird feeder.  There are so many!

Now that the weather is warming up the boys especially have been exploring the woods around the house and finding new creatures that Z. always wants to keep as pets.  Yesterday he found this.  Well, it actually kind of found us.  He somehow managed to get in the house downstairs and was trying to get back out.  Z. caught him in his little bug catcher and we promptly headed to the internet to find out exactly what it was.

So we believe it is a Small-mouth Salamander.  He also however has small blue spots.  So we think he might be (as the Michigan DNR website puts it) hybridized with a Blue-spotted Salamander.  Either way he is endangered.  So we spent a little time with him, photographed him, and then set him free in the woods.

We sent some pictures to the DNR to see what they say.  They are trying to find where they live and keep it documented.  So who knows, maybe we will get a visit from the DNR.

But how cute is this?

He was so excited to find it and study it and figure out what "it" was but he would not touch it.  I told him he could hold it but instead he ran inside to get J. to hold it.

Such a brave big brother!  Even Aubrey was brave enough to at least touch it, but she wouldn't hold it either.

But it was fun to find something new and see the wonders of Jehovah's creation right here in our backyard!