Summer Break Begins

Before our summer season of volunteers begins, we grabbed the chance to have a bit of family vacation.  Since we have lived in Kentucky for ten years, we figured we should take in the world heritage site of Mammoth Cave.  To quote Stephen Bishop, an early guide, the cave is “grand, gloomy, and peculiar.”  The tour guide shared interesting tidbits of information, and it was an adventure squeezing through narrow passages and climbing and descending hundreds of steps.

Being part of the National Park System, there is more to Mammoth Cave than what is underground.  There are also trails to hike and beautiful sights to see above ground.

After our time away, we returned home to welcome my husband’s parents for a visit.  Our youngest celebrated his ninth birthday with presents, lasagna, and ice cream cake.  Since school is out, there has been lots of time for play including match box car races, marble track, and trampoline.

The garden has yielded some beautiful produce.  The bountiful rains have filled out the radishes and strawberries and caused the greens and herbs to produce large leaves.

Our last home school group meeting was a field trip to Pine Mountain Settlement School where we toured their agricultural initiatives including gardens, chickens, honey bees, and hoop houses.  A gorgeous, sunny day after several rainy days was a welcome treat.

Snapshots from the Week

The last few weeks have been full with finishing the school year and preparing for our summer season of volunteers; but it was fun to arrive at camp and find the peas, potatoes, and greens we had planted in April pushed up through the soil.  I was able to harvest a few radishes and salad greens, and we have pulled enough strawberries for the six of us to each have a few.

The iris, which is my favorite flower, were in full bloom.  I found a wild one blooming at the edge of the woods.

The children and I got the summer vegetables planted: beans, corn, several varieties of summer and winter squashes, cucumbers, tomatoes, and peppers.  Teamwork made the job go quickly.  Our oldest pulled back the wood chips with a hoe.  Our daughter and I planted the seeds, and our two youngest boys took turns covering them up.  At the end of one row, we uncovered a salamander which the kids found to be a fascinating diversion.

Later in the week, after all the vegetables were planted, we were grateful for a lovely, soaking rain.

One morning, the clouds were rolling in over the camp; and I had to stop and thank the Lord for the beauty of the sky.

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That same morning, I admired the colors of our breakfast fruit salad.

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Our oldest spent quite a bit of time in the shop working on wooden creations.  This was his first chiseled piece.  Later, he made another and was excited that someone bought it.

20170516_112322 A few snapshots from the week!

Snatched Moments

Despite feeling weary from weeks of high energy work, there have been snatched moments to pause and notice the beauty of the season.

The red bud blossoms are out in all their glory, and the dogwood are following close behind.

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Our daughter is preparing for a dance recital.  One night at practice, I caught her mid-leap.

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The peas and lettuce have sprouted!  The sighting of the first seedlings always brings joy to my heart.

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On Saturday, our daughter and I were pleased to be able to attend a ladies’ tea at church.  Along with approximately 150 other women from the community, we enjoyed beautifully decorated tables, a delicious brunch, delightful company, and inspiring music and speaker.

Planting Peas

After two weeks of hosting volunteer groups with several very cold days, it felt great to get out and work in the soil and soak in the sunshine.  The children and I planted both shell and snap peas, carrots, beets, and radishes.

This is our second season of gardening with woodchips.  First we pulled back the woodchips to expose the dirt.  The soil was improved from last year, darker and richer.

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Two of the children discovered an earthworm to observe.

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We planted the pea seeds six across each foot-and-a-quarter section.

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Then we pulled the woodchips back over the seeds.

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Our third child captured our daughter and I planting carrot seeds together.

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In the midst of planting, our daughter discovered in the ditch what I think are frog eggs.

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How’s that for hands-on learning?!

November Musings

November weather has been mild so far this year; but early this morning, we were awakened with the sounds of a heavy downpour and strong winds.  The temperture has dropped thirty degrees from yesterday.  The front yard is now carpeted with a layer of pine needles, good for the blueberry bushes.  We are rejoicing for the rainfall as our region has been plagued with forest fires the last several weeks.

The peak of leaf color was in October, but I also appreciate the color on the mountains in November.  The red oak and maple trees retain their leaves long after the yellow, brown, and orange ones have fallen resulting in crimson patches against the gray of the hills.

Our family chores the last few weeks have included spreading manure and woodchips and raking massive piles of leaves over the mountainside.  The gardens are bedded down for the winter awaiting another growing season.

The hunters are out scouting the trail for deer.  Meanwhile this young buck wandered onto camp outside our classroom window.

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We did not get much of a view of the super moon; but the day before, the sunset was a ball of fire and the moon was brilliant.

Autumn Work and Play

The mountains are aflame with color: brilliant orange, deep red, and golden yellow.  Leaves are falling daily which means lots of opportunity to rake them into piles before sending them down the hillside.  Leaf wars, jumping in the pile, and making leaf angels have been lots of fun for the children.

My husband has hauled loads of horse manure up the mountain.  The children and I worked at spreading it on the vegetable patches in preparation for next year’s gardening.  I love their looks of determination.  They surely worked hard that afternoon.

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The hydrangea bush has taken on beautiful hues this fall.

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As we drive up and down the trail, the leaves are truly a sight to see.

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Once again, we spent some time at Kingdom Come State Park.  The children are pictured atop Log Rock, another amazing rock formation.

It is difficult to capture the intensity of the colors, but here are some maple and tulip poplar leaves to enjoy.

Summer Break

This week we had a break from volunteer groups.  While we did not go on vacation, we did have a lovely week which included catching up on some tasks that get neglected during the busy weeks, visiting with friends, and enjoying family time.

Sunday evening, we lit a fire, roasted marshmallows, and made s’mores.  The children challenged themselves by seeing how many seconds it took to scale the steep hill beside the driveway and by running from the back of the camp to the bottom of our driveway.  They said they are preparing  for a 5k!

Monday, friends took us out on Lake Norris.  The boat was beautiful, the day lovely, and the company enjoyable.  The wind in my face was invigorating, and the water was relaxing.  We settled in a cove to eat fried chicken, fresh cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and blueberries.  While the children swam with life jackets, the adults visited about life experiences.  Our host told of his school days at a settlement school in the mountains, of his time in France after World War II, and of living in Alaska and Texas.

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Tuesday, for the first time this year, the children and I pulled weeds from the vegetable garden.  There were only a few, mostly grass, poking up through the wood chips.  The mulch has been such a blessing, as I do not know when I would have had time to put into weeding this summer.

Wednesday, a friend from my teaching days came to visit.  As we sat on the front porch enjoying the quiet and the morning breeze, we watched hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees dart about the Rose of Sharon bush and the potted wild flowers.  We talked of seasons of life and how the Lord leads in various ways.

That evening for supper, we hosted new friends, a family from Manitoba with whom we are serving this summer.  The company was delightful, and the children enjoyed playing dolls and Legos.  They brought a gorgeous bouquet arranged from garden and wild flowers that were blooming on the property.

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Thursday, before we headed down the mountain to run errands, the children and I picked beans and planted some seeds for a fall crop.  Pushing aside the wood chips just enough to be able to put the seeds in the dirt, I planted lettuce, spinach, kale, greens, and radishes.  It has been a hot week with no rain; so imagine my surprise when this morning, I peeked at the garden and saw radishes already sprouting!  Another plus for the woodchips: they hold moisture even when the weather is dry.

Friday afternoon, our family headed out to Martin’s Fork Lake.  The water was a great way to relax and cool off after the heat of the day.  The children are improving their swimming skills, and two of them built castles in the sand.  After a picnic supper, we stopped at Dairy Queen for ice cream cones.

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Several times this week, I thought, “Ah, this is summer!”

Strange Sightings

At times, creation reveals some strange sights.  Here are a few from the plant and insect worlds.

I am not sure what these plants are, but they are surely unusual looking.

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A stick with lichens and fungi fell into our garden.

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Our middle son came running with a stick bug on his arm.

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Our daughter spied a giant moth.

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This final picture is for my father-in-law.  Not strange, but a welcome sight is Dutch beans growing in the garden.

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