Picture day

Ever try to take a good picture of a pig?  Or a steer?  AND a kid?

Ugh.

Very frustrating.

The kids are raising the animals to ultimately sell at auction at the end of fair.  Local businesses buy the animals as community service / advertising.  I am always wowed by the support the  town gives 4h kids.

The kids write letters asking for bidders.   We include a picture so the bidders (hopefully) recognize them in the auction ring.

The animals get washed.   The kids get ready.  But you cant make a pig smile for camera!

We spent an hour chasing pigs around the yard trying to get 3 suitable pictures. We tried all the tricks, put out bowls of feed, a hose, piles of apple, etc.

So frustrating.

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wait!  dont walk away.

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Youre walking away again!

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This isn’t working!

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Horrible, busy background.

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Not only will Cinderella not stop at the food bowls, she knocks them over.

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Who wants to bid on a pig butt?

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How did I not notice how short her shorts were?  I can NOT mail this one out! 

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Ooops, forgot the kids face!

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Runaway pig.

I posted these because any one who photographs kids and animals understands!

We did end up with 5 pictures.  3 hogs, 2 steer.  They weren’t great.  But they will do.

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Mike with Spot.

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Daniel walking Pepper.

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Amanda with Cinderella eating the hose.  (I will photoshop jeans on her!)

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Daniel and Squirt

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Amanda with Mickey.  (again, jeans will be added!)

Summer evenings

Picture perfect summer evenings this week

Lots of time just spent in the pasture.

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Mike with Buddy

Weather has been warm, humidity low. 

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Rob giving squirt a back scratch

Animals are in great moods with the pleasant weather.

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Amanda hanging out with Mickey, he us almost taller then Mike

And the wild one, Mikes beef feeder calf was weaned today and came to live in our barn.

He is hesitant.  But Mike has managed to pat him several times today.  He is turning black as I was told he would.

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Chevy home.

I am hoping he mellows soon.

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Mike laughing as Buddy wants pet and Rusty is eating his shirt

I love summer.

All work and no play

My kids certainly enjoy summer. 

Although the animals take up a lot of time, we manage to slip out for lots of fun.

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Rob with the kids on the power tower.

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Millennium Force, a favorite roller coaster

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Kids with their cousins on a water ride.

We have season passes to Cedar Point, an amusement park about 1 hour away.

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Running down to the river to go tubing

We have a camper and try to take a few week long trips a year.  During the summer we camp locally so we can run home to feed the animals.   Thankfully there is a great state park nearby with a river for tubing, mountain bike trails, fishing, and lots of relaxing.

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Mohican state park

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Zoey sleeping with one of the kids in the camper

We tend to camp further from home during spring break. We have camped in the Smokies, Florida, and South Carolina. Next year we are headed back to Florida, this time to St Andrews State Park.

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Riding bikes at Henderson State Park, Destin, FL

Sports also take a big part in the kids lives.

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Amanda playing first base on varsity softball team.

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Mike with his football team

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Dan catching

And, although only Mike enjoys kayaking with me, I do try to get out regularly.

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Kayaking in Charles Mill Lake

I love the animals, but glad the kids stay involved in extras!

Strawberry jam

I am not sure why I feel the need to can and freeze.  But it gives me great satisfaction.

We went strawberry picking this week.  I have never had great luck with growing my own berries (too many bugs) but there is a wonderful fruit farm near us.

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Mike was the only one that wanted to come picking.

The fields were beautifully tended to.  I had called ahead and they apologized, the berries were getting small and picked over.

I an not sure what they liked looked last week, but they were large and plentiful!

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Does this look picked over?

Mike and I picked for 90 minutes and got 48 quarts!

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Each bucket held just under 5 quarts

Then the jam making began.

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Kids being goofy while slicing the tops off

We ended up with 42 pints of freezer jam.  They will feel like  jars of summer in December.

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We also froze whole berries for  smoothies, loaves of strawberry bread, and had bowls of  fresh berries.  But the jam is my favorite

Determination

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Mike is determined that we will have productive fruit trees this year.  We have 2 apple trees and a mulberry tree. 

In the past they have only given us small wormy apples.

He got off the school bus today, went to the garage, grabbed a ladder and pruning shears, went to work without being asked.  He did a really nice job.   He is willing to chop off more then I am. 

I wish I was as hopeful as an 11 yr old.  Something about spring makes us believe that this year will be different.  The garden will be weed free, the baseball team will be undefeated, the animals will win grand champion at the county fair.

Here is to apples, applesauce, apple cake, apple butter and optimistic kids!

Mud

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The kids tried to get the steer out walking this weekend, but the yard is too soft.  We now have hoof prints through the back yard.

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The pasture has been reduced to a soft muddy mess devoid of grass.

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I truly hate to close off the pasture but we need the grass to grow back.  I am sure the cattle will be fine with a little extra hay. 

Now if someone could just remind the kids to take off the mud caked boots before they come in the house.