Monday, March 28, 2011

Trees, Floods, Gardens, Birthdays, Deerstands and Peoria mean another week in our life!

I haven't posted in a while -- we have been super busy around here.  I can't even remember all that we have done but some highlights include LOTS of timber time, like usual.  Yesterday Paul and I got one of Skyler's big deer stands put up after clearing LOTS of brush in the days prior to that.  Late last night we went back to the timbers to scope out the neighborhood turkeys for Skyler's upcoming youth season which begins Saturday.  We have our eye on four big toms!  Here is a picture of Skyler from this past week.  She found milkweed that still had all its cottony seeds and she was blowing the little seeds from her hand.

Skyler and Fran packing trees.
Last weekend, after a great 4-H meeting on Saturday, Skyler and I met up with our friends Ali and Fran on Sunday and packed trees for the Living Lands and Waters One Million Trees campaign.  Their goal is to give away and assure one million trees are planted within ten years through their organization.  It was a great time for a great cause.  It is awesome to know that we were a part of something that will affect our earth for possibly hundreds of years.  Although hunters are not usually thought of as "environmentalists" and that word actually holds some negative connotations even for me...we love to conserve our environment in many ways including our intense home recycling, not being wasteful with our natural resources, planting of trees (we have planted hundreds in our little lives), never polluting (burning plastic,etc.) or leaving trash where we shouldn't.  And one major way to use our natural resources is using animals by huntin' 'em and eatin' ' I guess you can call us some of the few Hunting Conservationists --- ewww, I still don't like that word.
Skyler loading trees up.

On Friday we kept Skyler out of school and both took a day off of work to head down to Peoria for the Deer Classic.  We always love taking little trips as a family and this one is fun because it is all centered around hunting -- the major focus of our lives.  They have just about every hunting item you can imagine with hundreds of booths.  We never spend a ton of money -- but a little leaves our hands in exchange for hunting shirts and calls that will be used 'til they fall apart -- probably sooner rather than later with our heavy use!

This weekend Skyler also helped me begin planting our garden.  It is always SOO exciting to get the garden going.  This is an extension of our hunting because we love to provide as much for ourselves as possible.  So we can't wait until we can begin harvesting to add to our family meals.

Yesterday Skyler and I volunteered along with her friend Gabbie to fill sandbags in Davenport.  Although the record-making flooding that was expected a few days ago has been downgraded...there is still a 25% chance the flooding will be the worst ever here so we decided to do our part.  We like to encourage Skyler to volunteer and this was just another way to do that with her.  We are in this photo toward the bottom left.

We had two birthday parties this weekend which were both super fun.  At both parties we got to spend time with some of our favorite people that are like second families to us.  So happy birthday Walt -- you and your family are an inspiration!!  And a happy 1st birthday to little beautiful Ella -- what a great time!  I hope you all enjoyed your week!
Little Ella opening her gifts.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Skyler's Duct Tape Creations, etc.

Skyler has been busy creating duct tape crafts.  In fact, she has started her own little business...she made a flyer which she has posted at school promoting her products (requiring prepayment before she gives them their order.)  Here she is holding some of her projects.  She makes bags, wallets, signs, bracelets, necklaces -- you name it and she will probably make it.  There is something strange about your daughter coming home from school with a pile of money ($17 the other night), but I don't want to quash her entrepreneur spirit so I'm just letting it ride.

We have had a great week.  Although Paul and I were supposed to be on a hog hunt in Michigan with friends this week -- we decided we needed to sit that hunt out.  So instead we took two days off work this week as a special treat to that we could work outside together.  We worked outside like crazy people for about 17 hours in just two days.  Hard work together has always been "our thing" and we still love doin' it.  Some people take days off to head to a normal vacation of sorts -- but our vacation is fulfilled just by being together.  :)  Now we can go back to our normal jobs and let our muscles heal.

Skyler and I went antler hunting after work one night this week -- and although we didn't find any antlers, we did come across a carcass of a horse.  Skyler is holding the skull in this picture.

We also took a class with some friends at the QC Animal Shelter in Coal Valley/Moline to train us to be official volunteers.  This is a picture of Skyler and her friend Fran in the "cat room."  Now we can volunteer at the shelter any time we like -- helping to take care of the cats and dogs that are there before they are adopted out.

Skyler had another 4H Animal Discovery Club meeting on Monday night and made an animal first aid kit -- now if Shadow gets hurt she will know just what to do!  While she was at her meeting I got to run with my friend Renee again for about an hour.  So glad the weather is nice again so we can hit the pavement together!

We of course spent time out in the timber as is usual for us.  We are still busy getting things ready for this fall when hunting season starts back up again.  If hard work alone meant shooting big bucks -- we would get our fill every year.  Unfortunately, luck plays a big part.  But when we do get those opportunities at nice deer, we can always rest assured that we did our best to earn them which makes every deer so much more special to us.  So here are a couple of pictures of Paul and I with Skyler out in the woods last night (I can't believe how big Skyler is getting).  Hope you all are having a great week!

Monday, March 7, 2011

A birthday weekend journal -- no cameras remembered...

We had an awesome weekend celebrating Paul's birthday ( Happy Birthday Bud)!  Since it was his birthday weekend -- we left it open to whatever Paul wanted to do.  This meant that we all had a great time as a family!  Saturday morning we were off to see Terry at "Griswolds," an awesome archery shop located on the outskirts of Galesburg where we go almost religiously for any archery supplies, etc.  Terry is incredibly helpful if you have any questions about the set up of your bow, new or old.  It is a fun shop where you feel like an old friend every time you walk in.  Paul is now the proud owner of a brand-spankin' new sight on his Mathews bow.  On our way home we made a run into Farm King (I love that place) and loaded up on feed for all our critters.  {They have their spring chicks, bunnies and ducklings for anyone interested -- did I remember my camera? nope} A quick stop in to visit with the Klauers on the way back home (always a great time) and then it was time to head to the timbers.

We hiked timbers in search of antlers the entire afternoon and were actually still hiking in the black of night to get back to our truck.  We were pretty exhausted in the end with lots of sore little toes!  We found 4 more antlers for our efforts (I am up to 7 for the year!!) and also got to see 2 more bucks that were carrying both antler on their heads -- drop those things already!

Sunday morning (THE birthday day) we were up at about 5 to start our day.  I had asked Paul if he could make a swing for my chickens (after seeing another chicken farmer who had one and swore they love it) and this was the morning to make it...(this seems all wrong, since it isn't my birthday -- but I'll take it).  Anyway, the whole family got in on the fun and now the chickens have their very own swing in their coop.  Thanks Paul!

We made another run out to a different timber to finish off the rest of our morning.  Paul climbed up and took down two deer stands that we have different plans for -- and put one of them back up in a new location.  After much sawing and dragging of brush we now have another stand ready for archery season this fall.  Skyler decided that the whole sawing down of smaller trees was way too tedious so she began trying to push/pull them down by crawling up and hanging from the tops...not real effective but gave her some fun while Paul and I were busy.

After leaving the timber we were on a real time crunch but made it to Alpha, IL, just in time for the scheduled family birthday event.  Lunch with Paul's family at the local diner and bowling at the local lanes was a great time!  There were many times throughout the weekend that I wished I had remembered my camera -- and this was one of them -- forgotten again -- I need to sew that thing to my arm.

We arrived home with just enough time for a few games of basketball with Skyler and throwin the football a few times out in the yard before we headed out to see a local native prairie burned.  (Yep, forgot my camera for this too).  Watching a prairie burn in the dark is a pretty awesome sight to behold.

So when it was all said and done -- we got to have a great time celebrating Paul's birthday weekend.  I am honored to know that although he could have chosen to spend his day with a slew of friends, without us -- he chose to include us as he always does -- a fabulous dad, husband and best friend!!