A Trip to the Farm

Last Saturday we took a ride out to the country. I had placed an order with Trillium Wood Farms in efforts to better support small Michigan farmers. This is better for the animals, for us, the environment – it’s really a win-win all over.

I would say local farmers but for us, a trip to the farm really is a road trip, at an hour and half drive one way. It’s a pretty drive though and this time I enjoyed seeing the suburbs, then the city, slowly turn into fields of green, dotted with animals along the highway.

We started early, picking up coffee for us and hash browns for the kiddo before hitting the road. Wyatt decided he preferred Goldfish crackers to his hash browns though. This kid and Goldfish crackers…lol.

I rarely talk about the fact that we live a mile from the Detroit River – it has been a fixture in my life for so long that I just don’t think about it. But Saturday we drove along the river for a bit, watching as the sun hit the water just so, making it glitter.

It wasn’t long before we were on the highway, heading west. It was not a bad way to start the morning, hot coffee, hash browns, the radio playing country music as we all sang along. There wasn’t much traffic since it was Saturday morning, and we just enjoyed the time together.

I had to take a photo of the Fowlerville sign. When I was attending Central Michigan, my friend and I would say “Fowlerville, already??” every time we passed through on our way back to school. It was the halfway mark, and I am not sure why we said it but I find myself thinking it when we pass it now, still. Here the landscape really begins to change from city to rural, and I kept my eyes glued to the fields around us, looking for horses and cows and hawks.

While we were en route one of the farmers emailed me that they had to change part of our order (which was ok) and to not be alarmed if we saw pigs running around when arrived, since a tree had fallen on the fenceline and they had escaped. I have to admit, it did make me a little nervous. I have a little bit of a fear of pigs, they can bite through metal and I feel like they just want to take a chunk out of me. I know this is irrational but..there you go.

We did not see any pigs on the loose however when we arrived. Wyatt was disappointed but I was quietly relieved. We were the only ones there and it works on the honor system for no contact pick up, we just grab our order from the freezer. So we took a minute to stretch our legs. We didn’t stray away from the lot so as not to trespass on the farm itself, although I did want to get closer to the cow and the turkeys I could see. We did see pigs in a pen so they must have gotten rounded up and the fence fixed. They were a little distance away though across a small field and through some trees.

We did make friends with these cuties! Farm dogs and farm cats.. I love how that tabby is guarding the deliveries like she is the postmaster or something.

I am reading a book called Sheepish right now, and the author, Catherine Friend, talks about how small farms are really the only link for people to be able to get up close and personal with farm animals these days, and how if you do not grow up near them farms are places people can go to experience that wonder. I know in talking through emails with the sisters that run this farm that they do offer little tours of the farm to interested people. I think we might take them up on that when it is safer to do so.

As we were leaving one of the farmers was coming back up the drive and we stopped to chat a few minutes about the dogs. There is something to be said about knowing where your food actually comes from, the people raising it and caring about the entire process. The sisters at Trillium take the raising of their animals very seriously and treat them with compassion, all the way until the end with a humane quick finish. After our chat, it was sadly time to turn around and head home. We watched the drive in reverse, from fields to concrete and traffic and felt like we had had quite an adventure for not quite noon. One of us even needed a nap.

The car covered in black and white swirls is a sure sign we are near home again. These are the new models of cars that haven’t been released yet and we see them all the time around here. Since they are still secret they are covered in this to disguise them although we can usually guess what they are. It’s a common sight to see around here with all the auto industry.

So, it was an interesting morning for us and one we plan on doing again soon! We didn’t order much this time but hope to do small orders once a month or so. If nothing else, we get to take a nice ride together and see some new sights!

An “Otterly” Fun Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day began with pancakes. Heart shaped pancakes with whipped cream and M&Ms, to be exact. It was a cold cold morning, and these pancakes warmed up Wyatt’s little belly while Billy and I drank tons of coffee, which was needed to keep up with our sugared up kiddo. Billy and I decided to be a little silly this year and do a theme for gifts. We don’t even usually do gifts, but this year we are celebrating everything we can. I am going to share what we got each other at the end of this post, but let me tell you our theme…

Our theme? Otters. A little unusual, but perfect for our nature loving family. And otters, while actually sort of vicious little creatures, also do something so sweet and cute – hold hands while they sleep so they don’t drift apart. And I love that so much. So, because we were all about the otters this Valentine’s Day, we had to go to the zoo and see them!

It was very cold – like 20 degrees- but sunny with blue skies, and we bundled up in many layers before hitting the road. I was still a little nervous but I wanted to go. Our plan was that if it was too cold, then we would just head home. We have a membership, since we go so often, and I love it. We feel so much more freedom with a membership, and feel we can enjoy the zoo without feeling pressured to get it all done in one day. We can just take our time and wander around, see what we want to see.

Anyway, the day was gorgeous and once we were in the sunshine, it didn’t feel that cold. I won’t share too many photos of our zoo trip, as most did not turn out, but the day was amazing. We were only there about an hour but it was perfect. We pretty much had the zoo to ourselves, most of the animals were out sunning themselves, and we had so much fun. Our first stop was the otters – who was laying in the sun enjoying himself. (or herself, I don’t really know) We ended up seeing the red pandas, the tigers, the camels, and the arctic foxes before packing it in for the morning, but it was just enough time. We had wanted to see the wolves but they are all the way in the back and we decided we would come back and see them soon.

We stopped for chicken nuggets and fries on the way home since we are fancy, and ate them in the car on the way to my mom’s. I had a few things for her, including Wyatt’s homemade Valentine.

After chatting with my mom a bit we headed home and just chilled out. Later we ordered pizza for dinner and Billy and I got a chance to use our Valentine’s gifts to each other – matching otter glasses – a whiskey glass for him (although he had cider in his that night), a wine glass for me. They are adorable! We had read Wyatt his book before we went, but we read it again – Together by Emma Dodd. Also adorable.

It was such a great day with my guys!

Chitchat Coffee Time Post

I sat down this morning to type up my Homeschooling Snow post, and realized that was not what I wanted to talk about this morning. Instead I just feel like chatting over my coffee. Also not sure why there is a measuring spoon in my room…

On Monday, Wyatt returned to therapy. This was a big deal for all of us. I was completely nervous and filled with all the anxiety. Would they tell us Wyatt had lost a lot of skills over the last year? How would he be away from me? How would I be away from him? We have been joined at the hip practically for the past year, so there was sure to be some separation anxiety. I drove there, buoyed by the tough love from my friends, feeling like I just wanted to turn the car around and head home to our safe house. But, we couldn’t do that. This was important. We know to stay safe you wear a mask and keep your distance and wash your hands. These are things we can do. And then when we got there, all worry melted away. This place is familiar. These people are like family. They have known Wyatt since he was a year old and love him and care about him. They would do their best by him as they have for five years.

And surprise, they wanted me to go in! I had been told that only Wyatt would be allowed in but things have lifted in Michigan a bit and I was able to join them. I probably won’t always, since Wyatt does need to get used to being away from me again, but this time, I was glad. I could visit with his therapist, I could see what precautions they are taking first hand. And I got to see the joy Wyatt had in returning and being reunited with Stacy, whom he has known for five years. They have always been a great team. And Wyatt is so motivated right now- I am excited to see what happens and how he grows from this return. More good Wyatt news – he finally finally made the growth chart after six years! It’s been a battle, but this kid is now in the 13th percentile. His doctor did a little happy dance and so did I!

The slow evolution from sad anole to happy Dash. I wish I could have taken home all three little anoles but I couldn’t. So sad and grey in that first photo! In the second he is beginning to feel safer and happier. Then one morning I was delighted to see that Dash was green! The sign of a happy little anole.

And in case you need some happy Harry photos…

This week my dad got his second vaccine, my mom got her first, and my aunt got her second as well. I think my uncle is waiting on his second one still. My mom goes for her second shot on Wyatt’s birthday!

My cute little mommy after her shot. My brother took her – he was messing with her and told her that they got a stockboy from the back to administer the shots. Lol.

Wyatt and I had a fun week together too. We did lots of snow activities, read lots of books, painted, made Valentines, and baked some pretty terrible cookies. I mistakenly used quick oats in our oatmeal cookies instead of rolled – and it does make a difference, just saying. Billy couldn’t even identify what type of cookie we had tried to make. LOL. We haven’t been outside too much lately. The weather has been too cold for us to feel comfortable taking Wyatt out – as he is not independently mobile right now he doesn’t generate heat from expending energy so we worry about him getting too cold. We are going to try to go to the zoo tomorrow, and see a quick list of specific animals – crossing my fingers we can do it, we need some fresh air time.

How was your week?

Winter Hikes

We are winter hikers; we wait all year to get back out there in the cold and snow. There is just something so invigorating about being in a winter wood, the chill temps, the quiet. On New Years Day, I walked the woods alone; Wyatt had fallen asleep in the car on the way to the trail, and Billy offered to stay back so that I could wander. The only sounds I heard were those of the birds, tweeting and chirping, birds of all kinds. Robins and cardinals and blue jays, various woodpeckers – a chipmunk ran in front of me, scampering into the undergrowth. I had my eyes scanning the trees, looking for the long – eared owl that has been spotted there, but didn’t see it unfortunately. When I headed back to the car, Billy told me that he had been watching all the birds as well, from his warm cozy seat. They were simply everywhere.

We took two more hikes that week, one at our favorite trail system, just to get outside and stretch our legs, get some fresh air. The woods were quiet that day, we didn’t see a single soul, nor see any signs of life at all. The birds and the animals must have been huddled up against the cold, wondering just what we were thinking, hiking around out there.

We also trekked out to Belle Isle one morning, and took a walk around the half frozen pond. It was like being in the Arctic, but not as cold and minus the polar bears. Although I did spy some tracks in the snow on the ice; can anyone identify them? I am thinking maybe fox, but identifying tracks is something I haven’t mastered.

It was a beautiful walk, almost magical near the marshy spots and the cattails.

And what better way to end a cold walk in the snow and ice than with hot chocolate and car snacks?

Trip to the Pumpkin Patch

One of our most beloved family traditions every year is our trip to the pumpkin patch and orchard. We have been doing it since I was a little girl, when we would go with my cousin and follow it up with chili for dinner and cake to celebrate my uncle’s birthday. This year, it almost didn’t happen, for obvious reasons. But the kids have been studying pumpkins all week and we needed to find a way we felt comfortable going, if possible.

So we did! Billy, Devin, and Chrissy took a day off of work for our “field trip” this year, we got up early so we could arrive right when it opened, and we chose to go one of our favorite orchards, one that is a favorite because it is just about the pumpkins there. No rigmarole or fair like atmosphere – just an orchard, pumpkins, and for adults, a hard cider tasting room, where they make the cider onsite. We didn’t do any tasting this year but we definitely bought some to go.

We pulled up around the same time almost exactly, and headed off through the grounds, which we had all to ourselves. We kept our masks on, as good practice for the kids, and my mom as well, and maintained our distances although it was just us.

Well, us and this dog. He was with us our whole excursion and didn’t stray too far from my niece’s side. He lives there and decided to hang out with us.

It was an absolutely glorious morning – sunny, warm, a bit crisp. The perfect day for our adventure. We messed about in the orchard, laughed about our dog friend and honorary group member – we are the James Herriot Primary school after all..

Then we headed to the store area to shop for our gourds and pumpkins and all the good things. All the pumpkins were really up there so no picking through the patch for one but that is ok, much easier to lug them the two feet back to the car then all that way. We did have to run in to pay and to pick up our cider, and I also added a jar of honey from their hives to my order.

And the dog’s name turned out to be “Greater”. All Creatures Great and Small, anyone?

Happy Fall everyone!

A Misty Morning at the Orchard

Wyatt and I met my SIL Chrissy and my niece L. at the orchard yesterday, and I am so glad that we went. I was very nervous, it was 8 days post surgery and it would be our first outing too. I am glad I felt brave enough to say yes, because we had fun, despite the slightly damp day.

Chrissy and L. met us at the orchard at 11:30, and Chrissy masked up and headed into the store to grab out bags for picking while I stood between the cars and watched both kids. Then we headed back to the orchard, where they had row after row of apple varieties to choose from. Our little caravan of two headed all the way to the end before turning around and deciding we wanted to head for the honey crisp first. We parked and we put a blanket down as our base and went up and down the rows plucking the apples from the branches. The kids thought it was super fun! When we finished that area, we wandered over to the golden delicious and braeburn section, and added more apples to our bag.

Our bags were filling up and getting heavy, but we were not ready to call it quits yet. We had one more small section we wanted to check out, the winesap apples. I have to be honest, I am not certain what these apples are like but we liked the name. Wyatt was super tired by this point so I stuck him in the back of the Subaru to hang out with while Chrissy and L. explored the field across the way, looking at the pumpkins, looking so autumnal sprawled out in the dew among their vines. L. came bouncing back, filled with excitement and wanting to show me the baby pumpkin that she saw so Chrissy stayed with Wyatt while I followed L. across the little bridge to the pumpkins. And we saw some enormous pumpkins as well as some teeny baby pumpkins. I guess fall has arrived, at least to our part of Michigan! I joked with Chrissy too, that she looked like a character from a Jane Austen novel walking through the fields..

By this point all of our feet were soaking wet and squishy, so it was time to call it a day. I would have loved to have had a picnic among the trees for Chrissy’s birthday (did I mention it was her birthday?) but it was too gross. We loaded the kids up and headed back to the front, making a little stop at the pick your own flowers field, where we realized we had no way to cut a bouquet. I never realized that one day I would be standing in a damp field lamenting that I didn’t have a pocket knife, but there I was. (and I came home and added a pink Opinel to my Christmas list..I will never go without flowers again! Lol)

All in all, we had a great time. I am so glad that we went, despite my anxiety, because I really think being with family, a change of scenery, and the fresh air did Wyatt and I both a world of good. I am so happy that we were able to share in Chrissy’s day! And look at this happy face!

Mini-Post: A Morning in the Country

Every summer, we take a family trip to the orchard to pick peaches (and sometimes blueberries). This year we realized it was a pretty perfect family activity, even with our present circumstances. So, Friday Billy took a vacation day, we packed our lunch and our blanket, and headed out to the country.

When we got there, we found we were not the only ones with this idea, even on a weekday morning. We hadn’t planned on masking up, except for in the store of course, but we put them on for the first part of our adventure due to the amount of families also wandering the orchard. We didn’t need them on long though, after ten minutes everyone else left, and we had the place to ourselves.

We took our time, looking for the peaches we wanted. It was slim pickings due to a late frost that had affected the peach crop but we still had fun. After we picked as many as we thought we could possibly use, we set up our blanket and had a little early lunch. And it was so quiet. So quiet. We are used to always hearing something – cars, people mowing their lawns, sirens, whatever. The sounds of living in the suburbs, you know? But this was so peachful (I meant to type peaceful but peach came out and I rolled with it). The weather was gorgeous, just warm enough. There was a breeze, the sky a brilliant blue, and just the sound of bird song and the rustling of the leaves. I could have stayed there all day! But Wyatt was ready to explore more, so on we explored.

It was a perfectly perfect lovely day. And now we have a ton of peaches, for jam and cobbler and pie!

We had such a great time, such a great time that I think we will organize a larger family trip for later this month with my mom and brother and his family. I am looking forward to it!

Snapshots of Summer..so far

I have a stack of books that my cousin made, that say “Every Summer Has Its Own Story”. Could that be more true for this summer? I think about other weird times in history, trying times and challenging times. Times of war, the year without a summer, pandemics of the past – and now the times that 2020 has brought to us all, globally. Our year has certainly been different, and while I thought summer might bring some relief, we are still fairly locked down.

Despite this, we are trying. We are seeing friends and family, yet more often in person socially distanced rather than just online chats. We can get outside more frequently, and easier, and Wyatt and I try to spend either mornings or evenings outside. The evenings are nicer, because then Billy can be with us.

We’ve enjoyed drinks outside…

… and all sorts of treasures from nature.

Tonight we are being crazy and having an ice cream for dinner picnic outdoors – complete with waffle cone bowls. It’s gonna get messy!

Stay well everyone.

Little Wanderings

It’s been some time since our family wandered around outside. We have been taking neighborhood walks but we haven’t been out in the world in two months. Our favorite places are sort of crowded these days with everyone else attempting to get out of the house too, so we have been avoiding our usual stomping grounds. Then this weekend, we remembered a few places that we thought might be less busy – and our hunches paid off!

So Sunday after a bellyful of chocolate chip pancakes and a virtual chat over tea with my mom, we pulled on our boots and headed out in search of whatever adventures we could find. Our first stop was a centennial farm and nursery. It was too cold for them to have many flowers out so we made plans to go back in warmer weather (hopefully this upcoming weekend!) and wandered about their beautiful grounds. We spotted fiddlehead ferns, a favorite of mine, so many birds including a cardinal that followed us around, and beautiful trees and plants. It was a brisk morning, cool and overcast and it even rained on us a few times, but that was ok. We don’t mind a little rain.

We also used the opportunity to practice mask wearing with Wyatt. We figured it was good to practice somewhere it wasn’t crowded or imperative to wear one for safety reasons – and where better but in the outdoors. We did encounter employees and the people that lived there, but we maintained social distancing and had masks on, so it was sort of a dress rehearsal for the weeks ahead. Wyatt did ok…. his face is so small though that it easily slips down off of his nose, so we need a plan for that. He likes to fiddle with it too, pulling it down – or up too high! He will get the hang of of it.

The grounds were beautiful but not big enough to satisfy our urge to be outside – so we decided to try a place nearby that we got to sometimes. We spent the short drive there crossing our fingers that it was not overcrowded and we were in luck! We had the place almost to ourselves, and there was more than enough trail for everyone.

It was so wonderful, and it was so good for me, for all of us, to be back outside again, and in nature. It is such a part of our family that we were really missing it. We headed home feeling refreshed, like someone had opened the windows to our souls and aired them out. Now that we know we can do this, we will be venturing out again, hopefully soon!

A Pancake Picnic

After our Saturday night indoor campout, it seemed only natural to follow up with a pancake breakfast picnic on Sunday.

We have a system here in our house – Billy makes the pancake batter, and I am the cook. It’s challenging, because the three of us all like our pancakes served differently. Wyatt likes tiny pancakes, like half-dollar or smaller even. I like my pancakes a gentle golden brown, and Billy likes his dark brown, almost bordering on overdone. So, I have my work cut out for me when I cook! Over time Billy has come up with the perfect recipe for our family as well, after much experimentation, and honestly, they are seriously perfect, at least in my opinion. They smell so good while they are cooking even! If you are interested in trying them, I’ve added his recipe! It’s not fancy but it’s good. And keep in mind, we are just home cooks here. Lol.

Billy's Sunday Morning Pancakes

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups all purpose flour
  • 3.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 TB maple syrup (yes right in the batter)
  • 2 TB Vanilla extract
  • 1 TB Almond extract
  • 1.25 cups milk
  • 1 egg
  • 3 TB melted butter

Directions: Melt the butter. Sift together the dry ingredients. Form a well in the sifted dry ingredients and pour all liquid into well. Add egg. Whisk together until combined. Drop onto hot griddle or pan – I use a 1/2 c. measuring cup but you do you. When they start bubbling you know it’s time to flip, or make according to your tastes. Like I said Billy likes his much darker brown than I do so I don’t flip his as quickly.

Our little guy certainly enjoys them! He doesn’t even bother with syrup or a fork! Lol.

How do you like your pancakes? Any secrets you have for making them?