photography


I guess I post a photo of this flower every year:

Dewdrop (Dalibarda repens)

Dewdrop (Dalibarda repens)


because it is one of my favorites. Every year I post this, I say the same thing – that this is the flower that taught me how to use a camera.

I used to have a Canon A85, which was a nice point-and-shoot, but it absolutely could not capture a decent image of this flower when left to its own automatic devices. Also, I didn’t really know what I was doing. I learned a few things right away: don’t use flash for macro shots. Also, use the macro setting when taking a macro shot. Also, “macro” means “close to the subject.” I also learned not to use the zoom in a macro shot.

These days, I put the camera about an inch from any macro subject – or how ever close I can get and fill the frame.

Those were the easy lessons. The harder ones were to set the exposure time manually, what the ISO setting does (I set mine as low as I can), and what the f-stop does (I try to max that out, even though a lot of people like low f-stops for macros – I’m not one of those people!)

With the f-stop maxed and the ISO minimized, that means the exposure time has to be long, and long exposures blur unless the camera is held perfectly still. So I use a tiny tripod. But when I press the button, the camera shakes, and that can blur the image too. So I make it wait two seconds after I release the button before it takes the picture.

Lastly (for now), if the camera won’t autofocus on the subject because it’s too small, I place my finger in the frame as near the subject as I can, and then let the AF do its thing by pressing the “take the picture” button halfway down. Then I move my finger out of the way. If I bumped the subject, I wait for it to stop moving. Then I press the button the rest of the way down.

But it was this plant that taught me all of that.

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When astronomers assemble a new telescope and aim it at the sky for the first time, they call that “first light.” Well, my new Canon SX150IS came in today to replace my broken SX110IS. I must confess that “first light” for it was a bottle cap lying on a table. And so was second light. I deleted those before downloading them, but I’ll share third-fifth light with you.

Chickens on the loose!

Chickens on the loose!


This one came about after my Mom was talking about how she needed her chicken coop moved to a new spot. The temperature is supposed to hit 107 here tomorrow, so getting them into a shadier spot was kind of important. I offered to do the deed with David’s help.

Well, her chicken coop was a lot heavier than it seemed. We lifted it up on one side and started dragging it across the grass, and that’s when all 12 chickens flew the coop so to speak. We spent the next 15 or 20 minutes herding them back into the coop. Penny – a herding dog – was absolutely worthless at this. But of course, she had never even seen a chicken before yesterday, and she has exactly zero training when it comes to herding actual animals. Still.

Before it was all said and done, I watched Dad try to catch one of the roosters. It got away, but I could see how he was trying to do it. I emulated his technique and that was met with some success. Basically, Dad was moving in low and slow, and then snatched at the hen’s legs. When I tried it, I caught one leg, but with the chicken thusly restrained, getting hold of the second leg was somewhat trivial. I popped her into the coop. The rest of them were lured in with bread.

Sorry for wrecking havoc on your chickens, Mom. 😦

After that we had some supper and then went back to the hotel. I took Penny out for some stick throwing (I would have taken her out for some herding lessons, but alas! Penny knows more about that than I do). Also, I wanted to take some macros with the new gear. Here’s fourth light:

Unidentified, cultivated flower/bush

Unidentified, cultivated flower/bush


I have no idea what this is, but it did make for a nice macro. But I do know what fifth light is: Daisy fleabane (Erigeron annuus)
Daisy fleabane (Erigeron annuus)

Daisy fleabane (Erigeron annuus)

This lens isn’t quite as fast as the SX110’s, but I guess that’s OK. It has more zoom power and lots more pixels to make up for that. It goes down to an f-stop of 3.4 vs 2.8 for the SX110. So far, I am very pleased with it.

OK, more on the fishing trip to the Red River Trout Dock. The first time I finished paddling my canoe, I hauled it up on the dock and then dragged it up to the ramp leading to the shore. I was getting ready to carry it back up the hill to my car when the owner of the dock stopped me and suggested I just leave it down at the dock. I was not going to argue! He is a fantastic guy, and I very much appreciated his gesture.

He also stopped me before I went out the first time because I didn’t have a “throwie” cushion in the boat. I did not know this, but Arkansas law requires one of those, even if everyone in the boat is wearing a PFD. He loaned me one while we were there, and that is another reason I think he was a pretty swell fellow.

The order of the rest of the events is still something of a blur to me now. I guess getting up every morning at 5:00am will do that to a person. So I will just put up a few photos and comment on them. We’ll start with some black vultures (Coragyps atratus).

Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus)

Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus)

These are not exactly easy to see in the photo. These early morning paddling excursions were not the greatest for photography because there was always so much fog. But there are three individuals in this shot. They were feeding on something – maybe fish – but I couldn’t get a good look at that.

The river was always so foggy in the morning because the water is always about 46 degrees. The water is fed through the spillway from the bottom of the lake. I don’t remember how deep the intake is, but I seem to think it was 165 feet. Maybe more, or maybe less. I do remember that it was between 100 and 200 feet though.

That is the reason they can even have trout in Arkansas. Trout like cold water, and Arkansas is not reknown for that. But when they built the dam they created a cold water river, and that killed all the native fish. So now they stock it with trout.

The fog wasn’t always horrible for photography though. Here’s a shot I liked because of the fog.

Two fishermen on the Red River

Two fishermen on the Red River


I think these were the first people I saw on the river that morning. I heard them long before I saw them though.

And now I will embarrass myself by posting some eagle pictures. I know these are not all that good, but I can make plenty of excuses for that. First, I am not much of a bird photographer. Second, I was using my brother’s camera (which was unfamiliar to me), since mine won’t turn on any more. Third, there was lots of fog between me and the bird. But I don’t have many eagle photos, so I will post this one anyway.

Juvenile bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)

Juvenile bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)


I think this one is about a year old. At this age, they are even larger than their parents, which is something I learned while I was down there. They don’t get a lot of exercise as their parents feed them, and they eat a lot. Here’s one of the parents.

Adult bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)

Adult bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)

Their nest is on an island in the river, and there is a bluff on the other side. When the youngsters were born, people could go to the top of the bluff and look down into the nest. That’s pretty cool. My uncle told me how to find the nest, and I did go out and see it. Talk was that they had another brood in the nest, but I couldn’t tell. But I also didn’t go to the top of the bluff either.

Here’s a shot of the trout dock.

Red River Trout Dock

Red River Trout Dock


I took this one in the afternoon (or late morning, or maybe in the evening). This was after the fog had burned off.

I took this one on Friday morning.

Rachel, Beth, and Dad

Rachel, Beth, and Dad


I was paddling up to their boat when Rachel took the photo of me that I am now using in my banner. Her shot is better than any I took myself during the whole trip.

On Friday afternoon, Beth and I set out for Conway to see Beth’s friend and our former next door neighbor, Haylee. We got to spend four or five hours with her, her siblings, and her mother, and then we drove back to the trout dock.

On Friday evening, I took my memory card out of my brother’s camera and gave it back to him. I was sure glad he loaned it to me. Then on Saturday morning we went down to the dock at the crack of dawn and he helped me get my canoe in the water. Unfortunately, when he did this, he leaned forward and is camera slipped out of his shirt pocket and landed plop in the water. We fished it out with a long-handled fish net, but his camera is now toast. I felt really bad for him, as I kinda know what it’s like to have a broken camera! His might eventually come back, but that seems pretty unlikely to me.

It was on Saturday morning that I saw the most wildlife. I saw the eagles again, as well as two deer, a Canada goose, and a beaver. That was a lot of fun just watching them. I took out around 9:00am and started packing. Jonathan and Beth got back from fishing shortly after that, and we put on our church clothes and found the Heber Springs Adventist Church. It was pretty small! Including the three of us, attendance was 16 that morning. But it was a very nice service, and the people were quite friendly. I was glad we got to spend some time with them.

After the service we changed clothes in their bathroom, and then headed back to Dawson Springs, KY. Beth and I found a geocache in Missouri on the way, which is our first and so far only MO cache. We also collected an Arkansas geocache near the dock on Friday when we drove down to Conway.

The drive back to Dawson was long and uneventful, but I think that’s a good thing in a road trip!

Tonight I ordered a Canon SX150IS. That is pretty similar to my broken and well-used SX110IS, so I think I’ll like it fairly well. I went ahead and had it shipped to my parent’s house, so maybe I’ll get to post some photos again in a couple of days.

Yesterday I had an errand to run during lunch, and I did not take the direct route back to the office. I wanted to check in on this guy.

Strawberry tomato (Physalis pruinosa)

Strawberry tomato (Physalis pruinosa)


This is the same plant I found back in December. I picked one then so I could let it ripen, but all I could get it to do was mold. 😦 You’re not supposed to eat them until they ripen as they contain alkaloids (which are toxic if ingested). Ripening eliminates the alkaloids, but alas! Mine molded and ripened at the same time, so I still don’t know if these are any good. I may never find out.

Closer to the office there is a little street corner park (complete with benches). There is a bush growing in there that has the strangest fruits. I had no idea what sort of bush it was until I saw it today in flower.

Dogwood (Cornus)

Dogwood (Cornus)


Dogwood! I don’t know what kind of dogwood, but it certainly is some sort. Here’s a closeup of the petals (those white things are bracts, not petals).
Otherworldly dogwood bits

Otherworldly dogwood bits


The fruit looks a lot like this. Sort of an extraterrestrial basketball or something.

Today when I got home, I stepped into my woods and found one (and only one!) of these:

Dewdrop (Dalibarda repens)

Dewdrop (Dalibarda repens)


This is the flower that taught me to use a camera. A few years ago I was trying to get a decent shot of this one, but having no luck. I learned the following:

  • Press the macro button for flowers. There’s a reason its icon is a flower.
  • Don’t use flash.
  • Do use a tripod
  • Use a long shutter time.
  • Max out the F-stop for more depth of field
  • Set the ISO as low as it goes
  • Make the shutter delay a couple seconds after pressing the button so the camera has a chance to stop shaking from the button press.

My camera simply cannot get this flower (or many others) in the Auto mode. Especially not a white flower in the dark woods. Nope. The earliest I have ever seen this one in bloom is June 23, so it’s ten days earlier than ever this year (according to my records).

After I took several shots of this one today, I went looking in all the other places in my woods where I have seen it growing. None of the other stands had any flowers. This stand might have another tomorrow.

These flowers are infertile. The fertile ones are inconspicuous and stay beneath the leaves. I may have seen a fertile one last year, but I could not be certain. I can’t find any photos of the fertile flowers online or in any of my books.

My tripod mount is still in deplorable shape, but I used the tripod anyway. I have to hold the camera on, and it’s not good to be touching it during a long exposure. But it’s still better than a handheld shot.

While I was in the balance-the-camera-on-the-tripod mode, I took a few shots of the partridge berry. More of them are in bloom today than yesterday.

Partridge berry (Mitchella repens)

Partridge berry (Mitchella repens)


Not too shabby. Note how the two blossoms are joined at their base. They will fuse together and turn into a berry with two eyes later on. Check it out.

Partridge berry berry (Mitchella repens)

Partridge berry berry (Mitchella repens)


I took that one today. See the two eyes? Some people call these snake eyes. The berries persist through the winter, and won’t come off the plant until it flowers again. And since they are edible (and I really like them), they can provide a source of fresh berries almost year-round. Thy only time you can’t get them is between the flowering and the ripening. And as this photo shows, you can even get them for a little while at least after they have flowered.

They remind me a bit of apples. They are not too sweet, but just sweet enough. And those two flowers and two eyes? They make two seeds.

This afternoon I was sitting at my desk working when I noticed that the sun was shining through some slots in the blinds creating dappled light on the storage cabinet just outside my office door. The dappled circles were overlapping. The circles made by dappled light are actually projections of the sun. They are round because the sun is round, and the cracks through which the sun is shining are acting like pinhole cameras. During a solar eclipse, the dapples are not round at all – rather they are circles with moon-bites taken out of them.

When I was finishing up my masters degree in 1995, I had to go to the university offices to fill out the application to graduate. There was a solar eclipse going on, and the trees were casting thousands of dappled crescents on the ground. If that happened to me today, I would probably have a camera handy, but back then I was not in the habit of carrying one with me everywhere I went.

Today things are different. When I saw the dappled light, I opened the blinds. Then I grabbed a large sheet of paper from my bookcase, poked a nice round hole in it, and taped it to the window. I needed a large sheet of paper so that it would block enough light for the pinhole effect to manifest itself. The first hole I made was indeed a pinhole, but it was too small. I enlarged it by jamming a Phillips screwdriver into it – all the way up the shaft.

I wanted a round hole – though I don’t think that’s absolutely necessary. I’ve projected the sun using my fist before. Just make an OK sign with a small opening in your fingers and rotate your hand around while watching its shadow. Eventually, the light will seep through a crack in your fist and you’ll see the sun’s projection on the ground.

The storage cabinet was about 15′ from the window, and the projection I was getting through my screwdriver hole was about an inch and a half around. And I could see sun spots. Or sun stripes. I watched for a few minutes. Then I remembered my camera.

I wanted a better screen than the beige metal surface of the storage cabinet, so I taped a sheet of paper over the projection. Then I took several shots. Here are three of them in a slide show.

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I scaled and cropped them in an attempt to get them all looking roughly the same. I watched a few minutes as the sun’s image traveled across the paper.

Check out those stripes! It looks more like Enceladus than Sol. I ought to study up on pinhole cameras and see if I can improve the focus. I’m guessing better focus can be achieved by altering the diameter of the pinhole in relation to the distance between the pinhole and the projection screen.

When God sent bread from heaven to the Israelites, they called it “Manna” which means “What is it?” If I stick to the literal interpretation of manna, I guess I could apply it to this:

What is it?

What is it?


There are a couple dozen of these at the edge my yard, and I have no idea what they are. Are they purely plant matter, or were those nodules made by insects? I opened one up to see:
The innards of my "manna"

The innards of my "manna"


The white fibers make me think these are purely plant matter, but I am not confident enough in that to make the call. I assume they fell from the canopy above, but I didn’t see any of them in the woods. There is a young (but tall) oak right on the edge of my woods, and its canopy does cover this edge of my yard, so that could be the source. But it’s nothing I recognize.

I did take some photos yesterday of some things I do recognize though. My pink lady slippers have finally opened.

Pink lady slipper (cypripedium acaule)

Pink lady slipper (cypripedium acaule)


This blossom is a bit on the pale end of the spectrum. I have a bunch of these along my trail, but many of them have been injured before they could bloom – the flower stems have been decapitated or bent over. I have no idea what did that, but kids and a dog are prime suspects. Not much I can do about that though, so there’s really no point in fretting over it.

The wait for blooms is also over for the star flower (Trientalis borealis).

Star flower (Trientalis borealis)

Star flower (Trientalis borealis)


I expect to see many more of these in the coming days, and hopefully I can get a better shot than this.

I’ve been fighting with my camera of late. Last year I stripped out the tripod mount. I can still get the camera on my tiny tripod, but it’s pretty wobbly. It takes a lot of effort to get it pointed at the objective, because when I let go, it flops around a little. Then I set the camera to delay for two seconds before making the shot, so it can settle down after I touch the shutter button. What I’ve found myself doing instead is bumping up the ISO a couple notches so I can use a quicker shutter speed (1/25 sec or so). I can sometimes manage a halfway decent hand held shot at that speed, and it is quite a bit easier than arguing with the tripod mount. But the results are most definitely inferior.

I am planning to attempt a repair on the mount, so hopefully things will improve again after that. We’ll see!

The Pathfinders had our annual club campout this weekend. The verdict is in – it was very mixed! I am reminded of Roald Amundsen’s statement that “Adventure is just bad planning,” and I have to confess that a great deal of our problems were self-inflicted. Mostly by me I guess.

When we got there and were setting up, Ken (on whose farm we were camping) pulled me aside and told me we might want to stay clear of the barn on Saturday. One of his cows had broken a hip. They were planning to butcher her after she had weaned her calf, but she moved those plans up a bit by falling on her calf and killing it. Normally, they have their butchering done elsewhere, but since they had an immobile cow, that was not possible. OK – we’ll stay down in the woods on Saturday, no problem.
With that, our campout saga begins.

One of our staff members was planning to join us Saturday morning, so she wasn’t there when we pitched camp Friday evening. Last fall, she had taken the griddle for our propane stove home with her to give it a good scrubbing, so we were without that. That in itself is not a catastrophe, but it goes a little deeper than that. The griddle is stored in a canvas bag along with the propane regulator. Without the regulator the stove is pretty much useless.

The plan was that we would have grilled cheese sandwiches for supper on Friday evening, and a “feast in a foil” Saturday evening. Since the feast in a foil is prepared over a camp fire and grilled cheese is grilled on the griddle, we decided to switch the two around. That was a good decision.

The menu and shopping list was planned by our Ranger unit (13 year-olds). David (who is in the Guide unit), guided them through this. I provided them with a spreadsheet into which they could enter ingredients for each meal they planned as well as the number of people who would be dining with us. It figures out how much food to buy based on that. They copied the ingredients from the spreadsheet to paper, but not the amounts! Then their grandfather (Mr Stokes, another of our staff members) took them to buy it, but none of them knew how much of anything to get. And their guesses were not exactly “spot on.” So we were a bit short in the food department. I have to take the blame for this though, as I did not review the shopping list. I did see the menu, which looked pretty good, but clearly I need to look over the list from now on. My bad.

After any meal we need to wash dishes, and not having a tap with hot running water, the way we handle that is to heat some water and put it into three plastic tubs (pre-rinse, wash, and final rinse). Not having a stove meant we needed to heat the water over the campfire. So I put the kettle on the fire for a bit. When I went to take it off, I donned some heavy, padded leather gloves, which unfortunately proved to be insufficient for the task. I ended up with a blister on two fingers. Ouch! My bad again!

I sent the pre-teens to bed around 10:30 or so, and the older kids and I turned in about an hour later. The plan for Saturday’s breakfast was French toast, but since our griddle and regulator were still missing in action, we opted for oatmeal and cold cereal instead. Again, we adapted.

After breakfast, we started our Sabbath School and church activities. The Rangers were working on the Camping Skills IV honor, and for that, they needed to prepare a one-hour Sabbath activity. They thing that they came up with took all of five minutes, so I sent them back to the drawing board. It wasn’t a bad activity – it just didn’t take as long as they projected it would.

I presented a few worship thoughts for the kids to take up the extra 55 minutes, including how the furnishings in the wilderness sanctuary are arranged in the shape of the cross. To illustrate this, I had a kid stand where each item of furniture was located. When I asked what shape it made, they could easily see it. One even noted that the altar of sacrifice where the Israelites confessed their sins was right at the foot of the cross.

After church was over I got a call from Va. She shared some tragic news with us. One of my former Pathfinders had lost her baby after an 8-month pregnancy, and she was at that moment struggling for her own life. A lot of the kids in our club knew her, so this news hit kind of hard. We (and many others) prayed for her of course, and I am very happy to say that she has now turned the corner. She may be released tomorrow.

Lunch was our first uneventful meal – haystacks. There was plenty of food for everyone, and everyone was hungry. When we finished that, we headed off for an afternoon hike to see a massive beaver dam. When we got to the pond (but before we got to the dam) we took a short break. Mr Stokes and his granddaughter were sitting at the edge of the pond when Mr Stokes thought he’d grab her suddenly as if he were going to push her in. But instead of grabbing her as if he were going to push her in, he accidentally did push her in! She only got one leg of her pants wet though, and it was really funny. Mr Stokes was somewhat embarrassed about that (which is why I’m posting it here?) I had my camera in hand when this happened, so I now have the opportunity to deepen that embarrassment:

Mr Stokes "rescues" his granddaughter

Mr Stokes "rescues" his granddaughter

While we were there, I found my first fully blossomed trailing arbutus (Epigaea repens). I promised here a little while back that as soon as I saw some, I’d pop one into my mouth and report back to my readers. And today, I am fulfilling that promise. It tasted… meh! But not bad at all. I will not likely make eating TA blooms a habit any time soon.

Trailing arbutus (Epigaea repens)

Trailing arbutus (Epigaea repens)

Out in the middle of this beaver pond are several dead snags, and one of them sports a blue heron nest. We were lucky in that the blue heron came by and stayed long enough for me to get several shots of it. My little Canon does not excel at telephoto-ops, so this image isn’t really the greatest, but I will share it with you anyhow:

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)

After our short break, we had to bushwhack a little more to get to the beaver dam. Here it is from the top:

Massive beaver dam

Massive beaver dam


This dam was about six feet high in the middle, and at least 200 feet long.You can see a satellite image courtesy of Google Maps here.

Trailing arbutus was not the only flower in bloom, but you had to look up to see the others.

Red Maple (Acer rubrum)

Red Maple (Acer rubrum)


These are red maple blooms. The chronology I am noting this year is that the silvers bloom first, followed by the reds. I haven’t seen any sugar maples in bloom yet, but I’m sure they will be coming along very soon.

We got back from our hike without further incident and worked more on the Stars honor (which we had started Friday night). I had the kids stand in for celestial bodies this time. My favorite thing to do with this is to have them re-enact the motion of the earth, moon, and sun. I start by having the moon orbit the earth, being sure the kid playing the moon is always facing the kid playing the earth. Then I set the earth into spin about its axis. Finally, I instruct the earth to orbit the sun while the moon tries to keep up. That’s always a lot of fun, and the kids like it every time.

We finished off the day with a new “one-hour” activity that the Rangers planned during our hike. It didn’t quite last a full hour, but I’m going to give them a pass. At any rate, this exercise should give them a pretty good understanding of how carefully the staff plan their activities.

We had our grilled cheese for dinner.

Around 8:00pm Saturday evening we had a bit of rain mixed with sleet. I think I can now say with certainty that my least favorite camping weather is raining and 35 degrees. Not a good combination. But with the sleet came warmer temperatures, and the sleet turned into a downpour. I was pretty exhausted by then, so I sent the pre-teens to bed around 8:30. The teens and I hung out in the kitchen shelter until 9:30 or so when I found myself continually waking up in my camp chair. They were pretty tired too, so we all went to bed before 10:00.

It poured all night.

When I got up at 7:00, this is what our kitchen looked like:

Deluged Kitchen

Deluged Kitchen


The water in our kitchen was two inches deep in most places. Deeper than that in other spots. Two inches doesn’t really sound that bad until you stop to consider that it’s a bit deeper than the top of your shoes. Then it seems really deep. We considered relocating the kitchen, but there was no way it was going to move more than six feet in any direction without disassembling and reassembling it. Also, there was not an abundance of dry places nearby. So I decided we should try to drain it. Since this property belongs to my good friend Ken, and two of his kids were camping with us, I knew that he would not mind at all if we did a little excavation. So we dug a small ditch and raked leaves out of the path of the water. The kitchen was drained by about 9:00 (well… kinda), and we were finally able to begin cooking breakfast. Pancakes! The first order of business was to heat some water so the dishes could be done afterwards. Then we mixed up some pancake batter (oops! Our shoppers bought pancake mix that called for eggs & milk, and not our usual “complete” pancake mix!). Then the kids went to light the burners for the griddle (which had rejoined our party), but they were having an awful time of that – because we were out of propane. My. Bad. Again.

By then, our dish water was nice and hot, but I decided we could put it to better use in making oatmeal. I heated a little more water for the dishes over the fire, which was lit by our Ranger unit – in spite of the previous evening’s deluge. I was rather proud of them for that, and grateful that we were able to wash the dishes in hot water.

Sometime during the morning, one of my Pathfinders came to me with a tick embedded in his abdomen. Out of all the kids in my club to get a tick, and indeed, out of all the kids I have ever known in my life, I could not have selected a worse one to suffer that fate. This kid has an irrational fear of ticks. He is terrified of them. I washed my filthy, kitchen-draining hands, went to the first aid kit, and got some tweezers. I was intent on pulling this parasite out firmly and slowly (like you’re supposed to), and he was screaming the whole time. He was also pushing my hand away. I don’t think I can justly blame his panic on what happened next, but the tick’s body came loose from his head, which is exactly what the firm-but-gentle pull is supposed to prevent. My panicked Pathfinder went into an even greater panic, which I did not think was even possible. I worked on him for another ten minutes, but I was not able to get the tick head out of his tummy. His mom managed to do that when he got home, and I have nothing but admiration for her for that.

We spent the rest of the morning working on the Camping Skills I-IV honors, with my older Pathfinders teaching the younger ones. That really went pretty well. Around 11:00 or so, one of my staff members (Ken’s wife) offered to make PB&J sandwiches up at the house instead of having us suffer through doing that in our flooded kitchen. I did not hesitate to accept her gracious offer.

While she was up making lunch, Warran, Mr Stokes, and I took the kids back into the woods to construct a rope bridge over one of the many puddles in our camp site. This was so we could finish off the Pioneering honor. The kids absolutely loved doing this. They had a blast. I don’t like to show pictures depicting the faces of other people’s kids on the Internet, so instead, I will show one of myself (Warran used my camera to take this shot of me):

Jomegat crosses the rope bridge

Jomegat crosses the rope bridge


When we were finished with this, we headed up to the house to have lunch (outside!) Afterwards, I began herding the kids back down to the camp site. As I was doing this, Ken called out to me. One of his cows was calving! Did the kids want to see that? I figured. “why not?” Three of the girls in my Friend unit (10 year-olds) were very interested, so we detoured into the barn. The calf had already been born, and mama was standing there cleaning it off, with all the attendant grossness hanging out of her back-end. Eeewwww! The girls didn’t seem to mind though. That’s when Ken’s youngest son asked them if they wanted to see two other newborn calves (one of which was his own). Why not? So ff we went to a second barn. The first calf was standing, and it’s mother was licking the kids’ hands. Then we moved to the next stall where the other calf was. But not its mother.
The calf was sleeping? Nope. No breathing action there. Turns out this is the calf that had been crushed by its mother. Ken hadn’t yet had a chance to take care of it, and his son didn’t know any of this had happened. He called out “Hey Dad! Where’s this calf’s mother?” I don’t think this affected him too much – he does live on a farm, and mortality is certainly a part of that life.

After this minor fiasco, we headed back down to the camp site to strike camp. Everything was soaking wet, but the sun had come out for a bit. We had moved the tents into the pasture to let them dry some, and some of them were actually pretty dry. Unfortunately, the field was still pretty wet, so driving back up to the house (and driveway) was something of a challenge. I thought I was going to get stuck for a few minutes, and I was also very concerned that I would tear up Ken’s pasture. I don’t think I did too bad though. Unfortunately, Mr Stokes did get stuck. We tried to push him out, but I could see all we were doing we digging him in deeper. In the hope of not making a bad situation worse, we called for Ken (who was still busy with his newly minted calf) and he came down and pulled him out with his truck.

I brought all the still-wet tents home with me, and David and I pitched them in the north yard. Of course it’s raining again now, but as long as they’re not folded up and packed away in a trailer, they won’t mold.

I guess this post is about long enough now, so I’m going to turn it loose now. Hope you all enjoyed reading it.

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