Thursday, June 27, 2013

Messages from The Dominican Republic

I truly didn't expect to hear much while Kellen was in the Dominican. Cell phones do not work there. Phone calls are made from a hot cramped pay phone at $0.35/minute. Only the team leader, Glenna, has access to the internet, and that is limited. I've been pleasantly surprised to actually get one phone call from Kellen and two emails from Glenna.

In the email last night, Glenna wrote the following:
Hello to everyone in WV!  We have been really busy here.  There are so many people here do so many things that it is truly wonderful just to participate in and to watch.  Last night at SCORE Challenge, there weren't enough seats for everyone at the church.  If I had to estimate, I would say there were about 250 of us in the building.  It was an awesome sight!  And, we made a mighty noise when we sang!  We have chosen a picture to share with you before we get home.  Check out the team (minus the photographer, of course)!  The picture was taken after Sunday morning services at a church named Juan 3:16 in San Pedro, about 15 minutes from our hotel.
Following the update she had a quick message from each team member to their families.  One teen wrote:

Dear Mom, Dad, Luke, and Joanna,I’m having an amazing time here. It’s fantastic to see how God is working. The weather is lovely, the food is great, and the children are ADORABLE! Joanna, I’m sorry I missed talking with you last night. I’ll call you from the airport on Saturday. I love and miss you all.Ruth 

Dear Diggity family and Wikman, and Hobbs family,I hope you all are having a great time at Amelia. Our VBS has been a lot fun and the kids here are really special to work with. Tomorrow we are going to Catalina Island for our rec day. While we are having fun in the clear blue waves, I’ll think of you. Please continue to pray for the kids and the work we’ve been doing. I’ll call soon. Love y’all.Sean 

And then there was Kellen:
Nolan,  get out of my bed.Kellen 

Typical. Love that kid!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

There are so many reasons to love gardening. Most of mine have to do with the tasty reward at the end of all the hard labor. Another thing to love is the garden is a constant puzzle to figure out. There is always a challenge. Always something new to learn. 

The past few years learning about bugs has been my challenge. We all know that bugs can destroy your precious garden work in a matter of a few days. If you don't want to just mass blast your garden with chemicals, controlling different bugs requires different challenges. Controlling caterpillars on cole crops is best done with light row covers. Forgetting to put them on (ahem) causes much frustration, and cabbage with lots of holes. Hornworms are easily controlled by handpicking unless you see this:

Let those parasitic wasps do their work when you see a hornworm covered with larvae. 

We battle Japanese beetles every year. Every year I fight the losing battle by hand picking to try to control them. This year I learned that guineas love beetles. Guess what will be the next fowl to come to live on our farm? 

They may be ugly. They may be loud, but if they eat beetles, they are here!

The battle of early 2013 is aphids. We have a few aphids every year. I normally just hand pick them, but this year there was a huge infestation on the tomatoes. At first I saw a few lady bugs. Lady bugs are good. Then I saw lots of these. 

These, which I've seen referred to as garden gold, are lady bug eggs. Now, there are significantly more lady bugs and less aphids. I also bought some insecticidal soap, but have been a little leery of using it because of the heat. I've also been told that those same wasps who do a number on the hornworms are great for aphids too. Where are they when I need them?! For now, I'm monitoring the situation. Hoping the ladybugs prevail, and standing ready with insecticidal soap if needed. 

But the big lesson of the year, so far, is that knowing the good bugs is not good enough. I nearly wiped out those lady bug eggs. I need to know what they look like through their life cycle. Lesson learned. Now to learn the life cycles of the other good garden bugs. Lacewings, praying mantis, parasitic wasps, are there others I need to learn?

Now, to figure out how to control those blasted vine borers! 

Friday, June 21, 2013

And They're Off

This is a whirlwind of a month. Vivian attended day camp. Tim took a week of vacation (because it really was the only week available with his work schedule and the kids' activities.) Lydia and Nolan came home from overnight camp today. They are both exhausted. Lydia is half sick (a good rest will fix that I think,) and Nolan has all but lost his voice. They had a great time.

A few hours later we met the mission team. Kellen and the team are on their way to Cincinnati. Tomorrow, bright and early, they are off to The Dominican Republic. Thank you to all who have supported Kellen with prayer and finances!

They have VBS planned, and service projects, and I know it will be an enlightening experience. I am very excited. I think we all should travel to a third world country. It really makes you appreciate how good you have it.

I am praying that despite their plans and preconceived notions about this trip, that their hearts will be open to the Lord, to His life, and to His love.

My niece and nephew arrive from Florida on Tuesday. We are so excited to see them. It has been far too long.

The gardens are in, and we are working on mulching, weed, and pest control. I hate June in the garden. It is all work with very little of the reward. We have had the best spring ever though. There has been lots of lettuce and other greens, a decent amount of broccoli and peas, and we are just now enjoying the cabbage. All of which is about spent, and needs pulled and work for the next planting. See, just more work.

And I just realized I never shared our new farm addition:

First timer, LuLu had eleven piglets. They were born June 12th.  They were uniform and active from the get go. She did lose one, but the remaining ten are getting nice and plump. They are adorable, and I don't think I'll ever tire of new farm babies.

I really didn't intend for this post to be such a ramble, but here it is. This is what you get from me in June.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Rabbits on Grass

One of the many projects accomplished on Tim's "vacation" week was converting a chicken tractor into a rabbit tractor. We did this by simply adding wire to the bottom of the pen.

The bunnies weren't so co-operative with me for a picture, but believe me, they were thrilled to get out on grass. Momma rabbit was thrilled to get her pen all to herself again, and Vivian is thrilled to not have to go pick quite so many greens to feed the rabbits.

It is a win win!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Adventures in the New River Gorge

Last Saturday we loaded up the Suburban and a trailer (gear for seven and a dog takes a lot of space) and headed out to The New River Gorge for a camping trip. We camped in the national park. The campsite was right a long the river. The kids loved it. They played in the river, and did a little fishing.

It was a short drive to the Bridge. We spent an afternoon exploring the bridge and areas around it.  We took the Fayette Station Road Tour, filled our water jugs from a spring, and hiked the Kaymoor Trail to see old coal mines.

That night it rained, and rained, and rained. It isn't really a camping trip unless it rains right? We'd hope to do a little more exploring the next day, but it was still raining, and we were soaked. We packed our soggy selves and things and headed home.

West Virginia is full of beautiful places. This place is one of them. I wish we'd had more time and better weather to explore more!