Getting Lost in October

I can find my way through October without a map. I’ve done it 39 times already.

I can’t find my way through a corn maze with a map. I tried. Next year I’m giving the map to DW to see how she fairs. Chances are good she’ll succeed where I failed. That’s what DW does. I’m okay with that.

We visited Riverbreeze Farm last weekend and we had a blast. There were some new attractions along with the old favorites.

  • Corn maze
  • tractor ride
  • pumpkin patch
  • Gator (the 4×4 kind) train
  • tetherball
  • bouncy pillow (much like a giant trampoline)
  • goat feeding
  • petting area (llama, sheep, bunnies, goats
  • tube slide
  • hay bale “Castle climb”
  • tug of war
  • sling shot
  • tractor tire obstacle course
  • spinning vortex 
  • laser tag

So much to do in one afternoon. We skipped the first three items on the list. We saved them for the end because we knew they would take the most time. Plus I sure as hell wasn’t walking around a farm all afternoon carrying pumpkins through a corn maze. I love my kids dearly, but even that’s pushing it. 

So we ran willy nilly from riding to petting to climbing to tugging. The boys were having a blast while DW and I were bobble heads trying to keep up with them. 

Finally the time came to enter the corn maze. They warned us to allow at least an hour to get through it. The fun part of the maze is the “who done it” puzzle you solve as you find your way through. There are 6 stations set throughout the maze and each one will give a clue as to who “killed” farmer Joe with what weapon and where. By process of elimination you solve the puzzle and earn an extra chance to a win a trip “down south”. With a map and a clue card we set off.

This is what we got ourselves into…

Only 2 farms in Canada were given permission to use Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

Station 1- check

Station 2- check

Station 3 – Anyone know where are? I hear voices, follow them.

Station 4- check

Station 5 and 6 we walked in circles for a while until we found a family who was more competent with a map. In my defence, I’m excellent with a road map. I spent years driving around scouting corn crops. Some weeks I would drive 1400 miles. I know how to use a map. This was completely different! 

Yes, I got us lost. We knew it was going to happen. It’s part of the attraction. So we followed the 5 year old. “Follow the sun.” he told us. With a little help we found our way out. 

With a half hour to spare we jumped on the last wagon ride to the pumpkin patch. The commentator told us that the pumpkins were $5 each. But we could get them for free if we came back at night. He told us if we took that option we better cross the field in 9 seconds because the bull can cross it in 10. 

In the patch, Bang picked out a pumpkin. The smallest, green pumpkin. DW and I wanted our $5 worth and we wanted pumpkins we’ll be able to carve. Bang was sad. So he and I returned to pick out a 3rd pumpkin. We agreed on a small, “ghost” pumpkin. It was pale yellow, almost white. 

We headed back and caught the wagon ride back to the main area, Bang carrying his ghost pumpkin. It didn’t make it off the farm. He dropped and it broke right in half. DW and I fussed at him for not being more careful and for wasting $5 on a pumpkin just for it to smash. He was okay with it. “I wanted it in two pieces, anyway.” 

UGH!

Overall, it was great day. We all had a blast. We can’t wait to go back next year!

Open Farm Day- The Alpaca Farm

mamies-farm

The view from the house. The alpacas are to the left of the lane.

Once upon a time, 3 year ago, we took a trip. On this trip we encountered a petting zoo which had a donkey and an alpaca in a small stable. We approached the stable to see the animals. There was a four foot wall (not a fence) enclosing the animals so when we entered the stable we couldn’t see any animals. DW was holding 2 year old Bang and they went to peek into what appeared to be an empty pen.

Suddenly, the alpaca who was laying against the inside of the wall they were going to peek into, stood up. You can imagine a two year old’s shock at suddenly being face to face with an animal who wasn’t there just a second ago.

He was traumatized and probably will need counselling as an adult and all his fears will lead to this single incident. If we wanted to keep him out of something (the basement at Nanny’s house) all we just told him there were alpacas down there. He wouldn’t even touch the door after being told this little white lie…

But then he turned three. A three year old’s curiosity is formidable. He wanted to see the alpacas in Nanny’s basement. We were busted in another lie. (see The Death of the Claw for our other big lie)

We heard a friend of ours was raising alpacas and welcomed visitors to her farm. So we went not knowing how Bang would react after his traumatizing incident with the “pop-goes-the-alpaca” of the previous summer. Turns out he loved them. The boys got to feed them, too. One of them was being greedy so Crash had hidden a carrot behind his back so he could feed it to a different alpaca. Miss Greedy Alpaca wasn’t impressed so she spit on him and knocked him down. He was okay, and we all had a good laugh.

So we went back yesterday. There were some extra alpacas! Some babies were born in January/February. The boys got to pet them. One of the babies hadn’t been sheered yet so it still was still fluffy. If you haven’t seen a baby, fluffy alpaca, I highly recommend you find one and go pet it. Alpaca wool is warmer than sheep’s wool and it’s not itchy!

We also discovered our friend got some chickens. She had three hens for laying eggs. Unfortunately, a fox or coyote got two of them. She also has 20 “meat birds”. They were a month old so they weren’t yellow, fluffy chicks any more.

We started naming them: Nugget, Shake, Bake…

You can visit her facebook page for more info and tons more pictures.

  • Alpaca wool is light but warmer than sheep wool and not itchy
  • It lacks lanolin which makes it hypoallergenic
  • Their fiber is flame resistant
  • It is water resistent, too
  • They come in 16 different colors
  • I love my alpaca socks! That`s a fact!

This Taboo Word Challenge is getting tougher! Today’s word was “that”.
To read more posts without the Taboo Word (that) or to join the challenge just click the blue frog…

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Happy Mocha Monday

If we were relaxing having a mocha, or tea, or coffee, or hot chocolate, or a glass of wine…

I would be telling you all about our adventure on Saturday to Riverbreeze Corn Maze. Though I have been in hundreds of cornfields before, I’d never been in a corn maze. First, we found a spot to park. It really wasn’t that difficult, we were just in the overflow parking lot and had to walk a bit. We didn’t have to park in overflow, it was just the first parking lot we found for the farm and we didn’t know there was a closer one.

Once in, we found out that “Farmer Joe” had gone missing and we were going to have to find him, find out which animal took him, and find out with what weapon the accused wielded. So off we went into the maze. Fortunately, they gave us map. DW let me be in charge of that. She knew full well we’d get lost, but I was determined to prove her wrong.

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There were 7 suspects and 6 stations with picture puzzles to be solved to let you know which animal didn’t kidnap Farmer Joe. I got us all the way to station number 5 without getting lost. Naturally, and not to disappoint, we had no idea where we were or how to get to number 6. After a bit of walking, we got it and solved the mystery.

Bang got tired of the maze pretty quickly. All he wanted to do was carry a stalk around like a sword. Unfortunately, he ended up with a leaf cut (very much like a paper cut) on his hand. Nothing a couple band-aids couldn’t take care of.

After we completed the maze, we had our picture taken on a few attractions. One was a HUGE chair. The seat was wide enough for both DW and I sit “comfortably” on while Crash and Bang sat on the arms. Then there was “stick your face in the hole” boards. DW was a cute, fluffy sheep. Crash was a horse. Bang was a pig. I was an ass donkey. The boys played with the tetherball, then from there it was on the bouncy pillow. They had been on one of these on a camping trip and they loved it. It was no different on Saturday.

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See the mud on Bang? He fell down in the maze. Knew that would happen.

Then we got see the pig race. The littlest piggy, Wilbur, won. They all got Oreos. I nearly jumped in the pen to steal the Oreos, but I refrained. Mmmmm Oreos! From there we slid down the Shotgun Slide. I’m assuming it’s so named because the kids are shot out the end at about 1300 feet per second. At least it seemed that fast. Of course, they slid down no less than 10 times. I only went once.

You can hear Crash and Bang laughing and screaming at the end of it. They thought it was great.

After that, the boys went on a tractor train ride pulled by a Gator. Upon their return from the train ride there was a large tractor pulling two “hay wagons” (there was no hay, but there was a bench for us all sit on). This tractor ride took us to a pumpkin patch.

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I may have been pretending to drop a rather large pumpkin on DW’s head to get them to laugh like this. Thankfully, I didn’t really drop it on her head. I’m sure she would have shoved that pumpkin so far up my you-know-what that I would have been spitting seeds for days.

Afterward, Crash got to shoot some paintballs at some pots and pans. He thought that was great. Then I told him I used to have a paintball gun of my own, once upon a time. I’ve been in my share of paintball wars.

From there we went to the petting area. They had bunnies, goats, sheep, a donkey and a cow. One stall of the stable was set up as a wild west jail cell. There was an area cut out in the corn field to play laser tag using giant, round hay bales to hide behind. Lastly, we made our way back to the bouncy pillow for one more jump before heading out for supper.

We were there for about 4 hours total and we had managed to play on everything, do everything there was to do. Overall, Crash and Bang had a blast. Naturally, there were areas and times when one was having more fun than the other. Or mom and dad were having more fun than the kids.

Sunday we cleaned house. Crash and Bang were wishing we were back at the farm.

What did you do this weekend?

Traveling (Days 7,8, and 9)

Monday, July

Monday morning we were up and at ’em. The morning had been planned for myself, my dad and my brother. We were going to “Go Ape“. It’s a zip line and obstacle course in Lums Pond State Park in Delaware. My dad and brother had gone last summer, but I was new to this. I couldn’t wait to get there. Once Crash found out where I was going and that he couldn’t he was quite disappointed. But a) you had to be at least 10 years old and b) I don’t think he would have done well with the heights.

I don’t have any pictures. I left my phone, my glasses and my hat at home. My brother brought along his Go Pro so he has some good footage. I’ve got to get that from him. I’d love to share my dad’s not so graceful landing. He had us laughing! It was A LOT of fun. There were 5 zip lines (the longest 2 being close to 700 feet long) and 42 obstacles (rope ladders, various tricky bridges, Tarzan swings, cargo nets, etc..). We were always tethered, so there was no risk of falling. Considering the two injuries we already had, this was a good thing. We had a great time and made it though fairly quickly. The staff offered to let us do part of again and we were all over that. Except we would have been behind a family of four and we would have been greatly delayed. So we headed for home, picking up white icing and lunch on the way.

Afterwards, DW and I took Crash and Bang to a farm. It was the farm another of my best friends lived on growing up. We would be seeing him later in this trip. Anyway, Crash and Bang loved the tractors and boom sprayer.

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IMG_2445 IMG_2443 That boom sprayer could have driven over our RAV4 without touching it (it’s that tall so it can drive over corn without damaging it while spraying insecticide/herbicides). Its booms unfold to reach 60 feet in either direction. IMG_2460

We got to meet Elmer, a baby cow. He must of loved the texture of Bang’s shirt and shorts because he kept trying to chew on them! Of course, Bang thought it was the funnies thing ever to have a cow eat his shorts.

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They also had some pigs. While rather smelly, there are kinda cute, if I do say so myself.

Then there is the obligatory handstand in front of the corn field. My friend who grew up on this farm enjoys getting others to take photos of him doing a handstand in front of famous monuments. So I did a handstand in front of his parents corn. Not exactly a “famous monument”, but still…. 
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Then Crash discovered the 3 day old kittens. Someone had secretly dropped off their unwanted pregnant cat on the farm. Of course, Crash wanted one. Sorry buddy, but we’re not taking an animal your mom is allergic to on a 20 hour car ride back Canada.

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While Crash and Bang were swooning over the kittens who hadn’t even opened their eyes yet, DW was swooning over the bird houses and butterfly garden.

Shortly after we returned from the farm and got showered and cleaned up, my aunt (mom’s sister) and uncle arrived from Florida. I had seen them when I had come home for my grandmother’s funeral service back in May, but this was the first time they had met Crash and Bang and it had been a long time since they had seen DW. That night was crab cakes and corn on the cob for supper. Mmmm. Delicious.

Tuesday, July 28th

Right after breakfast DW, Crash, Bang, myself and my dad went to visit my aunt in the hospital. She was still in pain but had found out that there were no floating bone fragments so surgery wouldn’t be needed. All they had to do was get the pain under control and she could be up and moving again. It was good to see her again before we left to continue our travels.

From there we headed back to my parents where the kids played in the sprinkler which progressed to a water balloon fight. Not much else happened that day other than hanging out and getting caught up on the times with family.

Wednesday, July 29th

This would be our last full day in Maryland. I had washed all our clothes yesterday so today’s task would be to gather the clothes we’d need for the remainder of the trip and pack them into one suitcase while the rest of the clothes went into the other two. This way would only need to haul in one suitcase to the hotels we’d be staying in. Smart DW 🙂

Crash Bowling

Crash

Bang Bowling

and Bang

Anyway, after breakfast we headed to the bowling alley. Crash and Bang had been bowling in Canada with small balls the size of a softball and tall skinny pins (candlepin bowling) but this would prove to be a new experience. Big balls and tall fat pins and two rolls instead of three. Naturally, one of them (or perhaps both) rolled the ball without realizing the pin sweeper would be coming down and the ball bumped into the pin blocker. After the first game Bang go bored with it so he played with his Gator 4×4 toy while the rest of us bowled. It was fun, though I could have scored much higher had I been allowed to use the bumper lanes with the kids.

Once bowling was finished we hit up The Green Turtle for lunch. All 12 of us. There, my aunt bought Crash and Bang each a Green Turtle t-shirt. They’ll be the only kids in school with one of those!

Find out tomorrow what happens when our trip continues to Virginia. Hint: Lego store, Crash’s first BFF, and a bit of rain.

Farmin’ and Gardenin’

My dad’s parents were farmers. They raised chickens and tended crops. There may have been livestock, but I’m not exactly sure. If there was, I don’t remember it or it was before my time. Hence, my dad grew up on a farm. He knows how to tend to plants. It shows, too. The plants he grows around his house thrive under his care. He is the “Plant Manager”.

I didn’t grow up on a farm, but with grandparents (and friends) with a farm, I spent plenty of time on them. So I don’t think it’s such a coincidence that I came to work on a farm when I was 13. I started out as a farm hand, essentially. Move stuff here. Move stuff over there. Plant these seeds. Water those plants. Cut this asparagus. Pick those raspberries. Pick these blackberries. Lay irrigation pipe. Pick melons until the trailer is full. And the tomatoes! And Peppers! Rows and rows and rows, each 250 (thousand?) yards long. I loved it. Later, after graduating high school, still working on the same farm, I started scouting crops. Corn mostly. Sometimes peas. Sometimes Potatoes. Sometimes in Maryland. Sometimes in Delaware. Sometimes in New Jersey. I loved it.

Why the history? Because I still tend a farm. Well, not a farm, per say. A vegetable garden is just a tiny farm, right? Since getting our own place here in Canada, I’ve planted a tiny farm every summer. Broccoli, lettuce and green peppers. This year I have onions and a jalapeno plant. Last year I tried carrots, but they turned out like a homeless alien’s toes.

The difference between my vegetables this year from years past is where they were born. I used to start them from seed myself. This year I bought them from a local grower (also a good friend) who has her own impressive greenhouse. All I had to do was make the 15 minute drive to pick them up. So here’s my Public Service Announcement for today.

Buy local.

plants

Instant garden

It may not be the prettiest, but it will be tasty! Those are re-purposed pallets filled with soil, peat, and compost. Onions on the far left. Lettuce in the middle left. Peppers in the middle right. Broccoli on the far right. An added bonus is that it’s something the whole family can do. Both Crash and Bang helped dig the holes, pulled the plants from the pots, and plant them. They love getting their hands dirty as much as I do.

Do you enjoy gardening? Flowers, vegetables, or both? What is your favorite plant to grow?