Wordless Wednesday - Misc

The Farm and Ms. M

I haven't been out to the farm since my last post about my appreciation for weeds.  Time simply hasn't allowed it which is entirely sad.  Not that I have been avoiding it, life and weather have prevented it. 

Today I will venture out to visit my lovely weed filled farm garden.  Possibly during my lunch break. You see, I received an incredible text message from Ms. M last evening.

"Plucked there from your garden when I went to check on it today. Didn't know how big they were supposed to get but I didn't want them to go bad.  You have cucs too that are almost ready." 

Accompanying the text was a picture of 3 beautiful summer squash.  If I am able to post the picture of my first squash of the year, I will do so once I figure it out.  I didn't even realize that the plants had bloomed let alone have squash ready to be picked.  I have to investigate.

Thank goodness Ms. M. visited my garden as those suckers would have been enormous.  I can't wait to see the other goodies that are waiting for me out there.

***Follow up.  I originally wrote this before work this morning and saved it to be completed during my lunch break.  I couldn't wait to visit The Farm until this evening so I spend my lunch making the 5 mile trip.  What do you know, I did find a cucumber!!! I also found mutant, siamese summer squash that I hope to take a picture of this evening. 

The Greenhouse project, part 2

I made the trek today. The 2 hours turned 3 hour trek to Dyersville, Ia to visit Farmtek and to pick up my greenhouse polycarbonate and accessories.  The 2 hour trek turned 3 because my little 3 year old garden assistant joined me on the adventure.  Her little bladder required a couple stops along the way.

Anyway, back to Farmtek.  This place is phenomenal.  A gardeners dream.  I literally could have purchased a lot more than what I came home with.  The gentleman that helped me, Mitch, was equally phenomenal.  He had provided me his email address so I could send him my goals with the greenhouse and any questions that I might have.  My husband also emailed a cad drawing to Mitch last night so he would have an idea of the size and items we would need. 

When I arrived, he had an estimate prepared and a list of suggestions for me.  This type of service is hard to come by.  His initial estimate was for just over $900.  This did not include a vent or exhaust fan, thermostat or one side of the greenhouse.  My initial thought was that I must find a way to cut the cost.  After all, my budget was only $700.  Ok, so after discussing this with Mitch he took me back to the bargain barn to see if their might be any slightly damaged panels. What do you know there were!  During our conversation, Mitch helped me find other ways and offered suggestions on how to effectively cut costs without compromising the integrity of the structure. 

We cut, we figured short cuts and what do you know, we got the cost down to $700.  This included all of the walls, framing for around the door and all of the extra accessories that I would need to have a basic greenhouse...minus the exhaust fan.  Mitch mentioned that because of the size of the greenhouse I probably could get by without having one although he suggested for good performance I should consider it.  I must admit that I went to Farmtek with the intention of spending a little extra on shiny objects that caught my eye.  The cost of the exhaust fan, three speeds, plug in, thermostatically controlled to turn on by itself was $189.  The thermostat was $49.  What do you know, there just happened to be one in the Bargain barn for $149 and that sealed the deal.  The exhaust fan was my shiny object.  After it was all said and done, with taxes it cost $926.  The gentlemen at Farmtek not only loaded my truck for me, they also made sure it was securely fastened so I wouldn't have to worry about anything on my way home.  I did make it home all products unscathed.

Why am I telling you about the cost? I decided to be as informative about my greenhouse project because this was completely unexplored territory for me.  I have no idea where to begin with all of this, what accessories to get, how to build the building, etc.  I figure I most likely am not the only one.  I hope that through this post and my future ones, someone might find them a little helpful. 

In return, if anyone has suggestions or questions, I would love to hear them.

Oh and here is a little tidbit of useless knowledge. Dyersville is where Field of Dreams was filmed. The field is still operated by one of the families on the property. Currently up for sale, they no longer have the ghost players but are hoping to bring that back and revive other features of the site after the sale. 

The Greenhouse project

Over the past couple years, I have wanted a greenhouse more than ever.  Not just the thick plastic sided one, a more permanent thick polycarbonate sided one.  I have drooled over them at state fairs, home and garden shows, online and in magazines. The cost has always held me back. 

But this year is a little different.  Our garage, which was built probably in the 50's is in serious need of some repair.  It is a 4 stall, doors on hinges type of garage and mainly used for storage.  The last stall, the one closest to my garden brought us to our cross road.  Either spend a great deal of money trying to repair it or, tear the siding off, use 1/2 for an outdoor patio and the other 1/2 for a greenhouse.  No brainer, I know.

This is the front of the stall.  You can see the door is already broken as a result of a strong wind during one of our many spring storms.

I'm slightly embarrassed at this picture. You can see a portion of my garden, which is quite meticulously maintained, although you wouldn't know it.  The tarp, wood remnants, tomato cages all make it look like a junk yard.  The tarp was placed on top of the roof to help prevent some leaking until we could repair it.  Obviously it was no match for the storm that blew through.  So I guess you will need to take my word that my veggy garden does look a lot better than what this shows. 

That's the hubs.  He has already torn down the portion of the garage that will soon be my greenhouse. 

Tomorrow is the big day.  I am going to be making the 2 hour trek to Farmtek in Dyersville, Iowa to pick up my greenhouse making supplies.  The gentleman who I spoke with has been extremely helpful and I trust he will set me up with everything that I need.

We are planning on using salvageable wood from the garage for shelving and storage containers inside the greenhouse.  We have a storm door and a screen door that we saved when we replaced the doors to our house. (The doors to our house were actually salvaged from my in-laws house when they replaced theirs.  Nothing like newer free doors!)

Anyway, my budget is $700 for everything.  Support wood, exhaust fan, siding and accessories.  To me $700 is a lot but it actually will not be that much out of pocket. We NEEDED to purchase newer appliances this year since ours were very old and desperately needed an upgrade. With our appliance purchase we received rebates that I have saved towards the greenhouse purchase.  It should bring my out of pocket cost to about $250.  Not bad for a 10 year guaranteed greenhouse. 

I will let you now how it goes and if I am able to stay on budget.  I get distracted easily by shiny objects so who knows what will be in my truck when I return from Farmtek.

Mystery squash

I had two compost piles going towards the end of the year. One that I place all of my yard waste in, the second was out of necessity. I had run out of room in my normal pile so I created a second pile right on top of a cleared space in my garden. I had been given the opportunity to pick sweet corn from a coworkers field and ended up with a 1/2 a truck load. That is a LOT of husks and cobs (we froze the kernels)...thus the second pile. Well I let it sit during the winter as it was covered with an ungodly amount of snow and when it eventually thawed, I added some winter squash and acorn squash that I had in storage from the 09 summer that I never got to. 

I must mention that in these exact same compost pile in the fall, I placed pumpkins as well.

Anyway, spring came around and what do you know, so did about 10 squash plants. I moved most of them out to the farm but those that remain now look like this. Please excuse the creeping charlie and other weeds as I haven't gotten to this area just yet.   Weeds, I tell ya.

It's approximately 2 feet tall.  Since I didn't plant it and have no idea what it is, I am assuming it is winter squash.

I have been watching, checking, monitoring, and my wait to find out is almost over.  Look what I found.

Granted a pesky garden varmint doesn't eat it, I will soon find out what this mystery plant is!

A slight obsession

I have developed a slight obsession with clouds lately.  Almost to the level of my obsession with Basil...but not quite. 

In between the storms, the sky has been incredibly blue and the fluffy, soft, cumulus clouds are whiter than I ever remember.  Everyday they are calling for everyone to look up to see the various shapes and sizes that they decided to form themselves into.

I consider clouds to be like fingerprints.  No two are ever alike.  That and you will only be able to see a particular cloud once.  So that dinosaur, rabbit, or Mario Brother (I saw him 2 days ago in a jumping position.  I think he was jumping from one ledge to another.  At least that is what I saw.) you will never see it in its original form ever again.  Sad and exciting all at the same time.

Anyway, last night, as my son was playing his last baseball game of the year, this is what was over head.

How in the world do they pay attention to the ball?  Obviously I wasn't watching the game very close.

Then this is what we saw on our way home.

I mean seriously.  I'm glad I wasn't driving.  I hope you don't notice the blotches provided by the dead bug splatters on our windshield.  I could hardly ask "The Hubs" to pull over, a passerbyer might think something is wrong, or I'm psychotic taking pictures of the sky, or just obsessed. They would be correct on one of those...maybe two.

Wordless Wednesday - Rose

Thank goodness for WW! I'm swamped today!

My neighbor "Wilson"

Have any of you watched "Tool Time" with Tim Allen?  Do you remember his half faced fence neighbor Wilson? 

I have a Wilson...well without the privacy fence and half face. A little picket fence separates our properties.
"Wilson" as I will call him, lives on a small and shaded corner lot.  His tiny back yard meets up with our drive-way where you will find a gate that opens up to our yard.  

Wilson and his wife are fantastic neighbors. Somewhat naturalists, somewhat retired, more than somewhat garden lovers.  Wilson especially, has fantastic stories about his previous gardens, friends gardens, enormous compost piles and has garden ideas galore.  Wilson is the neighbor that gave me the fresh horseradish.

Because his itty bitty yard is shaded, he has limited opportunity to grow as much as he would like.  But none-the-less, he uses every possible space he can.  He is a master at space saving techniques and has given me plenty of ideas that I have ended up using in my garden.  .

He has beautifully made planter boxes. Some tiered for more growing space.  He uses the tight space between his fence and shed.  Grows peas on his chain link fence and the 1 foot opening between his fence line and the neighbors, he plants squash.  He also built a long narrow planter box, bent some aluminum piping and fastened string in 2 inch increments from the top of the piping into the ground to allow pole beans a place to grow.  He is also testing out the tomato hanging bags this year and has them hanging on the awning of his house.

His most recent addition to his garden are reflective windshield covers, propped along the fence and his planter box.  Since the majority of his garden is shaded, he is trying to gather all the sunlight he can.  We have yet to find out if his covers work and his veggies flourish.  I guess time will tell.

Wilson and I exchange plants, share ideas and produce.  I enjoy listening to his stories and see his ideas come to fruition.

A new appreciation for weeds

In an earlier post, I made mention of the neglected land of which I planted my garden.  At the beginning of the gardening season, I was overwhelmed with excitement for my new gardening adventure. I hate to admit it but lately, I have been dreading going to the farm. Dragging my feet in a way.  Instead of being overwhelmed with excitement, I am overwhelmed with weeds.

During the years of neglect, the weeds transformed themselves into a mutant form. They literally have taken over my garden and since it is so large, keeping up with them seems almost impossible.  These suckers can be pulled and a week later, their mutant offspring will be 2 feet tall.  What is that? Really? Don't they know I'm trying to do something productive?

So I went out for a dreaded visit to see what I was in for. Some of the plants that I managed to place hay, newspapers, cardboard around were doing good and were tall enough to receive enough sunlight.  The ones that I haven't had a chance to get to, beans, peas, onions, some potatoes, some squash, and more, probably have never seen direct sunlight because of these mutant plants.  Poor things.

I decided to show those plants what they were missing and managed to weed 4 rows today. Although I have a LOT to finish, the 4 rows were enough for me to develop an appreciation for those mutant weeds.  The ground was soft enough that they were quite easy to pull which was a relief on it's own.  Once I shook the dirt off the roots, I used them as ground cover. 

I have been worrying about what I was going to use for ground cover at the farm.  Hay would have cost a ton.  Cleaning out barns for old hay can only be done so much. Mowed grass isn't an option. The ground at the farm is incredibly bumpy from water run off which limits the mowing equipment that can be used. Nothing that we own can collect the grass and effectively mow the area.  I was in a bind.  As I was weeding, it occurred to me that I really do not need to worry any longer as to what I could use. I have an endless supply of weeds! Phew!

No more worrying, no more dreaded visits to the farm. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.  There is hope for my sunlight deprived veggies.  Thank you mutant weeds!

A short lesson in clouds

This spring, we have been provided with an over abundance of beautiful cloud days.  That is why I am dedicating two posts this week to them.  Honestly I think I should join the cloud appreciation society as I simply can't stop taking pictures of them. 

We had the most unusual clouds appear over head this weekend.  I have only seen them once before so I needed to snap a couple shots.

These cotton ball/golf ball/pillows of fluffy softness are called Asperatus clouds...so I think.  Imagine if you will a table lined and filled with cotton balls. That would resemble these clouds. 

The pictures were taken right around sunset and right after a good rain storm.

The asperatus clouds weren't the only type in the sky.  These I am assuming are a type of Cumulus cloud. 

These definitely are cumulus clouds. 

I will try to avoid boring you any further with pretty cloud pictures but I'm not making any promises.

Drying Herbs

This is only the second year that I have grown herbs. Why I haven't in the past, I don't know. The area of my garden that I grow these is by far my most favorite area to visit. The blend of fragrances the herb variety puts off is incredibly awesome.  Makes my mouth water just thinking about it. 

So, being the second year my herbs have graced my garden, they are taking over. In particular the Thyme and Sage.  They are becoming selfish with their designated space. Decided to push others out of their way so they could continue to grow. Well beyond the manageable size that will allow me to keep them thinned out by my usage and the amount that I give away.  I had to do something to these garden bullies. I had to thin them out.  My other herbs were struggling for space, for sunlight, it was a herb saving move.

I finally had the opportunity to thin them out today. Not wanting any of it to go to waste, I decided to dry what I picked.  This is new to me...never dried herbs before, so I read up on the process.

Seems like hanging to dry most likely was the easiest route to go.  But, I received a very nice food dehydrator for my birthday last year that I have to put to good use.  The preparation began.  Did you know that you  must remove the Thyme leaves from the stems before you dry them.  According to my dehydrator manual you do. Had I known this prior to thinning out my herbs, I would have picked 1/2 the amount.  Thank goodness for my meticulous and ever so helpful 3 year old.  After 2 hours of work, I still have about 1/2 a bag left...which I will hang and dry.

Sage on the other hand wasn't as difficult.  Thick stems and larger leaves made them easy to prepare.  I think I will use the sage to make tea among other things.  

Anyway, the herbs are in my dehydrator drying away. I hope my first try at drying herbs is successful. Something tells me that if it isn't, I will have plenty to experiment with throughout the summer. 

Uninvited Guests

I find onion flowers beautiful. They are delicate, simple but multidimensional, almost ethereal.  Their small globes appear on tall thick, obelisk type stalks making the fact that my onions have gone to seed too quick, not so disheartening.  The mothers day frost shot these guys into early retirement you see.  I will try to make the most of it and collect the seeds from the small globes.

But do you see that fella proudly perched on my lovely onion flower.  I didn't invite him to visit my garden to sit atop my natural topiary.  No, he invited himself.  Not only that, he brought several friends along with him.  Party crasher. 

Sure, wasps may have some benefits, yeah, yeah.  Like eating other pesky bugs that may be invading the garden.  But if you took a look at all of the activity around my produce, you would see they are not doing a very good job. Oh and maybe they help pollinate. But after that, what is there?  I don't see any honey dripping from their hives. 

So besides making the occasional visit to my garden party, this guy and the other uninvited guests decided they needed to stay.  Free load on my overhangs and dine from my abundance of fresh food. 

Me and my trusty hoe have removed approximately 10 of their little hives and they keep coming back.  It's almost time for me to break out my mean mommy look and put my foot down to put a final stop to this. Kick them out. After all I have 2 children and their friends who visit my garden. The last thing I want is to see their crocodile tears after they get stung.

Wasp spray is my last resort but they better accept this as a warning.  Mean mommy and her hoe
have our eye on you.

Free Grass!!!

I believe in teaching my children personal responsibility and the value of hard work. I expect them to be accountable for their actions and to be responsible to their commitments.   My son, now 11, has taken on his first "job" of sorts and is putting everything that I have taught him into action.

Please do not cringe at the word job and associate it with child labor, as that is far from the truth.  He is doing something that every kid who is surrounded by lawns is capable of doing without being excessive. Mowing 1 neighbors lawn.  With this he is learning to watch the weather to see when he can sneak in the mowing between rain.  He is learning to make sure the lawn is mowed according to how the neighbor prefers.  He is seeing his own mistakes and improving on them each time.  He is taking pride in his work, which of course I like to see.  With all of that he is earning $10 a week to use for spending money on our family vacation. This is what he is the most proud of, the fruit of his labor.  That and he now knows he will have money to do things that we will not pay for...like play video games...or buy a candy bar...or buy a souvenir.

Besides the lessons he learns, I am benefiting from his weekly responsibility.  Our neighbor doesn't treat her lawn with chemicals.  Which means free grass for me!  I can use the clippings as weed cover in my garden. I use our lawn clippings as well so with one week of mowing, I have enough to cover at least 1/2 my home plot.  Last year it took at least 4-5 weeks to have enough clippings to cover my garden.  I'm reeling with happiness.  Coupled with the free daily pile of newsprint that I receive at work, I am set.  Free weed protection, ground cover, and eventually nutrients for the soil.

As far as I'm concerned, his ventures are truly paying of, far more than his weekly $10.

Wordless Wednesday - Clouds

I don't think we're in zone 4 anymore

My 40 hour commitment took my away again.  Far, far away to a dry, dry place.  Where the lawns are rocks and the ground is brown.  This popular tourist spot seemed to have at least 1/2 of the U.S. population there exactly the same time I was there.  It was loud, crowded, and definitely not green.

Where was I?  VEGAS BABY!!!

You got it! Work took me to Vegas.  The hubs "my assistant" and I love this little hot spot and we had a much needed get away. In between work of course.

We visited the new, directionally confusing, City Center and found these little numbers in a planter box under the glass roof.

Instead of my pines, oak, maples, this is what we saw.  Palm trees and quite honestly I have no idea what the name of the other tree is called protruding in on the right side.  I almost wonder if it is native to the area.  

Even though we were away and had a great time, it was nice to return to our humid home.  I should mention that it rained the entire 5 days that we were gone.  Coupled with the brief moment of hot, humid air, my garden plants grew like they were on steroids.  So did the weeds.

Wordless Wednesday

A couple pretty things around my pad.

Had to go vintage with that one.

The color was so bright it would have burned your eyeballs.

My Mother Kept a Garden

My childrens "day mom" gave me the following poem today.  She is so sweet.

Grab your tissues

My mother kept a garden,
a garden of the heart.

She planted all the good things
that gave my life a start.

She turned me to the sunshine
and encouraged me to dream,
fostering and nurturing
the seeds of self esteem...

And when the winds and rain came,
she protected me enough-

But not too much because she knew
I'd need to stand up strong and tough.

Her constant good example
always taught me right from wrong -

Markers for my pathway,
that will last a lifetime long.

I am my Mothers garden.

I am her legacy-
and I hope today she feels the love
reflecting back from me.

Author Unknown.

Told you to grab the tissues. Little things like this mean the most to me.

A Hidden Reminder

My friend, owner of "The Farm", awesome person extraordinaire, texted me today to see if I would be making the trip out there...she had a couple plants for me.  Knowing that some of my seeds didn't come up or died because of the mothers day frost, she brought me a pallet of plants from a local green house.  Watermelon, cantaloupe, a variety of pumpkins, cucumber and honeydew melon.  YIPPEE!!! This time of year, these plants are pretty much wiped out of the local garden centers so this was an incredible gift.

Then she gave me this

It's called Passion Flower Vine or Passiflora Caerulea.  Doesn't it look absolutely amazing?  The Passion Flower is a perennial vine that requires full sunlight, well-drained soil, and with those conditions, will grow 10-15'.  I had a perfect spot for it right along my fence line.  As mentioned in my previous post, I was looking for a colorful vine to go along my privacy fence.  Coincidence?  Maybe.  The only trick will be to keep it covered enough during the winter as it is zone 6-9 hearty.  I will worry about that when the time comes. 

One thing that my friend didn't realize is that she gave me was a reminder of something that is very important in my life.  Every time I look at this brilliant flower I will remember what this flower represents.  The following is the description:

"This wonderful vine produces beautiful bicolor flowers and dark green lobed leaves.  The Passion Flower is said to depict the Passion of Christ with the petals and the sepals representing the Apostles, the pistils represents the nails of the cross and the purple corona representing the crown of the thorns laced on Christ's head."

Wonderful vine indeed.  You have to admit, representation or not, this is an awesome flower.
Thanks Ms. M!

I Heart these

My 40 hour commitment allows me travel to various places around the U.S. for events, sponsor meetings, and other work related needs.  During my trip to Phoenix, I couldn't help but notice these florescent colored flowers that seemed to be everywhere!  Bouganvilla, even the name is pretty.

They were stunning and their florescent color was such a fantastic contrast to the earth tone buildings and backdrop.  I fell in love with them right then and there.  I also learned, the HARD WAY, that they have some very nasty thorns.  Regardless, I wanted to take one home with me.  Smuggle one in my suitcase. I have never seen any flower this brilliant at our zone 4 garden centers.  I refrained as I figured airport security would have a problem with the thorns and detain me for carrying a dangerous weapon.  Such is life.

Taking one home wouldn't have worked anyway. I found out that these tropical loving plants prefer zone 9 & 10, a far cry from my location.  I have been determined to find these beauties, designed to handle my winters or an equivalent ever since.  They would be perfect along the north side of my house, right along my privacy fence.  The burst of color would be so beautiful!  Plus the thorns would prevent the young whippersnappers next door from allowing their drunk friends to stand under my daughters window at all hours of the night, whooping it up.  It's all about the lioness protecting the cubs. At the same time, it would beautify my property and teach a lesson in courtesy and respect without me saying a word. The Bouganvilla can multitask and it doesn't even know it.

I have read that these can be grown in my location, the catch is that I would have to bring them in during the cold months.  There's the problem.  For some reason, I can grow anything outside, no problem.  The instant you bring it inside, my green thumb turns to brown. No kidding, house plants really are not my thing.  Don't ask me why, it's just the way it is.  Obviously this is not an option. 

So I'm sending out a shout out to all of my garden buddies in hopes to find an equivalent.

The plant must be able to grow with moderate sunlight, be a climber, have brilliant color and be cold weather hearty. 

I am truly looking forward to your suggestions.

My fearless little helper

Trying to find words to describe the absolute joy my three year old daughter brings me is extremely difficult.  She is a ray of sunshine that is growing too fast with the ability to brighten a room the moment she steps in. 

She loves to be outside, will press her face against the screen/window/door when we force her to come in.

She loves to be with me in the garden digging, planting seeds, weeding, watering, getting dirty from head to toe.

Along with being outdoors, she loves any animals, besides bugs of course, that shares the open air with her.

Last weekend, I took her to a friends farm to let her, for the first time, pet and ride horses.  She had no fear which to a parent who knows what will happen when a horse gets spooked, was somewhat scary.  She walked right up to them, pet them, loved them.  She was in heaven.  The horses loved her too, would keep nudging her with their muzzle and sniffing her.  She fed them treats which in turn, they would gently remove from her little hand. When she rode, she was a natural, as if she had been riding before she was walking.  Her no fear approach made her ride with ease and comfort.  I think she could have stayed there all day.

Here is one of my favorite pictures of the day.

This horse loved her and as you can see, she didn't mind the occasional sniff and nudge.  She is relaxed, content and simply enjoying being around the gentle beasts.

She wouldn't talk when her mean mom FORCED her to go and leave her new found friends.  I promised her we would go back but to her, I don't think it will be soon enough.

Many Hats

I wear many hats as many mothers, wives, full time workers do.  The hats I wear allow me to love, protect, provide for those around me.  They allow me to manage my time, create new ideas, be efficient and accurate.

But this hat, my $7 straw hat, sweat band included, does all of that for me.  It hangs in my kitchen on a nail right by the back door.  Easily accessible for the times I venture outside. Did I mention that it also has a draw string that when tightly cinched will remain firmly on my head even with the hurricane force winds at the farm?

It protects and loves me.  My skin is VERY pale.  I don't tan, I don't even try. I pink or in some cases, turn the color of a Roma.  Between my SPF-50 and this hat, I keep the sunburn at bay. 

It provides shade as mentioned above, but it also hides my unwashed, fresh out of bed hair that no one should ever be exposed to. I am known to wear this hat to local garden centers in an attempt to avoid washing my hair when many hours of work are ahead of me.  It may not be attractive but neither is my unwashed, fresh out of bed hair.

When I wear this hat, I feel as if I am a true gardener.  My husband calls me Farmer Ted...lovingly of course. 

When I wear this hat, I can manage my garden(s), become efficient in all of my work and admittedly, only sometimes accurate with my decisions.  It's a learning process here people!

When I wear this hat, I organize my garden thoughts and come up with creative ideas.

I love this hat.  Not as much as my mom and wife hat, but I love it.  I will wear it until it falls apart or until it blows away the one time I forget to cinch the tie.

The Farm

I live in town.

I have neighbors on all sides of me.

My yard has a privacy fence.

There is constant noise.

Kids playing, dogs barking, cars racing by.

My escape is here

Peaceful, quiet, endless blue sky...windy. 

My entire family loves the escape.

The kids have a great time without tv and video games.

I will forever be grateful to my friend for allowing us to enjoy the country.