This winter was the first time in a couple of years that all of David’s family was in Michigan. And it was the first Christmas we had with our sweet little nephew and niece! Even though we were home for only a short while, we were able to squeeze in a family photo.
We took the photo New Years Eve Day (Dad’s birthday!) and it was freezing outside. Our friend Deanna Clark braved the cold with us and did an amazing job. It was probably one of the quickest photo sessions ever! The farm has so many interesting areas for pictures. I love that our photographer incorporated sap buckets since the family produces maple syrup.
We’re so thankful for the time we spend with family!
David’s dad was cleaning out a barn and found an old Schwinn Hawthorne bicycle. Vines had grown in and around the bike frame and through the spokes. The vines became part of the bike. It would take a lot of work to cut everything out, but we’ve all thought it looks so cool that we haven’t done anything to it.
It says Montgomery Ward on the Hawthorne sticker. Anyone have an idea of what year the bicycle was made? David’s mom thinks it might have been her’s, but we are also not sure if the seat and handle bars were added later or not.
We’ve been back in the States for about two and half weeks for our summer break. Here’s a peek at some of what we’ve been up to…
Eating fresh berries from Sam’s patch:
Spending time with two of our favorite people:
Meeting our niece Claire:
Hanging out with her brother Jonah and family:
We drove to Tennessee for my sister’s wedding (more photos from that soon):
Seeing my mom’s new property in Arkansas and the progress on her house:
Enjoying the lake near my mom’s:
Meeting up with dear friends from college:
Enjoying a Michigan summer at its finest:
Seeing David’s brother play ball:
What are your summer plams?
Oh, haaaaay. Well, not actually hay. In the past it was hay, but this year it was straw. (Hay is from alfalfa and straw is from wheat… the things I’ve learned since marrying David!)
There’s a field on the farm the Benedicts bales every year. After a combine separated the grain, the stalks were left for baling. A tractor pulled the baler, which picked up the straw, compressed it, tied it, then spit it out the back onto the trailer for stacking. I think Grandpa said the baler was 50 years old.
David loves working on the farm. I love seeing him in his element:
I was not a baler, but I hung around for moral support. I rode in the Gator with Grandpa to drop off some twine:
It was dusty, dusty work!
All ready for auction:
David’s family has one cat. He’s had a couple of different names, but the one that stuck was “King Kitty.” He truly rules the roost. He’s a funny farm cat.
King Kitty has one of the most relaxed personalities of any cat I’ve met. Ever since he was a kitten, he’d let you pick him up, hold him, or move him anywhere. One time, one of David’s brothers set him in the middle of a blanket, grabbed all of the edges, and threw it over his shoulder like a bag. King Kitty didn’t mind. Once he set the blanket back down and unfolded the edges, the cat just stretched out like nothing had happened.
We found him snoozing on one of the tractors the other day. He was curious when I came over to take a photo and walked down the tire to say hello:
We helped out with some of the maple farm work this week. Over the past couple of years, David’s family has been converting their different woods to a tubing system.
First, we went out to one of the woods to clean the sap lines. After we turned on the vacuum pump, we followed the tubes. Sam had a sprayer tank filled with warm water to squirt through the lines.
David pulled spiles and I followed behind and dipped the lines into a bucket of warm water.
We did our best to avoid the poison ivy and oak. David’s brother Ben gave me polkadot rain boots one Christmas. They’re my walking in the woods footwear.
I often borrow a pair of my mother-in-law’s overalls. Farmer David and Leah reporting for duty!
David peeked into a rundown building on the property and found an arch for an old evaporator:
Once we finished in the woods, we came back to the house to clean buckets and lids. Even though the tubing system increases production, they will always tap some trees the traditional way with buckets. This is the machine they use to clean the buckets. It’s connected to a pulley that rotates the brushes:
We washed about 1,000 buckets and lids. Water splashed everywhere! One person used the machine to clean the inside and bottom of the buckets. Next, they passed the bucket to another person to rinse the outside and inside.
Then a runner stacked the buckets and lids so they could dry. We created a bucket barricade:
So, so many buckets!
It was a long afternoon of hard work, but it felt good to be back on the farm.
The last couple weeks of the school year were a whirlwind! We said goodbye to our students, packed up our classrooms, packed our bags for home, and moved everything else into our new apartment. Our travel back to the States went smoothly and we only had a slight delay on our connection to Detroit. We landed in Michigan on Thursday, hit the ground running, and have been on the go ever since!
Here’s a look at our first few days of summer…