Monday, July 31, 2017

Crater Lake - Day 5 and 6

One more exploration day at Crater Lake.  I just couldn't resist showing some more amazing shots of the lake.  And, well, my cute kids posing in the snow and at all the lookout spots.  The highest lookout spot is called Watchtower outlook, at 8100 feet.  It was enough to send my vertigo into a rage.  There was no way that a minivan should have ever been allowed on the road, or what they deemed a road made of gravel and a very steep drop off to never - never land.

Final destination before leaving Crater Lake - the gift shop of course.

Dad made all the kids a deal - he gave them $100 to shop with on the vacation.  The object was to control their spending.  He wasn't buying snacks or souvenirs - no begging allowed.  Here was the catch. . .  whoever came back with the most money won an additional $100. 

Everyone was very careful to only spend their money on those items they deemed absolutely essential and by the last day each of them had most of their money still remaining.  Abby quickly realized she had already spent more than the others had so she wouldn't be winning the additional $100, so what's a girl to do. . . well, she bought monster feet.  I think she got the best deal of all.  What 9 1/2 year old wouldn't want monster feet - and pink for that matter!

So, who won you might ask?  It happened to be a certain teenage girl - Hannah.  She was followed by a close second to Lindsay.

Our last day led us on an early morning hike on two different trails.  The Natural Bridge trail took us right along the Rogue River Gorge.  Beautiful, breath-taking boulders with thousands of gallons of water flowing over the top, snaking here and there, getting trapped in caves which were old lava tubes.  If I was a betting girl, Disneyland took their inspiration for their log rides from this gorge.

The Mill Creek Falls trail took us 2.5 miles round trip to two waterfalls jutting out of the mountainside; water flowing right underneath the tree tops.  Then back up to the top of the river where giant boulders created a series of falls and rapids for the river to twist it's way downward. 

Later that evening, the highlight of my day was taking these two littles up to the bridge near our cabin.  There was shallow water in which they could actually play in.  Mind you this water had to be 40 degrees.  George laid down, plugged his nose and dipped back into the water.  His face coming out of the water was contorted due to the extreme cold.  It was quite the sight.  Abby tried to imitate him, but she just couldn't muster up enough guts to dunk her whole head into the water.  It was pure joy!

Another glorious vacation.   We all can't wait to see where Dad takes us next year!

Monday, July 24, 2017

Crater Lake - Day 3 and 4

Diamond Lake was on our agenda for today.  When every last kid is whining to go swimming, what's a dad to do, but find a lake.  He found one, situated about 40 minutes from our campsite.  We could not swim in the river behind our campsite because the current was way too strong - I had visions of children being sucked into the twisting, turning, rushing Rogue River.

The sun was shining, glorious and warm without a cloud in the sky to be seen.  The water was blue, not as vibrant as Crater Lake, but none the less beautiful.  George was the first brave soul to jump in and wade out as far as he could stand on his tip toes.  The girls followed - skittishly, squealing as their bodies hit the 40 something-ish degree water.

We drove over to the other side of the lake, where we found Diamond Lake Resort.  After lunch Dad took the kids on a paddle boat ride around the lake for about 45 minutes and gave momma the last 15 minutes.  That was all that my legs could take.  Feel the burn baby!

When a morning of fishing with Dad led to no fish caught, but lots of mosquito bites, dinner was turned into beer can chicken instead of fried fish.  The rest of the day was spent relaxing.  Grandma and Poppa enjoyed an afternoon of watching downloaded movies from Netflix, while Dad taught the three littler kids to whittle. Several knives were crafted and I did see the makings of a gun at one point.  It was just like clock work every afternoon - like a bunch of baby ducklings following momma- Grandma, Poppa and five children exited the cabin and proceeded to the ice cream shop next to us.

Three of the kids participated in the Junior Ranger program through the National Parks .  This is an absolute must to do if you ever visit a National Park.  Each child gets a workbook to seek and find the answers to word searches, mazes, puzzles and short answers.  Once the workbooks are completed they get turned back in to a ranger.

This time the kids actually got questioned about their answers.  I overheard the ranger ask what their favorite spot at Crater Lake was and to describe the things they had learned while there.  After all the questions were answered, they each got a badge and the ranger officially introduced them as the newest Junior Rangers. 

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Crater Lake. . . Day 1 and 2

Psalm 19:14  Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer.

We left early on a Friday morning, headed for Union Creek Campgrounds in Prospect, Oregon for a six day vacation which was probably long overdue for several people in our family.  Our first stop was Taylor's Sausage in Cave Junction.    My friend Heather, has been telling me for years how good their sausage and meat were.  Even the General Manager prefers their curing style for bacon above all other local meat processing.  We may or may not have overloaded the slightly smallish cooler we brought.  There was sausage, organic free range chicken, bacon, more bacon and hamburger to feed us on our stay.  Windows down, sunshine streaming in the car and a warm breeze blowing had everyone enjoying the drive up to the cabin.  We pulled in five minutes before my in-laws, Bob and Peg arrived.

The cabin was a two-storied, brown shingled quaint cabin, complete with wood framed windows.  There was a porch with a BBQ grill sitting on it ready for our dinner plans.  Can you smell the sausage grilling?  Everyone was early to bed that night.

Up early the next morning, we headed to Crater Lake.  Our cabin was at 3000 feet, the entrance to the park was around 5200 feet and by the time we got to the top of the rim at 7100 feet, we quickly learned about altitude sickness.  Lindsay and Anne had begun feeling the effects of it the night before, but we quickly had them drink a ton of water, but Abby slipped through the cracks of water drinking.  By the time we drove up to the rim of the crater, Abby was vomiting and lethargic.  Dad had to stay in the car and trade off with momma while Abby slept the morning away. 

The lake was absolutely magnificent.  Genesis 7:11 (In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened.) came to my mind the moment I saw the lake.  Around 7700 years ago the mountain/volcano erupted and the top of the mountain fell in on itself, causing the base of the lake to be created.  Over years the snow has melted and filled in the basin.  I would also venture to say that the remains of the great flood waters stayed trapped inside the basin, but scientists won't admit to that.  I couldn't believe that a lake could be so blue and so high up in altitude.  There are no rivers feeding the basin either, it's strictly filled each year with the snow falling and melting.

We didn't leave without George getting some snow playing time.  Believe it or not, there was actually up to 6 feet of snow still in some places.  Since Abby wasn't feeling good, we called it day and went back to the cabin so she could sleep.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

June Farm Update

Have you ever wished that during summer you could transport yourself back to the slower days of winter? My days seem to be longer and the list of things to get done seems to grow bigger. Our kid’s crazy schedule just keeps on getting crazier. Someone once told me years ago to cherish the years my children were young because one day life would be completely chaotic. Wow!  Were they ever right!  Having older children has added a new dimension to our schedule; running from this activity to the next, more so than when they were little, because then we could stay home. So, tired mommas with littles, my advice to you is to enjoy these days before chauffeuring, scheduling and activities consume your day.

Our garden was finally planted after what seemed like an eternity of waiting. It happened so quickly. It began as one day of planting and the next the sprouts were sprouting. It feels incredibly satisfactory to know that we are eating from the garden now, even if it is only strawberries, lettuce, chard, and radishes. I can almost imagine my ancestors biting into that first bite of fresh produce after a long winter of canned goods and dried meat. How good it must have tasted. How thrilled they must have been to have choices in what to eat. How satisfying to know they had grown it themselves? How did we get so far from the natural way of eating? But then I think, would I really want to remove the convenience of the grocery store, Azure drop or late-night Friday pizza night? Probably not, if I was to be truly honest. These things have a place in our life today for better or worse.

I love that the General Manager just posted on his Instagram about how he was enjoying the view of the colorful flowers off our front porch. He may or may not have been enjoying a cigar and a glass of scotch in the Adirondack chairs that my Dad built for us. Those chairs are supposed to go around our fire pit, but I just couldn’t bring myself to see them get weathered in the rain, so they found a new home on our covered porch. They just seem to fit there, like they’ve always been there. I tried sitting in them one day and I fell asleep with the sunshine streaming in on the porch. I was brought back into reality when one of the kids found me. 

In the early spring, I took some time to plant a variety of bulbs in and around a good majority of my perennials and herbs. Last year hubby had gently informed me that he really wanted to see more color in our front flower beds. I am so in awe of all my lavender blooms this year. Trimming lavender each season really is the ticket to better and bigger blooms the following year. My goal this year was to incorporate more edible plants in this landscape; mostly to just grow more food. I’m trying parsley, lovage and strawberries, in addition to our two blueberry bushes.

The children finished this year of schooling. Well it actually went down more like this, “momma just said put the books away.” I told myself and my best friend to remind me in future years to stop homeschooling in June. I’ve always been interested in following a more agrarian schedule because of the planting of our garden, weeding, barn chores, and milking schedule. These tend to be time consuming activities that need to be done during daylight/schooling hours. One of these days I hope to figure out how to get more schooling done during the rainy, dreary, wet winters we have here in Northern California. I like to give myself the month of June off and then begin planning for the next year in July and August. I hope to get schooling started again in September but our county fair is later this year and goes all the way until Labor Day. 

The highlight of June was the girl’s dance recital. The Ferndale Dance Academy put on a slightly twisted version of Cinderella. Abby and Hannah were fabulous and the show was a huge success.

How are the farm animals you ask? The goats are doing well. I have been spending months trying to figure out what deficiencies they are suffering from and I have narrowed it down to copper and selenium. We are on a strict mineral supplementation for each of them. In the last two weeks, I’ve noticed a big difference in both does’ coat colors. Now, I’m just waiting to see when each of them begins to show signs of heat. All last year I dealt with silent heats, which makes it impossible to bred a goat this way. My Nigerian buck is also over one year old now, so I’m really hoping he’s up for the task of breeding this year. 

Our chickens have been laying an enormous amount of eggs. One month they laid over 525 eggs – we do have 28 hens. That’s a lot of clucking! Did you know that chickens love to cluck (more like squawk) and let you know they laid an egg? Kevin, our LGD is working better with the chickens and goats – we’ve only had a few instances of chicken licking – yes, I said that correctly. He likes to lick the chickens until they are squeaky clean. Great if you are Kevin, not so great if you are the chicken being licked by a big white scary dog.

One Blessed Acre soaps and lotions were d├ębuted at a new local craft fair this month – Humboldt Junkies. The kids have been adding their own products to our normal line-up of goat milk soaps and lotions. We now have lip balm by Abby, tub teas by George, bath bombs by Lindsay and sugar scrubs by Hannah. Did I mention that every one of these products has goat milk in them? Because goat milk is good for you and, never Bah-a-ha-a-ha-a-a-d. I added four new scented scrubby soaps and 3 new scented liquid soaps to our etsy shop. Who doesn’t love smelling like chocolate cake batter?  If local, you will still be able to find our products at the Golden Gait Mercantile in Ferndale.

We are off on vacation to Crater Lake, Oregon this week.  I cannot wait to see what adventures we get into while we are there.  How is your summer shaping up?  Leave me a comment.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

How to Be Successful At Craft Fairs

Whether you are brand new to the world of selling goods at fairs and craft shows, or if you are a seasoned expert, today’s economy dictates that just a bit more legwork is required in order for crafting to be profitable.  Here in our neck of the woods we have our share of craft fairs, which seem to be growing in popularity.

This last weekend the kids and I jumped both feet in the water with a relatively new craft fair and vintage flea market called Humboldt Junkies.  One Blessed Acre joined forces with Bluebird Mom - Chalk Couture.  So, in addition to all of our great goat milk bath and body products, we had custom chalked signs on rustic wood boards and vintage windows.

In order to properly prepare for our booth, a couple weeks ahead of time we got together and ran through a trial set up of the booth.  This is a must if you want to be prepared on set-up day at the actual fair.  While it still took us three hours to completely set up the booth, it would have taken us several more hours if we hadn't done this pre-preparation.  When we got to the fair, we found out we had the front booth, the very first booth everyone would see as they were walking in.  As soon as we saw this we realized we needed to adjust our layout to allow for the side entrance for customers to walk right into our booth.  Being flexible was essential to our success.

Tables are a must for craft displays.  Think outside of the box for display tables; not only functional ones but unique pieces.  Risers and displays need to be creative, varying heights and textures. This allows a customer's eyes to wander and observe your entire booth. We also combined products to show our customers possible gift giving ideas or ways to display their bath products at home.

Did you know you have 3 minutes or less to impress upon someone to walk into your booth and actually engage with your product?  This is not a big window of time, so make sure your displays are sharp and easy to view.   The "Rule of Seven" applies here;  The Rule of Seven is an old marketing adage. It says that a prospect needs to see or hear your marketing message at least seven times before they take action and buy from you.  So, above all have great signage.  We had not only two large banners, but individual signs telling price, sizes, scents and product names.  It's important to have your business name and website displayed so customers will see it.   

The day of the fair everyone was in a good mood.  Make sure you are thoroughly rested and have a smile on your face.  You only get one chance at a first impression and you want it to be a good one.  How could you resist this adorable face asking you to try our goat milk lotion?  Trust me, NO ONE did!  Be sure to wear comfortable clothing and comfortable shoes!  Standing on your feet all day can be quite painful.

Creating a theme for your booth is another way to be successful at craft fairs.  This was the first year we attended this craft fair so we wanted to make a lasting impression upon our customers.  A coherent stall with strong branding is helpful in getting our customers to remember our booth.  If you can, carry your branding into your packaging so that when a customer buys something they will be taking it home in one of your paper bags with a business card included.  Think about who your target market is and tailor your booth to this clientele.

At the end of the day, a successful craft fair means that you had a great time at the craft fair.  It also means that contacts were made with people that you'd never met before.  These can lead to potential sales at future craft fairs.  The learning experiences that our children were exposed to over the weekend are innumerable and invaluable.  Just a quick few to mention; making change, writing receipts, product merchandising, customer service, product knowledge and sales.  Never underestimate these skills and how important they can be to learn.  When I evaluated our results for this craft fair, we came right in at successful!