Flowers and Family Time

We’ve been in Michigan for nearly three wonderful weeks now. The main goal of our family trip was to attend my grandma’s 70th birthday celebration, and all my aunts, uncles, and cousins were here for a few short days last week. Despite the hand, foot, and mouth disease that almost all the younger children caught, we had a wonderful catch-up time and made memories that I’m sure will last for many years.

Flower 01

Grandma had some beautiful flowers in her garden!

Flower 02

Flower 03

Last Friday, a lot of us headed to a local beach to cool off. It was a warm day, and most of us hadn’t seen much of Lake Michigan yet (at least not enough to have time to spend in it!), so we really enjoyed the chance to play in the beautiful golden sand and wade. I don’t normally swim, but I did get in a short water-fight with one of my brothers, so I ended up soaked too. It was a gorgeous, fun day!

Beach 01

Afterward, a good part of our group climbed the Little Sable Point lighthouse there. I’d climbed it years ago, before we moved, so I decided to stay behind with little sister. The rest of the family seemed to enjoy it, though!

Beach 02

Last Saturday, the last day we had with most of the family before they headed home, we went out to a local pond created by a dam. This is one of Grandma’s favorite nature spots; a lovely walk through good ‘ole Michigan woods, with great views of the pond and sometimes the wildlife that lives on it. We used to go there fairly often before we moved, so it was fun to see it again.

Pond 01

Pond 02

Then Mom spotted a fully grown Monarch caterpillar! We got to looking closer at the milkweed on the edge of the road, and I think in total we found about eleven or twelve caterpillars. That was pretty exciting! They ranged from a few mm long (just hatched out) to just over an inch long (basically ready to turn into chrysalises). We got five that were almost ready to turn, which are all chrysalises now, and are hoping we will get to see them hatch out as butterflies sometime when we’re in Ohio. Very fun!

Caterpillars 01

Caterpillars 02

What the chrysalises look like now (above), and what our baby worm that was just a couple mms long when we found him looks like now (below). He’s still not very big!

Caterpillars 03

I’ll end with an answered prayer for my brothers—they had wanted to see a snake while we’re here in America, since we don’t have any in New Zealand. It just so happened that there were about five garter (nonvenomous) snakes hanging around the dam that day, so we enjoyed seeing them slithering around for a while!

Pond 03

I’m so thankful for the time we’ve been able to spend together! Thank You, Lord!

New Calf! (Photo Challenge day 5)

Today, finally, the event we’ve all been waiting for happened: Our cow had her calf. Phew! Can’t wait for the real milk to come in in about three days, and hopefully it’ll taste good—the milk at the end of her last lactation had a bitter note to it. Of course, in the intervening three days we may try making colostrum Yorkshire pudding (which is delicious!), or that baked custard with cardamom in it that Mom discovered the second-to-last time the cow calved. For tonight, though, Mama and calf are staying together, and Mr. Calf has figured out pretty quickly where the yummy stuff to fill his tummy comes from!

New Calf 01

What Mama cow looked like 3 1/2 hours before giving birth—HUGE!

All of us were out there to see the calf born. Thankfully, Chessie didn’t seem to mind too much, and it provided a great “science-in-action” demonstration! I’ll spare you the pictures of the birth. 🙂

New Calf 02

Some of the observers climbed on the truck trailer!

New Calf 03

Only ten minutes old, and he’s already trying to stand up! Those annoying legs, though—so wobbly.

New Calf 04

New Calf 05

Trying to teach him to suck.

New Calf 06

Okay, he’s clearly an old hand at this already!

New Calf 07

New Calf 08

Welcome to the world, Speckles!

Hawthorne and clouds

Something beautiful I saw tonight (the picture does not do it justice): Red hawthorn berries against the backdrop of a threatening sky.

Farmer man

Something else I spotted tonight: Farmer man going out to fix the gate.

Thank you, God, that the calf is here!