Friday, September 30, 2016

Walking, Plus a Discount Code for the Salem Half Marathon

I've been trying to walk as much as possible for an upcoming 24 hour race.  Some days I can't find the time to fit in a walk in addition to my run.  But on the days I can, I always enjoy it.
Most of the time I just walk on the road we live on, or else on our land.  I can walk for an hour, and sometimes not a single car will pass by.  It's always scenic, with fresh air and plenty of wildflowers and nature to see.  I like listening to the bird calls, and wish I knew what all the different birds were.

Some days I can convince a kid (or two, or three) to come with me, and those are my favorite walks of all. 

Two days ago, I was contacted by the Salem Half Marathon.  This is their inaugural year, and in addition to the half marathon, they are also having an 8K and a kids' run.  Salem is so scenic, with rolling hills and an adorable downtown - the perfect place for a distance run.  They have offered Two Bears Farm readers a discount of 20% off registration if you use the code BLOG20.  Come out and run - it's sure to be a fun time, and afterwards they are having a post race party at the farmer's market with food, bands, and kids activities. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Time on the Feet

I won an advanced reader copy of the newest book by Dean Karnazes (scheduled to be released in October) on Goodreads.  The book is about ultramarathoning, and it details the events leading up to the first marathon in ancient Greece.  In reading this book, I had a moment where I completely lost my sense of rational, became weak, and impulsively registered for a 24 hour race.  As in you race for 24 hours to see how far you can go.  24. Hours.

I've never done anything like this before, and can't even begin to be prepared for this sort of undertaking.  The good news is that it isn't too far from home, so I can always just turn in for the night if I can't continue.  In the meantime, I'm trying to run and walk as much as I can.  I'm trying to get used to time on my feet.

I'm doing my usual morning runs, and then am trying to get back out in the evenings for an additional walk or a hike.  The other night I suggested that Pierce come with me.  I told him we could hike over the mountain to a local highway and back.  Pierce did not think such a thing could be possible!  We often drive it, but even driving it is treacherous at times, and it's a long way to go over the mountain and back again.  But he agreed to give it a try.

It was hot, even starting out in the evening, and there were a lot of bugs.  At one point, we heard something big snuffling off in the woods and thought it might be a bear.  Because it is so steep, the four mile trip took us about 90 minutes.  And we even ran about 1/2 mile of it.  Pierce had a blast!  So did I.  It was nice to just catch up with him about school, and enjoy nature.  We only saw one car the whole time.

The next night, Pierce said, "Let's go hike again!"  He wanted to do the same route again.  And the following night?  Again!  I've created a monster! 

Not really though.  I'm glad that he's loving taking these hikes so much.  As long as he wants to go for hikes in the evening, I'm sure Paul or I will indulge him.  Training for a 24 hour race sure is a lot more fun when you have a little friend making sure you get out for your workouts. 

Monday, September 26, 2016


Another amazing piece of nature's artwork.  I saw this shimmering in the sun on our hike to Stiles Falls a few weeks ago.

I marveled at how tight and close together the spider put the threads of this web.  She should have her own gallery!

Readers, what have you seen in nature lately that stopped you in your tracks?

Monday, September 19, 2016

Hiking to Stiles Falls

Over Labor Day weekend we did a family hike to Stiles Falls.  It started as a scenic road.

At the end of the road, we finally turned off onto a single foot path in the woods, often by a nice stream.

Pierce had done this hike before and told us the water was deep and to bring lifejackets.  Trust me - lifejackets are not necessary! 

Towards the end of this path, there was a little bit of rock scrambling just before the falls.  We did see a garter snake on one of the rocks.

The ultimate reward!  This hike is only about an hour from us, so it's strange we had never done it before.  It made for a very nice day.
After a picnic lunch and some splashing in the (very) cold water, we headed back.  It was a fairly easy hike and nothing quite beats a waterfall at the end.

I'll be taking the rest of this week off from blogging.  Hope everyone has a great week.  See you next Monday! 

Friday, September 16, 2016

Texas Tavern

A couple of weeks ago we went to the Deschutes Street Pub festival in downtown Roanoke (Paul won VIP tickets).  I didn't take a single picture except for this one, on the walk to the festival.

I snapped it with my cell phone, as Reid was wearing his Texas Tavern shirt that day.  This little restaurant has been around a long time!  Paul works a block from there, so he eats lunch there once in a while.  Makes for a cheap meal.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

More Canning from Summer 2016

We've eaten a lot of the produce from the garden fresh this summer, but I'm still trying to can things too.  I was hoping to can massive amounts of tomatoes in all form, but have been struggling with what I think may be blight on the fruit of my larger tomatoes.  Probably as a result of all the rain we've had.  Regardless, I was able to find enough tomatoes and jalapenos to make a batch of salsa.

While I only got 5 pints (plus about a half pint I didn't can but ate immediately on chips, spoiling both my lunch and dinner) from the effort, I was pleased, since it was my first attempt at canning salsa.  It isn't quite as chunky as I'd like, but it has excellent flavor.

I also decided to try to make pickled eggs.  We have some excess eggs, and I thought maybe the boys would like them.  They seem to like all other things pickled.  I confess that I have never eaten a pickled egg.  They always look so.....creepy....floating around in there.  Like something you'd see in a curiosity cabinet from 1911 on dusty shelves next to jars of double headed snakes and an octopus brain. 

As of the time I am writing this post, the pickled eggs are still curing.  I am going to be brave and try one.  It'll be interesting to see if anyone in the family likes them.  Maybe we'll get lucky and everyone will.  If so, I might try to make a spicier version with jalapenos - since I have excess in my garden to use up.

Readers - have you ever eaten a pickled egg? 

Monday, September 12, 2016

One of My Favorite Things

I bet you didn't know that one of my favorite things is building fences.  I just love to put in new wooden fencing.  I love the smell of the wood, putting up the boards, and seeing the finished product.  Luckily, we have a post hole digger which makes things easier (although it is still tricky to use, since our land is quite rocky).  And I love the reassurance that it will be there for years to come, and will safely contain the horses. 

We recently put in a new fence line along the driveway.  If wood wasn't so expensive I'd put wood fencing all over the place!  I just love it.

On the left you see the new fence.  We still have to take down the electric from behind it - we use that area as one of our horse pastures.  Hopefully at some point we can continue that wood fencing up the driveway to the left, but we've used up our fencing budget for a while.  On the right you can see fencing that we put in about 15 years ago when we started building the horse arena.  The little triangle building in the background is our chicken tractor.

Readers - is there some unlikely chore that you love doing?

Friday, September 9, 2016

Camo Bug

The other day when we were building a new fence I heard a buzzing in the bushes.  I went to investigate and found a fantastic bug.  Look at that coloring!  Isn't nature amazing?
I'm guessing this is some sort of locust or cicada, although I've never seen one so beautifully colored.  The original camouflage! 

Readers - anyone know specifics on this bug?

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Trading Places

The other day the boys were watching yet another episode of Garfield that they had checked out from the library and I said, "I think I'm going to just sit around watching Garfield all day!  You guys can cook the meals and clean the house and do the laundry!"

The boys seized on this idea, and while I didn't sit around watching Garfield, I did have boys helping me out more, and Paul had boys volunteering to dig fence post holes. 

Cort learned how to make deviled eggs and apple pies.  He did an excellent job and was so proud of his creations.  The next day, when we attended a church potluck, he watched in pride as every last deviled egg was eaten.

The two apple pies he made turned out very well too!  Sadly, we didn't get many apples this year due to a late frost, but at least we put the few we had to good use. 

Readers, who would you like to trade places with for a day?

Monday, September 5, 2016

The Jubal Early Homeplace

The Jubal Early homeplace isn't far from us, but it's only open on Sundays from 1-5 so we've never had occasion to stop.  The other weekend we were driving by at just the right time, and in no rush, so we decided to check it out. Built in 1814, it is one of the oldest Federal style houses in the region, and I have always been a sucker for exploring old houses.  The right half is original (and it was done in the Federal style - only one room upstairs and one room downstairs initially).  The left section was added about 30 years later and was done in Greek Revival style.

Jubal Early was a lawyer and Confederate general in the Civil War.  He was a bit of a scoundrel; well known for his foul language and shenanigans.  The boys were enthralled by a story during our tour of how he once hid in a space behind the kitchen chimney (behind the house, so you cannot see it in this picture) to avoid arrest. 

We were the only folks there on the day we went, so we got a private tour.  I especially loved seeing the pictures of the house when the caretakers original bought it back in 1996 - it was a crumbled disaster.  They really have done a remarkable restoration of it.  They were able to retain the original flooring, as well as mantles and fireplaces.
You might not think touring an historic home would be fun for kids, but the boys were legitimately interested and asked a lot of questions.  It was a fun way to spend a rainy afternoon, and we learned some new facts about history along the way. 

Friday, September 2, 2016

Little Birds

All the crazy storms this summer have left a big puddle in our driveway.  I like to watch the little birds bathing in it.  They flit from the fence to the puddle.

I took these from the house, with a zoom lens, but it really wasn't able to get close enough.  It's a bit of a distance.

Still, there's a lot of action in the puddle throughout the day.  A nice way for the birds to stay cool.  Who needs a bird bath when you've got a mud bath instead?