Thursday, August 28, 2014

Rolling Hills Red Deer Farm

Brianna and Tori, ready for the tour
If there's one thing I've learned over the years about entertaining children and grandchildren, it's to FIND ANIMALS.  If you take them on any adventure that involves live animals, THEY WILL LOVE IT.  

And so we found ourselves looking at some very big game this time.

The Rolling Hills Red Deer Farm in Catawissa, Pennsylvania raises over 400 red deer on 200+ acres of rolling landscape.  Upon arriving we purchased $1 buckets of apple and oat treats.  Then grandtwins Tori and Brianna and I climbed up into a tractor-pulled wagon and took a fun-filled and educational one hour tour to see the deer.

There were so many photo opportunities during our tour.  Babies nursing, males clashing, and a female who snuck her way into the male pen before the gate fully closed.  A number of the deer knew how to come up the back steps and stick their heads into the wagon to get treats right out of our hands.  Those deer are eager to be fed by hand and actually came running to the wagon to get their yummy treats.

Our tour guide began with some educational facts about red deer and their antlers.  We learned that the venison is naturally raised with no antibiotics or growth hormones.  Because it's high in protein and iron, but low in fat and cholesterol, it's a perfect choice for anyone striving for healthy living.  Red deer venison is also high in vitamins B6 and B12.

First, our wagon took us into the females' and babies' pen:

Since we were visiting in the earlier months of the summer, many babies had been born and the stags' antlers were almost fully grown.  As you will see in the photos, there were plenty of very impressively sized antler racks.  They were all still in the velvet stage, and we were able to touch a few of them when they came to snack at the wagon.  By later in August, though, most stags will have lost the velvet to show hard antlers.  Later, in early Fall, the stags begin to roar and fight to show their dominance.

Feeding the mommas and their young ones:

And now, heading into the stags' pen.  Warning:  photo overload ahead.  I kept seeing larger and more impressive racks, and couldn't stop myself from snapping away.  Some of these stags are MASSIVE.

Our guide pointed out several stags that had one-of-a kind antler formations.

At the end of the tour, we were dropped off back at the beginning, right next to the Gift Shop.  Various cuts of venison, as well as snack products such as jerky and bologna sticks were available for purchase.  Of course the girls wanted to give venison a try, and so we bought some bologna sticks which they devoured and announced "were great!"

Is it any little bit obvious that these girls loved this adventure?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

National Dog Day 2014

Apparently yesterday, Tuesday August 26, 2014, was National Dog Day.  I didn't learn of that fact until late in the evening.

Since our weimaraner puppy, Sheila, is such a vibrant presence in our home, I thought I'd celebrate National Dog Day (one day late) by sharing some photos of her antics over the last six months or so.

Sheila turned three back in early July.  She is extremely intelligent, frustratingly stubborn, full of endless energy, and more affectionate and loyal than many people.

Sheila in her favorite corner of the couch
Sheila waiting under the mistletoe
Christmas puppy
Back to the couch
Nose to nose with a new friend
She thinks she's a person.
Guilty for sure
"I wanna read too"
"I feel silly in this hat, but I'll SIT if you tell me to."
"Look into my eyes...."
Helping master Caleb get ready for a trip
And finally, Sheila's latest caper - just this morning, a rowdy game of Hide and Seek:

"Can you find me?"
Sheila sure is a challenge and a stinker, but she's also totally wormed her way into our hearts.  She celebrated National Dog Day by enjoying the extra food droppings during a patio picnic we had to celebrate my father-in-law's 86th birthday.  

I guess for a puppy, that's about as good as it gets.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Killer Sidewalks

Bucknell University blue and orange
In my quest to gradually return to the world of working out and being a gym rat (and feeling good again), I've been walking four or five days a week.  In almost any group of people discussing fitness, you will inevitably hear one person say, "Well if nothing else, you can always walk."  Au contraire mon frere.  We must agree to disagree agreeably on that comment.  Please.

For me, walking comes with many difficulties.  One, my heels still hurt - both of them.  The one I had surgified, and the other one too.  Two, there's the weather that can be contrary.  Although some people do like to walk in the rain, and in fact, I always told my three daughters that rain makes them beautiful, in actuality it makes my hair flat and makes me feel grosser than I already feel from sweating.  And three, there's those killer sidewalks, which we will get to momentarily.

I've been hiking on various trails and routes in the area until today.  Today I decided to change it up a bit and simply walk from my house the several blocks down to the downtown area, walk the length of the main street to the end and back, and return home.

It's a miracle I survived.

Anyway I no sooner got to the downtown area, and I discovered the welcome mats have certainly been laid out for all the returning Bucknell University students.

Every parking meter had blue and orange balloons affixed, sidewalk tables and chairs were arranged, and WELCOME BUCKNELLIANS signs were in nearly every shop's front windows.  Sandwich boards offered special deals to the students.  (As a Bucknell grad, I kept looking for lunch deals directed to alumni, but I guess we aren't special any more.)

And welcoming the CLASS OF 2018 brings it right smack dab into my face how long ago it was that MY class was being welcomed - the CLASS OF 1978!
That's 40 years ago!  How did that happen?

I walked by a little cafe.  Years ago a friend and I frequented this shop, then a donut and coffee shop, and every Monday morning we met and did our part to solve the problems of the world.

Now it's a little breakfast/lunch cafe.  I thought I'd take a look at the menu in the window, and oh, would you look at that?  Bug for lunch, I guess.

I walked on.  Perhaps the people I passed by thought I was deep into my own thoughts.  Perhaps some thought I was rude.  In reality, I was carefully watching my step.

My town is full of killer sidewalks.  I may have looked like I was marching, not walking.

I could break my neck:

I could fall and break a wrist:

I could smash my nose:

I could twist my ankle:

Or I could slip a disk:

Yeppers.  Those are killer sidewalks.  Just about when I thought I'd seen it all, then I passed by this gorgeous section of sidewalk, maintained by the local garden club.  

I smiled and headed (carefully) for home.  

No matter where I walk, there's always been something, somewhere, that catches my eye.

My plan is to lose a little weight, walk myself into the beginnings of feeling fit, and then return to the gym again.

After all - winter is coming.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Two Full of God Movies

Since the husband/lover/date companion and I were looking to find some inexpensive entertainment this weekend, we stayed close to home.  No roadtrips.  No fancy, glitzy, Broadway-type shows.  No shopping of any sort.  Nope.  Our wallets were locked way down deep in the pockets.

We are especially trying to reign in the amount of money spent on eating out, and I'm pleased to announce that this past week we did pretty well.  Just one planned meal out in an entire week, and two Redbox DVD rentals over the weekend, and, well, I guess you could say I'm just a cheap date.

Saturday night we watched "Heaven is For Real."  This movie recounts the true experiences of the Burpo family.  Todd and Sonja Burpo have a very young son, Colin, who is telling them details of his supposed visit to Heaven during his emergency surgery.

He talks candidly and confidently about things he saw that happened before his birth, and about a baby sister his mother lost, that he would not have known.

His experience challenges his family to face and come to terms with their doubts about the existence of Heaven.

As much as I enjoyed the movie, and wow, is that little guy who plays Colin adorable, I had trouble with the movie on one account.  Why is Todd Burpo, the father of Colin AND A PASTOR OF A LARGE CHURCH, having such a hard time believing that Heaven is real?  I'm not saying pastors cannot have their own questions and doubts, but isn't Heaven and an afterlife one of the basic beliefs of the Bible and the Christian faith?

Sunday evening we enjoyed the movie "God's Not Dead."  It seemed an appropriate movie to watch as our town is suddenly filled with the thousands of college students who are returning for the start of the fall semester.

In this thought provoking movie, a first semester college freshman meets an argumentative, atheistic professor in philosophy class, where the students are ordered to deny that God exists.  Rather than disavow, in writing, the existence of God, the student is promised three 20 minute sessions, during which he must make an intelligent case for the reality of God.

The student's classmates will determine whether he has a compelling argument, or if he will fail the course and jeopardize his future career plans.

I enjoyed the well researched and logical presentations he offered.  In case you haven't yet seen this flick, I'm not going to reveal the surprising conclusion.

I always feel satisfied when a movie makes me think, or sparks some challenging conversation in our home.  These two movies were winners on those criteria.  I'd recommend both.