Tuesday, May 1, 2018

April Snowstorm

  
It is the end of April now and we have finished our maple syrup harvest with only 19% of our crop with extended cold weather to blame. We averaged just 2/3 of a pound per tap which is extremely low.  So in short, we had a real bad harvest.  We can however take great comfort and rest in knowing who sits on the throne and that he will not desert us.  Towards the end of April we had a huge snowstorm,  probably the biggest one of this winter.  Before the storm came, our  Grandpa and Aunt came up from Florida to spend five days with us.  It was cut short as they tried to fly out ahead of the storm, only to be stranded in Green Bay, WI  for four days.



This chicken found a good place to lay her eggs,  although,  I don't think Daltin is super happy about it.



Keeping our tanks clean is just part of our daily routine. 
Keeping a positive attitude makes the work easy.



One thing about our Grandpa is that he  LOVES  his  fires and if you ask me, I would say that he looks WAY to happy with the torch.



We are constantly cleaning our equipment which is a must for making awesome maple syrup.
With only five boils under our belt this year we now have fifteen barrels instead of the projected eighty. 



Seems like Mitchell's got himself a prisoner!
It was good to be able to spend some quality time with our Grandpa and Aunt. 



We fully enjoyed our time with Grandpa and Aunt Tina, even if it was cut short because of the winter storm coming.




Our road before the county plowed it. 



The view outside out back window. We wished this was back in December instead of April.



Along with having to maintain our driveway, we also have to make sure that our woods roads stay plowed so that the boys can make their trips up to the pump shacks. 



Getting in a little sledding time. This will probably be their last time this year... hopefully.



Austin pulled out the snowblower,  which I don't think he has ever done in April.



Exactly a year ago, we had time to prepare our MCI bus to go south....



This is what it looked like after storm. 
Daltin had the annoyance of the tractor not starting. Without fail, he repaired it and was able to plow the drive.


Springtime is here or should we say summer???



"Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is."
Jeremiah 17:7 

Saturday, March 17, 2018

January

 
The start of the new year found us bottling, packaging, logging and other daily chores. 
In January we did not have any concerts, partly because like to use the winter months to work on the farm. We do still play our instruments and learn new music for our upcoming concerts. 
 

We kicked off the new year bottling again for more orders that needed to be sent out. Sure could use a bigger heater in the bottling room.



Along with being professional hikers, musicians and maple syrup producers, the guys are also loggers. Here they are clearing out a part of woods so they can run new lines as part of a never ending expansion of our sugarbush! 



Part of this job, is pulling out the wood to the road so that our iron mule forwarder can come by and pick it up. This wood is future firewood for our syrup operation.



Dropping off the logs so it can be split for firewood.
 



This boy seems to be combining a lot of miscellaneous items with his schooling but the sunglasses seem like trouble. He is actually schooling and doing very well for his first year in school.
 
 

The weather was beautiful in January as the kids enjoyed their time out there playing in the snow.
 

 
We stopped by Golden Harvest in Rhinelander on a girls (plus Mitch) day out and Bethany just had to get a picture with this big guy.
 
 
 
Every year Eagle River does an amazing job of putting up an ice castle in town made with ice pulled out of the Wisconsin river.
 
 
"But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint."
Isaiah 40:31
 

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

December

The month of December found us busy with abundant music practice, cutting and replacing last years maple sap spiles (taps), logging a new section of woods and just everyday life. It also seemed like a rough month for Dad.


 

This December had us playing a Christmas concert that was a first for us.  Usually we are too busy in the sugarbush to perform a concert so close to syrup season.  Do to our bus being winterized and not wanting to get salt all over it we instead drove our faithful 15 passenger van to the event.  It sure seemed that during the entire 6 hour trip someone was joking that 'there's no leg room', 'I cant sleep', or a 'I miss the bus'.  Its not that we were ungrateful for having to ride in the van its just we got spoiled by the bus.  As bad as we thought we had it, poor dad was battling the flu and a 103.5 degree fever though the entire trip and for almost two weeks afterwards.
   

 The concert was very well attended affording us once again the opportunity to share the gospel though testimony and music!!


 

Just part of the huge spread!  We probably ate a little too much considering that we had to play right after dinner.  But hey, how could one turn all that great food down?


 

The sky's at home continue to amaze us.

After listening to our upcoming CD a few times, we realized we were missing a few parts and others needed a little attention.  The boys where able to utilize our recording gear and record small parts right here at home.  The corrections were made then sent off to the recording engineer. Modern technology can be awesome!  Once again the advantages of homeschooling are evident when you look at the skill set of the youngsters in this family.



A surprising treat this Christmas was a visit from some our closest friends that drove up all the way from Florida!  After not seeing them for almost four years we saw them twice in 2018.  Again Dad found himself under the weather with a bad toothache that required a root canal! Ouch!


Every year we visit a local church and sing a song or two for their candle light church service. This year our friends from Florida joined us!



Playing spikeball in -32 degrees! Yup I'm sure that has to be some kind of record.


 

Bethany and her sweet friend Evie.


During the month of December and despite all the distractions, the boys can always be found with a steady and deliberate march toward preparing for maple syrup harvest .



"Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor:                
 If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up."
 Ecclesiastes 4:9-10



Thursday, February 1, 2018

November

November found us at home most of the month and two thanksgiving meal concerts nearby. 
The boys were more than happy to get back to work in the woods to prepare for the maple season with logging for firewood and cutting off spiles. 
Also, we had many Christmas markets in our area. 



Taking a trip to Walmart to stock up is a family thing.
 
   

Bottling once again and this time with the little's.
We love being able work and teach our young ones.



Bottling in cold weather has a downside, we found out we have to warm the bottles before filling or they will break. Our dear friend Mr. Tate helping us out bottling one day.
 He looks like he is having way too much fun...



Our poor bus is going to spend the winter outside in the cold rain and snow.
We are going to miss our Sophronie Bell this winter.



Along with our daily routine, we also had to prepare for concerts.
Which means ironing shirts and washing other articles of clothing for the concerts.




Bethany is definitely the crowds favorite.
 She gets little kids to turn in their seats and listen.  But when Priscilla or Austin sing,
they go back to coloring or whatever they were doing.  It's very amusing to watch.


 
Here we are in Crandon where Bethany made lots of new friends who
all sat in the front row.



So happy to see the Whiting family again, it has been quite a while since we have seen them as a whole family.  We normally see one or two of them at a time.
 Hey, what's better than having a bunch of redheads in the same room at once!! 

 
 
 
 
  
Getting to this church had us a little worried. It was snowing and the
 roads were not in the best shape.  We were glad to arrive safely.



This beautiful, 98 year old lady went through WW2 as a nurse in Normandy.
Her stories are amazing!




It's the start of the season for Christmas Craft Shows!
We stayed busy with many different markets on our Saturdays.




This sweet little guy turned 5 in November.  He is starting to have a little
 sense of humor about him. 




No, Austin is not slacking, he's just missing this bus a little. 
But really, anytime we have a warm spell we like to do a maintenance check up on the bus. 





We love getting to see Gods creation in our backyard!



"The LORD loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love."
Psalm 33:5




Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Our October Tour


This October we returned to Florida for the first time since we moved away nearly four years ago.  Our Florida tour which lasted for about three weeks was the longest and furthest we have ever been from home.  We had concerts all throughout Florida and one in Georgia. We then headed up to Kentucky to record our second CD.  It was a great time of being with family, meeting new people and reconnecting with friends and loved ones.  We also had many different ministry opportunity's to tell other people about Jesus.   



We ran into these two black Prevost buses at a gas station in mid Illinois and traveled down south to Nashville with them.  What a sight it must have been with three big black Prevosts rolling down the highway




Stopped in Tennessee at The McDougal family's home to spend the night there.
We met this family years ago back when we still lived in Florida at a guitar center.
Austin remembered that one of our friends gave him a DVD that taught you how to play the guitar, and when he saw Mr. McDougal as  he was walking out of the store with our Martin and he knew he saw that face before! So we found out a little later that he was the man who made that DVD on how to play the guitar and so after telling him that we played music too, we pulled out our instruments and played a bunch a gospel songs right there in the Guitar Centers parking lot.  




Crossing back into our old home state.




Our first concert was at the Triple Cross Ranch and had a special meaning to our parents. We enjoyed time with family and friends.  Loved spending time at this church my father attended his church before he met my mother and the pastor knew my mother as a toddler. So you can say he has watched my parents develop their relationship with the Lord.




Daddy and Pastor Norman Edwards have known each other for over 25 years.




Went to a Japanese restaurant with our grandparents and aunt Tina.
Needless to say some of us ate more than a little too much. Good times!



Doesn't that just look so pretty?! Well, It sure tasted about as good as it looks!! Thirds anybody?




Swimming with our cousins.
 The pool is extra nice during those long Florida days. Most of us children spent hours in there.



Even a hard rain didn't stop us!!




We stayed at grandpas house for a couple days which was nice because we were able to settle down in a place for longer than just overnight and spend some quality time with this great man.




Bethany found this baby lizard crawling around on grandpa's porch and caught the little thing.
She was amazed with it! She also wanted to bring it home with us but dad talked her out of it.




The little's soaking in as much time with grandpa as they can.



 

Sometimes boys gotta be boys! Daltin playin' cool! Catching a little practice time before the concert.




 Playing in our old hometown.




 While staying with friends we where invited to tour a neighboring gator farm. They have hundreds and hundreds of those gators at the farm.
It was really interesting to see! (Even if they did really stink!) 




All gathered around the supper table with lots of stories, memories and laughter being shared. 




Not to be outdone by the little's.




Mitchell thoroughly enjoyed his time with his buddy Kaleb.




Had a wonderful time at our friends the Stutzman's house.  




Our last southern concert of the tour was in Georgia at a friends church.




 Love southern cuisine. But what is up with the bottle on the table... looks familiar?




Love this pretty girl!




Everywhere Bethany goes she finds a friend. Young or old, it doesn't seem to matter to her.
She's never meet a stranger yet!




Loved spending time with the Thomas's. We've been good friends with this family for a long time.




Time to start the new CD!!




Priscilla and Austin waiting for their turn to head into the studio.
Anyone recognize our handsome engineer?



How about now?




And of course schooling didn't stop.




Daddy showing Austin who's the boss at pool and of course dad won.  Too many times Caleb our engineer would lean back from his chair and says...." Um...Guys?" 




While waiting for their turn the boys pulled out a game to help pass time.



Morning devotions.




These two girls!




DOUBLE TROUBLE!!




Caleb Lindsey helping out on arrangements.  This young man is extremely talented and his future is bright to say the least.  As well as recording all the recent Lindsey Family CD's  he did an exceptional job on our CD!  Looking for a place to record??? Call this guy.


Plenty of good memories made in this kitchen.  We shared daily family devotions as we gathering around the supper table singing before our meals.




Four Blondie's = Lots of fun.
 These four grew very close as the week passed by.




These two girls love, love, loved spending their time together and had plenty of it while the family was recording.





May through October we traveled the Midwest, south and other parts of the US. Through all our travels we realized that we live in one of the most beautiful places in the country. We are so thankful to live in a place where we have four different seasons to enjoy even though we did miss autumn and the leaves changing color this year.




Home safe and sound at long last.  Thank you Lord for this bus that is our home on the road.

1 Kings 8:13 "I have indeed built you an exalted house, a place for you to dwell in forever."