A bit about us...

We are a modern family of three, living on less than two acres with a 3,000 square foot garden that meets our produce needs and allows us to share with friends and neighbors. Our laying flock of chickens seems to expand each year as we raise chicks each Spring to replace older hens. This blog is more of a journal, if you will, for us to chronicle and share our experiences in the yard, garden and kitchen. It is our hope that along the way a few folks might learn something, be entertained, or simply enjoy sharing in our stories and the lessons we learn on a daily basis. I named the blog after the times when I am the happiest, when I am elbow deep in earth.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Father's Day Tradition

tra·di·tion [truh-dish-uhn] (From Dictionary.com)
1. the handing down of statements, beliefs, legends, customs,information, etc., from generation to generation, especially by word of mouth or by practice
2. something that is handed down
3. a long-established or inherited way of thinking or acting
4. a continuing pattern of culture beliefs or practices.
5. a customary or characteristic method or manner

Kiddie Sundae and JUNIOR Peanut Butter Cup
Family traditions are important. In most cases, they create loads of great memories and give us things to look forward to. For Father's day each year, we go to The Parlour in Jackson for lunch and a ridiculously huge portion of ice cream goodness. It used to be known as the Jackson All Star Dairy, and was a great memory from Shane's childhood. His grandparents had a beautiful place in Manitou Beach they affectionately called "The Ponderosa." Often, on trips to see them, Shane's family would make a point to visit Jackson All Star Dairy for treats. We began taking Lexi out there when she was just 3 and haven't missed a year since. Granted, she's only 6 now, but it still qualifies as our tradition!

We love The Parlour for it's varied selection, reasonable prices, atmosphere, fun little arcade and HUGE portions.  There is something just entertaining about them bringing a huge pile of ice cream with toppings that you know you will never be able to devour.  You can see from the picture, even the "kiddie" portion is more than an adult needs.

After lunch, dessert and time in the arcade, we headed out to make our way home.  Shane had seen signs for some wineries on the way over and so we decided to stop at one we had heard some nice things about.  We  pulled into Sandhill Crane Winery and I immediately noticed their sign indicating that they are "Environmentally Certified."  While I admit that I am not certain what this entails, I trust it means a commitment to responsible farming habits and minimizing chemicals that can damage humans and groundwater alike.  This made me happy, until we parked and I was greeted with rows and rows of dead grass beneath their grapes, meaning a powerful herbicide such as Round Up had been used to produce such damage.  (And right below the grapes no less...)  This seemed contradictory to environmental certification of any kind, but I have pretty harsh feelings about Round Up and its creator company, Monsanto.  As I said, I don't really know what the certification requirements are, but I now have my doubts.  We went in, found a seat at a round table and waited to be helped with some samples.  We waited, and waited and waited.  I thought maybe they were apprehensive to serve us, since the little one was with us, but the next table over had 3 children and they were sampling away.  We gave them plenty of time to help the existing tables and when no one so much as spoke to us for nearly 30 minutes, we decided they must not want our money.  I can't say I recall ever stopping and tasting at a winery that I didn't take at LEAST one or two bottles home with me.  We figured it was their loss and left.

Just up the road, we saw a sign for another winery, Lone Oak Vineyard Estate (L.O.V.E.). Given our first attempt at tasting was a dud, we thought it worth a shot. We pulled in and there were beautiful rows of grapes with weeds and grass and lots of nature surrounding them. It was marvelous. They immediately served us, bringing Lexi ice water to "taste." They were friendly, knowledgeable and not terribly surprised to hear about our experience at the previous stop. We took home a bottle of their White Merlot and will most definitely be back to see them again.

Beautiful young buck in velvet
Our last stop was one of curiosity, the Whitetail Deer Hall of Fame Museum, located just off 94.  The door to the building marked Museum was locked with a note indicating that we should follow the path to another building.  To make a long story short, we were unimpressed.  The animals appeared in good health and there were fawns to see, which was great for Lexi.  However, they did not have nearly enough land to run in, being fenced on all sides and were being fed far too many apples by visitors, which was taking a toll on their digestive systems.  It fell like a zoo and that was distressing.  We hoped the Museum and barn of farm goodies would be worth our entry fee since we were not impressed by the animal care.  The large barn, we were told, was full of cool antique farm implements and tools.  We began to walk through and quickly discovered that this man was a collector of certain things, having maybe 50-75 on one type of item hanging and that all the items were placed around what could only be described as his playground equipment.  He had a tennis court inside the barn, table tennis, workout equipment and the like.  This was also unimpressive. We made our way into the "Museum" to find lots of photos and mounts and general junk collected. We spent about 30 seconds inside the building and made the decision to call our $11.00 lost.

Tiny white fawn lying in the grass along the fence
The one redeeming quality was that we were able to see white deer up close and that is a rare treat. I had only seen one in my life, the one that had lived near Tecumseh for a time.  She was memorialized on the north side of town by the local Native Americans after being unfortunately struck by a car.

We had some strikeouts this Father's Day, but we had some home runs too. Most importantly, we spent time as a family celebrating what a wonderful Father Shane is to Lexi. That is a tradition well worth continuing!

Now for the educational portion of this post...  :-)
Here's a little information on White Whitetail Deer (in case you only thought deer could only be white if they were albino):

White deer (From Wikipedia)

"Seneca, New York maintains the largest herd of white deer. White pigmented white-tailed deer began populating the deer population in the area now known as the Conservation Area of the former Seneca Army Depot. The U.S. Army gave the white deer protection while managing the normal colored deer through hunting. The white deer coloration is the result of a recessive gene.

There is a herd of white fallow deer located near Argonne National Laboratories, in central Illinois.

White tail fawns are born a brown or tan color with a spotted white pattern. Sometimes these fawns can be born with a grey appearance, making them seem dirty. The coats then become pure white in the middle of their second year, sometimes mistaken for albino deer.

Albino whitetail deer appear to have pink skin with a pure white coat, and the irises are usually pink as well. There is no such thing as a partial albino, true albino deer have little or no melanin in their bodies. Their color is mainly white because it lacks any pigments, making the skin appear pink because the flowing blood can be seen through the skin. Their white coats make them especially vulnerable to predators."

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