Category Archives: Camping Activities

Rabbit Stew and Snow

I have been listening to folks complain about the cold and snow all across the country since November.  I thought I could bring a little smile to everyone, whether you are tired of the cold or not.  February brought some new additions to our critter clan, which led to some photo opportunities as usual.  One of our rabbits had 5 kits (baby rabbits) and the girls have been having a blast taking care of them.  At first, the momma didn’t seem to be feeding them enough to please Lydia, so her 11 year old Veterinarian instincts kicked in.  The girls held the momma and let each of the babies nurse at least 2 times each day.  After their eyes opened, they had enough spunk to chase her down so they were less concerned.  It is amazing how fast they go from pink hairless and helpless to fuzzy and hoppish.

After I had the bright idea of sticking the little hoppers in the bowl, I had a mission to complete after they opened their eyes.  My sense of humor kicked in and I had to get a different shot with them in the bowl with a few added props.  Behold, the Rabbit Stew Starter Kit, complete with Scholl Bus rabbits and a Wholly Bowlly bowl.  The bowl is one I didn’t like how it turned out, so we had been keeping loose change in it.  I felt I needed to throw that disclaimer in there so somebody wouldn’t get upset because their bowl was previously peed in (true story, we had a leaky hopper)…

I had to go to the North Carolina Mountains to help my dad as he recovered from back surgery.  Thankfully everything went great with that, so I had time to enjoy the scenery with the winter wonderland.  The weather was bitter cold the night I arrived in Boone, a balmy -3 degrees with high winds.  I tried to get up to dads shop to park because I didn’t think I could get up the steep driveway to the house.  I couldn’t get to the shop without going to a local country store to put chains on my truck.

The next day I had to go get some groceries and other supplies, so I had a plan.  I bought heavy groceries (including a #20 turkey) and piled them behind the axle in the bed of the truck.  This extra weight, combined with my chains, allowed me to get up the driveway to the house.  Mountain ingenuity at its finest…

I also had the job of trying to help dad learn how to cook something healthy so he could quit eating boxed meals and pizza.  I roasted the turkey, sliced and bagged it for the freezer.  The bones were turned into broth, also divided and frozen.  Now he has some supplies to use in his stir fry (that I also helped him learn how to cook) with real veggies and mushrooms.

The last snow that fell during my stay in the mountains came in a fluffy variety.  It was not super cold when this snow arrived, so it had a little more weight to it.  I walked across the road early the morning after the snow to see if I could beat my 91 year old grandpa to the shoveling task for his sidewalk.  I barely made it before he came out to start shoveling, but I managed to squeak by.  He had to come out and measure how much had fallen over night with his trusty ruler that was most likely older than me.

As I cleared their steps and sidewalks, I took the time to enjoy the snow and listen to the creek and waterfall trickling just below their house.  Their split rail fences and rhododendron were very picturesque.  Grandma decided to surprise dad and I with a homemade blueberry pie later that day.

I am glad I have been around long enough to realize how important these little daily events are.  Daily frustrations can get you down, but if you step back long enough to look at a few snow flakes and listen to a creek trickle, your perspective can improve.  Hopefully my grandma (and her grin when she revealed a piece of the pie was missing because she had to be sure it was “Fit To Eat”) can give you something to smile about this winter.

December Swamp Time

December brought some travel for our crew, but that is nothing unusual.  There were several days we were able to enjoy the mild South Carolina weather.  Christmas Day turned out to be one of those days.  We walked to the back of the farm and down to the swamp.  The spring was bubbling away at the swamps edge, it was quiet and peaceful (before the girls arrived).  We all enjoy the sounds of birds and frogs that are down at the waters edge.  You never know when a giant Pileated Woodpecker will sound a warning call in a tree above you.

Chas and the girls traveled to Kentucky to spend time with her grandparents, and I made a separate trip to North Carolina to spend time with my family.  The small amount of farm animals we have (rabbits) require someone to be here so it is hard for us to take longer adventures without someone to critter-sit.  It was nice to spend Christmas Day with our girls.  A camp fire made the day complete…

June 2014 East Tennessee Crank-Up

The show started when we arrived, as usual, and set the bus up for the weekend.  Chas decided she wanted to raise the pop-up by herself, so I didn’t want to argue.  She managed to get it set up in just a few minutes, so we were able to relax that evening.

These two grease monkeys were a big help getting the leaves cleaned out of the Bessemer water tank so it could be filled up.  The water circulates through the engine to cool it while it is running.  That is a job I would have definitely done at their age with no persuasion required.  It is hard to stay clean with that much rust and grease available to play with, I have that problem too…



Here are a few more of the engines that were operating during the show.  I painted the red lettering on the Black Bear after the show in 2012.


I had to get my lathe hooked back up to the Mogul for some wood turning demonstrations.  I must admit, I would have been turning on this lathe even if nobody happened to be around to watch the demonstration.  The video shows some of the turning of the large green (unseasoned) walnut bowl.  The rough piece when mounted on the lathe weighed between 50 and 70 lbs.


After the show, we were all tired and needed to cool off.  We headed up to a favorite swimming spot, the Blue Hole, just a short drive from the show.  The cold water flows  out of the mountain a short distance up from the waterfall.

If you are going to be near Johnson City, Tennessee in early June come check out the show.  We can even take you to the Blue Hole for a swim…