Football Camp!

Last year Baylor QB Nick Florence broke the Baylor single season passing record, finishing with more passing yards and a better QB rating than Heisman winner Johnny Manziel. (Oh yeah, the previous Baylor record holder in that department was RG3. :-)

Nick's an active member of our church who has forsaken the NFL in favor of pursuing another path. Currently my son, Daniel, is participating in the 1st (presumably) annual Nick Florence Football Camp. The camp is held at Baylor's soon-to-be-replaced practice field, in the shadow of the venerable Floyd Casey Stadium. Here are a few shots which include Daniel about to bring in a pass, Nick showing Daniel proper QB posture, and Nick posing with Daniel.

Sic 'em!

catch

posture

daniel

Garden Time, Baby!

The garden this year, so far, is better than ever. Thanks in part to the chicken moat I installed a few weeks ago. See those chickens? Those are the bantams (minis). They live in a run that goes around the entire garden. The idea is they keep out weeds and bugs. Also, we've got the boys on a 7 to 7:30 a.m. weeding schedule, every week day. Been working great!

farm

carrot

Here's a bonus photo of our new mini peach tree. We also have two pear trees, a plum tree, and a fig tree. None of them have given us fruit yet, since we only started planting them about a year ago.

hi

Quick Portraits

I was messing around with a shoot-through umbrella and a wireless trigger. Thankfully the kids are always willing models.

oive

aboo

eo

Daniel The Tortilla Man

Brandi taught Daniel how to make tortillas. Nice! Nathan's already our oven fry maker (and egg cook for that matter), and now we have a resident tortilla guy.

daniel tort 1

daniel tort 2

Saturday Morning Photos

Actually, this first photo is from last night. Nathan has learned how to make oven fries, and he whips 'em up at will now. Brandi's done a good job of teaching the kids some kitchen skills. There are entire meals they know how to make on their own. It won't be long until they're waiting on Brandi and me 24/7. ;-)

fries

We buy raw milk from a farm a few miles up the road from us. To get a good deal we buy it in 5 gallon buckets and then transfer it to 1 gallon containers. This morning was a milk morning.

milk

The kids' trampoline mat finally arrived (the original got torn to shreds after 6 or 7 years of use) and I installed it this morning. Back to bouncing, kids!

bounce

bounced

Boys To Sell Eggs

Nathan (13) and Daniel (11) are starting an egg business. They bought 25 laying hen chicks a couple of weeks ago (delivered via the Post Office) and the little gals will be ready to lay in April. They're really excited about "having a job," and they'll be even more excited once they start to see cash in their hands. They've already had to shell out $60 or so to get the hens. Got to spend money to make money!

That little flock brings our farm poultry count up toward 70 birds. Seems to me we are deep in this thing now and there's no turning back. :-) Many of our birds free range around the property. Free ranging birds are nice for pest control and essential for the most nutritious eggs, but if your'e a control freak or have grumpy neighbors you might not want to try it ... unless you have something like 20 acres of property. Chickens like to roam.

Daniel On Assignment

I took Daniel with me to help assist me at a wedding shoot last weekend north of Austin.

This was quite a distinct wedding. It took place in a historic theater and immediately after the ceremony everyone watched an old school black and white movie. Daniel did great helping me position a flash during the movie, to bounce some light off the walls in order to get a decent pic of people watching the film.

bounce

Daniel also stuffed himself with candy, popcorn, and sodas. Good thing because after the movie came the reception ... and during the reception he started shooting like crazy. He wasn't shy about it either! He's taking this photography thing seriously. :-)

d1
d2

See Saw

We spent some time at the neighborhood park this afternoon. We love it because there's never anyone there. :-)

park

More on Flickr.

Joshua, Tonight

joshie

Eve On Rocking Chair

I shot this last night. Nothing formal, just messing around with lights, trying to figure stuff out.

evechair

Nathan The Assistant

This is from last night. Nathan assisted me on a photo shoot for the first time, holding my remote flash. He did great! ;-)

assist

Joshua, Bright Eyes

Just a couple of days ago ...

joshauabirght

Joshua Martin Guel

Joshua Martin Guel was born on June 15! He came in at a healthy 8 pounds. :-)

Every day he's getting more and more aware, and he's fit into our family perfectly. Abigail is "little mama" -- she loves holding him, caring for him, and helping Brandi with all the Joshua-related tasks. Evangeline is "little mama wannabe." She's getting there! The boys adore him too.

For the third time in a row, Brandi was able to deliver naturally (i.e., sans meds) and now she's done three vaginal deliveries in a row. Quite a feat since our first two babies were c-sections. We used a certified midwife (those gals actually train doctors how to deliver babies) and delivered at Providence Hospital in Waco. Interference from nurses, etc., was kept to a minimum, and, thankfully, we never had to see a doctor, since the midwife delivered the baby and there were no complications. After Joshua was born -- thanks to a detailed birth plan and the support of our midwife -- Brandi was able to have Joshua immediately, nurse him, and be with him for a solid hour before he was weighed and clothed by the nurses. It was an awesome experience.

The hospital was wonderful, and even gave us a complementary "Celebration Steak Dinner" in honor of our little boy.

Here's one of my favorite shots of Joshua so far. More to come!

joshua

Fishing!

We hung out with some friends last night and went to a private pond to do some fishing. Out of all the kids, Daniel was the only one who had ever caught a fish in his life. By the end of the evening we had a (small) cooler full of fish, and each kid had caught at least one -- even Eve!

Out at the pond.
pond

The boys.
boys

Isn't she gorgeous?
abby

Daniel's second fish ever!
second

Nathan's first fish! Too bad the photo is fuzzy ... oh well.
fuzzy

Abby's first fish!
abby 1st

Daniel caught the biggest fish of the night.
big

Yours truly helping Eve with her first fish. A bass!
bass

Ignore the dorky look on my face.
dorky

Loading 'em up.
load

Handcrafted Pillowcase By Abigail

Abigail made a pillowcase yesterday. She's quite the happy seamstress.

seamstress

Guels Plus Eight

We hosted Sam and Jennifer and their children, a family of eight, for dinner last night, and we actually successfully (and comfortably!) fit 10 people around our table and four at the adjacent bar. So a dinner for 14 went off without a hitch.

It was a fun-filled evening as we have plenty in common with this homeschooling family. They're older than we are by maybe 10 to 15 years, and that makes it even easier because their older kids are really good about working with the smaller ones. All of their kids are also pleasant to be around, and completely in love with our kids (and vice versa!). Their three-year-old girl loves two-year-old Evangeline; she calls Eve her baby and always wants to hug her and kiss her and, well, treat her like a baby. Sometimes it's a little too much attention for Eve, as we discovered when she let the older gal know with a two-handed shove. We forced them to work out their differences like adults. ;-)

After dinner we all went outside (by that time it was pleasant outside); the kids ran around the property like maniacs, jumped on the trampoline, chased chickens, collected eggs, enjoyed our 16 ducks hanging out in the Duck Yard, and had an all out good time. (I even think our enormous dog jumped on Sam at one point.) Brandi engaged Jennifer in deep conversation while I eventually challenged Sam and his oldest boy to games of chess on our picnic table.

Alas, the kids were pretty petered out by the time their friends rolled away. It was a good night.

Evangeline, Chickens, and Squirrels

Evangeline is so beautiful it's almost ridiculous:
eve

Things are going well enough around here. We're in the throes of winter, and we're burning through a fair amount of wood to heat our house.

A couple of weeks ago I discovered that a "hen" we bought from a lady a few months ago actually grew up to be a rooster. I was agitated because extra roosters are pretty much worthless around a farm. You really only want one rooster for every dozen hens or so, and we already have a rooster! As it turns out, we now have three roosters (four if you count the bantam rooster). Hold on ... we actually have eight flippin' roosters because four of them are still not yet full grown chicks.

Once all of the chick roosters grow up, they're all dead. We'll kill them all (except for our original rooster) and use them for chicken soup. Killing and processing birds is officially no longer a big deal for us. It takes a bit of preparation, but it's definitely worth the time and effort.

Speaking of killing, there's this squirrel that's been eluding me for weeks now. I've seen the little rascal go into our chimney on more than one occasion, and by the time I get my bb gun from the house ... he's gone like Houdini. Squirrels are a big time pest around here. They eat the chicken feed we throw out; they chew on wires; and they get into all sorts of things like chimneys and crevices around the property. I can't stand those little fluffy-tailed rats. I'm glad there are no ordinances against killing squirrels in the country.

Swamped

I've been swamped at work, so not much time for posting these days.

Things are going well at the farm. Last year around this time our chickens were only giving us, on average, one egg per day. This year we tried a new (to us) strategery [sic] by leaving a light on in the barn to extend their "daylight hours." It's worked! We're getting maybe 4 or 5 eggs a day these days. It also helps that we have four more new laying hens. Come spring time we'll probably get a dozen eggs a day. Yay!

We still don't use 70 percent of our land. It's just there, looking pretty. That sort of annoys me, but it's nice to know that one day we'll fence it off and start by putting some meat and dairy goats on it. They say goats are a poor man's cow. :-) We have actually eaten goat burgers and goat fajita burritos -- and we liked them! We also like goat milk. So it'll be a start ... maybe this spring? We'll see.

So for your viewing pleasure, here's an early morning shot of our two young duck hens:

ducks

And here's one of the photos from our Christmas card session (this shot was taken by Brandi; she did a great job!):

xmas

Random Shots

- We successfully hatched seven chicks that were "incubated" by our broody duck mama. Yes, our duck hatched chicken eggs. Brandi said Abigail is quite the chick mommy now. (More on this later.)

- On Halloween trick-or-treaters drive from house to house in our neighborhood, since it would take forever to walk. Guess they'll do anything for candy.

- Our remaining two duck hens (from the ones we hatched back in June) are getting used to flying around the property.

- Duck tastes like dark meat chicken. For real.

- I hope to heat the house this winter using nothing but wood. Last winter I think we heated the house with 80 percent wood, 10 percent gas, and 10 percent electric. Hopefully we can conquer that 20 percent this year. We'll see.

Daniel's Quotation

Brandi said her and the kids went for a walk today and nine-year-old Daniel pointed to a sweeping field and said, "Look at that beautiful field! I'm so glad we live in the country."

That made me very happy. Our little farm and our entire beautiful rural neighborhood are like an endless kingdom to our little imaginative children.

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