Harrison Farm

for now, the only thing we're growing on this farm is kids - not the goat variety

Month: June 2009

Water Play


The weather here in southeast Tennessee has been very hot and dry. We've had temperatures in the mid to upper 90s for a few weeks now with little to no rain. The grass is dying, and though the garden has a thick mulch layer, we've had to start watering it regularly.

In past years we've been able to cool off in our next door neighbor's pool. But since it is out of commission this season (which is probably a mercy for Carman with his broken arm), the kids are finding other ways to cool off this season - primarily dousing themselves in the water hose.

This morning, Doodle and Rosebud played intently in the shade with some cups and a big pot of water. Pouring water and floating cups never looked so fun!

Last Week – Bar Codes and a Cast


Whew. Last week was an unusual one for us. For starters, Marathon's slightly famous brother came to visit, which is always fun.

While he was here Carman fell/jumped off our rope swing and broke his right arm. Hence the green (his color choice) cast that should come off in 4 weeks. In the meantime, no cycling or swimming. Ouch! During his past few sedentary days, he's been doing some extra reading, learning some music theory and some very basic chords on the guitar (primarily using his left hand.) Tonight he called us all outside to see a beautiful sunset - something I don't remember him doing before.

The second bit of news is that we're going to (hopefully) be selling a couple of Marathon's organizing products on Amazon very soon. To do this, we had to get a very official-looking bar code sticker to put on our products which should be arriving at an amazon.com fulfillment center soon. We're anxious to see how this goes. We had thought about doing this sometime in the future. After talking about and researching it last Sunday afternoon, we decided to go for it. Thursday morning, in our pajamas, we finished pulling things together and sealed our shipping box.

What are we selling? It's something I've been planning to blog about for a while. It's a nifty little product for which we keep finding practical uses. More on that soon.

Bruise-Be-Gone with Witch Hazel

image compliments of flickrs sea turtle

image compliments of flickr's sea turtle


I'm one of those souls who bruises easily. I'll occasionally find a large bruise, and I'll have no recollection of how I got it. For a long time I've suspected that witch hazel, an astringent produced from the leaves and bark of the North American Witch Hazel shrub, helps me not bruise. Now I have proof.

A couple of days ago I whacked my right shin on a stool. The skin turned pinkish almost immediately. It hurt!

I dropped what I was doing, soaked a cotton ball with witch hazel, and dabbed it on my sore shin for a couple of minutes. The discoloration faded quickly and now there is not a hint of blue or purple bruising on my skin!

There seems to be a correlation between how soon the witch hazel is applied and its effectiveness. If I wait until my skin is already turning blue, the astringent doesn't seem to make much of a difference at all.

I did a quick search and it seems that witch hazel is helpful for other ailments too from relieving pain from varicose veins, to soothing the itchiness and swelling of poison ivy, to helping nicks and cuts heal. Have you had success using witch hazel? Seems like handy stuff to have around.

Carman — Gaining Manly Skills

My first born is growing up and becoming more and more capable, tackling man-sized jobs. About a year ago, I stopped reaching for a butter knife to knock on difficult-to-open lids in favor of having Carman handle the job for me. I think he likes it. 🙂

After a bike ride yesterday, he noticed his front tire looking low. This morning it was very low, so he set out to patch it. He'd walked through these steps a couple of times with Marathon, and now he's perfectly comfortable getting out the patch kit, removing the tire, locating the problem in the tube, getting the tire pumped back up and put back on.

By the time I thought about taking pictures of the process, he already had the tube repaired and was inspecting the tire. There! He found it! A tough thorn had punctured his tire. He pulled it out and carried on with the process. Can do! Gotta love that attitude - and the rooster-tail hair.

Gatlinburg-Area Suggestions

At the base of Chimney Tops after our hike

As stated in my previous post, we recently took a trip with extended family to the Gatlinburg area. There is so much to do there, I thought I'd report on what worked well for us, as well as what didn't.

Good - my sis-in-law suggested that each family be responsible for 2 dinner-time meals since we had kitchens in the condos where we stayed. That provided a nice meal-prep break for each of us for most of the week.

Bad - driving on the Pigeon Forge strip on a Sunday. Lots of traffic.

Good - riding go-carts before noon. You get a 2-for-1 deal. The big kids and Marathon did this on a weekday.

Good - Wonderworks, the goofy, upside down looking building in Pigeon Forge. Marathon, Carman, & Sudoku spent hours there and would have stayed longer if time had permitted. It was like a really well-done discovery museum. Simulated earthquake, mind resting game, a design-your-own-roller-coaster-and-ride-it chair, lazer tag, etc. For the money spent, they felt like they got a great deal. Again, they did this on a weekday.

Bad - taking a family bicycle ride through Gatlinburg on a holiday weekend. Crowds and cars forced us to walk our bikes. "Riding bikes around. That's a good idea," I heard one woman say. Her husband shot her a questioning look. We were pushing our bikes at the time. Our goal was not to ride through Gatlinburg. We just wanted to find a place to park (not easy) and cycle out of town to bike on the the 5-mile, 1 way nature trail. We made it through town, but the hills in getting to the trail proved to be too much for Sudoku and I. So we all headed back to the van. So much effort for nothing. Well, not nothing. We learned. And now you can know too!

Good - a 2-mile hike to the Chimney Tops. We took it slow and easy so that we could accommodate the 4-year olds. It was a strenuous hike, but they made it all the way. In the photo above, we're at the base of Chimney Tops after our hike.

Good & Bad - riding bicycles downhill from Clingman's Dome. Marathon and Carman did this. They tell me it was great, exhilarating, but also nerve-racking when cars got impatient with them and tried to pass them on a curve. I'm glad I didn't see that. Carman's favorite moment was when he started gaining on some Sunday-driving motorcycles. The biker last in line noticed Carmen's bicycle gaining on him, looked shocked, and gave his motor the gas.

Good - Ober-Gatlinburg. This was a great outing for the 4-year olds. My brother's family and my parents took Doodle along with them. He had a wonderful day. Most rides there are free for children under 6. (Or maybe it was 6 and under?)

Good - playing games in the evenings and on rainy afternoons.

Good - taking it easy at the condo.

Good and Bad - our bike ride through Cades Cove. The ride is nice, but the weekend traffic was really bad. When we do it again, we'll go on a Wednesday or Saturday morning when the road is closed to motor vehicles before 10am.

Biking Cades Cove

We recently returned from a fun extended-family trip to Gatlinburg. On our way home, we drove through the Smokies to the 11-mile, 1-way Cades Cove loop and biked it as a family. Here is some of the family after the ride, taking it easy in the grass and watching some horses. (Carman really isn't a grumpy sort of boy; he just plays one in photos.)

The weather was perfect. If only we had known soon enough that the road had been closed to motor vehicles earlier that morning. Oh well, we'll know for next time. The weekend traffic was horrendous, but we're still glad we did it.

We started off with Rosebud on my back, and Doodle on his little seat on the front of Marathon's bike. When we were about halfway through our ride, and the hills didn't seem to be subsiding, and I was still the pokey one, Marathon took Rosebud on his back. He was quite the sight, sandwiched between two little people.

While making the loop we saw deer, 3 black bears, and a rattlesnake - all at a safe distance.

After our bike ride, we decided to take the 1-way dirt road out of the national park that put us closest to home. That was an adventure for our van, especially considering the 4-bike hitch on the back. We crossed fords and spun our tires a bit. Carman nearly hit the roof when Marathon mentioned using the Traction Control System. How could he, the Carman, have not known that our base model Odyssey has a Traction Control System? How?

Baby Powder Beats Ants

I have ants - little black ones - that occasionally come in my kitchen sink window sill and scout around. The don't seem very smart - not like the ants we had on the farm. Those ants would find the residue from a wiped up honey drop, call all their brothers and cousins and neighbors, and march them all in a straight line to pile up on that spot. Once inside, they found all kinds of goodies that had escaped my notice.

Not these city ants. They just scout around, often not calling anyone to join them, and when they do invite company, they don't to the single file line thing.

BUT, whether your ants walk in a line or not, my neighbor shared her non-toxic solution with me.

Baby powder.

Why? I don't know and neither does she. But even the store brand works! I sprinkled some in my window sill, and the ants won't cross that line of baby powder. Thought you'd like to know. Ants be gone.

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