Loving Arizona

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Our few days in Arizona have been great. We headed up to Sedona for a few days before my meetings start on Wednesday.

The Red Rocks are AWESOME. I've got some great photos to share, but our internet connection here isn't great and I'm having all sorts of trouble getting things uploaded to blogger.

We spent today roadtripping up to the Grand Canyon. Words can't even begin to describe the enormity of it. It is truly a site to see. Pictures simply do not do it justice.

I'll get photos up when we get back to Phoenix...enjoy the snow back in Illinois (I can't believe I'm missing it -- I'm probably the only one in Champaign who loves snow!). We'll be enjoying the warm sun and almost 70 degrees here tomorrow.

Jet Setters

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Well, we enjoyed our couple days at home, had a great Thanksgiving with family and packed our bags again.

Ron and I headed to Phoenix this morning. A few days of relaxing and sightseeing to celebrate our first anniversary and then its two days of meetings for me. The last traveling (for me any way) until 2009. Ron has a couple more meetings, but all within driving distance. We're ready to put the suitcases at the back of the closet again.

Our layover in Denver provided a little different scenery than it did a week ago. They had snow last night. It made quite a visual show on the center point irrigation and the Rockies were very pretty.

Note: Check back later for photos, I'm having trouble getting them uploading tonight.

One Month To Go

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

No, not Christmas, you sillies.......one month until my little nephew is due!

We're anxiously awaiting Jackson's arrival. In fact, the baby showers were just over a month ago and I've been meaning to get some photos up...

I'll help you aunt Melissa!

Don't mess with the shower games master

Whirlwind of Activity, Lack of Blogging

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

We've traveled over 2,000 miles in the last week across several states (mostly by air) and when I last left you we were in Reno at the Entomological Society of America meetings. I'm going to back post some of the activities as the past several days have been jammed packed with travel, family, farming, some deer hunting, and the flu. We were delayed leaving my parents house Sunday night for Champaign -- after 24 hours of throwing up, Ron convinced me to go E.R. With some great anti-naseau meds and some fluids they got me back on track. We were able to head home Tuesday morning. This afternoon I'm catching up on some emails, blog reading, and resting some aching stomach muscles.

So continue reading for the recap over the last couple of days...

Carrier Monkey
Since the whole family was going to be home, we decided to have our Thanksgiving on Saturday night. Everyone got home late Thursday night which meant we had several days to spend together.

Madison had a touch of the flu Thursday night and when we saw them later in the weekend ...well, let's just say we are affectionately calling Madison the little carrier monkey. By Saturday afternoon Grandma was sick, soon to be followed later that night by myself, Papa, and Erik. Unfortunately for me, my round of sickness lasted much longer than the other's and our Saturday Thanksgiving dinner is something I'd much rather forget right now. Luckily, Ron and my sister Melissa (who is 8 months pregnant) managed to avoid catching that awful virus. Stacy on the other hand lasted until Sunday night before succumbing to flu.

Despite the flu, we still love our little germ carrying Maddy--

Coloring a picture for Aunt Kelly

Having a popsicle with Aunt Melissa


Saturday, November 22, 2008

From Reno, we headed to my parents house - to help with harvest, for deer hunting, and since everyone was going to be home, have our family Thanksgiving.

There's still quite a bit a corn in the fields in northern Illinois. It's coming out at a steady pace, but it will be about another 2 weeks before we're done. All that corn in the neighbors fields also provided plenty of hiding spots for deer. Ron, Erik, and Troy all came up empty handed, but Nathan was able to get himself a 10-point buck.

Ron spent quite a bit of time in the combine, rather than the deer stand, which by the way, was probably warmer than being stuck in the tree all day.

I got a trip with dad to Bunge in on Saturday. We truck our corn to the rail, to the river, ADM, local elevators, or store it on farm. Agri-Bunge is on the Mississippi River and is about an hour - round trip (if there isn't a wait). Here are a few pics from earlier this fall and one from this last weekend.

Leaving on a Jet Plane

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Were we ever ready to leave Reno last Thursday. The meeting was great, hotel wonderful, and the convention center was nice. But let me give you the low down. If you're going to Reno to gamble, it's your kind of town, but if you're looking for a weekend getaway, I'd probably look elsewhere.

The mountains surrounding Reno are beautiful, and we wish would would have had time rent a car and visit Lake Tahoe. We were told it was worth the trip (maybe next time - the annual meeting will head back to Reno in a couple of years. Our little sightseeing trip to downtown Reno had a few bright spots, but overall, it seems like a dirty town.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Ron's off to a lunch meeting with Pioneer about Optimum AcreMax and I've got a little free time today, so I thought I'd drop a few photos in the blog. It's a lot more fun than what I should be doing -- getting my notes together on the book chapter I have due the first part of December. Yikes!

At any rate, relaxing in the room is great. We've been at presentations and talks for the past two days. They've been pretty good and we've heard about a lot of research going on around the U.S. Today's a pretty slow day in terms of talks on field crop insects and invasives. I think we're taking some time to do some sightseeing this afternoon.

During this trip, I've also figured out something I'd love Santa to bring me for Christmas -- a new bathroom. This is going to sound corny, but I love the bathroom here at the hotel.

For one, its HUGE - we already have doubel sinks, but its just not the same.

Two, it has a huge tub.

And three, it has a tv. I'm loving getting ready in the morning and being able to watch the news.

So, while I'm enjoying views of the Sierra Nevadas, if anyone has any input on "Terrestrial Invasives of the Great Lakes", feel free to email...

We're in Reno, Baby!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

That's right, we are in the "Biggest Little City in the World".

Staying at the Peppermill...

...I've never seen so many neon lights in one place before!

We're not really here on vacation, work brings us to Nevada. But, we'll still have a little fun!

Self Portrait Saturday

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Back by popular demand (all right, it was just Jamie who asked, but her opinion means a lot).

Nothing like a self portrait in the tractor...I figured I better take a photo of myself since no one else was going to do it :)

Enjoy Fall......

Friday, November 14, 2008

...because winter is right around the corner

100 Combines

Thursday, November 13, 2008

This is an email I received awhile back that I found in my inbox yesterday. How great is this?

100 Combines

Record setting harvest was done in 2008, in Norton, Kansas 160 acres was harvested with 100 combines and several grain trucks in 10 minutes and 15 seconds.

This record will be entered in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Proceeds of this crop is to be sent to a kids camp.

Thats how we get it done in Kansas.

(A great photo for the John Deere fans out there!)

JailBird No More

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

This morning I served my time "behind bars". I owe a HUGE
Thank You

to everyone who donated money to a great cause. With your help I was able to raise over $700 for MDA. YOU ARE AWESOME!

Comedic Relief
1500 acres down...about 1000 more to go. Some comic relief is definitely needed since it continues to rain :(

Here's the 411: Madison loves to play on the swingset at Grandma's. Fluffy (the cat) loves Madison - where ever she is, he is. Now Madison continues to amaze us each time we see her. She's learned to climb up the ladder to the slide and slide down all by herself (under grandma or papa's watchful eye). It seems that the cat has also taken a fancy to playing on the slide. They race up the ladder, Maddy slides down, and then Fluffy slides down. I didn't really believe it until I saw with my own eyes.

Not the greatest videos...but I can't not share them (how's that for a double negative). The whole event was captured on three short video clips and unfortunately the last is sideways - hopefully we can catch it on one good video sometime soon. I'd recommend turning the volume off; it was a very windy day and there is a lot of noise.

Batter Up (Or Something Like That)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

After last week's post on harvest, my mom thought it was funny to send me the line up for working at home this week. Believe me, that is quite a crew. No "position" designations, although it looks like Nathan may be getting the short end of the stick. I hope that means he doesn't get stuck driving the Red Pete (more to come on this later this week, let's just say no one but dad likes driving that semi).

That's guite an employee organizational sheet isn't it? You may also notice that dad remembered Monday is mom's day to babysit Madison....see how easy this method works to revamp plans on the fly?

Timber !

Monday, November 10, 2008

Bright and early Saturday morning, Steve from Burnett's Tree Service called and said they'd head our way to remove the trees we'd talked to him about earlier in the week. For those of you that haven't seen our neighborhood, its in an older part of Champaign with well established trees. We have 4 pine trees in our backyard. They're old, they shed a lot of needles, and they prevent any sun from getting back there to let very much grass grow.

We decided at some point we'd like to get them taken out. It would give us a little more room in the backyard and Abbey really would like some more grass back there. Never fear, there are still plenty of pine trees in the neighbor's yard.

Any way Steve has been in the neighborhood cutting some other older trees down and after getting a great quote, we moved tree cutting up in our home remodel schedule as well as the budget.

I ran out and got some before pictures before they came on Saturday:

Steve brought in his bucket truck, several people, and even a tree climber. While the trees came down pretty fast, they'll be back today to clean up the trunks and any remaining branches. I'll post some "after" photos tomorrow.

Happy Birthday Dawn!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

It's Dawn's birthday today...and despite the stresses of finishing her PhD, she has lots to celebrate - a new job and recently engaged. Here's to having a great day!

Jamie, myself, and Dawn this past summer at softball

Halloween Flashback

Friday, November 7, 2008

I suppose since Halloween was last week I had better share our trick or treat stories before they go out of style.

While at home, the girls took off Sunday afternoon for "The Great Pumpkin Patch" in a neighboring town. Needless to say, we were a little disappointed in its greatness. We really didn't need to buy pumpkins since my parents have their own pumpkin patch and it had been picked clean of the miniature pumpkins, squash, indian corn, popcorn, and of course the gigantic pumpkins we could hardly lift.

Maddy's pumpkin she picked out at Grandma's

But, the Great Pumpkin Patch promised a petting zoo, train rides, maze, haunted house, and more. Well, we were more than disappointed. The train wasn't working and the petting zoo consisted of 2 alpacas, a pony, 3 goats, 2 rabbits, 6 ducks, and a some turkeys. We did get to check some pumpkins out on hayracks and catch a few cute snapshots of Maddy in a little truck. Did I mention the wind was blowing 40+ mph. We didn't stay too long.

Looking at the goats

I think next year we'll have to check out the pumpkin patch Jen and family visited. It looks very cool.

Madison helped me carve some pumpkins for Grandma's house Monday night. Later in the week I carved one for Melissa (she's not allowed to use sharp knives anymore)and baby Jackson who's expected around Christmas. I don't think they turned out too bad.

Getting the icky stuff out

Pumpkins for Jackson, Aunt Kelly, and Madison

And last but not least the Halloween costumes -- cutest goes to Madison in her sweet little kitty costume.

Cute little kitty and Grandpa


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

2500 hundred acres doesn't get harvested overnight, or in a week or in even two. It takes time...and that's if everything goes your way. Mother Nature always seems to think she needs to make her presence known. Break downs will cease all activity. And of course, tractors don't drive themselves (well most don't anyway). It takes a lot of time, people, and effort to run a farm.

For most of the year, my dad takes care of business himself. Throw in the cow-calf operation and he's busy from sun up until sun down. When harvest rolls around, the crew around the Cook Farm drastically increases. And it varies from week to week. Friends, family, and seasonal help all help make sure harvest gets done.

We laugh at home because dad will sit at the kitchen table and scratch out who's going to be there the next day along with what they're going to be doing. I wish I would have gotten a photo or two of one of these lists. There's no replicating the real thing but they'd go something like this:


Doesn't it kind of remind you of a batting order? And then there's the positions. Only Dad knows that those mean - Semi at home, combine, cart, Hilldale semi, Milledgeville semi, turbo-till. You don't want to be at the end of the batting order - you might get stuck with a crappy job.

We were pretty lucky to be at the top of the "batting order". Our "positions" never changed. Of course that meant that Ron spent the better part of 12 hours in the combine each day. Just like shiftwork....

Wordless Wednesday

My Ride

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

My job during harvest - driving the grain cart. My daylight hours were spent in the cab of this tractor.

It's not a bad job, I must admit. Follow the combine, when they need to unload, you're there and when the grain cart is full, you take it to the semi. Now, I'm not quite the speed racer as described by Farming Fabulously, but I think I do an above average job.

The great thing about my week in the tractor this year -- a new grain cart. Now there was nothing wrong with the old one, but the new one is AWESOME!

What's so darn neat about this grain cart? The video cameras! There are 2 cameras on the cart. One is at the back of the cart so you can see what's behind you. Which isn't entirely necessary when you're in the field, but when we're moving fields, its great to be able to see what's behind you on the road. The second camera is at the top of the auger spout - I can see directly into the semi when unloading. Its a little hard to get a good read on depth, but very fun to use. Not the greatest photos, but you still get the idea.

Back to Champaign

Monday, November 3, 2008

Well, obviously I didn't follow through with my attempt to keep my blog updated daily. The last week and a half flew by and we were VERY busy. There was a lot of time spent in the field, but I was able to sneak away for a trip to "The Great Pumpkin Patch" with Stacy and Maddy, had some Halloween fun and went to 2 baby showers this last weekend. There were lots of little things that happened day to day, so I'll try to recap over this next week.