Sunday, July 31, 2011

Until Laters

Clay is heading out to Utah for a new job and won't see Miss Hannah for a while. So we met for dinner in Port Huron last night. Of course, we walked down to the river and watched freighters slide under the Bluewater Bridge.

Earlier this week we visited with the Chicago Clark family and discovered that Miss Sophia really does not like to say goodbyes. So, in keeping with a child's wisdom, we say "until later" instead of goodbye to Clay and wish him loads of luck in his new job. May it be meaningful work with challenges that grow the mind and the spirit. Good luck, Clay!

In this photo: Hannah, Wendy, Peter, Clay, Ed

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Saturday, July 30, 2011

July Nights

Fireflies scatter sparkles across the lawn. Trees stand in inky silhouette against the fading horizon touched by peach and navy. Stars poke gingerly, then boldly, in the heavenly dome overhead.

July nights -- warm with cricket creaks and the engine growls of an occasional car -- are a time to sit outside and savor the calm of the height of the summer.

Cellphone photo
Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Friday, July 29, 2011

Tree Frog

Ed caught a photo of this little guy who came scritch-scratching on the screen in his upstairs office at the farmhouse on Wednesday night. The cellphone image is not as colorful as Ed says this frog actually is. Check out the feet! Quite a biological assembly of toes and webbing and feet, these little guys have.

Cellphone phone by Ed Eichler

Thursday, July 28, 2011


The Clark family was packing for their road trip to Wisconsin in the Chevy Volt which has a vanity plate named after a character (and a toy) that looks like a car but transforms into a movie cartoon character.

So, I asked Finny (left) and Max to pose with the Jolt. These two kids are growing up with a car that plugs in to the wall every night. A typewriter will be a vintage curiosity for them and, consequently, they will probably never have to use carbon paper or erasable bond. Lucky guys.

Photo ephemera:

++ Grandpa's weed whip is on the floor on the right of the Volt.
++ John and Liesl, in the shadows on the left.
++ The hatchback cover, raised high for packing.
++ The left door comes to a point in this view of the Volt.
++ No shoes on Finny -- pretty typical.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Hosta Trumpet

Often admired for its broad leaves, a hosta plant also sends up long wands of flowers. This flower is one of hundreds of trumpets now blossoming on the hostas at Cedar Bluff this July.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


I took three children -- my two grandsons and their Chicago cousin -- into the show ring yesterday at the Huron Community Fair. Together we presented the Grand Champion Pen of Lambs trophy to Ashley Glaza.

With wood shavings at our feet, the bleating of the lambs, and the parade of 4H and FFA kids showing their sheep, it was a day to think about where meat comes from and how lambs are raised. These kids can tell you about rate of gain and alfalfa and body contour. They know about feeding twice a day. They know how to exercise and train a lamb.

My company, Graywood Designs, has presented the trophy for Grand Champion Pen for quite a few years now. It's an honor and pleasure to support the future of agriculture. Plus, its fun to be with these kids year after year.

In this photo: Left to right, Ashley's helper, Max Clark, Ashley Glaza, Wanda Eichler, Sophia Clark (the Chicago cousin), Finn Clark.

Previous post: Presenting the Lamb Trophy -- 2008

Photo by Ed Eichler

Monday, July 25, 2011

Storm Coming

A classic summer thunderstorm passed over the Thumb last night. Seen from Nugent Road west of Ubly around 9 pm, the storm crept across the landscape with its power and might displayed in this cloud wedge. Thunder and lightning started well after midnight over at the shoreline. The rain gauge registered .75 inches at Cedar Bluff; at Graywood Farm, the storm left over 2 inches of rainfall.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler
Panorama mode on Sony pocket camera

Sunday, July 24, 2011

High Five

Hannah was walking Gilbert The Dog when Grandma Wanda walked out to the gardens at Graywood Farm.

"High five, Hannah," said Grandma. Grandpa Ed (or was it Mom Wendy?) had the camera ready and this image of grandmother connecting with granddaughter was caught.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Wagon Train

The parade of wagons made by Al Bulgrien of the Sandusky area line the parking lot in downtown Pigeon on Friday, July 22 during the Farmers' Festival Craft Show. Mr Bulgrien recycles riding lawnmower parts and constructs the chassis and boxes for the little pull behind wagons.

We purchased the last wagon on the right in this train of wagons. Styled as a miniature hay wagon, the yellow and green trailor seats 4-6 children and will be used at Graywood Farm with our John Deere lawn tractors or the big Gator.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Friday, July 22, 2011

Prize Quilt, Prize Mom

Five years ago today -- July 22, 2005 -- my mother-in-law won the the best of show award at the Thumb Area Quilt Guild's Farmers' Festival Show with her quilt, "Pauline's Bouquet."  The quilt's pattern, Blooming Nine Patch, is a popular design that uses eight fabrics within close print and color families.

Now a resident at Country Gardens, Mom Eichler has continued her love of quilts. Just yesterday I took a small quilt that she and I worked on together over to her apartment. I hung the quilt on a wall where she could admire yet another quilt that she helped to make.

She's quite a quilting buddy and a prize mom.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Depot Daylilies

The daylilies that were planted last summer along the Rose Walk leading to the Pigeon Depot Museum in downtown Pigeon are a blast of color this week. Pigeon's Farmers' Festival starts on Thursday and downtown Pigeon looks pretty spiffed up.

A white pickup from Trost Farms is headed south on Main Street past the Pigeon Inn, one of several bars in town. The railroad track cuts through downtown from east to west, running past commercial buildings and residences.

More small town ephemera in this photo:

++ The classic red fire hydrant -- What would Main Street America be without these?
++ The gray and white garage type building in the right background is the old "Baerwolf Den." Once home of a collection of antique cars, now it houses part of the growing Agri-Valley Communications staff.
++ Overhead utility poles -- One of my father-in-law John Eichler's big dreams was getting rid of all of the poles and wires and paraphernalia hanging overhead in the downtown area of Pigeon. Dad Eichler has been gone since 1988. The poles are still here.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Fan Fun

These two guys captured my attention and then my heart at the Tiger Game on Saturday. They were sitting in front of us along with several wheelchair fans and their caregiver companions.

The Two Fans shook hands and made friends up and down their row. The Blue Fan (wearing the "cheer, cheer for Old Notre Dame" shirt)  jumped up and down when the White Sox scored so he was visibly in the minority. The Navy Fan cheered for the Tigers. Both were good natured and, at times, pleasantly loud with their enthusiasm for baseball.

Departing the game, we chatted. The Navy Fan, it turns out, is the dad of the Blue Fan. "He grew up here and I raised him, " Navy Dad said. "I don't know how he turned out this way, but we always have fun at the ballpark."

So here's a guy who grew up in southeast Michigan and is a Notre Dame and White Sox fan. He's at the Tiger game, expressing his Sox loyalties. In some parts of the world, this would be unheard of. But, in true American democratic tradition, we can go to the ball park and cheer for the team that we like. We call this free speech and on a Saturday afternoon, expressed as fan fun at a baseball game, it is a wonderful part of being a citizen of an incredible country.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Vendor Bees

The neon yellow shirts of the vendors at Comerica Park stand out against the crowd at Saturday's Tiger game. They look like bees hovering among the baseball fans as they sell drinks and eats at the baseball game.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Monday, July 18, 2011

Shore Bird

Framed by high grasses, a shore bird watches for prey from a rock. Original photo taken along White Rock Shoal on Lake Huron.

Photoshop sketch copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Three Handsome Guys

I was going to call this blog post "When Eichler Eyes Are Smilin' " since the three brothers all have such engagingly wonderful smiles in this image. Anyway, here are Uncle Neal, Uncle David, and my Ed, brothers caught by someone's camera in a handsome moment.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

First Daylily

The daylilies along the roadsides and in gardens have taken off like crazy this week. I welcomed this large lily as one of the first to bloom in the gardens at Cedar Bluff where we have over 25 varieties planted that bloom from mid-summer to Labor Day.

Daylilies are splendid summer flowers. As perennials, they come up year after year. They bloom for several weeks. They can be tall or not so tall. The plants at Cedar Bluff produce hundred of blossoms. Hummingbirds and bees love them.

From the wild lilies that grow in roadside clumps to the clusters in my gardens, I'm a daylily fan.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Friday, July 15, 2011

Haying 1991

When you do hay, the bales must go into the barn. This crew, all in red shirts, is loading bales onto the elevator from the wagon. Peter (center) and Liesl (right) hand bales from the wagon to Tim Frazho (left) who places them on the conveyor where they travel to the mow. There probably are two more workers -- maybe Ed and Will -- in the mow, stacking the bales.

Our kids showed sheep for 4H and participated in the Junior Livestock program in Huron County, so we raised lambs for a number of years. Sheep eat hay so we also raised hay back then. Henry Trost and Don Wheeler would do the baling. Then Ed organized a crew of kids -- ours and others -- to pick up bales and put the hay in the barn.

Haying is hard work. Like so much in farming, you have to do it when it has to be done. Come to think of it, lots of life is like that -- stuff has to be done at a certain time. One good thing about this kind of farm work is that teamwork made it go easier.

Thinking about the excellent organizing skills that all three of our children have made me realize that some of those traits come from the small amount of farming that we did. Efficient organizing -- the hallmark of good leadership -- is part and parcel of good farming.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Second Cutting

The Maust men have been busy taking the second cutting of hay off at Graywood Farm. Late on a midsummer evening, the rows of alfalfa are already showing new growth, the windrows lie ready for the baler, and bales are lined up across the field.

My friend Mel West says we should give thanks for the cow who can turn inedible grasses like alfalfa into milk and cheese and meat. Mel made me think twice about how much of a vegetarian I might ever become. Alfalfa (or hay, as we usually call it) is a remarkable plant. It is a legume so it returns nitrogen to the soil. It is a perennial so it doesn't have to be replanted from year to year. Its roots grow very deep, as much as 6-8 feet, so it can break up soil structure and provide pathways for microbes and insects and frost. Most years there are three cuttings of hay in our area. Occasionally there will be a fourth cutting late in the fall.

Great stuff, this alfalfa. Today we are glad for a second cutting.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Old Shed

During the summer of 2007 we hosted the 100th Birthday Celebration for Ed's grandmother, Ortha Melick Geiger, in Pigeon. The party was in early August and had several components. One was a picnic at the farm where she and her husband, Ed Geiger, raised their family of nine children.

Here's a photo from July 2007 at the start of the renovation of the machine shed which was where over 125 guests enjoyed a meal at the farm. A side garage door was added. In this photo the metal roofing has been stripped away and the "bones" of the shed are about to be removed. A close look will reveal the very faint stars on the front doors of the shed which eventually were repainted just like the originals.

For another look at this vintage building, look at the blog post from June ___ this year.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

The Vetch

We call this plant "vetch" and pretty well consider it an invasive species at Cedar Bluff along Lake Huron. Vetch has taken over the south bluff slope and is working its way toward the north sections of the bluff.

A member of the legume family, the plant has a low growing, spreading character. The sweet smell is wonderful on calm evenings. Our concern about having any one plant dominate the bluff surface is that if that plant dies off for any reason -- heat, cold, insects, herbicides, etc. -- then the bluff is vulnerable to erosion. The rest of the bluff is wonderfully multicultural with cedars, daisies, yarrow, goldenrod, grasses, dogwood, poppies, and lots more varietals. But when the vetch takes over, it wins.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Mysterious Tessa

I love this photo of mysterious Tessa! All dolled up for the Kids' Parade at Farmers' Festival in July of 2007, Tessa gave the camera a look of "I'm having lots of fun!"

This year's Farmers' Festival is less than two weeks away. The Kids' Parade and the Grand Parade are both scheduled for Saturday, July 23. It's always a big day for Pigeon with lots of people in town, the Rotary Chicken Barbecue, and tons of events going on.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Monday, July 11, 2011


Since most of the U.S. population is classified as urban these days, the question of "What's that box at the end of your driveway?" might seem a legitimate inquiry. For those of us on rural routes who know that RFD means "rural free delivery" the mailbox is an important fixture in our daily lives.

Here's the mailbox at Graywood Farm. Surrounded by Ed's red geraniums, the mailbox looks like it needs a coat of gray paint. For the uninitiated, the flag in the raised position means that there is mail inside the box, ready for the mailperson to pick up.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Summer Turbines

Wind turbines on the southeast corner of Atwater and Nugent Roads in Huron County were not turning when I drove through on Friday night. This image contrasts the tall white turbines with the wood pole and lines that carry the local electricity from place to place. The amber colored crop in the background is wheat that is ripening almost on time in spite of the wet, cool spring that we've had.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Summer Suns

From the artwork files comes this triptych image of the sun. I started with a rubber stamp image that I colored using Tombow markers. I scanned the image into Photoshop and created multiple copies. The color was removed from the center image. The image on the left is a composite of the color and the black and white image.


Rubber stamp #95276 by Inkadinkado.

Triptych image Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Friday, July 8, 2011

Now We've Seen It All

Several years ago we ran across this scene in Port Huron along the St. Clair River. Here's a bona fide Volkswagen mini van and its occupant, comfortably seated in his recliner, and watching ships pass under the Bluewater Bridges.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Summer Window

Whitewashed garage, picket fence, red geraniums -- what a recipe for a summer window. Simple, midwesternly elegant, classic.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Wet Dog

When you are a dog it is just the best thing to take a swim. It's even better when you've had the leftovers from the Fourth of July picnic at Lake Auburn. Mmmm, all those burger and brat bits. Notice that Blackie doesn't eat beans! Blackie lives with my Dad on the farm in Wisconsin.

Photo is modified with black and white overlay using opacity and dissolve filters to highlight the wet look of Mr. Blackie.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Eye Catching Petunia

Wave petunias have begun to take over the petunia category in the annuals aisle at garden centers in the spring. Here's a petunia that I'm identifying as "Pretty Much Picasso" by Proven Winners. This image was taken several days ago on our travels through Wisconsin. The red violet blossom rimmed with green is eye catching.

I haven't grown a lot of the wave or spreading variety of petunias yet. My guess is that with some TLC, regular watering, and a good fertilization schedule these petunias thrive. I'm trying wave petunias is one of the summer boxes at the farmhouse so we'll see if these plants become a favorite.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Monday, July 4, 2011

A Bicentennial Fourth

Edwin Eichler, Stanley C. F. Hayes, Vallanee Hayes, Wanda Hayes Eichler holding Liesl Marie Eichler,
Ortha Geiger, Ed Geiger, John Eichler, Pauline Geiger Eichler
From the family archives, this image from 35 years ago today marks a family's special day that coincided with the 200th observance of Independence Day. One of my dominant memories from that day was that Baby Liesl had big sunburn marks on her face from a ferry ride across Lake Michigan.

We had been to Wisconsin to visit in late June and had returned via the carferry from Manitowoc, Wisconsin to Ludington, Michigan. The weather was beautiful and we sat out on the deck of the ferry most of the way. Liesl's stroller was covered with a thin diaper and her skin got sunburned in spite of the covering. This was before the days of SPF anything and constant warnings about being in the sun.

Liesl is wearing the baptism dress that her Grandmother Val and I made for the baptism of Martha Jane Hayes. The front was embrodered with a lovely floral spray. There were tiny tucks along the bodice and sleeves of the dress. It was a beauty!

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Before Grace

Stan, Ed, MB, Patrick, Wendy, Hannah, Will -- July 2, 2011

There is a pause in the day's activity just before supper. That's the time when my father, The Reverend Stanley C. F. Hayes, says grace. Last night we sang The Doxology (harmonizing the Amen) and Dad added a prayer of thanksgiving.

MB and Patrick's Lake Auburn cottage meals have a magical quality that blend good food and family. The food tastes wonderful outdoors. It is a dining experience that cannot be bought in a restaurant or described on a food show.

Photo ephemera:

++ Dad has a scarf on his lap. He keeps his neck warm with favorite piece of hand knitting from his daughters. Also, at 90 years old, he's pretty spry to have turned toward the camera for the photo.
++Beach towels from someone's dip in Lake Auburn dry on the railings.
++A certain young lady, Miss Hannah, is definitely aware of the camera.

The menu: Mary's marinara with corkscrew and filled pastas, french bread with Wisconsin butter, corn on the cob, and romaine salad with balsamic and stone fruits. For dessert there were fresh baked cookies and ice cream from the new shop on County B, north of the farm. The ice cream is made from the milk of the cows on the farm where the shop is. Flavors for the night: Leo's Butter Pecan and Whitewash Vanilla, both highly recommended.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Bay City Fireworks

Fourth of July Fireworks in Bay City, Michigan -- July 2004
Fireworks! How we love these creations that gun powder hath wrought. This image, taken from the Liberty Bridge over the Saginaw River, has a luscious red, white, and blue theme.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler

Friday, July 1, 2011

The New Red, White, and Blue

Red barns with white roofs, white wind turbines, and a summer blue sky are the new red, white, and blue in rural America. Here's the Harvest Wind Farm with the Herford farm buildings just north of Elkton, Michigan. Not to be picky, but wouldn't several blue Harvestore silos also look nice in this arrangement?

Want to know more about how wind energy is transforming the Great Lakes states? Read the 5 Lakes Energy blog written by Liesl Eichler Clark for a good account of how green energy is entering the picture in Michigan.

Copyright 2011
Wanda Hayes Eichler