When in farm country, surrounded by cousins who are farmers, it seems logical to seize any opportunity to expose my children to exotic animals like cows and pigs. So off we went to visit my first cousin once removed. Elizabeth was not sure about the smell, which surprised me because she doesn't complain about the Agriculture museum farm and I think they are similar. But it is true that we haven't been much since Matthew's bout of c. jejuni in the summer as I was pretty convinced he picked that up after randomly licking the railings in the cow barn. Elizabeth was slightly horrified to find out that their beef calf is not exactly a pet. The kids thought the best part of the visit was meeting the farm dog (after it was shut away in a pen) and getting cupcakes to take home.
After driving past my mom's cousin John's sugar bush (look at the sap in the buckets!) we headed for Cambridge, where we introduced the kids to a restaurant that isn't Swiss Chalet (!) Elizabeth and Matthew have concluded that we may add milestones to the list of acceptable restaurants because while they do not hand out Skittles, they hand out highly breakable plastic figures in your straws. Note to self: I still need to dispose of the giraffe legs floating around my coat pocket.
Auntie Mary wanted a car wash. I think Elizabeth has experienced this once before but it was certainly Matthew and Amelia's first time. It was one of the highlights of the trip. We had a bit of a frantic moment when the wash started and the fancy automatic windshield wipers started going but luckily Mary knew how to turn them off!
In Cambridge, Elizabeth made the local paper contemplating whether she was brave enough to eat a cricket. The butterfly conservatory there is like a permanent version of the Carleton Butterfly show that comes here every fall, except it also has birds, turtles and a lot more space! I really wished I had the good camera! The kids patted a male cockroach and dressed up like butterflies. They were having a special exhibit on bugs-as-protein which actually fit in quite well with the bug exhibit at the museum of nature that I've been to a bunch of times with Matthew. There were cricket smoothies, mealworm grilled cheese and crickets, salsa and corn chips to eat. Elizabeth's response to "Want to eat a bug?" was an unqualified nope, but I craftily asked Matthew if he wanted a smoothie and he gulped it down and asked for more before anyone had a chance to put him off with talk about ingredients. So then Elizabeth braved the smoothie. Matthew ate the cheese sandwich pretty easily too. Moving on to the corn chip he was all keen and then noticed the dead bug nestled cozily in with the salsa, recoiled in horror and that was the end of that. Elizabeth was chagrined that her brother outdid her in the bravery department but just could not force herself to eat anything other than the smoother. Mary didn't manage either. I was concerned about whether it was gluten free so I didn't have to lead by example. LOL Having fed crickets to my pet frogs back in the day I doubt I'd be able to actually eat one though.
Then we headed off for my first working sugar bush visit! I'd been next door at cousin John's bush back in 2010, when I was surprised to discover that tree sap tastes like maple syrup - seems obvious now but I honestly was expecting something more sappy. This time we visited cousin David and Rosanna's bush and I got to see how the syrup is boiled! It was totally amazing - the way the sugar smoke hung in the air, the crackle of the fire, the boiling of the sap, the steady trickle of water condensing out the tube. Elizabeth and Matthew were quite taken by all the filters to take out any impurities. The sap is collected by lines connected to all the trees and there is a surprisingly strong suction on the line. Pretty cool! They have some "old fashioned" buckets too and Auntie Mary and David reminisced about hopping on and off the horse drawn wagon to collect those buckets back in the day. Now the farm produces 700 gallons of syrup, which you can buy at Sobey's. We got to drink some fresh out of the evaporator and I think it's the best syrup I've ever had. YUM