Monday, March 11, 2013

Michigan


This past weekend my Uncle Dan, my cousin Andrea, and myself went up to Alto, Michigan to visit my cousin Kasi and her daughter Amy.  We left Illinois around 430AM (central time) Saturday morning so that we could have most of the day Saturday to spend with Kasi, Amy, and the Steffens who are like parents to Kasi up there.  Once we got there we had brunch and sat around and talked for awhile. 
Here's a couple photos from early in the day:

Yup, that's my cousin!  
 Amy helping herself to whatever was in Andrea's purse
We went to where the Kaeb's were working on their greenhouse.  While we were there Amy decided she wanted some exercise so she started doing pull-ups (with just a teeny bit of help from me):

Next we stopped at a pie place and we all got a slice of pie.  After that it was off to a spot where some folks were making maple syrup.  It was kind of neat to see how it was done again as it had been a long time since I had seen it made:

The sap buckets:

I tried a drop of the sap straight out of the tree but it was pretty bland

the sugar shack 
 This is where it all happens: The sap is placed in this big contraption and boiled until it becomes maple sytrup:



Pouring some of the sap through the filters hanging on the side: 

While at the sugar shack we were asked if we wanted to try sap tea.  You take a tea bag and instead of using sugar and water they poured some of the sap from the large heating contraption into your cup.  It was very sweet and absolutely delicious, even better than when it is made with sugar and water.

Andrea, Kasi, and I enjoying our sap tea

Terry and Amy.  Terry and his wife Laurie are really close with Kasi.  In fact, Kasi used to live with them.  They are super nice people and we really enjoyed getting to know them better!

Last of our stops was a dairy farm which has robotic milkers.  It was really neat seeing them in action.

The milking machines:
 I never realized that watching cows being milked was so humorous!


For those of you who have never seen one, here's a general idea of how they work:
When the cow walks in, the robot scans it's collar so it knows how many times it has been milked that day.  If it has been milked its maximum number of times, it is kicked out.  If it has not reached its limit then feed is dispensed into the feeder which the cow can munch on while being milked. 

This little contraption comes out first and cleans the teats

Then, out comes the actual milkers.  The robot arm brings them to the general region of the udder

Using lasers, the machine finds the teats and the four teat cups are suctioned to the teat.  Here, we are halfway there:

Now we're done and the cow is being milked while munching away on its food.  When the cow is finished being milked, the teat cups disconnect from the cow, a gate by her head opens and she walks out.

It was pretty slick the way it all worked.  I had never seen anything like it before!

Here are a few photos taken after church on Sunday:

Amy, Andrea, and I

Here's a couple featuring Uncle Dan, Amy, Kasi, Derek, myself, and Andrea.  Derek is one of the Steffen's boys and is like a brother to Kasi.


And finally, Kasi and I like to have a photo taken of ourselves when we're together.  Like Kasi said, the trip wouldn't count if we didn't have our picture taken together.

All in all, it was a great trip! 

Now, today was my first day of class for my last quarter of my second year of vet school.  This quarter I am taking epidemiology, clinical pathology and organ systems pathology.  We had two hours of epi this morning and man oh man, was it boring!  Epidemiology is the study of disease distribution in a population and why it distributes that way.  It has lots of math involved mostly in the form of statistics. It is not real high on my interest scale but it's only eight weeks so I think I can probably handle it!   

Friday evening I am leaving for Mexico on a work trip. Next week is spring break so I will leave Friday and get back the next Saturday. I'm looking forward to it!

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