Babies…Bleats…And Big Booms!

Summertime fun with family here in the Smokies!

by Rachelle Siegrist

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My precious nieces Allison and Raelynn

We enjoyed a delightful visit from my sister Hayley and her family this past week on July 4th. They arrived in time for the kids to explore the trail through our woods, and to let their newly adopted baby goat, Ellie Mae, get out and do a bit of exploring herself as well as enjoy getting fed a bottle. She really loved climbing on the benches on the front porch and on the rocks in the surrounding the area, and I fell instantly in love with her!

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Paul gives hungry Ellie Mae her bottle!

With a small window of nice weather, on an other wise very rainy day, we decided to take advantage of it starting with a yummy supper at Pizza Hut, where Raelynn kept us well entertained and laughing, while grunting at her Mom each time she wanted more water from her straw and smiling and waving to everyone the remainder of the time! Afterwards, we headed down to the river, along with friends Tom and Sharon, and within seconds of arriving at the water’s edge Bubba was out in the river, preparing to jump up and hollering out “Cannonball!” Of course we all quickly told him you have to go out a little bit further before you can “cannonball”. So he did just that, becoming an instant river rat!  Allison was right behind him and was delighted to learn that there were no moccasins, alligators, sharks or jellyfish in this water, not even fish that would bite you, which made her love it even more!

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Raelynn says “Are y’all sure this is safe?”

Raelynn joined in on the fun as well with her dad holding her, while dipping her feet into the ice cold water. At first she held her legs out vertically keeping them mere centimeters above the water’s surface, but quickly decided she rather liked that frigid water and commenced kicking and splashing with her legs and feet, while smiling and squealing with delight every time we put her legs down into the river. Each time we took her back out, she fussed until we put her legs back in, where she commenced kicking, splashing and squealing once again! “Yes!” I thought to myself . . . another little river rat in the making!


Hmmmmmm . . . I thought Y’all said it wasn’t cold!

Before long my sister Hayley was completely down in the water, and as always I was amazed at her incredible tolerance for icy cold water since she was a little girl! While she and Paul played in the river, Sharon enjoyed “Granny” time with Raelynn, while Wes and I took the kids tubbing down some of the rapids several times.  We passed the relaxing evening, skipping rocks, swimming, tubing, and playing until several loud claps of thunder encouraged us to get out of the river.

Bubba enjoyed tubing from the start

Back at home and dried off we enjoyed homemade brownies, while playing pool until it was time to walk down and see our local fireworks. With Raelynn loaded in her stroller and the whole gang gathered, we commenced walking down the mountain to the grassy hillside below, where we enjoy watching the fireworks every year. Bubba’s favorite firework was a spiraling gold one, that he said sounded like a large marker writing on a board, and Allison’s favorite was one that upon exploding looked like numerous shimmering gold jellyfish slowly floating down the sky.  Even my adorable niece Raelynn seemed to thoroughly enjoy the show and all of the activity along with it.

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Allison gets a push from uncle Wes

Once the show ended and the applause subsided, we started our hike back up the hill. Before leaving, we had moved Ellie Mae’s carrier into the dining room where it was quiet and safely away from possible visitors such as black bear, coyote and skunks. Of course she had worked up an appetite while resting and it was time for another bottle feeding once we got back. Since we couldn’t safely let her walk around outside that time of night, I suggested letting her walk around and explore the house which she seemed to really enjoy doing!  While Ellie Mae explored and Wes and the kids checked out our rock collection, I enjoyed feeding my sweet little Raelynn.

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Bubba, Wes, Hayley and Allison enjoying the river
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Raelynn tells Sharon . . . “You can’t be serious?” . . . Ha Ha!!!

All too soon the time had come for them to continue their journey back home to Florida, so upon saying our goodbyes, they were safely on their way and I was so hoping that they had somehow forgotten and left that precious baby goat, Ellie Mae, behind . . . sadly for me it didn’t happen.    

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Adorable Ellie Mae happily explores our house

Meanwhile back at the home front, we are excited to have two new residents!  An adorable little Flying Squirrel named Rocky (after Rocky and Bullwinkle) has taken up residence in what we call the high rise birdhouse, since it’s taller than our house! Wes noticed it looking out the other day, and managed to snap a photo. We thought there was one around, after recently opening a bird house to clean it out, and a hundred acorns fell out!  Needless to say, we shut the door and put them all back, feeding them through the small hole, like feeding quarters into a coke machine.

Lil’D, is our precious little DeKay’s Snake, who has claimed the greenhouse as it’s own!  It happily lives atop a wicker table in the space underneath the glass top, and crawls under it’s blanket when it’s either too cool or too hot.  From the chubby appearance of it, it’s either a she who is going to lay eggs or just a very well fed snake! At 12 inches, it’s full grown and loves eating slugs and snails, which helps keep things in check in the greenhouse, and I’m sure Lil’ D thinks it’s died and gone to heaven! It’s like having an awesome little pet in the greenhouse!



Precious little Rocky peaking out at us ~ Lil’ D enjoying her favorite spot

~ Fresh off the Easels ~

Meanwhile I’m continuing to paint on a couple of pet commissions, including the one below of two adorable friends Riley and Boris!  I’m having great fun with this one and will share the finished painting with you soon!

dog and cat painting commission by rachelle siegrist
Making more progress on Riley and Boris


yellow lab painting, yellow Labrador Retriever painting, dog commission by rachelle siegrist

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Until next time . . .

~ Rachelle

Kayaking and the Cascade of 1,000 Knives!

Summertime fun here in the Smokies!

by Rachelle Siegrist

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A beautiful female Wood Duck swims nearby

Cool temperatures and clear blue skies . . . who could resist?  We sure couldn’t, so we loaded up the kayaks and headed over to the lake early this past Wednesday morning, to take advantage of the delightful weather, courtesy of a cool front which had just passed through. Arriving at the boat ramp, we unloaded the kayaks and within minutes were paddling our way across the glassy surfaced lake.   Ospreys flew overhead, while we watched White-eyed Vireos and baby Green Herons along the edge of two different small islands. Taking a wrong turn and ending up in a dead-end stream, I turned around and was happy to see a female Wood Duck swim slowly across the water in front of me.  The day was starting out great!

A young Green Heron ~ White-eyed Vireo

I finally found the right stream and catching a glimpse of Wes’ blue kayak up ahead, started paddling my way up along the curved watery path.  Peering down into the clear water below, I watched several bass swim underneath, weaving in and out from around large, sunken tree trunks below the water’s surface.

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Cool . . . Clear . . . Water!

We came to the pebble stone beach where we we love to picnic which is yet another favorite “restaurant” of mine! Pulling the kayaks onto the small beach, we sat on the rocks enjoying our peanut butter sandwich.  

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Relaxingly, we sat there enjoying our little slice of paradise, whilst watching numerous minnows and small fish swim nearby.  Reluctantly, we decided to head back so we climbed into our kayaks and started paddling our way back along the beautiful tree-lined stream.  Along the way, we met an older gentleman in a kayak, who asked if we had seen the fox and several deer on the island nearby. Sadly, we said we had not, and upon talking with him, learned he was living on a homemade houseboat on the lake and had been doing so for about three months. As you can imagine he was full of delightfully interesting stories!

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The awesome floating tiny house!

As I listened to this enchanting stranger, relaxingly laid back in his kayak, feet propped up on the front and as wonderfully tan as a brownie, I started imagining Wes and I too living on the lake for a while on our own small houseboat, and the amazing adventures we would enjoy! The friendly gentleman had grown up in the area, hiking the surrounding mountainsides and having been away in the Navy for many years, had returned to his homeland and decided to do . . . rather than just talk about . . . his dream of living on the lake, while planning someday soon to take a route all the way down to Mississippi!

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A wee Hummingbird nest found, while Wes was trying to remove fishing line entangled in the tree.

“Good for him!” I thought to myself, as we said goodbye to our new found friend, with hopes of meeting up with him again someday on the lake and hearing about his latest adventures. We started paddling our way back across the lake and in between each stroke, I enjoyed lying back on my kayak, feeling the warmth of the sun caressing my skin, while watching small clouds form and pass overhead, thinking I could easily spend an entire day doing this!  Before long I too had reached the boat ramp and it was time to load up the kayaks and head home, relishing the amazingly wonderful and relaxing day we had enjoyed!

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Wes photographs a lovely Blue Heron 
blue heron photo by rachelle siegrist
The friendly Blue Heron

Another afternoon this past week I joined friends Tom and Sharon, as we headed for the Little River, where Tom dropped Sharon and I off at the Wye. Making our way down to the river, Sharon went to get on her tube and realized that it was leaking air pretty good through small hole. Nonetheless, we decided to try and tube down as far as we could, but Sharon only made it a short distance when her tube started really leaking air. So she carefully crossed in the waist high water, and slowly crawled up the big boulders reaching a couple stories high along the bank. with my tube completely inflated and not easy to stop, I decided to go down the cascade and climb out further down to rejoin her.

As Tom was dropping us off for our second attempt and was pumping up the spare tube, I suddenly saw a small tear after hearing air leaking. So we loaded up and headed back to our house, where I grabbed a couple of our extra tubes thinking the third time’s a charm, hoping this trip down would be a good one! It was a delightfully fun ride down and Sharon exclaimed she would like to tube farther down. So we quickly decided to continue tubing down the river, through an area which I had not been in about a dozen years or more. All was fun and games until we started down a fast moving cascade and I saw my tube was careening right for a section filled with large jagged rocks!

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Poor ol’ purple boat! 

As I swiftly started going down,  I heard a tearing noise and thought “Oh no . . . it just ripped the small patch off my tube!”  No sooner had that happened when my tube started leaking air at an alarming rate, and was sinking as I went down the rapids! Although there was a small calmer section at the base of the rapids, I couldn’t paddle my sinking tube over to the edge, so I had no choice but to go down the next set of rapids, consisting of more large jagged rocks!  Reaching the bottom and finally crawling safely out onto the shore, I couldn’t believe it when I saw that I didn’t have a single scratch or bruise on me anywhere, thinking it a miracle indeed!

Sadly I pulled my completely deflated “purple boat” (what my little 3-year old friend Chance calls it) from the water, and saw that there was a large gash in it. Leaving the river behind, Sharon and I walked some distance to meet Tom who picked us up, and we headed home quite thankful no injuries had been sustained during our afternoon adventures!  Happily with a couple of pieces of Tom’s large electrical tape, Wes was able to patch my purple tube and I’m hoping it will be just fine, promising my beloved tube to never again take it down the “Cascade of 1,000 knives!”

~ Fresh off the Easels ~

Wes finished his miniature landscape painting this past week, featuring a gorgeous scene from Blackwater Wildlife Refuge near Easton, MD.  We were able to visit the refuge while participating in the Waterfowl Festival last year.  We’re planning to paint a couple more beautiful miniature landscapes of the refuge, which will be available at the upcoming Waterfowl Festival this November, to add to your own collections.

“Glinting Sun” by Wes

Meanwhile I’m continuing to paint on a couple of pet commissions, including the one below of two adorable friends Riley and Boris!  I’m having great fun with this one and will share the finished painting with you soon!

dog and cat painting in progress by rachelle siegrist
The latest progress on my commission of Riley and Boris

yellow lab painting, yellow Labrador Retriever painting, dog commission by rachelle siegrist


~ To Commission A Painting by Us Click Here!

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Until next time . . .

~ Rachelle