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It’s always nice having company. Last weekend, our daughter Rachel, her husband, Dave, and their three children, Eli, Arianna, and Wyatt, came for a visit.

Rachel said we could just hang around the farm or go for an outing together. She had seven suggestions. One was roller skating. I actually considered that, but then thought better of it. The outing we (meaning me and the grandchildren) chose was to go to the NEW Zoo in Brown County.

We didn’t get to the zoo until almost 2 p.m. that cool day, but the late start didn’t matter. Walking through the park was better at a fast pace—we had to keep up with six-year-old Wyatt after all.

Though quite a few of the animals who need warmth weren’t out for viewing, many others were. There were swans, ducks and geese swimming. These birds crossed the snow-covered land to venture into the water. It made me feel chilled just watching them swim, but they seemed to enjoy it.

The kids had some favorite animals. The otters were very entertaining, though we couldn’t always see them. There were three holes in the ice in their area. We’d see a nose and splashing at one of the holes, and then nothing, only to have the otter pop up across the frozen pond.

After quite a few peeks, the otter did come out of its hiding hole. It slid along the ice and snow, entertaining all viewers—I’m quite sure it was showing off for the crowd. We even came back to the otter enclosure a second time to see more of its antics.

The lions were lounging on a large rock, basking in the sun. They didn’t move much. I guess they don’t need to show off for the visitors.

The wind whistled past us, but much of its power was deflected by trees, buildings, and fences.

Other animals caught our attention. One of the red pandas swung onto tree limb after tree limb, until it reached the top. A second red panda waited for it there.

We only caught a glimpse of two penguins. The kids would have liked more action from them but were happy even to see them.

When we were chilled, Rachel suggested cups of hot cocoa. Our hot drinks took us through the rest of the park and helped me tolerate the cold better.

Back at the farm, we kept a look out for wildlife who were not in pens. The children wanted to see the raccoons come up to the house to finish eating cat food, but we must have just missed their visit. Not a crumb was left in the cat dishes.

Instead, we got the binoculars out when 30 or so whitetail deer came to visit Sunnybook Farm.

At the end of last year, Dave and Eli had tried to bag a buck here. The weather during the three days they were out wasn’t prime. The first day a heavy fog covered the land, then came the rain and finally snow. Only a handful of deer even came into view and those were at a far distance.

This day, Dave couldn’t believe his eyes. He watched as almost three dozen deer grazed and played in our field. As the deer cantered away, Dave started planning future hunting trips on Sunnybook Farm.

All of my family wants me to get out in the world. They don’t mind if it’s just for choir and church, but if they can spice up my life, they do. And I’m sure Bob would agree, that’s what family is for.

Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165; sunnybook@aol.com; www.susanmanzke.net/blog.

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