Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Dark Flower Gypsies (Derbyshire Part 3)

One of the last shows I caught at the Derbyshire Renaissance Faire were the Dark Flower Gypsies. They are a belly dance troupe made up primarily of mother and daughter groups. The group also includes one of the daughter's best friend.

They performed a mix of traditional and non-traditional dances. The best part of watching them was that I could see that they were having fun.

The sword dance that they did was quite involved. It's not easy to move around with a huge sword like that on your head.

I hope I get the chance to see them perform again some day. Watching them really made me miss the belly dance class that I use to take. I just might have to get out my old practice tape and see how much I have forgotten.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Vikings Of The New NorTHUMBria (Or Derbyshire Part 2)

My favorite group at the Derbyshire Renaissance Faire was without a doubt the Vikings Of The New NorTHUMBria. The thumb is emphasized due to them being from the thumb portion of Michigan. If you aren't from Michigan go look up a map of Michigan on Google Maps and you will see what I mean. It's OK, we'll wait.

This is the Viking Ingvar who admitted to being shameless when I asked to take his picture.

Here he is teaching my daughter to play a game that I think was called "Send Them To Valhalla". It was sort of a mash up of tic tac toe and chess. Ingvar makes these boards and sells them. And yes, we bought one.

After beating Jade honorably at the board game, Ingvar read a story about Leif Erickson to Jade and Megan. At which time we also discussed a bit about the Vikings being in North America 500 years before Christopher Columbus.
Here the group was getting ready for a telling and acting out of Beowulf. Ingvar was the story teller while the rest of the group, including his lovely wife Katta, acted out what he was telling behind him.

I didn't think to ask at the time, but I wonder now if the rest of the group are Ingvar and Katta's children.

Here we have the King of Denmark. Laughing and having a great time at a party in his feasting hall.

Then Grendel comes to shake things up. Sort of put a damper on future parties. No king likes to have their favorite subjects eaten and dismembered.

Luckily Beowulf comes in to save the day. He defeated Grendel and his mother. Later he gave his life slaying a dragon to protect his people. He was buried where he fell along with the dragon and his treasure.

This really was a great group at the Faire. They were fun to talk to and really seemed to love sharing their knowledge. I hope to see them again at a faire or other event in the future.

Monday, June 21, 2010

A Day At Derbyshire (Part 1)

Saturday I went to The Derbyshire Renaissance Faire. What a great time. I have wanted to go to a renaissance faire from the time I first learned about them. I'd love to be an active part of it and not just a casual observer.I can't believe he actually smiled. He didn't even want to stick his head in there.

Oh to have lived in a time when it was fashionable to have hips this wide. I would have been in my perfect environment.

And what should every man eat at the Faire? A turkey leg of course.

Here we have the Rogue Blades. They had quite the act. Sort of reminded me of something that could have easily fit into Monty Python And The Holy Grail.

And of course there had to be at least one knight in shining armor.

The sword fighting was done with real swords! It's a good thing these guys were well practiced. I'd hate to think what would happen with one simple misstep.

The archer looked very "Robin Hood". I really loved all the different costumes and personas present at the faire.

Lee Mulder was singing in one of the pavilions. I really need to track her down so I can get a CD of hers. She sings wonderful traditional celtic songs.

This is all I caught of the Knotty Bits act. Playing with fire is pretty cool though, don't you think?

We even met Pan wandering around the grounds. He performed a couple of magic tricks for Jade and made me laugh quite hard. He made me laugh harder than anything at the faire.

Tomorrow: The Vikings Of New NorTHUMBria. Don't miss it.

Friday, June 18, 2010

I Fell In Love

That's right, I fell in love today. Head over heels. Unfortunately he was not available, and he wasn't even the right breed. He was a huge, beautiful Saannen buck at the farm I visited to purchase a new doeling. (No, I really don't need a new doeling. But what does that have to do with anything?)
Do you see this big beautiful guy? The lady said he is so gentle and can even be trusted with kids. The goat kind of kids that is.

I do feel a little bad that I was so taken with the big white Saannen that I didn't really even notice the other buck there. I'm sure he was wonderful as well.

I just only had eyes for the one. I wanted to bring him home. Never mind the fact have no available housing for a buck. No way to build housing for a buck. And no money to hire someone to do it for me.

But alas, I had to move on. We weren't there for the bucks no matter how beautiful they were. We were after doelings.
And there were plenty to choose from too. They were all very friendly and tried to get close enough to play with us. Too bad the fence was electric. Poor things.

I was only going to maybe buy one doeling. I have wanted a nice Nubian/Boer mix of some sort for a while. It's a cross that can produce nice milking does, but also nice meat animals as well.

So much for my resolve. I bought two. I haven't sold my others yet and my pen is not big enough. Thank goodness my friend who came with me was willing to keep them at her farm for a couple weeks.See the little tan doeling on the right? I bought her. She is Boer/Nubian/Saannen. Good thing I'm not worried about pure breeds. I'll be breeding her to a nice Nubian buck when she is old enough.

And look at these sweet faces. The one in the front is my other little girl. She is Boer/Saannen/Nubian/Alpine. But seriously, she looks just Boer/Nubian.

Based on the udders I saw on the moms and the size of the teats on these girls already at just a few months old, they are going to be nice for milking.

My friend ended up buying a doeling as well along with a little buckling. If I had a place for a buck, I might have really considered the buckling myself. He's a really nice one. Of course I would have had to rethink buying does.

The craziest part of the whole thing? We drove for an hour with four goats in the back of my minivan on a tarp.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Thank You For a Great Year

Each year Jade has been lucky to have teachers who have been willing to foster her ability to learn at an extremely accelerated rate for her age. When she started 3rd grade I was a little concerned that would come to an end, or at least lessen to some extent. The 3rd grade brings with it more personal responsibility for the children along with less assistance for the teachers. In our school district cuts over the last few years have meant growing class sizes and fewer teacher's assistants.

As it turns out, I had no reason to worry. Mrs. B is an amazing 3rd grade teacher who went above and beyond to help Jade excel. By the end of the year Jade was working on 6th grade math objectives. She has been reading far above her grade level since she was four years old. Most of the books she has read this year have been between 6th and 8th grade reading level.

I also spent a lot of time in Jade's class room this year helping out. I enjoyed every moment of it and it was great to get to know Jade's classmates and watch her thrive among her peers. Most of all, it was great to see how well Mrs. B taught her class.

I never heard her yell or use a harsh voice with her students. That's not to say never reprimanded them. Yet somehow she managed to do it with an amazing amount of grace and seemingly natural ease. I learned a lot just by observing her that I hope I can remember when my own kids need to be reigned in a bit.

Thank you, Mrs. B, not only for teaching my child and helping her to grow, but for teaching me a thing or two as well.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Kale Chips

Lately we have been getting a crazy amount of greens from the CSA. Spinach, lettuce, Kale, Swiss chard and Collards all came at once this last time. Since I am the only one here that cares for greens beyond salad it's been a challenge to get them all used before they go bad.

Then my friend Chris told me about Kale Chips. What are Kale Chips you ask? It's simply Kale that is drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled with slat and pepper, then baked until it is crispy.

I also discovered that this works well with Collards as well. If we get more Swiss Chard or Spinach this week I'm going to try it with those too.

How to make Kale Chips:

Wash kale and dry. Remove large, tough ribs. Place kale in a bowl and toss with 1-1 1/2 teaspoons. (this is for approx. 1 pound of kale)
Next, lay the Kale out on baking sheets. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake at 300 degrees F for 20-30 minutes. Thicker Kale will take longer, thinner will take less time. When the kale is crispy, remover from oven and allow to cool.
Place in a bowl and enjoy as a thin, crispy and healthy alternative to those other chip type snacks your waist line so loves to show off.

Monday, June 14, 2010


On May 27 one of our ducks hatched out 16 ducklings. I would have loved to have shown you pictures before now. However I have not had the best luck with cameras in the last month. First, I broke my camera the day before Mother's Day. So for Mother's Day my husband took me shopping and bought me a new camera. Then I lost it at the Alma Highland Festival on Memorial Day weekend.
Do you have any idea what it's like to be a blogger with no camera? I suddenly was seeing so many things that I wanted to take pictures of so I could blog about them. Not that I have had any time to blog mind you. But that doesn't stop me from wanting to blog.

At any rate, I have a camera again. My wonderful Mother-In-Law, after hearing my plight, set my Brother-In-Law (who has a nose for electronics deals) on a hunt. The result was an early birthday present. YAY!
The other problem with getting a picture of the ducklings was that every time I would try to get close enough to take their pictures, the momma duck would either stand between me and them puffing herself up and hissing, or she would lead them away. After losing a duck and her babies last year because she went off in the woods to get away from the hub-bub of activity in the yard, I didn't want to take chances.

But she finally is starting to trust me. Or maybe not. Maybe she's just sick of me following me and is actually daring me to touch her babies so she has an excuse to attack. Whatever it is, I finally got close enough for a picture. Here you go:No, there aren't 16 ducklings in this picture. We have lost a total of 5 ducklings. The same morning that the first four disappeared, my neighbor called to say that her cat brought a dead duckling home. :o( Then yesterday morning one more disappeared. I suspect the same cat.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Pheasants And Chicks

I have really been behind on posting. So much has happened here this spring that I hardly know where to begin. So I will start with telling you about my daughter Jade's best gift of the year so far. She has six beautiful young golden pheasants.

This gentleman, John, has a pair of golden pheasants that started to lay eggs. When the female didn't seem to want to sit on her eggs, he decided to incubate them himself. He soon discovered how easy it is to keep putting more and more eggs into the incubator until it's completely full. Luckily for Jade, he couldn't keep all those pheasant chicks.

The other person in the picture is Rachel. She met up with John here to get some silkie chicks. Maybe someday we will have silkies and I can show you how adorable they are. They really aren't a chicken, they are kittens with feathers. You can read more about Rachel HERE. This is only one of her blogs, so be sure to check out her profile and read the others.

We have also been hatching quite a few chickens ourselves here on the farm this year. Our original layers are starting to slow down and now it's time to start raising up their replacements. So what do you think happens when two girls, chicks and pheasant chicks get together? Just take a look:At least they will be use to being handled.

Next up: Ducklings!
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