Saturday, July 31, 2010

Hometown Fair

The day started with sunlight pouring through the room darkening shades this morning. This is a welcome change from the seemingly constant rain we have received this summer, and immediately motivated me to do something today. Well, that and the fact that two kids bounded into my room with cries of, "Wake up, Mama!" Ignoring those requests for very long usually means sweeping gluten free cereal off every surface of the main floor, or cleaning up an entire roll of toilet paper or something of that nature.

The Fair is going on this weekend. In truth, I almost skipped it this year. Other than my auction items, I didn't submit anything this year, and with our recent hectic schedule, cranky girls, and a myriad of other lame excuses, I almost allowed myself to think it wouldn't be worth the "hassle". I'm glad I got my head out of my you-know-what. The Delta Fair is always worth it.

Small town fairs are just beautiful things. Straight out of books like "Charlotte's Web" or shows like "Andy Griffith". The parade is fun- and being a townie means recognizing almost everyone on each float, tractor, or fire truck. Standing in line to buy tickets and watching young men helping little old ladies manage their walkers, running into friends you only see a few times a year because they live "way out" or "over the river", and being surrounded by a good collection of cowboy hats just makes a wanna-be-country-girl sigh with contentment.

Last year was fun, but this year was different. Last year we were still really new in town, the odd faces in the crowd. This year, it took twice as long to make our way through the fair, as every ten feet or so we were greeting by the friends we've accumulated over the last year in Delta.
These are REAL relationships, folks. When I lived in the city, I "knew" people, but I really didn't "KNOW" them. There is a distancing our society has learned to keep- everyone at arm's length. We stay polite, but frankly don't tend to give a you-know-what about the people in our own homes, much less our neighborhood.
Where I live now is so different from that old me. A few years ago, I would have been annoyed by all the "interruptions" on my way to the 4H barn (who am I kidding? I wouldn't have gone near a barn back then!). Today, it was a relaxing pace, running into folks and remembering to congratulate them on their Fair Exhibit ribbons, or ask how their grandkids did in their latest ventures, or find out their latest farm, family, or work news.
We did finally make our way to the 4H barn, which is where I got my first dose of envy for the day. I wanted Johnny's alpacas and Lois' chickens. I met a very young man (maybe 10 years old) who actually convinced me that a drawf Nubian goat would be the answer to my desire for a goat that did not behave like the devil. I saw a turkey auctioned off for $190, and a pig that weighed 1000 pounds. If J wouldn't have killed me, I would have bought that pig. I fell in love with every chicken, turkey, and duck in that barn, and I left wondering why on earth I didn't bother to enter a couple of our own birds. We might have had a winner in there.
Next year. I just have to.

For all my old Southern friends who remember me as a city girl, I've got news for you: I went to my first Mud Bog, and LIKED it. I even suggested that J should take his beat up suburban and race it next year. Something REALLY country might have even come out of my mouth. Something like, "I dunno baby. I think the 'burban could do it. Plus, you'd look darn sexy doin' it!"
(I know, I know. I'm beginning to think the old me was abducted by aliens.)

We talked to another twenty or so people we knew on the way back to the main fairgrounds. I'm so happy to be a "local". I really do just love our community and friends. We personally know folks running for office here. One of them even grows the hay our animals sleep on. Our whole community is connected. I stopped at the Rifle Association booth to talk to my knitting friend. She's working on socks, doing a fund raiser for the rifle club, and sharing news about her grandson. She and her husband are the same folks who raise the bees that make my annual supply of honey. A dress she knitted for my baby girls is hanging in the exhibit hall with a blue ribbon on it. She made it when Little Nugget was sick. I can hardly contain my grin. I love this place. I love these people.

The exhibit hall struck my envy bone again. Why, oh why did I let myself be "too busy" to enter stuff? I recognize more than half the names on exhibits this year. As I gaze at Grand Champion ribbons, I also marvel at a dear friend's modesty. I recently asked this friend if she knew how to sew. She said, "A little, but nothing spectacular." she has most of the purple (Grand Champion) ribbons in the hall.
I meander through the fruits and vegetables on display. I wonder how to make my own garden produce stuff like that. I kick myself again. I could have entered my herbs.
Next year.

I chat my way through another sea of friendly faces on the way to the truck. The girls are tired, full of kettle corn and cotton candy, but happy to be riding in the wagon I've been pulling along. I load up the truck and think about how far I've come in the last year. I've lived in a lot of places in my thirty-something years. I have more friends, more fun, more REAL relationships in my life than I ever have before. My girls wave goodbye to the fair and ask if we can go tomorrow. I am noncommittal- still grinning at the way things change in life- and head for home. The girls are glad to see the house and to get out of the sun. I throw together a quick but nutritious dinner, settle the girls, and see my garden, livestock, and knitting projects in a new light. I can cultivate some winners here.

Each night, I ask the girls if they had a good day. "What was your favorite part?" This is a nightly question. They fall asleep telling me about mud bogs and giant pigs.
I love this life.

I watch the sun sink a little lower on the horizon tonight. Autumn is coming. You can feel it in the way that the nights require a sweatshirt, and you can tell by the fact that it actually gets slightly dark very very late in the evening.
I lock the birds into their coop. I close up the greenhouse. I take in one more sip of a summer night sky. I think about the neighbors. I am glad I know most of their names.
I'm glad I went to the Fair.

Until Next Time,
Happy Moose Trails

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Cold Wind Blowing

Hard to believe, but the air is changing already around here. The last few nights have been chilly, dipping in the low 50s again. A reminder that we are overdue to haul in the winter's wood.
Homestead life has been busy. The chickens and turkeys are growing. We tried a couple week stint with goats. What's left of the garden (post goats) is doing well. After spending two weeks wreaking havoc on our homestead, the goats have found a new home until they are butchered. I should have blogged about those beasts when the stories were still fresh, but suffice it to say that many an artist has depicted the devil as a goat for good reason. Goat herding can be summed up in two words: Never Again.
Removing the goats brought instant peace and sanity back to the farm. Or at least made our usual chaos seem rather mild.

Meanwhile, we have been busy turning our plot into a regular little homestead. J has been working on his hunting and fishing skills and the freezer is stocked with bear hams, salmon, and a variety of fish. Subsitence hunting opens next week for moose and shortly after that, caribou. While he's tromping through the boreal forest for dinner, I'll be tending garden and babies, and fattening up chickens between trips to our berry picking spots. Raspberry jam and canned blueberries have already begun scenting our cabin and gracing pantry shelves. Homemade salsa joins the jams and berries on the shelves, and as the farmers market, garden, and God's country begin to do what they do, I do what I do... Preserve as much fresh bounty as we can (ha ha!) for the months where we forget that our ice land produces amazing fruits and vegetables.

This coming weekend is the Delta Junction Fair. If you are in town you should come on out. Be sure to stop
in the quilt hall and bid on the hand-knit items being auctioned to benefit Relay For Life. The two adorable pinch hats (if I may say so myself) are made by someone ya know. ;) Everything is beautiful and I am the newest knitter in the bunch... There is some good stuff out there for a great cause, so pony up. Then enjoy the heck out of the fair because it won't be back 'till next year. The 4H barn is always wonderful, and this year I have some little friends showing off their livestock. Hoping the best of ribbons for a few hopefuls!

With that, there are girls to tuck in and animals to pen up for the night.
Until Next Time,

Happy Moose Trails!