Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Home from the fair


I have always wanted to go to a Mother Earth News Fair, and finally, this year, I got a chance. Kim and I spent a long weekend in Puyallup, Washington, hanging out with lots and lots of homesteaders, gardeners, environmentalists and food activists, going to workshops and demonstrations, and cruising the vendor booths. 



Here are a few highlights.

Best workshop (Miriam's pick): "Growing Your Health Independence" by Dawn Combs of Mockingbird Meadows. Lots and lots of specific and practical information about stocking a largely home grown medicine cabinet for common family ailments.

Best workshop (Kim's pick): "Top Bar Hives: It's All About the Wax" by Christy Hemenway. (Here's a link to her TED talk about the importance of honey bees) I probably don't need to tell you that Kim has come home already planning her first hive.

Worst workshop. Ever. Hands Down: "The Half-Acre Homestead" by Lloyd Kahn. Despite its description, and despite the respected and long standing reputation of the presenter, this workshop was a series of photos of "homesteading tools" thought to be useful. Like a pitchfork. And a shovel. And nails hammered into a kitchen wall to hang cooking implements from. A cappuccino maker. And a spatula for scraping plates into a compost bucket. When the presenter started flashing photos of marijuana vaporizers (as a homesteading tool? Really? Is that because homesteading is so horrible?) I left. At the point so had half the audience.

Second worst workshop: "Homestead Healthcare" by Amy and Joseph Alton (aka "Nurse Amy and Doctor Bones").  I had my doubts about this one because the presenters are the owners of a company that sells medical supplies to doomsday preppers, but the workshop description was benign enough I thought there might be something there for me. Nope. Pretty quickly we were into isolation techniques for when the great pandemic hits, and how to keep "your women" from getting pregnant because then they wouldn't be able to contribute 110%. Who has women? Do men still own women? I left before they started talking about treating gunshot wounds and zombie bites.

Favourite signs that you're not at just any country fair: The candy apples? Organic. Those cinnamon-sugar mini donuts? Gluten-free. The pony cart rides?



Those ain't ponies...

Best Vendor Samples: First place goes to Bob's Red Mill, which was giving out gluten-free granola packets, nifty gizmos to keep open packages closed, and dough scrapers. The runner up is Mary's Crackers, which was giving out packets of, well, crackers.

Most Nerdy Fan Moment: Ed Begley Jr? Nah. Joel Salatin? Nope. Not even Barbara Damrosch. For me it was meeting Erica of Northwest Edible Life. I embarrassed myself. Read her wonderful post on the fair for a much more thoughtful take on the weekend than the one you're getting here.

Happiest Moment: Picking up Frankie at the kennel and being greeted by a happy dog instead of a stressed out one.

13 comments:

Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

Sounds great... and reminds me of Maker Faire.
Am I going to convince you and Kim to meet us there, next year? I love your "worst-workshop" category! Good to know when to walk away! It's never occurred to me to ponder a "worst" entry at Maker Faire. This year their Homegrown Barn was better than ever... bee keeping, cheese making, and much more... with hands on lessons, too!

Lindsey at NW Backyard Veggies said...

YOU WERE THERE???? I live apprx 20 minutes from there and didn't go b/c I couldn't see dragging my 3 year old around to a bunch of workshops and presentations (recipe for disaster if you ask me. ) If I had known you were going, I would have totally stalked you to the fair!!

Glad you guys had fun!

Miriam said...

Lindsey, I had no idea you were that close! Rats and double rats!

Natalie, I think a Maker Faire reunion (can it be called a reunion if you've never met? What's the alternative, a union?!) sounds really lovely!

k said...

Glad to read your review of the fair. I've been thinking about going to the one in Lawrence, KS in October. Sounds like fun.

Stephanie said...

Looks like a fun time!

backyardfeast said...

So glad to hear Frankie had a good weekend too! And sad to hear about Lloyd Kahn's presentation--I'm a fan of his blog. But really? Just descriptions and photos of basic garden tools? To the already-converted and homesteading? Very disappointing.

Can't wait to hear more about Kim's adventures in beekeeping!

Ann said...

Hi, Kinda new to your blog and love it. I spent last year researching bees and types of hives...settled on top bar because of all the reasons Christy talks about. Got my first bee package this spring (April 28th). Am loving the bees and hopeful about being to keep them through the winter. Check out my FB page at https://www.facebook.com/FeatherbedFarm?ref=hl

Paula said...

ohgoshohgoshohgosh!!

I haven't gotten very far into your post and have to tell you to tell Kim she can sooooo make her own top bar hives- I know she has the skill set. Off the top of my hat I can't remember the website where I got the instructions but I know I mentioned it, and probably linked it.

ok- back to the rest of your post. Didn't you guys have just a wonderful time? I'm so sorry we didn't go this year... and not just because we missed meeting you. We'll have to coordinate some year....

Miriam said...

Ann, I am one of the few Luddites who hasn't made it to Facebook yet...something in me is resisting! But thank you for visiting, and if I ever DO get to Facebook your page will be one of the first I visit!

Paula, you know my Kim well! She bought a book, looked at a plan, and said "I can build that!" Stay tuned...

Erin said...

I LOVE it that meeting Erica of NWEL was a high point for you. Her blog is just amazing. And my husband has built a top bar hive for me. I think I'm a bit late for getting bees this year. I'm going to go to the capital region beekeepers meting in Victoria next week I think it is. I've heard there can be as many as 100 people at the meeting. I need a top bar mentor. I wish I had seen that speaker. I'll be following your bee posts!! Love your blog.

Shim Farm said...

Glad to hear you had a great time and that Frankie fared well, too.

Bees are fascinating. My dad kept them for years when I was in my teens. There's nothing to building a hive and frames, Kim's already over-qualified! Start trawling used-equipment forums for supplies because it can get costly.

That said and done...I'm (*gasp*) afraid of bees, and working around them when I helped with extracting honey always took a ton of will-power. I don't think I have enough guts in me to get suited up and smoke a hive, unfortunately.

Guess I'm a chicken.

corinne said...

Looks like so much fun!
I wish my llamas were as well behaved as the llamas in your photo!

DJ said...

We drove from Sacramento to the fair, sorry I didn't know you. Had a great time, enjoyed the different demonstrations... maybe next year. Our Sacramento fair starts next week....
DJ

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...