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Turkey Tracks: MOFGA (Maine Organic Farmers’ and Growers’ Association) Fair, 2013

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Turkey Tracks:  September 25, 2013

MOFGA’S COMMON GROUND FAIR

I went on the first day–Friday.

By myself, as it turned out…

And that was ok…

It was HOT though, so I found myself going home sooner than I might have in cooler weather.

I visited some of my favorite people in their booths, though some sort of inertia set in and I didn’t take many pictures.  The chicken house has been a bit lacking in recent years–not so many types of chickens.  And I confess I would never take any of my beloveds to be gawked at and yelled around for three days.  I continue to admire and think about a cold hardy, dark brown, chicken from Ohio–Buckeye.  Here’s a rooster.

I visited Kelly Corbett of Romney Ridge Farm.  Kelly is now being accepted into major shows up and down the East Coast.  I stopped by The Spinnery booth.  Bill is the most amazing knitter, and his yarns are gorgeous.  I strolled through the craft tents, but I’m not really into buying many “things” these days.  I stopped by Roots, Coops, and More.  Lori and Steven have so many interesting and well-designed chicken coops for people with small flocks.

I didn’t go near the livestock barns–just got too hot and tired.  So, I missed the man who brings ten mules to the fair–ten mules he hitches up together about once a day.  Mules are like potato chips, he says.  You can’t have just one.  Mules, like parrots, live to be VERY old, over 50 years, so getting one is not a small undertaking.

I bought this year’s t-shirt and listened to Sander Ellis Katz (lacto-fermentation–WILD FERMENTATION), who was the keynote speaker.  (He has a new book out, and it does contain a recipe for corning beef, which son Bryan and I talked about when he was here–I think the new book is called THE ART OF FERMENTATION, and it’s meant to be an “everything you need to know” kind of book.)

I stood in line for the lamb shish-k-bob I love to get each year:

MOFGA, lamb vendor

And it was as delicious as ever…

MOFGA, lamb k-bobs

And I always get a “blood” drink from the Solar Cafe–beet, apple, fresh ginger, and lime.

MOFGA Solar Cafe

Delicious!

MOFGA, bull d

I stopped by John’s ice cream on the way home.  I love the way John changes the flavors on a regular basis.  I got Spumoni, which was filled with dates and figs and coconut and chocolate.  Mercy!  It was so good!

I drifted home on a cloud of sugar energy.

Once a year…

Turkey Tracks: September Update

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Turkey Tracks:  September 22, 2014

September Update

Late August and ALL of September are really busy months for me in Maine.

First of all, son Bryan often comes for his birthday, which is September 11th.  Bryan and Corinne like to come visiting in the early fall as most of the tourists have gone home or are taking a breather before the fall foliage gets rolling.  And, it’s cooler.

Second, in Maine, September is the red month (tomatoes), not July, as is true for regions south of us.  Plus, the gardens are cranking out food at alarming rates.  So I am busy blanching, roasting, drying, lacto-fermenting, and generally reveling in all the bounty of our earth in Maine.

Third, MOFGA, the Maine Organic Farmers and Growers Association fair happens in the third weekend of September.  This fair, also known as the Common Ground Fair, is one of my most favorite things to attend all year.

Fourth, Coastal Quilters starts its new year in September.  I agreed to be President this year, so I’ve had a fair amount of organizing and reviewing to do to get back up to speed.  We had a terrific organizational meeting September 14th, and we’ll have a really good year this year I think.

Fifth, I start the process of putting the yard to bed for the winter.  The flower pots are played out.  The wind chimes have to be taken down.  The hummers are gone.  The porch furniture and kayaks have to be stored.  The chickens have to be winterized.  And, the garden put to bed with the new garlic planted for next year.  I have LOVED having that garden fenced all this summer–especially since I never was able to keep the hens I have now inside their pen.

So….I will do some separate entries on some of these events.  But I will leave you with some fun pictures taken more or less in late August/early September.

Susan McBride of Golden Brook Farm grew these awesome cherry tomatoes.  I experimented with drying these to see which ones were the best.  Hands down, the purple heritage cherry tomato was.  They are like eating candy–and I know I will enjoy having them on hand all winter when the snow is flying.  That bag of highly colored bits is corn from Margaret Rauenhorst and Ronald VanHeeswijk.  I’m going to grind it and make cornbread with it any day now.

Golden Brook cherries

I planted random squash seeds in the blue tubs this year.  One is growing a Hubbard Squash–which delights me so much.  I will go ahead and collect the squashes as soon as it stops raining and put them into the garage to “sugar off” for a bit.  They do better when they have a bit of time to cure.  The Blue Hubbard squash can get HUGE–and is a really great all-purpose squash.  It’s delicious to eat and makes great “squash” pie too.

Hubbard Squash

Here is a typical Hope’s Edge pick-up day–with Giovanna McCarthy.  We have sacks of food and flowers!

Hope's Edge Flowers and Food

I found this picture on John’s computer before we retired it.  It’s one of my very favorites.  He really had such a great eye for a good picture.  LIkely I’ll make some cards from this picture…

Hope's Edge

Turkey Tracks: The Common Ground Fair 2010

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Turkey Tracks:  October 10, 2010

The Common Ground Fair 2010

I’m a bit behind on blog entries.  It’s been busy at Hillside House this fall.  But, we attended the Maine Organic Growers’ and Farmers’ Association (MOFGA) Fair, called The Common Ground Fair, on Saturday, September 25th.  As always, this fair is a highlight of our year.  The Common Ground Fair celebrates rural living, and we so enjoy spending at least one day a year formally doing just that kind of celebrating.

This year, my first cousin, Martha Louise Bryan Epton, aka Teeny, and her partner Lori Soles, embarked on a road trip from Georgia.  I was delighted that they came to see us and that they took our word about the fair and came with us–since they had so many wonderful things to see in Maine in a short period of time.  (They have assured me that they will be back, and we hope so!)  I was 11 years old when Teeny was born, so I have known her, literally, her whole life.

Here they are:  Teeny is on the left; Lori on the right.

The fair abounds with educational speakers, farm animals of all kinds, informational tents and demonstrations of all kinds, products for sale [solar panels, heating products, food, farm implements, fiber of all kinds (wool, angora from rabbits, sweetgrass, yarn), crafts, etc]), and delicious organic food to eat and drink.  It’s impossible to cover everything in one day, but we do our best.  Here are Indian baskets for sale:

 

We always try to see the sheep dog demonstration.  It’s John’s favorite I think.  Each year the sheep herder pits children against the sheep dogs to see which group can move and hold sheep, goats, and ducks the fastest.  This year it was really hot, the sheep and goats  were tired and hot, and the children won!  They couldn’t get the ducks into the circle of cones, however.  In any case, the audience was suitably impressed!  And I somehow do not seem to have a good picture of the dogs working.

   

I always go to the chicken house first.  Here is a shot of a little boy taking a good look at a bantam rooster and his mate who were somehow on the floor.  Most of the demonstration chickens are in eye-level cages.  The rooster was crowing like crazy, and the little boy was fascinated.  He was sitting in a sea of adult legs as the chicken house is a big draw for everyone.  It’s fun to see how many different kinds of chickens there are.

 

We saw jumping mules.  (I love mules.)   There’s a man who brings 10 mules to the fair ever year, and he harnesses them all up in beautiful harness, and has them pull something–a wagon, I think.  It’s quite something.  He says getting a mule is like eating potato chips:  you cannot have just one.  They live to be very old you know–30 to 50 years.   They don’t get a running start to jump.  They stand in front of the stake and just…jump!  This big boy with the glossy black coat–a beautiful creature–didn’t like this event.  He took one look at didn’t see the point, which is a very mule-like thing to do.  They are very, very smart.  The smaller mules went jumping over, and one of those won. 

 

And paired oxen teams.  Here are some good boys:

Here are other pairs of beautiful animals.  These horses are giving anyone who wants one a ride around the fair.  The blondes are, I think, work horse from Scandinavia.  I need to refresh on the name.  Maybe they are Haflingers?  A few years back we saw one of this type being really agitated in his stall because his partner was working and he was not.  When you watch these working animals, especially the horses, you begin to see that they love to do reasonable work.

  

 

And, here is a gorgeous merino ram from Rivercroft Farm in Starks, Maine.  They cover the sheep with burlap coats to keep the wool from being disturbed.  This boy won all sorts of prizes and is now the farm’s primary breeder.  Joe Miller showed us how he trims the wool from around the ram’s eyes so he can see well–which he must do as another of the rams might butt him and hurt him if he cannot see.  The horns are quite spectacular, aren’t they?

We saw people gathered together and singing for fun.  We recognized many of the songs used in the movie Cold Mountain, which, of course, are songs people used to sing together for fun in places like church.  It was really fun to hear the harmonizing and the quick beats and chants.

The stone masons are always at the fair.  Here they are demonstrating how to cut granite into blocks.  Once small holes are drilled and metal pegs are inserted, the mason has only to gently tap on the tops of the pegs in rotation for the stone to–amazingly–break apart in a clean line.  Drilling the holes takes time and really good drill bits.  The masons were also demonstrating how to build stone walls with an arched opening, outdoor ovens, and sculpture tools and work in progress. 

The wood workers also had all kinds of demonstrations, to include how to debark felled timber and how to cut it into planks by hand.  Boat builders were also demonstrating how to build sailing boats and canoes.

I love, too, the whimsey at the fair.  Here’s what I mean:

Grinning shovels (a welder demonstration) and awesome birdhouses!  

I’m always powerfully interested in what is growing at MOFGA and how they are growing it.  Each year the hoop houses get more interesting.  Here is a traditional hoop house–which, with inside row covers, allows for 4-season growing in the cold Maine climate.  The pioneer of this method is Eliot Coleman, who lives further north than we do–on the Blue Hill peninsula. 

 

Here is a “giraffe” hoop house that fascinated me.  It does not take up much space–a prime consideration for me with my tiny growing space, it’s easy to assemble, and it allows 4 paste tomato plants to fully ripen fruit.  We had a great tomato season this year, but even so, I brought in about 50 pounds of green paste tomatoes that just did not have enough time and warmth.  Here’s a solution. 

And, finally, the best for last:

Many, many varieties of fall pumpkins and squash–aren’t the white pumpkins interesting?

And, GREENS!  Collards and different types of kale:

LONG LIVE THE MOFGA, COMMON GROUND FAIR!!!

Written by louisaenright

October 10, 2010 at 10:57 pm