The first wild edibles demonstration bed.
Saturday I returned to the Last Organic Outpost to start working on the Houston Food Security program. Joe tractored over some of his most excellent Magic Mix dirt into some beds that I filled with assorted edible weeds dug up from other areas of this farm.
The second bed.
The first bed contained sow thistle, wild onion, purslane, field pennycress, pony's foot, spiderwort, and curled dock. The second was planted with more spiderwort, curled dock, burdock, pokeweed, two different amaranths, nutsedge, and cleavers. A third bed was planted with lamb's quarter and burdock.
It's a small start but like every farmer, I have great hope for the future. Speaking of which, on Dec. 12th the Last Organic Outpost is have a big public shindig to help raise awareness for Houston Food Security. I'm one of the featured speakers and I'll also be doing two edible wild plant walks. The event will run 10am-4pm and is free but donations to the farm are encouraged.
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Location of the Last Organic Outpost. Look for the big onion.
The big onion.
Joe's Magic Mix, the finest dirt you'll find in Houston!
I'll be down at the Last Organic Outpost a lot in the future. They have some big plans to increase public awareness including farmer's markets, guided tours, and wild meals at local restaurants. It should be a lot of fun but also a lot of work. That's okay, I don't expect changing the world to be easy.
Adventure! Excitement! Destiny!
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Four Princesses and Widowmaker.
Yep, Thanksgiving weekend found us back at RenFest for the third and last time this year. As an added bonus, Clark and family finally joined us! This was a good thing. Clark and his wife had last been to RenFest twelve or more years ago and were unprepared for how huge it had grown.
One tiny little spot, with toys free to play with (in the hopes that you'll buy some to take home).
Misseswether really liked the 11-shot mini-marshmallow launcher.
I preferred the trebuchet the flung full-sized marshmallows 50" or more. Imagine launching flaming marshmallows into cubicals three rows over. That would be so awesome.
Of course rides were rode. Sadly, Miniwether made a major infraction the day before so to discipline her she was limited to one ride while Mambowether got two. Surprisingly Mambo picked the big swing and the spinning box thing as her two rides. In the past she had been terrified of these. My little girl is growing up FAST!
This is my happy face.
Miniwether goes flying.
RenFest actors engage patrons in assorted skits and activities. Last time the Wethergirls were invited to join the French Court for a tea part, this time some German princesses played Tag the Pig with assorted kids. It was a surprisingly non-violent game.
No pigs or children were hurt, though some did get rather winded.
Of course, RenFest isn't just for kids. Mmmm, belly dancer.
As usual, we were there dawn to dusk. Nightfall in the Village is my favorite time as everything becomes even more magical in the soft glow of lanterns. Plus creatures of the night start showing up.
A dragon at twilight.
The Clarks left before full dark but we stayed later so Misseswether could buy a new bodice. Being the last weekend, many shops had their wares at clearance prices. It's better to sell for less than haul it home. This resulted on a great deal on a very lovely and very flattering bodice for m'lady. As for a picture, you'll just have to wait until next year.
The closing fireworks started up a few moments after we arrived back at my truck. We sat in the back eating cookies and listening to soundtrack from The Lord of the Rings while waiting for traffic to clear.
Fireworks and cookies! Oh, and there's Misseswether's new bodice. I guess you didn't have to wait a year...
Thirty minutes later not a single car had moved. One by one people began shutting off their vehicles and began mingling. Word quickly made it through the throngs...a bad wreck had shut down the one road leading out of RenFest. I have no proof, but I suspect that some @$$-O drank too much then tried to make an end-run around everyone else trying to get out of the Faire. This happens several times a year resulting in gridlock.
Luckily, I'm me, which is a very friendly person. I had run into my old Ren-Forums buddy, Sir Martin, earlier that day and as we sat watching the unmoving traffic my cell phone rang. It was another friend calling to see if we were trapped in traffic. She had encountered Sir Martin who told her we were here. When I told her we trapped she immediately invited us for gumbo and drumming at the Clan McLotofus campsite over in the Faire Campgrounds. Ten minutes later we were sitting by a fire eating fresh, hot gumbo and chatting with assorted friends, old and new. Then Wine and Alchemy showed up and the party really started!
Clan McLotofus's fire.
Catherine D'Artois and the Wethergirls.
Drummers, fiddlers, flutists, and dancers...
The sounds of camping with Clan McLotofus.
Mmmm, goood bodice!
Traffic hadn't moved for three hours and the food & music eventually lulled the Wethergirls to sleep. It was another hour before traffic began creeping forward. I went back and got the truck while the girls slept. It took me a while to make it back to the Clan McLotofus then several of the Clansmen helped me carry the girls to the truck and strap everyone in. The Faire had officially ended hours ago but when you are sitting by a fire with friends and drummers time slows, stops... But now it was starting up again. Goodbyes were shared via hugs and armclasps, then I eased the truck back into the slowly-moving train of vehicles. An hour later we were home. I carried the girls to bed, had a glass of mead to finish off the wonderful day, and joined Misseswether (still in her faire-garb!) under the covers.
And time stopped again for a little while.
Adventure! Excitement! Faire!
Monday, November 23, 2009
About a year ago assorted powerful members of the Houston city council began talking to each other and discovered they are all very concerned about what is happening in the world. One fear in particular was shared by all of them, "What happens if fuel prices sky rocket making it impossible to ship food to Houston?". Based on this fear they quietly began building a Food Security Program for Houston. The goal of this program is to convert unused/empty urban wastelands into prolific food gardens to help feed Houstonians in the event of economic (or other) disaster. The council locates owners of these waste properties and works a deal with them to allow the creation of these gardens. Response from the initial property owners contacted has been very positive.
However, the city council realized even if every plot of unused land in Houston was turned into a garden it still wouldn't be enough to feed the city. They needed to utilize every source of food available to combat the famine they fear is fast approaching.
I learned all this as I stood in the rain Saturday morning talking to Joe, the founder of the LOO (Last Organic Outpost) down in Houston's 5th Ward. I've written of this place earlier, but at that time I didn't know the whole story of what was going on.
I had gone to the LOO this last Saturday to discuss building some demonstration beds of edible weeds and other wild plants available in Houston and to also create complete permaculture food forests along the borders of their farm. I had briefly talked to Joe about it a few weeks ago but this was his first real in-depth meeting about it with me.
But it wasn't his first meeting about it with other very important people and they agreed, they want me to build wild edibles demonstration beds out at the LOO.
And they want me to build similar beds throughout Houston.
And they want me to teach all of Houston about finding/utilizing edible wild plants.
And they want me to create permaculture food forests throughout Houston.
They want me to help prepare Houston for the future.
I'm still in shock. Both that the Powers That Be in Houston are actively trying to prepare the city for potential hard times and also that they want me involved is such an enormous project...
Of course this means my days of being a carefree adventurer are rapidly coming to an end...but in return I get to try and change the world. It's a fair trade.
Adventure! Excitement! To Be Continued!
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Mmmm, free venison. Little did I know it was contaminated with the Rage Virus.
Sidenote: My friend Wildcat made the knife I'm holding. That thing is SWEET! It sliced up the whole deer like it a steel lightsaber.
Adventure! Excitement! Brains!
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Party like it's 1499!
I'm a little late with this post. We were at the faire two weekends ago. I love the Texas Renaissance Festival. There's something about it that just fills me with joy. It has a special smell to it, like sandalwood, potpourri, and leather. That scent hits me as soon as I walk through the gate and I am transported to my idea of a perfect world...
A place where amazing street performers fill the air with beautiful music.
Flame-juggling, sword-swallowing tightrope walkers ride unicycles.
Beauty abounds (and occasionally is somewhat unbound!)
Magical beings flitter...
And royalty takes your hand...
And invites you to a tea party.
The beautiful Istanpitta.
Bet you didn't know you could do this with a didgeridoo!
This is a French battlehorse. It's HUGE!
Okay, here's close-up of them.
Mambowether loved the dancers but isn't wild of me constantly taking her picture.
I promised the girls they could each do three rides. Unlike the performances, rides are not free but range in cost from $3 to $6.
Miniwether loves the spinning box thing ($3).
Mambowether loves her frog. She rode it twice ($3).
The big swing ($3). Miniwether also loves this. Mambo decided she wanted to ride it, too. The first few minutes of the ride Mambo was screaming in terror but Miniwether and I were able to calm her down and eventually she decided that it was like being in my canoe. Then she liked it.
Sidenote: if you go to RenFest in garb on a slow, rainy day the ride operators will just let you keep going until someone else shows up for a ride. We were in the big swing for almost ten minutes before I finally called out to have it stopped.
Miniwether had been eying this thing since last year and I decided she was finally old enough to try it. ($6)
Fly angel! Fly!
Best. Ride. Ever. (unless you are a 200lb, 40-yr old guy)
My friend Tom.
Fairy sand painting.
Long day #1.
Long day #2. I love this picture of Misseswether, she looks so beautiful in it.
Miniwether was still going strong. Here she is showing of all the treasures she collected.
I want to spend a bit of time on how to have fun at the faire. A number of first-time goers have said that they didn't like RenFest. The most common complaint is that you have to pay a high admission fee and all there is inside are shops. This tells me they somehow completely missed all the free performances. There are eleven stages with on the grounds with acts showing on all of them continuously. Added to that are ten floating music acts wandering the grounds, assorted battles, free tea parties for kids, and just people watching (keep an eye out for Darth Vader and his kilted stormtroopers!). There's a lot more to do than just shopping. Sidenote: I love all the shops, too! The knives, the leather, the jewelry, the clothes, etc...
Some of my favorite acts:
Sound and Fury This is what happens when you mix Shakespeare with a short attention span. (warning, PG-13!)
The Ded Bob Sho The best stand-up comedy by the skeletal remains of a plague victim ever!(PG)
http://www.clantynker.com/ If I had to describe their act in one word I would pick "beautifully dangerous!". (G)
The Other Brothers What happens when to jugglers don't get along. (PG)
Birds of Prey Shock and awe from Mother Nature! Sidenote: don't bring food to this show! (G) Sidenote #2: the girls loved this show in part because we just finished reading My Side of the Mountain at bedtime.
Shunyata Bellydance Drums, hips, and shiny things! (PG) Sidenote: I have a special fondness for this troupe after spending a night by their campfire at another faire several years ago.
Cast in Bronze One man playing a four-ton musical instrument.
Tartanic Pounding out Scottish rock on drums and bagpipes!
Gypsy Guerrilla Band They get Misseswether dancing the dance that first woo-ed me many years ago.
Istanpitta Love songs from way, way back. Watch out for the brunette, she's feisty!
Wine and Alchemy Greek, gypsy, Celtic, Sephardic and Led Zepplin taken for a ride on the Silk Road.
The Bard O'Neill Singings songs of adventure.
As You Like It if angels had hammers and dulcimers they'd make music like this.
Crannog This is what Celtics listen to before war...and after.
All these acts are free but they do pass a hat for tips after their acts. The get paid a pittance by the guy in charge of RenFest. Tossing a dollar per actor/musician into the hat is good karma. Tossing more in is GREAT karma. Many also sell CD's and DVD's of their acts. Over the years I've amassed a big collection of "Ren Music" by buying these CDs. It's pretty much the only sort of music I listen to anymore.
A few tips on food: Food is reasonably-priced with most things costing $3-$5 but drinks are high at $2.50 per bottle of soda. If you are cheap keep your soda bottle and refill it from the drinking fountains. Oh, and just give in and get the big bag of popcorn. If you get a little bag you'll finish it off after a few hours and want more. Get more to begin with.
We are heading back to RenFest one last time before the 2009 season ends Thanksgiving weekend. Look for the guy in the big hat with the beautiful family!
Adventure! Excitement! Time Travel!