Sunday, May 29, 2011

Spring Crown Tourney

We attended our second event since we joined the SCA in January. The Spring Crown Tourney was held in Greely, Ontario and featured a great afternoon of battle and chivalry between the competitors for the Ealdormere Crown.

Between bouts I socialized with people I knew, worked on nalbinding, visited the merchants booths, and in general tried really hard to absorb as much information as I possibly could. It is fascinating to see all the centuries, and countries, of the Dark and Middle Ages represented in costume and arm0ur.

I managed to acquire several items at the merchants booths that I have been coveting, and a couple of things I didn't even know I wanted. My most prized acquisition is a bronze penancular brooch that I have been wanting since I joined the SCA, and fits right in with my personae.

My next favourite item is the turned maple cup I purchased. A well timed purchase since my ceramic cup was broken soon after I purchased the wooden cup. I also found a stainless steel basket hilt for my next heavy combat weapon, a bearded axe, and a reprint of the Fannie Farmer 1896 Cookbook.

Finally, as the hour grew late and my mind turned to a warm bed, I was asked by the Baroness if I was attending court. I said I would stay if I needed too. She "suggested" that my presence was a good idea. It turns out that PeterC and I were both called before the Baron and Baroness to receive our "Bunny Tails", a small piece of white rabbit fur that marks us as members of Skraeling Althing Barony.

I'm not sure if it is normal to receive the bunny tail so soon after joining but I gather from what the Baron said that it is unusual for people to be recognized quite so quickly. Apparently my entering the Blind A & S and PeterC authorizing in heavy combat at our first event made an impression with someone and the Barony decided to award us for "jumping in with to feet and never looking back".

I hope I can continue to make a good impression with the other members of the SCA, and with the leaders of our Barony and of my local Canton. It will mean that we are doing something right, and that makes me proud of all the research and effort I have put into making our garb and armour kits as accurate as possible.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Blueberries at last

Some regular readers may remember that I ordered two dwarf blueberry bushes from Henry Fields Nursery last January, to be shipped last May. You may also remember that they never shipped and I was told they were out of the plants. I asked for my account to be credited with the amount I paid.

A couple months after sending me a letter saying my account would be credited I received a card saying the blueberry bushes would ship out within two weeks. The bushes never arrived but I got notification cards every month up until December 2010. After that I just forgot about it and added it to the lesson learned pile.

Last week I received an email saying my blueberries had shipped. This was of course the day before the long weekend and the day a possible mail delivery strike was to be announced. Yesterday the blueberries finally arrived, 1.5 years late, in the mail. Two little 6 inch high bushes, one of which looked half dead and severely frost damaged, wrapped in plastic and stuffed into a cardboard box designed for shipping live plants.

I planted them as soon as we got home from the post office and gave them a pep talk. I watered them well, and left it to up to mother nature. If they survive it will be two or three years before we get berries, but they are finally here.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Garden 2011 - Part 2

The Sparrow Haven 2011 garden is complete. The herb garden, and a few chili peppers, have been planted. Just in time, too. It has been raining several times a day since Saturday, which was an absolutely gorgeous day.

Saturday, PeterC had a riding lesson in a small town in Quebec. I tagged along with my nalbinding and sat in the shade watching him ride the halflinger gelding, Johannes. The wind was cool but the sun was very warm. Of course I managed to get sunburned, even though I was in the shade.

You're probably asking "what does that have to do with gardening?" Well, on the way home we passed through Alexandria and decided to see if the Canadian Tire there had the herbs I wanted to plant this year. They did have decent looking tarragon and rosemary plants, so I grabbed a pot of each. They also had a styro-pak of really lovely chili pepper plants. I was surprised since chili peppers are not a popular garden plant around here. I didn't plant chilies this year but I couldn't pass up the chance to get healthy plants, many already with blooms forming.

Sunday, we went to the Cornwall Canadian Tire. In the past this has been the only place to get herbs, much less healthy ones. This year was very different. The herbs had already been picked through and the ones that were left were in a fair state of, well disaster really. The only individual plants that looked okay were plants I never intended on buying. I sucked it up and purchased winter savoury, a perrenial, lemon verbena for teas, a sad little chamomile plant, and a common sage, also a perennial in our zone (zone 4a-5 depending on who you ask).

To get the basil, marjoram, and coriander I wanted I had to buy two different "kitchen planters" which included even more herbs I hadn't planned on buying. In the end I got two decent looking basil plants, 2 more sage plants including a purple one, a coriander, a curly leaf parsley, two more rosemary plants, french lavender, and a variegated marjoram.

We planted everything as soon as we got home and about two hours before the rain started falling again. We set up a blue barrel planter for the chilies in front of the house. They should get 6-8 hours of sun there and they will get watered every time it rains, along with all my other garden beds.

If all the plants survive, and do well, I will be drying even more herbs and peppers this fall. If I am really lucky all the perennials will make it through the winter and I will have only half the space next year to fill. Hopefully the nursery will have a better selection of herbs for next year.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Garden 2011

I've been incredibly slow in updating the blog recently. Not sure why, but I just haven't felt like writing anything. Since it is raining out I decided it was time to add a new post about the garden.

This year's weather has been up and down since February. It was actually warm enough to plant in March but I held off. It was a good decision, as April was cold and wet all month long. Even though April was on average to cold, I did manage to get my root crops - shallots, carrots, beets, and some garlic - planted one sunny afternoon. We planted in the two smaller raised beds that were covered with the windows, thus warming the soil quicker than the uncovered beds.

Last weekend we turned and planted the two beds closest to the house with beans and peas. They are no longer raised as the wood framing rotted away and we didn't buy more wood to replace them. Instead we mounded the soil in the centre of the area, removed the rotted wood, and levelled it off to create a raised planting surface with sloping sides. We then took some patio stones and surrounded the beds with a place to walk.

We even managed to plant the third and final garden bed with garlic. The bed's sides have also rotted out and need to be replaced but we couldn't turn it this year. Turns out the garlic I planted last year, that didn't grow before the snow fell, decided it was coming up this year. Works for me, I love garlic.

The only thing I have left to plant is the herb bed. We will be shopping for herb seedlings in a couple of weeks, and planting any seeds I have left over from previous years attempts at growing from seed. The chickens did a real number on my herb bed so even my tried and true perennial herbs have failed to survive the winter. I even have to replant the mint and tarragon, two herbs that can easily become weeds if not kept in check.

That leaves a possible dye garden, which I am still thinking about. I like the idea of dyeing my own yarn and maybe even fabric but the research I have done suggests it is a lot more work with noxious chemicals than it is gardening and boiling with fresh leaves. Maybe I'll just grow the plants because they are pretty rather than useful, that will be a change around here.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Thank God for Good Neighbours

This has been a very stressful week. Sunday we headed out the door to attend our SCA Canton meeting. Our Canton headquarters is 1 1/2 hours away and the meeting lasted for about an hour plus another hour of gabbing and visiting. All told we were gone from the house for 5 1/2 hours. It seemed like a great day until we got home to find that Freya was missing.

Since Freya couldn't get out unless we opened the door that meant she was loose for the entire afternoon. Of course we started searching. We grabbed her squeaky toy and walked the entire neighbourhood three times. My second trip around I knocked on every door that had someone home and asked if they had seen a ferret and if they would contact me if they did find her.

Just as it was getting dark, I made my last trip around the neighbourhood. PeterC drove by and told me there had been a sighting of Freya at 3:00 pm under the next door neighbour's porch to the West of us. I spent several minutes around his house and under his porch calling and squeaking to no avail so I headed one more time around the block. I was hoping that is she stayed that close until 3:00 then she wouldn't have gotten to far away.

As I was coming down the side street, on the last leg of my search for the night, I saw our eastern neighbour standing at the edge of his driveway. He said he had found her. I was relieved and asked where. About that time PeterC drove up to tell me that not only had the neighbour found her, apparently asleep under his porch, he had braved the licking of the beast to bring her home. I couldn't help it I hugged the man, probably far longer than was appropriate but I didn't care.

So now, Freya is watched very carefully when we are going in and out the doors. She is kept close to home, by staying in the home. No more going outside even if we are there to watch her. Her world grew and shrank on Sunday. She is forever more a house bound ferret. As for the neighbour, he refused to take money as a reward so he got a dozen fresh eggs and he can have as many eggs as he wants from now on...free of charge as far as I am concerned.