Sunday, December 12, 2010

Green Acres!!!!

This city life just ain't for me I tell you. And while we are still plotting a way out of here I am off today to help #1 son Michael out with his FFA project. Now while I come from a long line of farmers, and am a pretty good green thumb in the garden, I have ZERO clue about Livestock. Never the less by 2pm, I will own a pig today.

Michael, Tony and I are off to Buckeye to find ourselves a nice Pig. Michael has his heart set on a Berkshire Pig.

What is a Berkshire? I have to go online and look, but here is a synopsis dear reader from Wiki:

Berkshire Pigs are a rare breed of pig originating from Britain. In New Zealand it is estimated that there are now less than a hundred purebred sows.
In Britain breeding is maintained by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust at Aldenham Country Park, Hertfordshire and the South of England Rare Breeds Centre in Kent. It is listed as 'vulnerable' as there are fewer than 300 breeding females.[1] In the United States, the American Berkshire Association, established in 1875, pedigrees only hogs directly imported from established English herds, or hogs tracing directly back to such imported animals.[2] The pig is also bred in Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan, under the trademarked name Kagoshima Kurobuta (かごしま黒豚, lit. black pig).

They are making a comeback as this other website states because:

One of the breeds that farmers are finding to work well for these consumers is the Berkshire. They’re hardy, they have good mothering capabilities and they perform very well outdoors, especially when grazing on pasture. Their meat is darker than commercial pork and far more flavorful than the pork found in your grocery store freezer.

So we make our way out West to Buckeye Arizona and soon find ourselves on in what is really becoming a rarer sight in the Metro Phoenix area....farmland. After turning down a country road we spot a line of trucks next to a small farm.

Other folk looking to get a hog. You have to love the American Pick Up Truck.

This pig won't be staying at either of the houses, but instead Michael has a stall he will share with another student named Jeffery (I hope I have spelled that right) and they will care for it on right at the High School Michael attends. His school is actually very well know for its Agricultural department which is worthy.

We get there and sign up for the auction and go look at the pigs. In the center of the picture we meet Jeffery and his parents who are cattle people from Colorado. Very nice people who live just down the street from us out here too.

What I think are Berkshires end up being called China or Poland Pigs. The difference is the floppy ears. Berkshires have pointed ears. Everyone knows that of course.

Michael and his friend/mentor Josh look over the Berkshires while waiting for the auction to start. This is more of a raffle though. You get a number, if you want a pig, you place a "bid". If you are the sole bidder, the pig is yours for a set price. If you have to compete, your number is placed in a bucket, and they draw out the winner.

Tony is a great help as he did this as well and knows his pig.

This makes its easy on us and Michael takes one of the first Berkshires that comes up. Jeffery gets another one so they are two happy young men.

Here they are loaded in the back of the Tundra and ready to go.

I present you with Hamhock Berkshire Perez

The two new Pig Farmers are now at the High School.

Now it is time to get the pigs to the stall. These pigs are still little but are 40lbs of bacon that don't like to cuddle. Jeffery is the first out of the gate.

Jeffery has the needed determination and his pig is pretty much ok with getting a free ride to his new home.

Hamhock though is a true Perez.

From the start he is no follower and wants to see the world.

Exit stage right!!!

After a lot of work we manage to convince him he needs to go to the pen.

He does get a grand escort all the way to the new pen.

In the end he likes his new digs a lot. I am sure we will have more pictures between now and the fair in April.

See you all later.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Festing with the Fairies


the avoidance of reality by absorption of the mind in entertainment or in an imaginative situation, activity, etc.

This is a subject as I get older that I find more and more fascinating. As a young teenager, I spent days lost in books about hero's like Conan the Barbarian, Space Explorers and yes even Luke Skywalker. I still catch myself reading the occasional escape novel as life gets too goofy. And today we are off to spend the day at the Phoenix Faerie Festival with the kids. Well Michael is at Grand Pa's but Colyn's friend Aubrie is here so she gets to come along!

The Girls awaiting entrance to the Fest....notice the 1st Fairy in line just ahead of us. I have no idea what reality awaits beyond the gates but I am going in.

Ahh big mushrooms!! This could be worthy....

The crowd is about 300 and about 2/3 of them are in costume. The vibe is one of merriment but these fairies are leery of any one not from their reality.

Ahh Minstrels! There music is good and we spend a few minutes leaving the shackles of our normal existence and transcend further into the realm of fantasy (or it could be the mushroom I tasted)

Ahh everything seems so normal even when its not.

I decide to ask the locals for some tips on what one must see in this other place. Perhaps it will break the ice.

I look to ask these two fair maidens who surely seem to belong. How hard can it be to ask two ladies where the best shops are for magic dust...

"Excuse me ladies"

Things in this place are not what they seem! But they are friendly fairies and we soon find out there is much to do and see here!

I start to second guess making fun of those guys last week at the BMW Dealer who had guns strapped to their side

Jackson assures me we can take him after all the training we have done in our living room duels. I sense our destiny is to face this knight in a battle to determine the fate of the realm!

We find royals and trees getting along quite nicely as well. I haven't had this great a trip since the seeing the Dead in 89...

...but if Jackson is to face the dreaded knight, I will need a steed!!


And you can see he is a true Destrier!! Now we must find Armor!

We are but poor travelers and thus do not have much in the way of gold. We wander from tent to tent looking for something we can afford

The girls also inform me that to be truly successful in this quest (and it has become just that my friends) we also need to find a pet familiar. Without this we are destined to fail!!

Alas I see what they mean soon enough as many of the Hero's all about us have such a beast at their side. We must divert from our search for Armor and find the mythical creatures.. At once there is a squeal of joy as we find our partner for the remaining tasks!

He shall be from here out be known as Rupert Perez!!! Fear him as you do all the mighty beasts of the Perez line!

I mention to my fair wife, who even the fairies recognize as the loveliest lass in all the kingdom, that Rupert is a good omen and I am sure we shall find armor to help us in vanquish our arch nemesis.

We come to a tent with kingly furniture and a vast array of armor and weapons. Jackson looks me in the eye and full of courage states, "Pops, I shall avenge the loss of our damaged pride and restore hope to all those retched folk who yearn for the return of our rightful claim to the kingdom"... though to those that lack my carefully trained fairy ear it may have sounded more like "He is going down".

Our Little Hero with his new helmet.

She wouldn't sell me hers

Jack strides with purpose to the Knight (without his helmet) and attacks!!

The battle is almost too ferocious to watch dear readers but Jack is channeling all the Good Fairy Chi and soon the evil knight is on his heels.

Thats my boy! Even as he has the Knight on his knees, he has time for the "Hollywood Teen Idol Head Shot" Warner Bros, better be ready!

OH NO!! There is a 2nd knight!! Hey this is my story and if I want a 2nd knight we are going to have a 2nd knight. I have no weapon, and there is no way I can reach the battle field in time! What will we do???!?

The Fairy Queen can't bear to watch from her tower box seat!

There must be someone who can help young Jackson save the Fairy Kingdom!

From nowhere the warrior Maiden strikes a blow to help her brother! The 2nd evil knight breaks off combat and we are victorious!!

There is much rejoicing in the Fairy Kingdom Food Court

Though some try to commercialize things even in this world

Not that our brave Fellowship would fall into that trap.....

We must now dear reader start our return journey back to the reality we share with you. It is a journey that we make with some sadness as we have enjoyed ourselves in the land of the Fairies much more then we thought we would and somewhere in there we learned a valuable lesson.

When you see a flying Frog, you best head back unless you want to really have a different experience.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

A Tent and A Trainride Help Find Happiness

“We tend to forget that happiness doesn't come as a result of getting something we don't have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.” Frederick Koenig

Wise words that I often forget. This week I have a chance to get take a little time and appreciate the ones in my life who truly bring me happiness.

The minions are off so we are going to take one last trip up to the high country. Taking the dirt bikes will allow me to get a little fun in as well up in the backcountry.

Even for a short 2 day trip, the Tundra is loaded. The price I pay for having a small army of minions now smile

The ride takes up out of the valley up the Interstate to Camp Verde before turning East and climbing up to the Rim. We take a nice 40 mile road from the rim over to Woods Canyon Lake to camp

Now I have no love of camping in the MOST popular camping spot in all of Arizona, but if you go in October and on a weekday, it is cool and there are about 20% of the people in the area that you get during the summer months. All in all a worthy time to enjoy this gem.

We set up the tent pretty quick and the kids are settling in good

The hounds seem to be enjoying themselves as well besides the whole being tied up rule.

Laura takes care of the paperwork with the lovely Camp Host

I love the fact that my Colyn is here with us.

And the fact that there really are no child labor laws applicable in the camp ground.

The boys set off to go fishing, Colyn and Laura settle in with some nice books, and I take out the Kawalski for a little run about the woods.

The roads are pretty empty, but it is cold. As usual, I don't bring my heavy riding jacket so I am a bit chilled up here at 7000ft.

So off it is back to camp, where I set up the air mattress and do some reading as well.

We are really roughing it out here. These are my new Cabella's 0 degree bags that zip together nicely for Laura and I to sleep in. WORTHY.

The boys are finding that fishing can be cold as well as fun. Not much biting but they are bonding in a way that I know will mean a tighter relationship somewhere down the road.

So as night falls on the campground, we cook some really good Turkey Burgers and share some quality family time. After getting a good fire going, we decide it is time for the making of the SMORES.

Mom and Michael have a glorious time along with the little ones making perfectly good foodstuff go up in flames.

But they sure are pretty to watch.

Finally it is getting later and later so we decide to turn in.

Michael is old enough that we let him stay out and watch the fire for a bit longer. He is quickly growing into a wonderful young man and deserves a little slack.

The minions are settled in and it makes me laugh that the hounds also have decided to get under the covers to stay warm.

It may be a castle with walls only 1mm thick, but hey I wouldn't trade it for the greatest Keep in all of Europe. Night all.

The next morning we have leisurely breakfast, break camp and make our way down back into the desert. We decide that it is probably best if we take the kids down to the desert to ride since it is still cold up here and they have no winter riding gear. Something I need to fix.

We unload the bikes and get them started for the kids.

Colyn has a natural gift for riding. The little minion can ride with the best of them!! Now we just have to get her to shift more smile

Jackson still follows in his Pops Footsteps and loves to get tossed around in the sand. He will get the hang of that stuff yet!!

Michael is already starting to do a lot more on the KLR. The kid is really good for what he knows and is now exploring the back ways around the truck and climbing up hills. Proud of him.

Mom enjoying the Yammie

A stellar trip and next up is Nick coming into town with the Mrs!

Wow, back 4 days already from camping and this morning we are setting off to meet up with Senay and Nick to have breakfast, see the Heard Museum, and go for a Train Ride!

We get to First Watch and have a hoot having breakfast and catching up. Always fun when Uncle Nicholas is in town!

We head over to the museum and spend a few hours exploring. If you have any interest in Native American Art, the Heard is an amazing place to spend a few hours. Having grown up, I am amazed about how little I know about all the different tribes in Arizona and their history. The Heard has some great exhibits that speak to the Indian Boarding Experience, Native Mainstream Art, and a really great hands on exhibit for the kids to learn about all the tribes in Arizona. We got a lot out of it.

Jackson thinking nobody would notice one less piece wink

The following are some of the pieces that really caught my eye.

There is a HUGE wall of Hopi Kachina Dolls. They are amazing to behold.

This little guy looks spooky alive to me. Amazing!

Totally Glorious I tell ya.

The kids are having a hoot, but we have a train to catch to have lunch at a Turkish Place in Tempe so it is time to head out.

We catch the Light Rail outside the museum and head over to Tempe. Laura and I have used public transit a lot here and in Europe, but this is the first time for the kids. They think it is totally cool!!

Jackson and his favorite Uncle. Funny how much fun those two have together.

The Lake (almost full again after the dam breaking) means we are coming into Tempe. Time to get off.

Senay and Nick stay out of range as the minions play in the fountain. It is a great day!

I still wax nostalgic for those college days.

I found the title to this film fitting for my pal from Princeton and MIT. Only later will I find out that movie is really about something completely different.

In the end the return train is arriving and it is time to head home. Senay is tired from having flown in today and I have to get Michael back to go see Grandpa.

But I am very very Happy that I had a grand week doing simple things with those I love.

Take Care All.