Mother Earth News Fair: Herbal Tinctures, Goat Milking and Cider Making

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A couple of weeks ago we drove down to the Washington State Fairgrounds for the Mother Earth News Fair, organized by the famous granola-crunching magazine. I pitched it to my husband as a learning trip: he would get to listen to other herbal medicine professionals and learn to make his own tinctures and extracts. But it turned out to be a blast for the whole family.

For those of you that aren’t familiar, Mother Earth News is a magazine focused on self sustainability and environmental action. It’s chock full of articles on frugality, organic gardening, urban and rural homesteading, renewable energy, sustainable communities, social and environmental issues. Not surprisingly, the readership has blossomed in the last few years, while other magazines are falling behind. We pour over our issue every month, and I got my dad a subscription for his birthday this year.

Back to the fair. It was a combo event… There were the traditional country fair kind of activities, such as checking out livestock. Since many of the attendees run very small farms or have varying degrees of urban homesteads (like us) everything was focused on bantam (small) breeds, from the chickens to the cows.

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We ate fair food…

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…and due to the general animal craziness of our family, spent an inordinate amount of time watching herding dogs. Kinda neat though… I’ve actually never seen an Old English Sheepdog or a Corgie work before!

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The second part of the fair was a trade show, where booths showcased everything from organic seeds to solar panels. The girls has just as much fun as us exploring and asking questions. Here is Spice learning to play old games at the heritage society booth…

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And we also found a few suppliers for our businesses and home. For example, we spent way too much time at the Mountain Rose Herbs booth, picking out herbal tinctures for our veterinary hospital and oil herbal infusions of or the new line of creams I’m developing for Africa Sleeps.

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We also met a lot of awesome people at the booths over the weekend. It’s was an interesting mix of rough and tumble farmers, tie-dyed hippies, yoga moms, uber conservative Christians, tattooed alternative parents and knobbly kneed gardeners. Fun crowd!

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And finally, the reason we went in the first place, were the workshops. Jason went to several herbal and natural medicine workshops. Some of them were amazing, according to him. He also said that one or two were a little flaky. But overall, he definitely felt it was worth his time, and he picked up a lot, especially from one intensely knowledgable lady.

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The girls has two favourite workshops. The being keeping turned out to be way too young for them (Sugar’s pick) but Spice’s goat milking workshop was awesome. I can tell you, we have been asked many times for a goat in the last few weeks. I’ll remind you that we live in an urban neighbourhood, but they don’t seem to get why I keep saying no…

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The other surprisingly amazing workshop was drawing animals. I tell you, you could have heard a pin drop for 1/2 hour while the forty kids learned how to draw animals using geometric shapes. After the lesson, the kids hung around and made a few friends… Fun to connect with people from different walks of life!

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My favourite workshop, by far, was the cider making workshop. I’m determined to plant some cider apple trees this summer, and try my hand at it a couple of years from now! With my wine background, I could understand the process in depth, and feel I’ve got a good handle on cider making now… Theoretically, that is 🙂

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And each morning en route, we did a little homeschooling, so the girls wouldn’t fall behind on their reading. The cutest part was their learning journals, though, chronicling what they learned at the museum in Vancouver and at the Washington fair. They are such science buffs!

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Overall, it was a lovely family weekend. I highly recommend it! There are three fairs across the USA. We will certainly go back again, if not next year, then the year after!

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