Sun Pony Ranch

Diary of novice (clueless) ranch owners

Friday, February 27, 2009

Estrella War -- Arrival

Well now, looks like I may finally have found some time to adress these long over-due posts about war. This has truely been a month of constant this or that going on; I'm looking forward to March.

Oh yeah, that would be tomorrow. :-\

Anyhoo -- where to start? I guess the easiest is with the reason we were all down in the desert for a week of close quartered camping revelry: War.

Why war? Well, they are very medieval. The middleages were strife with wars. From the crusades to kingdom invasions to the neighborhood feudal skirmish. There was an amazing amount of traveling going on in Europe alone, but also stretching out to Byzantium and beyond to Asia. And... if I go on any further I'm going to seriously reveal the fact I don't know what I'm talking about - heh. Never the less, war brought people from far and wide together. You can bet there wasn't the handy Inn along the way to house them, so they were travelling cities. It's the perfect excuese for a large SCA event.

We arrived at the site (near Florence, AZ) mid afternoon on Thursday. Fearing everyone would be off doing their thing at that time - we were thrilled to run into one of our folks at the registration tent who could point us to our barrony's staked out area on the map and gave us the ultimately useful directions to get there. While camp was fairly scarcely populated, fortunately Baron William was around and helped us stake our claim for a tent spot. And then helped us put the tent up because the breeze was blowing steadily and was prooving more than a handful for the two of us.

And then we were off and running. We had time just to set up our exterior tent and dump all our stuff inside it -- and then change into garb as I wanted to drag Rossilin off to the equestrian 'meet and greet' scheduled for 5. We got there, but as the meet and greet revealed itself to be more of a Review of the Equestrian Policies... we begged off after 45 minutes as I still had a tent to erect. Returned to finish setting up and stowing our stuff, and it was time for dinner. After dinner we were off for the Outlands Party.

Each of the principle kingdoms sponsors a party one of the nights. Ours was very fun, with a few games sprinkled around (Dave and I tried our hand at Hunker Hausen (sp?) a couple of times, but quickly decided that any more beer and that would quickly evolve into a losing proposition.) There was the ever present fire pit and the nearly ever present drum circle around that. You can tell the party was in full swing when belly dancers materialize out of the crowd to entertain. Later, a hired juggling/fire dancing/high wire group, Clan Tynker, did their show to much acclaim. They were really fun!

By this time I had to hit the hay. It was fairly early by war standards (the noise curfew is 2 am) so I settled in to sleep listenting to multiple drum circles and the bustle of several hundred folk moving up and down the lane between our camp and the next section of tents over.

I love how they stake out areas for groups to camp. This too is traditional - a barrony would show up at war and set up 'their' area. We had a space maybe 100' x 100', and within there 15? sleeping tents, and then a big kitchen tent and a gathering tent.

We have a particularly nice barronial banner, which you could see from most spots in the campground area. Which was quite large! This picture was from the highest spot I could easily get to, but still doesn't capture the extents of the camping area. The merchants are behind me and the battle fields off to the right. In the foreground is our Kingdom's reserved area - where the troops mustered for battle, and also where the Outlands party was held. But hey! You CAN see the Unser Hafen banner here...if you have the original high resolution photo and a zoom button. ;-)

The site is an alfalfa field. So the camping area is rife with furrows, and irrigation ditches, which made walking around, particularly at night, rather challenging. Stories of sprained ankles are disturbingly common. I feared we'd feel them sleeping, too, but I guess our sleeping pads did a good job covering them up. In general we slept much more comfortably than I'd thought we would. It was very cold every night - there was frost every morning. But I didn't struggle to stay warm while sleeping, thank goodness!

We'd decided to take two tents - our camping one, and the one we use as a marketing booth. The booth tent has full walls, which we'd never used before. But we figured it would both be convenient to have the extra space, but also would be a little more pavillion-looking than the camping tent. (Not that there weren't plenty of modern tents around) So we set the camping tent up inside the booth tent, which gave us 2 feet of space on two sides, for storage, etc.

The booth tent was fantastic, as the rigid structure gave us places to hang things, like lanterns and our clothes. Not to mention that it's just plain tall enough we could stand and walk around - get dressed, etc. I'm sure it helped with the warmth issue too. However, as we got up the first morning to a rainshower - inside the tent - we did discover that we needed to fold up the roof panels in order to vent it!

So here we are -- these pictures were from the first morning. Breakfast wasn't ready yet so I went for a tour of the site as we really didn't have a chance the night before. And right after breakfast: The troops muster for battle!


Sunday, February 15, 2009

Dirty, tired, sun burned - and never had a better time!

Note to self: next time we go to war, bother to dig out a watch. This digging for the cell phone in your pouch all the time is annoying - made all the more so once the batteries died. ;-D

We're back in the car heading back to the future. We had such a spectacular time! The weather could not have been better. Well, those who were there for the deluge that came down Monday night, flattening nearly all tents, have something else to say about that. And those that weren't there then, had some nasty travel stories. Like the two who got stuck for 6 hours outside of Flagstaff because some idiot drove too fast in the snow and proceeded to cause 4 semis to jack-knife in order to avoid killing him. Their answer to the predicament? Was to see the silver lining in the fact they were on their way to an SCA event and thus had essentially a mobile household with them.

Anyways, we came so late that we had perfect road conditions, and other than the stiff breeze that made setting up our tent a 4 person job, the weather could not have been better. The company was grand, and the activities were so plentiful that we really didn't get to half of what we wanted to.

I'll leave it at that, for now. (I feel a nap creaping up on me). Trust that many more stories and pics are yet to come!


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

War Bound

Well, if work hadn't suddenly crashed down on my head like a ton of bricks, I would have mentioned this before now. As it is, I'm probably am only going to get a bare minumum post up now and you'll all have to wait until we return to get the full story.

We're going to War.



This week is one of the SCA's three largest events held annually. This one, Estrella War, is held in Arizona and principally involves the Kingdoms from southern California, Arizona, and our own - the Outlands. Though people from allover attend. It's a fascinating concept -- 6000 people gather, camp, set up shop and / or classrooms. Put up kitchens, set up above-ground fire pits and basically live midievally for a week. Oh - and go to war. Every year a new treaty is agreed to which determines which groups are allies of which, and I think they design a new set of battlements every year too. The battle scenarios are included in the treaty, which says on Wednesday such and such forces arrive on the south side of the river to battle so and so on the other side for access to the fortress. Beyond that nothing (to my knowledge) is scripted about the battle. But due to on-field rules there will, presumably, emerge a victor.

Estrella began Monday of this week, and goes through Sunday. We are driving down, stopping for the night both directions at my parent's place in Albuquerque. So we won't get there until it is well into full swing on Thursday. Our kingdom, and our barrony within that, is designated camping area - so we'll be camping with our fellows. CAMPING, you say? Right -- we don't camp anymore. Well, not until now I guess. Though, midieval camping bears little resemblance to our typical backpacking version. For instance, we're taking two tents - one to put inside the other. And wooden folding tables. A carpet (yet a very small one) to put inside the outter tent. And probably the kitchen sink before we finish.

We've also been sewing like mad, so as to have enough garb to last 4 days... Not just garb, but cloaks as well since being high desert it traditionally gets quite cold at night. Forecast is for rain too. :-(

Anyways, I'd hoped to be showing off the garb, here, leading up to the event. But as it's the day before we leave and I have yet to totally complete ANY piece, that hasn't happened. Dave has had a lot more luck. Finished his cloak last night, which I think is just spectacular.

I guess at home tonight I'll have to pull out the camera to get the 'before' pictures. I have a feeling after camping in the rain, the 'after' pictures, while maybe being interesting in themselves, aren't going to suffice for showing off our sewing skills.


Someone gave the framework of this gorgeous green brocade skirt to a friend, who passed it on to me since she didn't think it worked for her. I love it!

And then some women in my barrony took some hand-me-down dresses and, knowing that I was still trying to garb-up asked me if I wanted either. This Kirtle worked pretty well. A few alterations to the bodice and finished off the lining and the hems, and replaced the lace up the bodice -- and it's another piece I'm excited about.

Guess I haven't posted these pictures here yet, Dave finished his second tunic several weeks ago. The fabric/trim accents were all his idea.

So my red dress is obviously patterned to match. Unfortunately... I haven't been able to get the hem piece on there. The curvey-hem is oh so cool, but to try and line that with fabric, and then TRIM, is giving me fits. OH WELL. I've given up worrying about it, I'll finish that when we return.

And finally, my cloak. I'm sad this picture doesn't show you the beautiful deep plum purple that it is - but the paisley fleece lining is soo cosey. Both cloaks are made of wool, and are rather HEAVY. I think I'm going to hem mine up before we leave so as to keep it out of the mud.

And then Dave, looking for something different than another tunic, went to town for this French Cheesemakers Smock. This thing has cuffs and gathers and yokes and everything! It looks fantastic.


Monday, February 09, 2009

Pup Update

Snickers is settled into her new life pretty much like a champ. The one exception is when Ginger is out teaching riding lessons, she can't very well have Snicks underfoot, so that is one of the rare times she leaves her home alone, downstairs. She most certainly prefers to be out and about, and barks her little head off at these times.

For a lot of reasons we wanted to get Snickers and Cisco and Autumn all introduced so that we didn't have to keep them segregated. When we first moved to the ranch, it was a very tough summer for our dogs in particular, and it just never worked out well mixing our dogs with Ginger's Patches. So we had precident causing us to be very cautious.

Also for a lot of reasons I've lamented the fact that our dogs have been not-kennel-approved. We'd tried them out in the play yards way back when, but Cisco has always been extra dominating, and in these yards he was worse than ever before at the dog parks. I have to assume he feels some ownership of the yards. And much like the teacher's child that can't catch a break in the classroom, so too do we expect so much more from our own dogs in the yards. It's one thing for a customer's dog to get a nip from another customer's dog -- but if it came from our own dog? Ai Yi Yi.

So, for years now they have stayed in the house and watched the kennel dogs play through the window. This is far from what we'd hoped would be their life when planning this whole deal, so it's always been a nagging feeling of failure.

Since it is our slow time of the year (with the huge exception of the holiday weeks), a few months ago we started introducing them out to the play groups again. I'm happy to say it's working out. I think they both must have mellowed out a lot in the past year. Certainly neither of them have the stamina they used to. I'm not sure Autumn is ever going to be 'up' for playing all day again - she pretty much poops out after just a half day. Cisco, though, he just keeps on going, even though he pays for it later with aches and pains. He may be slower, but he still thinks he needs to dominate every other dog in the group... *sigh*

So it was a natural thing to introduce them to Snickers out in the dog yards. It really could not have been less dramatic. The three of them all walked back across the parking lot together, everyone cool as a cucumber. (Cisco hobbling, Autumn struggling to stay awake). And on into the house together... and suddenly Cisco and Autumn said -- Now waaaaiit a minute! But they were mostly just curious - as if they hadn't just spent the day with her. Cisco still keeps one eye pegged on her whenever she is in the house with us, but he isn't too bothered by her presence. And soon, hopefully, he'll relax totally.

So, now our problem is solved. When Snicks is downstairs alone, eventually we hear her come up the basement steps and sniffs and snorts under the door. We open the door and invite her to spend the afternoon with us. Only, it seems she is still fixated on Ginger down at the arena. None of our windows facing the arena are close enough to the ground for her to see out. But she makes due.

Dave said -- "She sure rules the household".

My reply? "Yeah, two households."

As if it weren't before, it's become clear that the furniture-is-off-limits rule has never sunk in for Snickers. Ginger was surprised that she kept finding fingerprints on her bar-height glass dining room table, so she took a closer look. NOT fingerprints; pawprints.


Thursday, February 05, 2009

SCA Video

This video was produced by the SCA group in Austin Texas -- as a teaser trailer for this year's event. They equestrian guild there is rather advanced in the games we play (in the last 30 seconds of the video). It's just too cool not to repost:

More on the Lysts at Castleton event