Sunday, August 19, 2012

All-American outing

It's been our last weekend before college starts up again for the fall, and Aimee had planned out a schedule of interesting and celebratory activities.

The first fun item on the agenda was my idea, though, a visit to a local winery.  There are a number of vineyards now in Maine, fairly solid demonstrations of the way our climate is changing. I've been thinking that one day I'll plant a small vineyard here on the Great Farm, and I wanted to investigate how the business works.

We've been to a few vineyards and wineries together, in places like Pennsylvania and Virginia, but never to a Maine vineyard. The one we chose was Savage Oakes in Union, Maine. Although I've always despised the adding of "Ye Olde" extra vowels to place names, especially when there are such meaningful place names already available.

For instance: How could you go wrong with "Union, Maine" -- what northern US place name could be more full of all-American historical meaning? Does "Union Winery" sound too blah?

I suppose it does.

We didn't hold this anachronism against them, though, and happily paid not only our $3 tasting fee, but also shelled out another thirty bucks for two bottles of premium Maine plonk, which, although it's as yet unopened, we already know is quite good because we tasted it. Then we took a short walk around the fields and vineyard.

Savage Oakes grows quite a few of the grapes I'd investigated for our own operation one day; St. Croix, Frontenac, and others. They're all Quebecois in origin, and we'll probably finish up using the same varieties, since they're the ones that have been bred for this climate.

The only one I object to is "Marachal Foch."

(You'll never get a properly educated Englishman to appreciate a grape named for an bigoted, over-rated, warmongering old bugger whose incompetence and arrogance is to blame for the deaths of at least a half-million British Great War soldiers and who nearly killed my own grandfather. "Lions led by donkeys," and he was the lead "ass". But enough said about him.)

Savage Oakes grows beef and pork too, and we also saw Dexter cattle and three pigs, two massive four- or five-hundred pound sows that looked like ordinary landrace or Yorkshire types, as well as a youngish boar, not more than three-hundred pounds, that might have been a Berkshire. Aimee was impressed by the size of the sows, and since part of my "grand plan" is to one day get a couple or three brood sows too, this was an eye-opener for her.

I think there comes a point when pigs must get easier, not harder, to keep, as they get bigger -- just because they can't move very fast anymore because they're too big! But I did wonder how much feed a sow this big might consume, especially when in pig or lactating. Pig feed has gone way up already this year, in anticipation of the corn crop failure in the mid-west.

Our next activity was primarily Aimee's plan. We'd been invited to attend a roller derby tourney involving our Unity College colleague Mandy and her team. There were to be a series of games involving various second and first tier teams from Rockport, Portland and Bangor.

Here's an OK shot of Mandy coaching some team-mates, my only photo from the tourney that was even half-way decent. (There wasn't enough light in the building.)

I'd never been to a roller derby before, and was quite interested in the scene, which I have to say was a typical American kind of a mixture of spoof and serious play. The roller derby "jams" involve ten women, four blockers and a "jammer" from each team are on the oval course for a given play. The jammer must wiggle or weave or butt her way past the opposing side's blockers, make a lap, and then gets a point for every blocker she laps.

It reminded me a little of Harry Potter's "Quiditch, as a made-up kind of a game with it's own language and special terms.

(But then, what game wasn't made up at some point in history? Even my beloved Rugby Union?)

One special feature of roller derby is the "jeer-leaders," which are, of course, a spoof on cheerleaders. This particular group of jeer-leaders was rowdy and hilarious with their various routines and antics.

Anyway, it was a fun night out. Aimee and I finished it up by finding Rockland's top-of-the-line Italian restaurant, Primo, and spending far too much money on some special deserts and snacks. Aimee was pleased with her deserts, while I had some excellent bruschetta with smoked tuna, a new flavor for me, washed down with a glass of Pinot Grigio.

I'd definitely recommend this place for the food, which is superb, but I wouldn't expect to get out of there with much change from three hundred bucks, even just for dinner for two. We only had a couple of small things each, but we blew through a fifty.

I expect I'm just cheap, and that fifteen dollars for a glass of house wine is perfectly normal where the majority of the (out-of-state) customers came from (despite the fact that they could get a whole bottle for the same price just up the road at the winery).

Then it was time for the almost hour-long drive home, which I suppose is why we don't go down to the Rockport/Rockland area very often.

Here we are in the bleachers at the roller derby, where the french fries were a little cheaper, and quite good.

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The purpose of this blog is for Aimee and I to communicate with friends and family, with those of our students, and other folks in general who are interested in homesteading and farming activities.

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