Memphis Democrat Column Week of 11/16/09
Dan D. here writing another column to update you all on what we were up to at Dancing Rabbit this week. It's been a stretch of unusually good weather lately. We got the October (or even September) we never actually got in October. I was able to finish the scratch coat of plaster on the house and make more progress on the light clay straw insulation on the South wall this past week.
I wasn't alone in getting some good work in during the late season warm front. Luke Zimmerman was doing more excavating the foundation for Bear and Alyssa's new house. The Ironweed kitchen has been transforming lately as Travis and Ted have been putting some finishing touches on it. I say finishing touches, but I guess the work adds up to a lot more than touches. The loft was finished so that Travis could sleep there during his stay. The greenhouse on the south side has been almost entirely enclosed. Boone put a door on the chicken coop and earthen floor was laid to prep the coop for the new tenants--my chickens. At our meeting today Ted talked of having a kitchen warming party soon.
Speaking of chickens, I was able to eat the first chicken from my flock this last week. I've got about 4 roosters and only 7 hens, so I plan to eat a couple more roosters before long. Mary Beth and I made delicious chicken soup in which the only ingredients not grown by us were salt and pepper. Then this morning I went out for the morning feeding and found my first egg. I brought it back home and fried it up right away. It was delicious, and the yolk had a deep orange color as only the freshest and healthiest eggs have.
Raising chickens has definitely been a lesson in sustainability though. Growing your own livestock gives you a better understanding of how much they eat. I'm sure this is not news for you livestock farmers out there. It's incredible how many bushels of feed those 11 chickens have packed away these last seven months. And they were pastured in addition to being fed grain. Granted if they were meat birds, they would get eaten after 6 weeks, but layers take a lot longer to start laying, so it takes a lot more food. Anyway, it's a lot of food I could have just eaten myself, instead of feeding to an animal. For me though, the chickens are a part of the farm “ecosystem”. I'm raising them to fertilize the vineyard, and any eggs or meat they produce are just a bonus.
As far as other happenings here, there was a dance party earlier this week just for the heck of it. I heard that Sheila had been going through dance party withdrawal and just had to do something about it. It doesn't take much to get a dance party together here at DR. Just clear the floor of the Great Room after dinner, put on your town clothes, dim the lights, and crank up the stereo.
I attended Ziggy's slideshow Thursday on his trip to the Natural Building Colloquium. He inspired us with incredible photos of the Cob Cottage Company, a natural building school in Oregon that specializes in cob building. Cob is a building material consisting of sand, clay, and straw that Ziggy built his house out of last year. I'd recommend checking this place out on the web or in person if you can. On his visit, Ziggy was particularly taken by the cob walls that connected the buildings. Walking through the little cob village you had to walk through archways in the walls. Now people here are thinking of ways we can bring some of the creativity and beauty of the Cob Cottage Company to DR.
Thomas has continued plugging along on his efforts to reforest the bottom land. I got a closer look at the work of the latest work party yesterday while walking out on the land. It looks like many of the trees planted last year have survived and sprouted new shoots this year. Earlier this week a crew of volunteers put tree tubes around many of the saplings to protect them from grazing by wildlife. Hopefully in the years to come we'll see our bottom land grow tall and leafy thanks to their efforts.
Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage is an intentional community in Rutledge, Missouri practicing ecological sustainability. Tours are over for the season, but will be offered again starting next April. For more information, please see our website at http://www.dancingrabbit.org.