Greetings gentle readers, this is Cob reporting on the latest and greatest happenings from Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage and our little houses on the prairie. For those of you outside of northeastern Missouri, the unseasonably warm spring has given way to cooler temperatures and welcome rain, rejuvenating all the weeds and grasses that seek to take over our gardens or any other bare patch of ground. I know that my transplants and direct-sown vegetables are in there somewhere, but I sometimes have trouble finding them. I often wonder why we go to the trouble of growing such fussy plants, when weeds are so abundant…and then I taste that first fruit, plateful of steamed chard, or fresh asparagus spear…and it all becomes worthwhile.
The same has sometimes been said regarding our visitor program…sharing our home with so many folks is fulfilling in its own way, but it does take a lot of time and effort each season. Yet each visitor group brings its own reward too. Avery, Dee, and Hassan have stayed on after their visitor session and have joined the ranks of work exchangers for the season, and possibly even beyond as they consider Dancing Rabbit as a potential place to make their new home. Others have teased us with their passion for sustainability and wide range of skills, and left with promises of returning sometime soon. A whole new crop of visitors is scheduled to arrive next week, and a quick read through their application letters is enough to keep the excitement building.
Visitors and work exchangers aren’t the only newcomers. This week also saw the arrival of Dancing Rabbit’s first sheep, plus a number of additional chickens and rabbits (of the domesticated variety) as well as a very large deep freeze where at least some of them will be residing later this year. For those not excited about local, organic, and humanely raised meat, Dancing Rabbit also received the first call to come pick excess fruit. The warm spring certainly made the fruit trees happy, and sweet cherries were ready for picking a solid month ahead of schedule, and I’m snacking on them right now. Most everything appears to have come through a late frost intact, and if hail or drought don’t get in the way it should be an abundant year. If you are in the area, and have an excess, please consider giving us a call. Usually some group of rabbits will be happy to come and put that abundance to use…dehydrating, canning, or otherwise preserving it for the winter months (and to share it by way of repayment).
The return of visitors and work exchangers had also enables a resurgence in building activity. Several additional bents have been raised at Sharon & Dennis’ home site, several foundations are in place waiting for framing, exterior siding has continued at my own house (and may even be done this week, hip hip hooray), and others have worked on sourcing materials and preparing them for use this year. The entire community has also been involved in clearing the way for additional road work, extending the main road out to the new community building site and through another neighborhood, and beginning some reworking of Dancing Rabbit’s public entrance and providing a better storage area for our trailers and relocating a couple small grain bins. Yup. Just can’t get enough of moving heaving things from one place to another. New resident Ben is so enthusiastic in fact, that he has taken on local milk delivery twice-weekly by bicycle.
On a slightly larger scale, our thanks to Clayton Kline and others for hauling many loads of rock for the new roadway, and to the many rabbits who turned out to put down groundcloth in the roadbed and drainage conduit in the ditches after Zimmerman’s Excavating had cleared the topsoil. Much of the design work on the new community building has been done, and we are moving on to the phase of determining which jobs we need to create and hire for first…among these is a job we’re calling the Materials Czar, who will be responsible for researching and sourcing every single item that goes into the new building to ensure that we will meet LEED Platinum and the Living Building Challenge criteria for certification of the completed structure. Having the new roadway in place prior to beginning physical work on the site will help the project go more smoothly, and hopefully we won’t have to work around the weather quite so much.
I think that most anywhere else, this would be more than enough to occupy everyone’s time and energy, but this is Dancing Rabbit so there’s even more. Rachel’s new building La Casa de Cultura (the Casa for short) has been getting a workout. In addition to daily yoga and meditation, the Casa hosted another weekend of dance instruction with Gunter & Cora, who will joyfully teach just about any dance style you can think of. The scheduled offerings included waltz, tango, salsa, and general instruction for improving dance partner communication (an absolute necessity for double left-footers like myself) along with plenty of time for open dancing. Balancing social fun with business fun, we are also preparing for another of our bi-annual facilitation trainings, wherein we supply a number of business topics to discuss for both our benefit and that of the trainees. This means a number of significant proposals to read through and ponder in advance of those meetings. For me, one of the most exciting proposals on tap is the possible addition of a fully electric car to the vehicle co-op. At 60+ users, the addition of a third passenger car of any sort to our fleet would be useful…but an electric car that we can charge with power generated on-site is simply fantastic! With a range sufficient to handle several trips to Memphis and Rutledge on a single charge, this will make scheduling other vehicles for those longer trips to LaPlata, Quincy, or Ottumwa (usually for the train) much easier.
What we do in the course of our daily lives takes a lot of personal effort. Tending to family & gardens, income work, building-the-village work, and even squeezing in some personal fun-time can often feel overwhelming and challenging. Yet it has its rewards, which are often most apparent in the small things. Walking through a village where I had a hand in raising that wall, weeding that garden, or filling that woodshed. Singing with fellow rabbits one night, listening to their personal fears another, solving a problem in committee the next day, feeling a connection with each and every one of my fellow rabbits. Ahh…life is indeed full of cherries. Please excuse me while I go refill my bowl.
Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage is an intentional community and educational nonprofit in Rutledge, northeast Missouri, focused on sustainable living. We offer free tours to the public twice monthly from April-October. Our next public tour will be May 26 at 1pm. Meanwhile, for more information you can visit our website www.dancingrabbit.org, or give us a call at (660) 883-5511.