Happy Spring! A Dancing Rabbit Update

The cat lockdown began this week, initiating four months (through mid-July) of our annual attempt to shelter ground-nesting birds in the village area from the depredations of our vicious feline friends in the most sensitive period of raising young. Ted here—a little weary from multiple nighttime wake-ups by my cat Gromit to let him in or out of the three not-quite-outdoors destinations now available to him—to bring you the news from our fair village.

I got the lowdown this morning on the Scotland County Community Theater play in Memphis, MO, from Danielle, Hassan, and Graham, who was heading out after a week of work exchange with Hassan. Sharon and Cob also attended. Our own Duncan and Ewan Carleton each played a couple roles, and it sounded as though they and all the other players seemed perfectly suited to their respective characters. I understand that the play took on the theme of politics and elections, and had a subtle takeaway to the effect that we don’t always know enough or take the time to see through the twisted paths of our democracy.

Though the weather was not as cooperative with outdoors work this past week as it was a couple weeks back, Hassan and Graham managed to keep busy (and warm) through their early-season work exchange. Liz, Graham’s mom, is moving to the village next month, and both she and Graham were participants in last year’s Permaculture Design Course, held here last September. We enjoyed Graham’s easy presence in the kitchen with us, and hearing about his archeology work back in California.

Still-life with mitt, ball, and brussels sprouts. Photo by Ted.

You may recall that I was half-lamenting the warmth when last I wrote. This past week things seemed a little more normal for March, temperature-wise, including a frigid low of 11 or 12 Tuesday night. Most plants seemed to be ok with it, though the forsythia that had started to bloom in the warm stretch definitely looks a bit bedraggled. Temperatures rose again as the week went on; various other shrubs and bulbs are slowly budding or leafing out, seemingly no more worse for wear than usual. The first leaves always give me a boost.

The tree team, charged with caring for the treescape within the village area, has been busy lately. Several weeks ago we dismantled a thorny honey locust that loomed over the path near the back of the common building, dropping dead thorny limbs now and again. Soon its remaining stumps will be transformed into a bench for a good sit next to the wee frog pond.

This week the trees in question were those in the orchard area near the road. In the more treed half of the area we years ago planted pecans, oaks, and American persimmons; those that have survived were ready to see a little more light and start growing more vigorously, so we took down a number of tall elms and poplars to give them release. That produced a great deal of brush, which Thomas and I started moving out to a large and growing pile out in our newly burned fields using Sylvia, our old trailer. We were grateful to a bunch of folks that showed up Saturday morning for a work party to wrap up the last of it. I hear we’re going to have a rather large bonfire out there sometime soon.

Speaking of fire, early in the week we were surprised to hear that one of the last remaining buildings on Rutledge’s Main Street, a tall brick building that had once housed a bank and a theater, had burned down in the night. I was up late that night and had witnessed the glow of the fire lighting up the sky, hoping that nobody was injured. Javi, who has joined the fire department since moving here last year, said it was quite the scene, including some burning powerline poles and downed wires.

That didn’t register as something that might further impact me until later in the week, when I went to get some cheese from the fridge in my mother’s house in town by the old school. Bear, working on installing cabinets, said there had been a pool of water under it of late, and in investigating I discovered that the power must have been down for a time because everything in the freezer had thawed, including a very large ham.

Sara, our cook that day, picked up that ball on short notice and ran with it, adding ham with a peach glaze (peaches also from the thawed freezer) to her meal. We’ve been going through the rest of the ham this week, glad that we didn’t lose it. It remains to be seen how the cheese will have fared, but those that I brought home and opened seem ok so far.

Cheese reminds me that we’re expecting more baby goats in the near future from Alice and Honey. I’m not sure how it’ll work out that Curly Sue’s kids will be weaning well ahead of the others, and whether we’ll start milking just her or wait until the others are ready also. These are some of the questions I rely on Mae to answer. Cooperation!

St. Patrick’s day, Friday, was Bob’s birthday, and the Mercantile also hosted a traditional meal of corned beef, cabbage, and potatoes with a variety of other tasty morsels, hosting both Rabbits and folks from town. The following morning brought a quilt fabric sale there, which brought a different slice of visitors to the establishment. Sara and Aurelia went up for that and came home with numerous skeins of wool and an “over-the-rainbow” cupcake from the night before… you can imagine that Aurelia was over the rainbow about it in the moment.

With the return of milder temperatures toward the weekend, we pulled off a robust game of ultimate, playing 6-on-6 for a while with the help of players from all three local communities and a surprise visit from Renay, who grew up at Sandhill and was home briefly from college up north. She was no more than seven or eight when we first moved here… time passes. Aurelia had me out playing catch during the week, which I enjoyed, but I’m also hoping to get her hooked on chasing flying discs, my fave.

Visitors will arrive in a few weeks, and we have seedlings coming up in the greenhouse. Sara has been putting in time out in the garden preparing for planting time, and I have some blueberry plants to order to fill in a spot near our others in the newly-expanded garden. Firewood work is in the home stretch down our way, but I want to wrap it up completely here soon, to clear the decks for other work. I have a few fruit trees yet to prune as well, and onions to plant… the new season rises.

Here’s hoping all you readers are warming up to the budding world again as well, and that we’ll see you here soon when we start up our twice-monthly tours in April. Happening the 2nd and 4th Saturdays of the month at 1pm through October, you’re welcome to come tour the village and see what we’re up to. Happy Spring!


Only two spots left in Dancing Rabbit’s first visitor session of 2017, which starts April 16th. Check out our visitor program and apply now! Or, if a workshop is more your speed, check out our workshops and events page. The Milkweed Mercantile is also hosting workshops in 2017, including a soapmaking and herbal medicine weekend in May, so be sure to check out their offerings as well!

Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage
is an intentional community and nonprofit outside Rutledge, in northeast Missouri, focused on demonstrating sustainable living possibilities. Find out more about us by visiting our website, reading our blog, or emailing us.

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