Howdy, everybody. Ben here, bringing you recent happenings from Rabbit-Land, and if you regularly read this column, I’m sure you know that you’ll be hearing what the weather is doing, even though you live in the NEMO area too. Well, keeping with tradition, allow me to report that for middle-late December, it is downright balmy. I haven’t had to double-check my calendar, despite such climatic occurrences, because I’ve observed the short days and low arc of the sun enough to feel deep in my body the need to hibernate. The winter hibernation activity I am most acquainted with from my childhood is watching lots of television. Though this has not been a part of my life for many years, never until now have I dwelt among so many others who are also without said technology. So, what do you do when the days are short and there’s no TV to fill the long nights? I’ve been taking a look around to find out.
Many of us are reading. Around my place, agriculture books are the current vogue. I’m flipping back and forth between a couple right now, channel surfing, if you will. My primary read has been “Meat: A Benign Extravagance” by Simon Fairlie, which explores the value of farming with animals holistically. There are a few of us here reading Mr. Fairlie’s book, and we will have a discussion group later this winter. My other read, when all the tables and figures in “Meat” go to my head is Sepp Holzer’s “Permaculture,” which features glossy color photos of rare pig breeds, among other things. But most exciting of all is that I have already received my first seed catalog of the winter, this one from Southern Exposure. My daughter likes to circle all the tomatoes and eggplants for inclusion in our order. Some other titles I’ve seen consumed around the village include Joel Salatin’s “Folks, This Ain’t Normal,” Kurt Vonnegut’s “Mother Night,” and “For All the People: Uncovering the Hidden History of Cooperation, Cooperative Movements, and Communalism in America” by John Curl, which appears to be both interesting and of considerable heft.
Of course there are also more physical, less cerebral, activities we can enjoy here, even without snow to sled on. For example we have just succeeded in a controlled burn of our thinsoil prairie. Thanks be to our local fire department for having our backs in case of any unfortunate situation which did not occur. Not only was the land being renewed, but fun was had by all. If manic raking and fifteen foot walls of flame aren’t your thing, I suggest riding a bike. Personally, I do this all the time. The unusually warm winter makes for perfect riding weather, but if you live on a gravel road you may want to allow it to dry a little before slogging through the mud with 45 pounds of groceries and a three year old child, as I did this week. And if you do decide to ride in such inclement conditions, just remember: momentum keeps the mud from sticking.
Veering back to the weather, we have had the occasional clear sky this week, most fortunately during the peak of the Geminid meteor shower. I sat out on a dirt-pile with my kid and quickly lost count of meteors. Watching the night sky can be a very rewarding activity for the sluggish season. Grab a few friends, a beverage of your choice and watch … its just like TV. Speaking of just like TV, I would be remiss to not mention that many of us here at Dancing Rabbit get more than our fill of screen time, just on computers instead of television. We even have our own internal forums up and running online, so that we can have conversations and discuss community matters without braving the cold. For some reason I feel completely able to write this column, to be consumed by all of you, and yet the idea of putting my thoughts out on the internet in a forum makes me a little paranoid.
I should also make mention of some of the construction that is still happening into the winter. The yet unnamed earth-bagged bunker on Crooked Root is starting to look more and more like the little model Kyle showed me earlier this year, and Sharon and Dennis’ floor has grown about a foot deep with gravel, brick and urbanite. All that commitment to work is inspiring, but I have to admit that the week before last I spent more time watching videos of building than I did actually building myself.
Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage is an intentional community of more than 60 people and growing. We practice ecologically sustainable living in Rutledge, Northeast Missouri. We offer free tours to the public which will begin again in April, 2013. For more information, see our website at www.dancingrabbit.org, find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/DancingRabbitEcovillage, follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/dancingrabbit or give us a call at (660) 883-5511.