Ted and Aurelia

The Busy Days of Summer at Dancing Rabbit

It is always strange to me that summer begins when the days start getting shorter. And yet we stew through the persistent heat and humidity, these lazy days of summer. If only mine were lazy! I feel as though there is never enough time for all the things on my plate that want doing, let alone time to hang out and contemplate. My favorite moments these days are walks after dark lit only by the stars and fireflies, as the day’s heat melts away and the dew accumulates in the grass. Ted here to bring you the latest from Dancing Rabbit.

We’re rolling toward the end of our second visitor session, and as usual the variety of people who’ve discovered Dancing Rabbit and come to learn more bring so much with them to share. I’ve particularly enjoyed hearing about the recent living abroad experience of some of our visitors, in South Korea and Kazakhstan. I do travel now and again, but this past July 1 marked 20 years since I first arrived in Scotland County, and while I love rural living here in NEMO (Northeast Missouri), I continue to crave worldly context and experience. I’m also really appreciating the several visitors who’ve been boosting numbers at our Ultimate frisbee games lately.

Covid continues to throw all kinds of gnarly things into the gears of our daily lives, leading to a lot of crunchy, uncomfortable challenges. As a small village with a lot of close daily interaction among members, residents, and guests, arriving at decisions about how to proceed and conduct our collective endeavors is not easy. Shall we make the remainder of our programs open only to those who’ve chosen to be vaccinated? Who will that exclude that might otherwise be a great fit for our community? What are the risks each of us feel?

Consensus, at the heart of our decision-making, pushes us to seek outcomes that bring the greatest good for the greatest number of people, and to include minority opinions in reaching our agreements. Consensus says, “every person holds a piece of the truth.” The pandemic continues to feel really black-and-white to many villagers, no matter their viewpoint. We sometimes struggle to see and accept each other in our fear. How do we arrive at decisions we can all live with? 

Meanwhile, back at the ranch… All this is layered on top of the busy lives we’ve always lived, trying to grow food, build shelter, seek right livelihood, and find a bit of time to appreciate each day we’re given. The parched conditions in earlier June, followed by a week of persistent wet weather, meant that by the normal garlic harvest date of about July 1, much of our crop had become an over-mature, wet mess in the ground. Had I had fewer things I was trying to do, I might have managed to harvest some of the crop sooner. Instead, after many years of continuous seed saving and selection, we may have to replace our softneck stock, since almost none of it is in good enough condition to cure and store for fall planting. Plenty to eat, though! Another opportunity for letting go.

My daughter, Aurelia, turned 15 the last day (and the last minute) of June, which means the long-awaited opportunity to get her learner’s driving permit has finally arrived. Her attentiveness and reception to lots of verbal driving instruction and cautionary advice in recent years makes me confident she’ll be a good driver, but there is no getting around the fear of letting one’s only child behind the wheel of a very large and heavy machine to hurl herself across the land at great speed. New horizons await. We celebrated her with a variety of gatherings and expeditions throughout her birthday week with friends and family alike. Hard to believe she’s so old!

Former Red Earth member (and regular frisbee player) Jacob has been staying for some weeks in the village now on a working visit, keeping himself busy adding on a small room to Sparky’s cabin next to Ironweed. It’s been several years now since I’ve been engaged very heavily in construction, and as scattered as I feel at times, I’ve been heartened to observe the speed of his progress. It is good to remember how much I could get done if I were more focused. It has also been a pleasure to see a little more of Sparky herself, checking out the progress.

Jed and Brumby headed to Ohio for a few days to participate in Horse Progress Days. They reported that they were among a distinct minority who were not Amish, and came away thrilled with what they’d seen in all manner of horse-drawn machinery. I’m excited for each of them to keep pursuing their interests, in hopes that we’ll eventually see some draft animals here at Dancing Rabbit, and the expanded agricultural opportunities they’d bring.

The dairy co-op continues to preserve the harvest for both current and future consumption. Our goat, Alice, bred behind schedule, kidded one boy and one girl a couple weeks ago, Juno and Sunny, so just as some of the other does start tapering off on milk production, she’ll boost our goat milk supply once the kids are weaned. In addition to all the fresh milk, I’m enjoying these rich days of cheese diversity, with cheddars (both plain and fancy, with seeds or herbs), feta, chevre, haloumi, cottage cheese, yogurt, mozzarella, and other delectables taking their turns in the co-op fridge. I’m grateful to all the co-op members for milking, fence moving, carrying water, mowing, and etc., to Brumby for sharing the cheese labor, and to Priscilla, a Critter work exchanger, for jumping in to learn cheesemaking as well. She’ll make her first solo feta this week. It’s been a pleasure to see folks taking tours of the village again in recent weeks. Our next tour is Saturday, July 17, at 1 pm, so if you’ll be in the area and want to see what we’re up to here in the village, please join us! We also still have slots open for the Ecovillage Weekend Experience later this month, as well as other programs and visitor sessions in the coming months. That’s it for this week. Hope to see you soon!

Ted Sterling has lived at DR for 20 years! He is a jack-of-all-trades, and you can see him around the village making cheese, hooking folks up to our village electrical grid, feeding his chickens, working with Prairie tending his large productive vegetable garden, and so much more. Many of the stories of how DR was created over the years include his name.

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