Memphis Democrat Column Week of 10/26/09

Hello from Ted at Dancing Rabbit with this week's update.

I'm just now well recovered from a back strain a couple weeks ago, and so was glad to be getting back to work this week. Travis, our excellent work exchanger from last year, has returned for a month or so to help work on getting Ironweed kitchen work wrapped up after five years. It feels close, and yet the list of work to do is long... so we keep plugging away. Travis stomped some cob and got to work on cobbing the bench inside that will complete the downstairs seating area, while I framed up some of the greenhouse walls in preparation for installing the various windows and greenhouse material we'll use for glazing the attached structure. Once that's in, we'll start harvesting lots of free heat from the sun, and also have a place to keep buckets of slaking clay warmer on cold nights. Cold clay makes cob stomping far less pleasant.

Boone has started putting in some work on the kitchen as well, installing the exterior door to the chicken coop on Friday That makes us close to ready for Dan's chickens to be the first inhabitants of our kitchen's chicken coop and bring "chicken TV" alive. There is a large round window installed in the interior wall that separates the kitchen from the coop, so soon we'll be able to watch the chickens at work from our comfortable sitting spot on the battery bench.

We're most of the way through garlic planting now, with just a few varieties left to put in the ground. The anchor varieties are already spreading new roots under the thick mulch, prompted by the cool Autumn rain we've seen so much of lately. As the cold of winter comes on, they'll go dormant, ready to get growing come Spring with the help of all the roots they're setting right now.

Meanwhile we're still enjoying fresh foods from the garden, with leeks, chard, kale, green onions, and gorgeous salads making their appearances. We also have a bed of big, beautiful Chinese cabbages that are just reaching the stage where they start to fill out and bulk up. What I want is mature cabbages, but the hard start they got in August's brief dry spell delayed them. Whether they'll make it or not depends on how long this cool rainy weather with only light frosts continues, or perhaps on whether I can find a cold frame big enough to enclose them in. Either way we have a very healthy crop of daikon radish, so I can make root chi even if I don't have a lot of cabbage for a proper kim chee. Garlic and peppers and scallions I have plenty of. Just have to import the ginger.

The on-again, off-again weather and the absence of a bunch of members off at a deconstruction project in Illinois this week made for some spotty progress on various work projects in the community, but Ma'ikwe and her crew have been putting in some incredibly long hours. I've several times seen the work lights lighting up her house from within when I turn in for the night. In the past few days I saw work exchanger Kit up on the roof lime plastering the light clay-straw clerestory wall. Rev's been framing interior walls and prepping for drywall. The progress is remarkable.

Jeff's been busily cobbing the interior of the dome, and I hear the Timberframe is just about enclosed now save for the observation deck, the long-awaited steel superstructure for which is headed for a galvanizing hot-dip tomorrow morning down near Columbia. Dan and work exchanger Cody seem to have nearly finished baling the walls of their house, and they and Mary Beth will host another exterior plaster party this coming week. Thomas and Ali have kept up a feverish pace of work on interior walls, floor, and earth-pigmented linseed oil finish on the exterior of the Mirth Lodge. 'Tis the season for battening down the hatches.

The Milkweed Mercantile passed another milestone this weekend in hosting their first guests Laird and Ma'ikwe for Laird's 60th birthday. Friends and family came in for the event and the Mercantile was resplendent in candlelight for the party Saturday night. The Mercantile isn't quite finished, but will be soon, and I can't wait to host family in style right here at home when they visit.

Big thanks to Keith Boyer in Gorin for a second trailer load of old straw and hay bales from his barn, and even moreso for the glory of surplus pears from his 100-year-old pear trees. We are all enjoying them deeply. If you're blessed with more fruit on your trees than you can give to a good home, consider giving us a call!

Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage is an intentional community in Rutledge, Missouri practicing ecological sustainability. We're finished with tours for this year, but look forward to seeing you again next April when we start up again. Meanwhile, for more information, check out our website at, or give us a call at (660) 883-5511.