Re-Grow Roots

Learning to live harmoniously in Missouri.

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Living in Intentional Community

In March of this year our little family made the move from small town to intentional community at last! We had dreams of living amongst a group of like-minded, radically sustainable, egalitarian kinfolk for the past few years and when the perfect space made itself clear to us, we moved on in. So here we are at Oran Mór going on our fourth month and we absolutely love it! Building a life and raising our sweet Kalani Rain here with these beautiful people is a wonderful experience and we grow more each day.

Our values are very in sync with our fellow community members and they are based around love and respect for each other, the plants, the animals, and the earth by being sustainable and thoughtful in everything that we do. We hold daily meetings to discuss anything that might be on our minds and so we can coordinate projects, plans, and goals together. This keeps an open stream of communication flowing, an incredibly important aspect of communal living.

In four months we have achieved many goals and added many more to the ever-growing long-term and short-term lists. In hopes of inspiring and educating, I’m going to share with you some aspects of life here at the homestead. Enjoy!

Housing

the Catbox

the Catbox

Currently we are living in the main communal house, nicknamed “the Catbox”… Before Bunny and Pearl (Oran Mór founders) moved to this land, the Catbox was a large garage. They converted the space into a home with mostly salvaged materials about a decade ago. The electricity comes from two solar panels outside which provide light, a radio, and a minimal amount of other luxuries. It stays cool during the Summer because it is downslope in a riparian zone with trees providing shade. In the Winter we heat with a cozy wood stove. Water is brought in from the hand-pump well for drinking and we also have a rain water catchment on the building that we use for plants, animals, and other tasks. This is a multi-family dwelling which currently houses two families.

I’m so excited about our new housing project! We ordered a tipi from a pretty big, reputable company called Nomadic Tipis which is on it’s way to us as I write. This coming week we will be cutting down Cedars to make the tipi poles so we can set up our new tipi home! Our dream is to build a straw bale cob house, so this tipi will be a temporary dwelling. It will allow us to move up to La Lomah where we will set up more gardens, raise more chickens, and set up the vision of radically sustainable permaculture community that we share.

Food

We have two kitchen spaces. One is a communal space that utilizes electricity coming from the grid so this is where I’m plugged in typing up this blog. This is also where we have a few stove burners and do some of our cooking and where we have a refrigerator and freezer. The electricity is purchased from a renewable source, but is not produced on-site. We also cook using a cob oven in our Summer Kitchen several times a week. We bake pizzas, bread, make soups, turnovers, etc. Our extended community will be coming together next month to build Bio-Char stoves so that will be an added addition to the Summer Kitchen.

the Cob Oven

the Cob Oven

Our gardening style is primarily no-till and many of our beliefs stem from the permaculture philosophy. We grow as much as we can and supplement with local and organic foods. We believe that our food should be full circle, as in we grow food, eat food, and poop food so we use composting toilets and pee on trees. Every year we plant hundreds of native trees on the property, many nut and fruit-bearing varieties that we or the resident wildlife forage.

Currently all the residents here are meat eaters, but we tend to eat only what we raise and sometimes we get meat from friends and neighbors who we know raise their animals with love, respect, and freedom to roam. We live amongst dairy goats, hens, guineas, ducks, and geese (also dogs and cats, but we don’t eat those). The goats have a special place in my heart. Most mornings I tend to feeding and milking those lovely gals and making sure all the boys and kids have what they need. It’s a beautiful, nurturing way to start each day. When we decide that it’s time to kill one of our own, it is a ritual practice that we put much thought into and it normally occurs around a solstice, equinox, or other seasonal celebration. We have the utmost respect for various eating practices so all are welcome. Vegan, vegetarian, paleo, it’s all good!

Our Values

The word sustainable can be used in a variety of ways, so I’ll clue you into our philosophies on sustainability. We believe that it is best for the planet and our co-inhabitants of planet Earth to step lightly and be minimal in our lives. We don’t have air conditioning, we only use hand tools, firearms are not permitted, there are no tractors or tillers, and we don’t watch television. Most of our days are spent outdoors living life, doing and being. Don’t be fooled though, we have plenty of fun here! We play music, tell stories, work together as a group, spend time watching lightning bugs, garden in the nude if you feel like it, swim in the creek, eat together, and play together. We have parties, celebrate the seasons, and rejoice in life. We do believe in working hard for our livelihood and we balance that with a very laid back approach and lots of down time.

The Vision Statement from our website:

“We envision and work for a community which embraces the following values:

  • Living simply in harmony with our environment, producing a healthy human habitat while enhancing biodiversity and honoring the wild beings that share our land;
  • Living with a positive, loving focus, resolving our differences non-violently, valuing cooperation and sharing, and fostering respect, honesty and responsibility in all relationships;
  • Encouraging and supporting individual creative expression and spiritual development, enjoying each other and celebrating each person’s unique contribution to community.”

Living in an intentional community is a dream come true for us. There are ups and downs just like anything, but we are here for each other through thick and thin. Open communication in a respectful and loving manner is the foundation because it creates a safe space where everyone is equal. Our dream is to become egalitarian in the coming months so everything will be shared equally amongst all here at Oran Mor. We have many dreams and one by one, we are checking them off the list.

For more information, check out our website.

Other Intentional Communities

If you are at all interested in living in an intentional community or have thought about starting your own, my advice is that you check out some of the many communities and farms around the country. Before moving into this community, I traveled for 3-4 years living and working at several farms and communities. This allowed me to realize the aspects I love and the aspects I don’t are for and figure out a clear idea of what I’m looking for in community. To get started, here are some links to communities around the USA:

 

Have you though about living in an intentional community? Please share your experiences and questions!

 

 

 


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Elvis has left the farm, to be within us.

My friend. Our friend. We went through a major transition together and became close.

Before his life ended, I meditated on the stage where the event was to take place. With all of my chakras I visualized a pure rain of light upon the space. All day long I felt this sadness, as well as a deep happiness. When I take the time to revere the life that exists with me, within me, and all around… it is good.

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We are Elvis.

Arugula flowers in another green bed.


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Spring on the Farm at Oran Mor

Good morning! We just finished up all the morning chores… chickens, ducks, and geese are out. Guinea keets have been tended, fed their organic starter grains and probiotic supplements. They are so cute, those little tiny baby guineas. The guinea eggs we are incubating have been turned and my favorite chore – the goats have been milked! Pearl is making breakfast of fresh turnips and eggs for community breakfast and I thought it would be nice to share some photos of the garden.

 

Motherwort in bloom, will soon be harvested for tincture.

Motherwort in bloom, will soon be harvested for tincture.

Squash, Tomatoes, Peppers, Okra, Sweet Potatoes, & Cukes ready for the ground.

Squash, Tomatoes, Peppers, Okra, Sweet Potatoes, & Cukes ready for the ground.

The rock bench below our Bradford Terrace gardens where we are growing greens, potatoes, bergamot, and elderberries.

The rock bench below our Bradford Terrace gardens where we are growing greens, potatoes, bergamot, and elderberries.

Dale Gardens - growing tomatoes, basil, onions, kale, cilantro, and other greens.

Dale Gardens – growing tomatoes, basil, onions, kale, cilantro, and other greens.

Arugula flowers in another green bed.

Arugula flowers in another green bed.

A greens bed growing lettuces, mustard, and arugula.

A greens bed growing lettuces, mustard, and arugula.

Our many, many elderberry bushes are blooming!

Our many, many elderberry bushes are blooming!

We have been using our cob oven a lot this Spring, delicious pizzas!

We have been using our cob oven a lot this Spring, delicious pizzas!

There you have it.. hope you enjoyed a small taste of what’s going on here at the farm. I will update soon with some photos of our animals and more of the gardens once things get a little bigger. We have lots of corn, squash, and cukes in the ground and so much more to be done! Fun on the farm never ends.

What are you growing this year?


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Tips for Elimination Communication

We have been practicing natural infant hygiene, or elimination communication, with our son for going on a month full time now. The first couple of weeks had their rough spots with many misses and some backup diapering here and there. We still have misses every once in a while, but we are diaper free 100% of the time even on long drives and outings! A month ago it sounded crazy to me to leave the house without any diapers for my son, and today we left at 7am to go sell at our local farmers market and we didn’t come home til after 2pm.. diaper free and no
misses all day! So here are some things that I have learned.

kalani

Do diaper free as much as you are comfortable with. The point of natural infant hygiene is to love and respect your child by being fully present and aware of his or her needs. If it is too stressful to be diaper free all the time, then just do it when you feel peaceful and comfortable with it. Every little bit of diaper free time is good for your baby and for you.

Be consistent. Use a specific position every time you think your baby needs to eliminate. We hold Kalani in a crouching position with his legs up hovering over either the ground or a bucket. Use a specific place, like a bucket by the bed at night or the bathroom sink. Make a specific sound like a “psssss” or something similar when you hold him in position. Do this every time and your baby will become familiar with it.

Pee your baby first thing in the morning. This pee is the easiest one to catch in our experience. Kalani always has to pee in the morning, usually a few times, so right when he starts waking him up I hold him over his bucket to eliminate.

Have lots of diaper free time at home. We started out just being diaper free from morning until night here at home. When we left, we still used diapers during the transition period. We also used our cloth diapers without a cover at night. This way I would know when he peed right when he was wet and could immediately change his diaper.

Let your baby sleep naked with bed protection. After a few nights of the cloth diaper without a cover, we decided to let him sleep naked in our bed with us. We put him on a thick blanket and a few cloth diapers so the bed wouldn’t get wet. Other people use sheep skins, towels, or changing pads to protect the family bed.

Gradually and comfortably transition. When you feel ready, start taking your baby places without diapers and just a few extra pairs of pants. We started by putting a cloth diaper on him in his carseat, but we would make stops every half hour or so to see if he had to pee. If we were out in town, we would take him into a bathroom somewhere and pee him over the sink. Now we can drive for over an hour without any misses, just stopping once for a pee and we barely have misses even when we are gone all day.

Trust the process. This is something that is not familiar to most of us in our society so it can be a difficult thing to grasp. We can all do it though! Know that your baby is fully aware of his or her elimination needs from birth and your baby does not want to be in wet or poopy diapers. If you keep with it, you will progress and learn from eachother.

Don’t be discouraged. There are times when your baby might revert back to wetting the bed or peeing on the floor. Babies get stressed and they try to communicate in their own way so try not to be discouraged. We must understand that elimination is one way for them to communicate with us. Recently Kalani has been eating a lot more solid foods so his poop has evolved into a more solid consistency. Sometimes he works on getting his poop out all day off and on, but then it just randomly starts coming out without him letting us know. The food is more stressful on his system and he is getting used to it so it’s another transition period that we are flowing into.

Seek out support. Because this process is not very widely practiced in western society, it can be really hard to find support… but we are out there! Leave comments here and I’m happy to chat with you about it. Also, check out the book Natural Infant Hygiene and this forum about EC - http://www.mothering.com/community/f/227/elimination-communication .

Please share your experiences with elimination communication in the comments below!

Linked up at: Inspire Me Monday, Thanks Goodness It’s Monday


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Cleaning Up the Safe and Natural Way

By Leslie Vandever

There’s an old saying: “there are only two things you can count on in this life: death and taxes.” I’d like to add one more: housework. No matter who you are, what you do, or where you live, one of the things that heads the domestic to-do list is housework. Sure, there are people out there who never clean up their living spaces. My opinion? Eww. Just, eww.

So, I presume you’re reading this because you realize that like it or not, you have to clean the house now and then because of, well, sanitation. It’s a big, beautiful old world we live in, but it’s dirty. And germy. Maybe you’re worried about the chemical household cleaners available at your local store and possible allergic reactions. What are they doing to you and your family? And the environment? Finally, you’d just like to save a little money. Who wouldn’t? It turns out that you can make your own household cleaners out of just a few, mostly inexpensive, natural substances—and it’s so easy it’s almost embarrassing.

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The Basics for a Clean, Green House

For a household environment that’s not only green, but clean, get these ecologically-friendly substances at your local grocery or hardware store:

  • baking soda (bicarbonate of soda): mild abrasive, natural deodorizer
  • sodium borate (borax): a non-toxic mineral, boosts detergents and household cleaners, disinfects surfaces and removes stains in clothing
  • isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol: disinfects, cleans, evaporates quickly
  • white vinegar: mildly acidic, dissolves dirt, soap scum and hard water deposits from smooth surfaces, natural deodorizer (vinegar smell vanishes when dry)
  • lemon juice: mildly acidic, it cuts grease, kills mold and mildew, deodorizes and smells wonderful
  • ammonia: general-purpose cleaner for glass, porcelain, stainless steel and other surfaces. Great for glass; it dries streak-free. (Never mix ammonia with bleach (or vinegar); the combination produces a toxic, deadly vapor).
  • hydrogen peroxide: bubbling action cleans surfaces and lifts stains
  • castile soap: pure, mild, natural soap
  • washing soda: (carbonate of soda): softens laundry water

Homemade Household Cleaner Recipes

With the above ingredients, you can whisk together several cleaning mixtures that work just as well as the far more expensive, far less green cleaning products found at the grocery store.

For scrubbing hard surfaces: ¾ cup baking soda, ¼ cup borax, a little castile soap. Combine the first two ingredients, then add the liquid soap to make a fine paste. Add a few drops of lemon juice for the scent, if you like.

Toilet cleaner: 1 cup of borax, ¼ cup vinegar or lemon juice. Combine to make a paste, then apply to the inside of the toilet bowl. Scrub and leave for a couple of hours, then flush away.

All-purpose sanitizer: 2 teaspoons borax, 4 tablespoons vinegar, 3 to 4 cups hot water. Place ingredients in a spray bottle and shake to mix. For extra power, add ¼ teaspoon of liquid castile soap.

Glass and windows: 3 tablespoons of vinegar in 1 quart of water in a spray bottle. Windows are really dirty? Try ½ teaspoon of liquid castile soap, 3 tablespoons of vinegar, and 2 cups of water. For streak-free windows every time, use sheets of newspaper instead of paper towels.

Deodorize the garbage disposer: drop a slice of lemon, with the rind, into the disposer and grind it up.

See how easy those are to make? A quick Internet search is all you need to find many, many more. Just search for “homemade household cleaners.” To learn more about a variety of health topics for you and your family click here.

Leslie Vandever is a professional journalist and freelance writer with more than 25 years of experience. Although her half-Finnish, ultra-neat-nik mother strove to teach her proper housekeeping skills as she grew up, they didn’t take until Leslie’s own daughter was born. That was when she developed the “‘eeew test:’” if it’s dirty enough to make you go “eeew” involuntarily, it absolutely must be cleaned. Perhaps sterilized. Leslie lives in the foothills of Northern California.

Check out more great health related articles at Healthline.com

References:

Non-toxic Home Cleaning. (n.d.) Eartheasy. Solutions for Sustainable Living. Retrieved on April

14, 2014 from http://eartheasy.com/live_nontoxic_solutions.htm

Make Your Own Cleaners. (n.d.) Old Farmer’s Almanac. Retrieved on April 14, 2014 from

http://www.almanac.com/content/make-your-own-cleaners


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My Diaper Free Baby (Elimination Communication)

Our little baby boy is growing so fast and learning so much every day. It’s hard to believe he is almost six months old already! This experience as a new mother is amazing beyond words, he teaches me new things about life every day.

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From the moment we realized I was pregnant I knew that I wanted to take a very natural and intuitive approach to parenting. I ate well, didn’t get ultrasounds, had minimal testing, and birthed naturally. We breastfeed, never use a bottle, co-sleep, and do everything together as a team. We spent most of that first month at home, naked most of the time, a lot of time spent diaper free just carrying a cloth diaper under his bum. My intuition told me that diapers weren’t necessary, but when we started going out more frequently, we started using cloth diapers regularly. Convenience was the biggest reason, and also a lack of faith in my ability to know his elimination needs.

This boy is absolutely amazing to me. He is so happy, talkative, active, and when he is sad there is a distinct reason for it. If I’m paying close attention, he tells me what he needs. He knows when he is hungry, he knows when he is full, he communicated to me when he was ready to try solid foods, and the same holds true for poops and pees. He knows when he has to go and if I slow down long enough to pay attention, I notice his cues.

Throughout the last five months I have had periods where he’s diaper free while we are home, but when we go out and during the night he always has a diaper. But something in my heart tells me it just isn’t right to have him wearing a portable toilet. He doesn’t like being wet and it’s difficult to avoid sometimes. It’s definitely not hygienic and to me, it seems more loving to be attentive to his needs before he goes, instead of after.

I bought a book to help me gain a little more confidence to take the leap into diaper freedom once and for all! It’s called Diaper Free: The Gentle Wisdom of Natural Infant Hygiene by Ingrid Bauer and I highly recommend it to any mother whether she is considering diaper freedom or not. I started reading it a few days ago and since then Kalani has been diaper free during the day when we are here at home. I still use diapers at night and when we go out, but I am already starting feel a lot more confident and I’m sure we will be completely diaper free soon.

A common misconception is that babies don’t know when they have to go potty and even if they did know, there is no way that they would be able to tell parents. This is completely false! Babies do know when they have to go and they do give signals. What happens is that most babies become accustomed to wearing diapers and being wet, so they stop making those signals because parents don’t respond to them. From the beginning I have noticed that Kalani will make a little cue when he has to pee or poop, but they are small like a squirm or a grunt so if i’m not super tuned in, I miss it. Since committing more to being diaper free, I have become much more aware of his cues. Not only that, but he also responds to my cues! I take him outside to pee and hold him in a semi squat position while I make a hissing sound. This indicates to him that it’s time to pee and he responds by peeing. Babies are so aware and communicate in various ways when we open our minds to it and accept our intuition.

Throughout India, Africa, and South America there are many mothers who never used diapers with their babies and they are completely in tune with their child’s elimination needs. They have a very close bond with their baby and they respond immediately when the child needs anything. In Western societies we have become very distant from that closeness over the years. There are countless things that rip our attention away from our children and families so we must make a very conscious effort to create a different reality for ourselves. It’s a long and arduous journey, but worth every moment for us.

Do you have experience with elimination communication? Please share your thoughts!


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Roots Apothecary – the new website

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I’m so thrilled to announce that I have finally opened a stand-alone real life website for my herbal business – Roots Apothecary!! It’s been a dream of mine for some time, but I’ve felt overwhelmed by the idea and kept putting it off. I have been selling in two shops on etsy for a few years now and it’s been a great outlet for me because they do all the grunt work and all I have to do is import pictures and descriptions. It’s been great! Until… they told me that some of my products are against their regulations. This happened to be my two best selling products – herbal smoking blends. I was a little upset about this at first, but it was the final push I needed to get going in the direction to build my own website. It’s been a lot of work and there’s still much more work to be done, but it’s looking good.

Check it out and let me know what you think – www.rootsapothecary.com

I also just sent out my first newsletter which you can see here - http://eepurl.com/QrDDP

If you would like to be added to our mailing list, please let me know and I’ll get you on the list! :)

 

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