Re-Grow Roots

Learning to live harmoniously in Missouri.

Apples


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Bushels of Bounty, Goats, and Community

It’s the typical end of summertime here in the Missouri Ozarks, thunder and lightning outside our open door and the rain pouring down. Our ducks and geese are loving it; they waddle around the paths in search of tasty morsels. The nights are getting longer, the days have been cooler and since we don’t indulge in such modern conveniences as air conditioning, it’s the perfect time of year to be canning!

Apples

Today we are coring and cutting up a bushel of local apples. Some are being preserved in simple chunks that we can use to bake pies, throw into yogurt or on top of ice cream, or even use them in hearty winter stews. Some of the apples will get peeled, cored, and chopped, and put into our crock pots overnight to become apple sauce. And all of those cores and skins are being saved to make apple cider vinegar. Well, some of them are sure to be goat treats.

We love our goats here at Oran Mor and I’m very sad to report that one of our furry family members recently died. Meatloaf became ill about a week before his passing and we aren’t sure what did it, but it has me inspired to educate myself on goat anatomy and health. Death is a natural part of farm life, but it’s always difficult.

On a happier note, we have been busy preparing our greenhouse to fill with lots of life to sustain us through the coming cold season. We ordered a new cover which should be arriving any day now, the bio-char stove we built is ready to go, and we have cleared and prepared two beds that are now filled with lettuce, radish, carrot, and beet seeds. It’s going to be a delicious winter!

Fall is a time of preparation and Pearl and I have been very busy in the gardens – pulling weeds, cutting down volunteer trees and shrubs, re-building beds, and laying out paths. Our gardens are on a slope so we consistently build up soil by adding plant matter, compost, manure, and dirt from the paths. It’s a sort of mix between hugelkultur and lasagna gardening. And after much trial and error (five attempts), we finally fixed our hand-pump well so it’s working great and we won’t need to pull it again for a while! While Carlos was up on the windmill, he took a pretty awesome photo of the community -

Up on the Windmill

In other news, Carlos, Kalani, and I recently had the pleasure of going to Twin Oaks Community in Virginia for the annual Communities Conference. It is a gathering of communards and hopeful someday-communards sharing knowledge, skills, ideas, and dreams to build our community network. Some of the topics covered were Radical Resource Sharing, Consensus & Facilitation, Building Cooperative Power, Carbon Footprinting, and so much more! We went on tours of Twin Oaks and Acorn communities, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, and we were invited to dinner at Sapling community. We also had a meeting with Alex, the secretary for the FEC (Federation for Egalitarian Communities) and we are so excited to be working with him on joining the FEC! We already function as an egalitarian, income sharing community here but becoming part of the FEC will mutually benefit the whole organization. It’s a step that Oran Mor has wanted to take since the founding days in 2003.

Tomorrow we are leaving for another community gathering, the 35th annual Ozarks Area Community Congress, OACC. There will workshops, lectures, and networking centered around sustainability, ecology, farming, and that sort of thing. Exciting things happening all around and many more adventures to come, so stay tuned… !!01


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Tipi Pole Work Party

We are building a tipi!! Here at Oran Mor Community, where we live, work and play,  sustainability and simplicity are at our core. Currently we are living in a communal housing space that we call “the Catbox” and we love it. Sharing a house with others is a beautiful experience and we absolutely love our housemates, but our plan is to expand our community up-slope into a place we call La Lomah – Land of Milk and Honey. It’s a very exciting journey and this tipi will be our first living unit so we can begin progressing with our dream.

We ordered the canvas for our tipi online at Nomadics Tipi. It is an all-season marine-treated cotton canvas that hopefully will keep us warm and dry all through the winter with the help of our new bio-char stove that we built over the weekend. We decided to buy a pre-fab tipi cover, because sewing a tipi cover out of something like animal skin is a momentous task to take on. The poles for the tipi came from our rich, green forest of Red Cedars and to harvest these poles, we invited all of our neighbors over for a work PARTY!!

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Building a Cob Pizza Oven

Outdoor cooking can be a sustainable alternative to cooking with electricity indoors and it’s so much fun to join around an outdoor kitchen, especially when there is pizza involved! Here at Oran Mór we use our cob oven to bake breads, pizzas, squash, and even make soup. One of the best parts of cob pizza ovens is the building of it!! So when a friend of ours reached out for help to get a cob pizza oven erected in time for the Healing Retreat at Celestial Spring Herb Farm, we were all over it!! (Side note- Celestial Springs offers fabulous herbal products on their website.)

If you have ever thought of building a cob oven, I highly recommend it. The baked goods that come out of these ovens cannot be beat! They are incredibly fun to build, especially when you get your local community, friends, and family to come out for a work party! Here are some photos of the two day cob pizza oven work party that we were a part of.

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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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