Re-Grow Roots

Learning to live harmoniously in Missouri.

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Oran Mor – 2014 Year Review

  • New members – Carlos, Desiree, and Kalani started provisional membership on March 27; Svenvic arrived in October
  • Finished Projects –
    • summer kitchen cob oven complete
    • Spring tree planting
    • hoop house – repairs, new plastic, shelves built with cedar, bio-char stoves built
    • garden spaces revived – some terracing, hugelkultur beds
    • pathways – dug out as trenches for water, herb garden paths
    • goats – completed fencing, more goats
    • bee hives and swarm boxes built
    • first local sorghum harvest and cook
    • well repairs
    • hatched out over 35 guinea fowl
  • Projects in Progress –
    • tipi
    • goat shed
    • summer kitchen – rocket stove, seating areas, solar oven
    • cheese cellar
    • pavilion
  • Other
    • developing local barter connections
    • “share cropping” at a nearby farm (sorghum) will be growing sunflower seeds, millet, corn, wheat, and beans with neighbors
    • ONE congress, local bio-regional congress inspired by OACC
    • OCHFP Food Co-Op
    • ONE work parties, potlucks, and workshops
    • hosted 13 visitors and had many celebrations

IMG_0779This past year has been a beautiful transition for Oran Mor on it’s stages from cocoon into butterfly. The community was founded in 2003 by Bunny, Pearl, and two others from East Wind. Many visitors and members have come and go, and 2014 saw the arrival of 4 new provisional members, three adults and one child. Desiree, Carlos, and Kalani returned to OM to begin their provisional membership in March 27, 2014 after a three week visitor period they enjoyed in 2012. Svenvic began his provisional membership on November 17 directly after his visitor period. Provisional membership lasts one year so the potential members must make it through all four diverse and unique seasons before becoming full members. Winter has been the true test to see if we can get through the long haul chopping wood, carrying water, stuck indoors for days and days… We are making it! It’s very cool to be part of Oran Mor morphing into it’s ideal of equality, consensus-based, income-sharing community.

image(8)With the arrival of new members, the help of many visitors, and several work parties at the farm and other nearby farms, we were able to complete many projects. Our first cob oven was completed in early spring and used a lot during the Spring and Summer. We made some awesome pizzas with hand-ground flours, cheese from our goats, and homegrown veggies. We also used it for baking breads, potatoes and squash. Most of our garden space was overgrown due to laying fallow for a few years during a rough patch at the community. We grew a decent amount of food considering the circumstances (a bounty of Cushaw squash), and the fall and winter gave us ample time to prepare for our 2015 gardens. We practice no-till and permaculture methods of gardening, attempting to grow in harmony with nature. Many small shrubs and trees that had taken up residence in our veggie gardens over the past three years were cut down. Then the soil received lots of local compost and manure and we also made several hugelkultur beds. We are all really excited about the upcoming growing season and many seeds have been started in trays and in the ground already! Pathways were laid through our herb garden and veggie gardens with limestone from the farm and wood chips from the local recycling center. Every Spring, we have a tradition of planting 100-200 native trees on the property. Last Spring we planted Paw Paw, Persimmon, Elderberry, Short Leaf Pine, American Beauty Berry, and Mulberry. During the Summer and Fall we were able to complete repairs to the hoop house that caved in a couple years ago in a big storm. We used Cedar poles to prop it up and built Cedar shelving to be used for plant starts. Our goat herd gives us the bulk of our protein needs here as well as wonderful companionship, so they are very dear to us. Currently there are five does residing with us, three wethers, two babies who we are trading for beef with a friend, and our buck who is eternally in rut. We are working on a rotational browsing setup and many fences were built last year. We also completed some much needed repairs on our well, and after having to pull up the well seven times, it’s safe to say we learned a lot! The Winter gave us a time of reflection and inspiration and I’m happy to say that almost every communal meal was cooked on our wood-fired stove.

IMG_1221Last year saw much involvement with local community organizations, Ozarks Neighborly Exchange (ONE) and the Ozark County Homegrown Food Project. With these groups we actively took part in several events, work parties, and workshops. Through the Ozarks Neighborly Exchange we organized a work party with a bio-char innovator from Lake of the Ozarks area. He came down with all the supplies to build 12 bio-char stoves and we took two of them home with us to be used in our hoop house. Another workshop was led by Leo Sharashkin, a natural beekeeper practicing the old Russian tradition of keeping bees in large horizontal hives similar to the old log hives. Many hands built many beehives and swarm boxes to be used for catching local swarms. Two beehives and two swarm boxes came home with us to OM and our first swarm moved in at the end of Summer in our Sycamore tree by the pond. They were safely moved from swarm box to beehive, but sadly it was a little late in the season and our beautiful bees died in the harsh Winter. We learned from the experience and will try again this year. The first annual Ozarks Neighborly Exchange One Day Congress was a huge success, a day full of lectures on sustainability and self reliance. The Congress was inspired by the Ozark Area Community Congress, founded by our local sustainable forestry advocate David Haenke in the 1970s. His was the first bio-regional congress in America. We hosted a work party here in the Summer with folks who came out from ONE, East Wind, and local friends. We chopped down lots of Cedar from our woods and got a lot of work done on our tipi which is nearing completion now. With our local ONE group we also grew two acres of sorghum and had a very successful first year, harvesting by hand, pressing with a neighbor’s work horses, and cooking it into delicious syrup with the help of many hands.

IMG_0734This year we are going to be share cropping at least 10 acres of land at Woodpecker’s, where we grew sorghum, and will grow Emmer wheat, a variety of corn, sorghum, sunflower seeds, and some sort of legume. Having a place where local farmers can get together and produce large amounts of shared food for humans and animal feed has been an amazing thing. It’s like our own village grainery. We have been connecting with several friends and neighbors to trade with each other for things we need. Setting up local barter connections is essential in achieving the interconnected self reliance that we are working towards. With the Ozark County Homegrown Food Project in Gainesville, we were able to find a building to start our local Food Co-Op. This is a space where we will offer locally-sourced food from a small restaurant, produce and local meats from area farmers, and handmade crafts. The Co-Op will feature a certified kitchen so all members can use it for canning, baking, and other cooking endeavors. We will host events, workshops, music, and more! We are working on by-laws and saving up money to get our 501c3 and then will sign the lease and begin converting the space this Spring. We have also been working on revising Oran Mor’s by-laws, norms, and creating our Articles of Incorporation so that we can become a 501d and legally operate as an egalitarian community. As it stands currently, the land is still in Pearl and Bunny’s legal names.

IMG_0174Moving into 2015, there are many wonderful things already blossoming. Another family, and dear friends of ours, is moving in on the Spring Equinox, March 20th, to begin their visitor period with the intention of becoming members here. We are all very excited about having Xela, Christian, and their little baby Dax join us! There have been several others who have contacted us about membership and visiting as well.

IMG_0377Once the tipi is complete, Carlos, Kalani, and Desiree will move up the hill into La Lomah where we will begin setting up a second chicken coop, more garden spaces, and herding goats. Most of the community is on hillsides, but La Lomah is a flat hilltop with more soil than exists anywhere else on the farm, so it will be a great location for future veggie gardens. It will be very exciting to see how things progress in La Lomah. We are working on completing a goat shed up there which is already half built and plan to build another goat shed in another pasture so we can have permanent shelter for our buck to be away from the rest of our herd until he is called upon. There are big, amazing plans to expand on our Summer Kitchen so that most of our warm season cooking can be done off-grid and outdoors. We have the cob oven already and it would be great to build a solar oven and a rocket stove, as well as seating areas nearby. The poles have already been cut and the stones laid to erect a pavilion to serve as a covered seating area. With our nearly endless supply of resources from the old burnt down house and the beautiful clay and sand on the farm, I’m sure we have almost everything we need. Another project that is in the works is our cheese cellar down by Mini Creek. The walls and roof are in place and we have begun filling in the holes between the stone and covering the roof with earth, and a door must be fitted. These are some of the projects we have going on this year and with all the folks coming through to share their unique existence with us, I’m sure we will have many unique and exciting adventures!


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Homesteading in the Winter, Just SURVIVING

My last update was in the end of Summer, and now it’s Wintertime here in the Northern Hemisphere. Sorry it’s been such a while since the last post, hoping to get more on top of it this year. This is my first Winter here on the farm at Oran Mor, and my first Winter ever to be hardcore homesteading. It’s hard work and really trying at times, but I truly love it and would have it no other way.

IMG_0986Our primary task through the Winter is SURVIVAL! Chopping wood and carrying water are the main priorities. All of our heat is supplied by our wood fired stoves and with temperatures dipping below zero at times, we use a lot of wood. We also cook on our wood fired stove most nights. She’s a cast iron beauty named The Great Majestic. Cooking on wood fire inside really heats the place up and the meals we make with it are the most amazing delicacies! Several mornings a week I cook up sourdough pancakes for breakfast on the Majestic griddle with some homemade concord grape syrup goodness and serve it up with homemade yogurt and East Wind nut butter. East Wind is our sister community just about 30 miles from us. We bake sourdough rustic breads from hand ground whole grain flours like einkorn and spelt using our Country Living grinder. It requires a commitment to keep the sourdough starters fed every day and to grind enough flour by hand to bake loaves of bread, muffins, cookies, and for pancakes… but living in community spreads the work around and things get done.

IMG_0933We have a new member named Svenvik who has been here for about two months now I think. He’s helped us with our pathways considerably and we finally finished our beautiful stone paths in our herb garden! I’m so excited to see herbs growing in the spring and add to our bountiful collection of herbs. So now there are five adult members and our little boy Kalani all living together here full time. Another visitor is planning to come soon and stay in our last indoor room available with her son, also in hopes of becoming a member here.

IMG_0938When it’s not achingly cold outside, we have been spending time preparing our ground for Spring Gardens. Most of the farm is on slopes so we are constantly adding more compost and manure to the beds to build them up.

IMG_0942Annatto and Xavier love helping us prepare the gardens! We love our goats here. Currently we aren’t milking, but we are expecting Rocky and Sherbet to give birth early next month so we will soon have goat milk again! Another project we have been working on is finishing up our cheese cellar, covering the roof with dirt, filling in between the stones with cement, and we need to make a door. Still working on our tipi, but it’s been so cold that we have been spending a lot more time indoors and less time on our many projects.

spinning woolRecently I’ve begun learning how to spin wool! I’ve been crocheting for about 3 years now and for the past 6 months I’ve been transitioning into using primarily hand-spun natural fibers in the clothing and accessories I make. So it’s only natural for me to start spinning myself and eventually raise fiber animals! One day we will have Angora goats and rabbits, maybe some alpacas and sheep… dreaming big for the future of OM. Check out my handmade goodness here – www.regrowroots.etsy.com :)

IMG_0778Off to make some yogurt and render pork fat now, thanks for stopping by!

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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cob oven 14


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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.

cob ovencob oven 2cob oven 3cob oven 4cob oven 5cob oven 6cob oven 7cob oven 8cob oven 9cob oven 10cob oven 11cob oven 13cob oven 14

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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.

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