Re-Grow Roots

Learning to live harmoniously in Missouri.


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Sharing Primitive Skills

We have a new member of Rising Roots Collective, our worker-run collective based at Oran Mor Community where I live. We are so happy to welcome Keven Statwick, a primitive skills artist and teacher!!

Keven

He has been involved with teaching and demonstrating primitive skills since 1998. He works with local organizations like the Boy Scouts and Oran Mor Community to share the wisdom and knowledge of primitive peoples so we can carry these valuable skills on with us. Among other things, Keven is skilled at making and using bows and arrows, primitive pottery, flint knapped arrow points, stone knives, leather tanning, drums, and he even welds beautiful metalworks!

Keven frequently joins us at Oran Mor Community to help with work projects and to share skills with us here. We plan to have a Pottery Making class this year and he would love to share knowledge on any of these skills. Please feel free to contact us if you have a particular interest in primitive skills so we can plan a class or workshop!

Contact us at 417-250-9252 or oranmor@speedymail.org

See Keven’s work on etsy here – risingrootscollectiv.etsy.com

And check it out in person at Farm Fork and Fiddle, a local co-op shop in Gainesville, MO. www.farmforkfiddle.com

 

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Cob Oven Workshop at OM

Spring is here again!! Flowers blooming in the fields, cherries growing plump on the trees, strawberries ripening, bees buzzing, greens growing everywhere… and we have been busy busy planning, growing, and BUILDING! Our most recent build is our beautiful, brand new, earthen cob oven.  Lots of local folks came out to help us with the project, friends from East Wind Community, folks from the Ava Growers Market, and some good friends from down the road. Most of the materials were sourced from the land we call home. We dug the clay from a hole next to the Outdoor Kitchen, shoveled creek sand into buckets and hauled it up here, and the platform the cob oven sits upon is built from beautiful large rocks from the creek bed. We used firebrick that we salvaged from here and there, tiles for a lovely countertop also laying around on the property… this land is just full to the brim with useful supplies!

timberframe

The structure on the left was built over the Winter and finished this Spring using roundwood Cedar timbers from our beautiful forest. It is primarily timber framed and we attached it to the timber frame building on the right side which was built several years ago by a former Communard. That beautiful structure on the left side there surrounded by river rocks is our cob oven platform. There are pallets on top of old metal barrels that act as the real structure, all sourced from our scrap piles, and the rocks serve as beauty and form. We filled the pallets with a simple clay and sand cob mixture to insulate the cob oven.

We began the build by first setting up fire bricks where we wanted the cob oven. Then we made a form by putting some salvaged cinder block and a bucket full of bricks to take up space within our sand form. The sand form was made from sifted creek sand and water, basically like building a sand castle, but a sand igloo! This is just to make the shape of the cob oven. You build the middle to be the size that you want the interior of the oven. When the oven is dry, we will dig out the sand castle and remove the blocks and bucket. Once the form was complete, we covered it in wet phone book paper. This is to insure that the sand igloo doesn’t mix with the cob and making it easier to dig out.Without this you could easily dig out extra or have sand falling onto your first pizzas.

Cob cob COB!!! The mixture we ended up using was one bucket of clay to two buckets of sand, give or take some handfuls. With every batch we mixed, we did a drop test to check the consistency. After stomping and mixing the clay and sand and water thoroughly, we took a handful of it and kneaded it about 50 times, then dropped it from chest height onto the tarp we mixed it on. If it crumbles and breaks apart, there is too much sand. We always veered on the side of too much sand and gradually added more clay until we could drop it without crumbling. Too much clay in the mixture will cause more cracking as the oven dries. The ration of sand to clay in cob will vary a lot from place to place depending on the amount of silt and soil in your clay.

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First layer of cob is complete, about 4 inches thick… now for the second layer!!

After a firey Beltane and cob celebration, we went to bed, woke up the next day, and went wild with more mud for layer two of the oven! We didn’t get as many photos of the beginning stages of this layer but it went on the same way, from the bottom up. This layer is made from the same clay and sand mixture with added straw this time for extra insulative properties. This layer was intended to be about 3 inches thick but is between and 4 and  6 inches in many places. We decided when the oven is dry we are going to chisel out the door a bit and make it wider so we can fit up to 14 inch pizzas in there!  During this awesome workshop, we splurged on loads of yummy pizzas from our small cob oven that we completed a couple years ago. Wish I would have snapped some shots of our scrumptious yummies! I promise they were beautiful. So now we are letting the cob oven dry out for a while. We may add some sculpting to the oven to make her super awesome and one of a kind and we will add a plaster and mosaic once she’s dry.

cob-oven

This is our mini cob oven, built long before the Outdoor Kitchen extension. We still use it once a week for pizza nights!

Hope you found this inspirational and educational! Let me know if you have any questions and get out there to play in the mud…


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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!


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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!