Re-Grow Roots

Learning to live harmoniously in Missouri.

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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!


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.


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.


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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Perfect Ingredient for Tipi Village

Carlos, Kalani, and I are loving living in our Tipi. Now we have the opportunity to expand into a Tipi Village! All we need is one more tipi and we found one on Craigslist for just $200! It includes the poles and everything. All we need is to raise $200 so we can buy it. We have started a fundraiser on gofundme to raise the money we need. Help us by donating whatever you can afford and know your money is going to a great cause. This second tipi will provide a home for someone to live in. We will be living in ours through the winter and would love to share primitive space with another tipi dwelling family!

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September New Moon

I awoke to a bearded man knocking on the truck window just before dawn. “Are you okay?” he asked “We got stuck here.” and so he helped push us out and led me back to Hwy 95. Kalani and I got home and everyone was still sleeping so I collected some local produce, goat cheese, eggs, homemade bread, butter, a cast iron pan, and some bowls and headed up the hill to make a campfire tipi breakfast. It was so good, such a delightful experience to have a family mealtime in our new home.

We spent the day at a leisurely pace, honoring the September New Moon. Did some morning yoga, washed a few clothes in the washtub, gathered sticks, brought up a wheelbarrow with food jars, our orange metal shit bucket, and other various items. We have adopted a norm to not bring any plastic or trash up here to the primitive tipi life. Makes us think deeply about what we surround ourselves with.

This morning we realized our sleeping space gets really cold because it is downslope from the fire, so we moved our bed upslope and tada! Now wa are much more coze. We restaked our tipi today ith rope tied onto the loops so it can be pulled out tighter. I’m so excited to spend my second night in the tipi!!

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Altars and An Unplanned Night

Our first night in the Tipi was totally amazing! A feeling of closeness with the earth, freedom from modern ties of all sorts, a clarity and joy I can’t compare. Our night was a little bit chilly even though we had a fire going in our firepit. Only a slight nippy feeling, but curling up with my two honies made it cozy and nice. We certainly have a lot of preparing to do before the winter comes our way and temperatures dip below zero. We’re sleeping on the bare ground, the earth in close contact to our bodies. It’s a great way to transition into our new life here.

Today we started carrying more of our meaningful belongings up here. It’s really great to consider what we truly need and only surround ourselves with those necessities of hapy, cozy, heartful, and soulful life. Our altar space is expanding indoors and our perfect altar rock outside. I also collected lots of sticks from around the tipi and Carlos sawed up larger pieces of wood so we started a nice pile for our fires.

I decided to go to an Ozark Sister Circle group to share some sisterly love because I had it in my head for days that I needed that refuge. When it came time to go I suddenly felt an urge to stay here but I had already talked myself into going so off I drove into the dark of night. My terrible night vision got me lost on these county roads so Kalani and I ended up getting stuck in the sand trying to turn around! We set up camp in our trust truck Buckwheat, definitely nothing like sleeping in our tipi, but it was a powerful time of self reflection. Releasing fears, casting a circle, feeling gratitude, and love filling my heart.


Our Rebirth – the Tipi Stands

I’ve been feeling overwhelmed by the perceived extravagances of civilization and even the people here at Oran Mor Community where I live. There is a yearning in my soul to live in harmonious balance with Mother Nature by dedicating myself to a radical simplicity inspired by native tribes. Today we erect the tipi!

First we chose our site, perfectly located in a grove of deciduous trees with a forested slope of Red Cedars to the north protecting us from winds and our door facing the southeast so the rising sun can shine in to greet us Good Morning. We got our hoe, sickle, loppers, and a hand saw and set to work clearing the land just big enough for our 16 foot tipi. All the underbrush will be put to use either in wattle projects or burned in our fire for cooking and celebrating. Finally we unfolded our brand new tipi canvas and started bringing over the tipi poles from our work station. We laid out our tripod poles and tied them together with natural rope using a clove hitch and then we got to stand her up! Watching the tripod raise up into the skies, into this freestanding beauty, filled me with sheer delight. Then we began laying in the rest of the poles. The circles and circles of circles! The sisal rope winding around the poles again and again, jumping and whipping through the wind, tightening the poles that will hold our home in place. Standing tall amongst the trees, our poles who once lived and grew in the same forest we dwell in now live on as tipi shelter for our family on the hill.

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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!


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 – 🙂

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