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Egalitarian Bike Tour: Joining forces with Baltimore Free Farm

by Darla

As a resident bicycle enthusiast, I’m delighted to join an upcoming bike tour with folks from the Baltimore Free Farm, a recently formed urban homestead, with the aim of fundraising for their community kitchen.  Their kitchen currently hosts Food Not Bombs and Food Rescue Day, both projects that seek to divert food from the waste stream and decommodify food.  Our goal is to raise $3500 – hopefully enough money for the community kitchen to operate throughout the year.  We plan to spend the month of October biking down to New Orleans, about a 1500 mile trek, camping along the way and growing sprouts out of our paniers.  We’ll be taking the transcontinental bike route to the Mississippi river, then following it due south all the way to New Orleans.  Once we get to New Orleans, we’ll form a temporary autonomous art collective and infoshop, where we’ll do street performance and musical storytelling to further raise funds.  Although it’s difficult for Acorn to spare a member for this length of time, as a group, we’re passionate about supporting projects like this in the spirit of mutual aid, to further strengthen the cooperative movement.

Are you also excited and supportive about this project?  Check out what the Baltimore Free Farm as to say about the bike tour and consider making a pledge for each mile we bike – 1 cent, 5 cents, 10 cents, 25 cents, or a donation of your choosing.

 

 

Belladonna Took’s “Typical” Acorn Day

by Belladonna Took

The other day I decided to take photographs throughout my lovely day. If my memory is correct the day was Monday September 22, 2014

I started off by taking  a walk down one of the main paths at Acorn.

Horus, one of our dogs ran up! Then JR one of our visitors walked by. I asked for consent to take his photo and he obliged.

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This is my kitty friend, her name is Fight Club. I love her.

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One of my favorite drawings in the smokeshack. Drawn by my friend and former intern Piera.

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Me enthusiastically chopping potatoes. I cooked dinner today. I made so meat with bell peppers for people who like meat. I made tofu,soysauge and bellpepper stir-fry for the vegetarians/vegans. I made mashed potatoes with a cream cheese sauce on the top, I put in the oven and the top toasted- this was my favorite part of the meal. I made a couple of veggies dishes, one being roasted eggplant.

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Pretty bell peppers. They are my favorite.

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Meat Dish!

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Vegan Stir-fry!

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MASHED TATTERS!

 

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Eggplant, Squash, Tomatoes! YUM!

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People eating meals I cooked! This person is Aster!

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Fox and Birddog eating dinner!

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Rejoice on tractor!

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Chicken coop from far away!

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I went to feed my chicken friends after dinner.

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The chicken coop!

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Some eggs!

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Lots of eggs! Yay for being nice to chickens!

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My best friend/member of Acorn Abraham drove me to Twin Oaks for band practice. I am in a Led Zeppelin cover band there called Non Violent Communication Breakdown.

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The stage set for the band I am in!

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Thanks for reading about my day! Love, Belladonna

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Goat Dance

by Rejoice

I realized that I never posted this video from February or so.  Here, a bunch of little goats and their dad explore their new toy, the old white Corolla that broke down and we never fixed, and that I eventually fenced in for them.  Someone took out the back seats and propped the door open so they could play inside of it.

Eventually we scrapped the car in order to raise money for the pig project and traded away two of those little goats for pigs.

Mr. Buckles, the big dark-colored adult, is an Alpine dairy buck, but all the mamas (the big white goats) are Kikos, which are usually raised for meat production in the United States.  We saved two of their cross-breed children (Tashkent and Mooncake) and added them with the other young ladies from our dairy herd.  Maybe they’ll become good milkers in a year or two.

Chicken Update

by Luna

Golden Comet Chick

Golden Comet Chick

Our Golden Comet chicks are now one month old.  They’re starting to get feathers, enjoy running around in their outside run and eating bugs.  We hear that they are excellent layers and very friendly from both our internet research and our friends at EastWind Community.

Rooster Hanz surrounded by his ladies.

Rooster Hanz surrounded by his ladies.

Our Black Austrolorps are almost six months old now, and they’re laying eggs like, uhm, like chickens.  We have fifty of them, and they slowly started with small, ping-ping ball sized sort of eggs and are now laying more than 30 eggs a day, often with double yolks.  They’re dual-purpose chickens, for egg production and meat, and with a rooster they can start making more baby chickens for us in the future.

Future updates could include:  How soon until the Golden Comets start laying eggs?  Pictures of them in their lovely chicken tractors?  Letting you know how our new $40 craigslist incubator works out and if we have a steady stream of baby chickens?  Will the Austrolorps go broody in the spring?  Here’s hoping we don’t break/lose our camera again.

The Fungal kind of Fruit

by Darla

 

Almost ready to harvest!

Shiitake logs fruiting

Last summer, dreaming of low-maintenance, cruelty free, perennial food sources, we inoculated 27 mushroom logs with Shiitake spawn plugs. We’ve patiently kept watch since then, keeping them in the shade and making sure they don’t dry out. Now, a whole year later, our efforts are finally coming to fruition.

We soaked the logs in cold water for a day to bring on a flush, and much to the pride and joy of their care takers, a few days later, many round speckled heads of Shiitakes begun to emerge. All in all, we harvested about bushel of mushrooms from this batch, just in time for my dinner plan of mushroom fajitas!photo 2 (2)

Just when I thought I couldn’t be more pleased with my mycelium friends, we happened upon a beautiful head of Chicken of the Woods, a wild mushroom that, true to it’s name, bears surprising resemblance in taste to chicken.

Chicken of the Woods

Chicken of the Woods

Now I was able to prepare a zesty lemon Chicken of the Woods as well as a spicy “Beef of the Woods” (Shiitake) for a        full taco bar, complete with homemade tortillas (thanks Mac!) and fresh pico de gallo from heirloom tomatoes and yellow potato onions from the garden.

Chicken Tractor

by Jason

Joel Salatin is the self-proclaimed “lunatic farmer” who has been struggling against industrial farming methods and the government regulations which favor them to create a set of holistic agricultural practices.  Inspired by his pasture raised chicken system, we’ve been raising our broilers in so-called chicken tractors.  The basic idea is a bottomless moveable coop that gives the chickens access to fresh greens and bugs, while their waste returns nutrients to the soil. This is the second of this kind of tractor we have built, and we have improved on the design in several ways.

Here is the frame that we built.  The dimensions of the tractor are 8’ X 8’ X 2’. For materials we went with 2”X2” lumber, partly because we had a bunch lying around, but also because it will result in a very light frame that will be easy to pull around.

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IMAG0131  The triangly corner bits are made out of plywood, and serve to provide cross bracing, as well as  increased surface area to screw things together.

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“Triangly corner bits” is the technical term

 

 

 

 

 

 

The hatch doors were built in place to assure a good fit.  The pieces were cut and clamped in place with some shim material to leave a gap with the frame, then the cross bracing corner pieces were screwed on from underneath. We went with hatches on opposing corners to give us greater access when it comes time to get the chickens out of the tractor. With two hatches on the same side they have a tendency to hide in the back.IMAG0123

 

We also installed some support pieces in each quadrant to prevent pooling of water.IMAG0133

 

The feeder hangs from the hatch in such a way that opening it raises the feeder out of the tractor.  This allows us to move the tractor without removing the feeder. An additional benefit is that we can pour the feed in without having to contend with a chicken feeding frenzy.IMAG0134

 

The waterer is a bucket with 6 horizontal chicken nipples screwed into it.  We’ve found this setup to be vastly superior to any other watering system.  It’s simple, effective, and low maintenance.  The horizontal nipples do not have the leaking issues that the vertical ones are known for. The bucket rests on support beams and is attached to the side of the tractor with a bungee cord, again allowing us to move the tractor without needing to remove it. We also installed a piece that the hatch can be propped up with to allow one person to refill the water on their own.

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Instead of using a hand truck to move the tractor like some designs call for, we opted to install wheels on the back.  The frame lays flat on the ground when not in motion, but when the front is raised up to pull the tractor, the back also raises up several inches, to prevent slow chickens from getting their feet caught under it.IMAG0125

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is the final result. We used EPDM (pond liner) instead of sheet metal for the covered sections because it is lighter, easier to work with, weather-proof, and again we had a bunch lying around. The back half is completely covered to provide shelter from wind, rain, and sun. The front half is mostly open to allow for good ventilation and access to the sun, and it is covered with chicken wire.

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And here are the chickens, checking out their new digs.IMAG0148

 

 

 

Puffballs

by BB

our insulation crew removes puffballs of insulation that expanded out of cracks that were filled.

End of the day where our crack insulation crew proudly displays the puffballs of insulation that they removed from our new building. The puffballs happen when expanding insulating foam is squirted into voids.

IT’S FRIDAY @ 5:01pm

by BB

dragball

Land Day Celebration 2014

by BB

Our annual Land Day Celebration was much fun. The weather was very cooperative, the food & drink were delish, the guests were delightful, the music (with not 1 but 2! very rockin’ bands) was fabulous.  Some pics of the day are below. Thanks to all who made it possible.

the party monster stage

the party monster stage ready to go day before the big event

 

Acornistas Mardock & Belladonna Doing a Duet

Acornistas Mardock & Belladonna Doing a Duet

 

the crowd gettin into it

the crowd gettin into it

 

The joy of live music made by your friends and fellow communards makes itself evident

The joy of live music made by your friends and fellow communards makes itself evident

 

Acornistas & Oakers perform as The All Request Dance Band

Acornistas & Oakers perform as The All Request Dance Band

 

River & Finley enjoying the music

River & Finley enjoying the music

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The view from the 2nd story deck of the Seed Palace

The view from the 2nd story deck of the Seed Palace (the pile of loose material is for the to be living roof)

BBQ!

BBQ!

 

our little calf (Pandora Midfield Fieldmouse Skeeter Acorn) wandered onto the dance floor to check out the TAPL (totally awesome party light)

As twilight approaches, the dance floor lights begin to make their presence known. Our little calf (Pandora Midfield Fieldmouse Skeeter Acorn) wanders onto the dance floor to check out the TAPL (totally awesome party light)

 

OK. Now that its dark the dance floor lights are really showing their stuff!

OK. Now that its dark the dance floor lights are really showing their stuff!

Quite the light show, isn't it!?

Quite the light show, isn’t it!?

 

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some folks did dress-up for ambiance enhancement

some folks did dress-up for ambiance enhancement

 

Acornista Samantha

Acornista Samantha

When the night arrives its time for the bonfire

When the night arrives its time for the bonfire

 

our bonfire

our bonfire

 

 

The world famous Acorn Goat Circus performing death defying acts of goatness

The world famous Acorn Goat Circus (>featuring select members of the Independent Goat Nation of Acorn<) performing death defying acts of goatness

 

Acornistas Dragon & Luna

Acornistas Dragon & Luna

 

Visitor Grace & our newest kid

Visitor Grace & our newest kid (and youngest member of the Goat Circus)

East Wind to the Rescue – Thank you !

by BB

(Editor’s note: This is a repost from Paxus’s blog. Check it out  http://funologist.org/ )

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Part of what is exciting about living in the central Virginia communities these days is the network is actually growing.  After almost two decades of there being only two income sharing communities in the region (Twin Oaks and Acorn), three years back Living Energy Farm popped up nearby.  Last week Acorn moved members into Sapling (aka Tranquility Base) which is the house we bought in late August. It is starting out as a simple residence for Acorn, but we have already agreed that it will ultimately become a new income sharing community.

Part of what is so exciting about this is that often times communards don’t find the right community to start with.  Sometimes this is resolved relatively quickly, like with my dear friend Belladonna Took who was rejected by Twin Oaks and is now a happy member of Acorn (she is referred to as Abby in this post   http://funologist.org/2013/01/24/pocket-dramas/ about her rejection).  Other times it takes one or more memberships at “the wrong community” before the person finds their place.  With three, soon to be four affiliated but independent communities all in the same county there are lots of possibilities for synergy including clever membership solutions.  [And a more fertile soil for my own Chubby Squirrels dreams.]

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~Belladonna Took was a bit too wild for Twin Oaks, but                                                   fits perfectly at Acorn~

Communities have their own personalities.  Twin Oaks is what i call a clockwork community, where there is a more regular procedure for things to happen.  Hundreds of work shifts are scheduled, meals show up on time and reliably, you better not be late for your tofu shift – because people are depending on you.  Acorn is somewhat more chaotic.  Things happen when people get inspired to make them happen, very little is scheduled (small dozens of jobs, mostly related to cooking and cleaning, contrasted with hundreds to perhaps a thousand jobs weekly at Twin Oaks).

East Wind is a thousand miles away in the Ozarks of Missouri and i have always thought of it as the “wild wild west of the communities movement” (despite there being important income sharing communities further geographically west).  East Wind is physically more rugged, without indoor plumbing in many buildings and more demanding physical work than Twin Oaks (but not Living Energy Farm).  East Wind has huge tracks of beautiful land, over 1000 acres that they control and neighboring state parks which are even larger.  Their decision making system is a strange anarchist-democratic model which is more flexible and volatile that either Acorns or Twin Oaks.

But what has inspired this post is a cultural difference between East Wind and all her sister communities, in my never humble opinion.  East Wind is the community you can depend on if you are in a jam.  East Wind will send out a group of members to help out almost any of the FEC communities when they really need it.  Got a sorghum harvest beyond your capacity?  East Wind will send a van load of people. Need some willing kids to help with a barn raising?  East Winders are there. Arsonist burns one of your buildings?  East Wind can be relied upon to dispatch a crew, even if it is a thousand miles away.

It is this generosity of spirit and willingness to help that makes me (and the rest of Acorn) especially happy to welcome the 7 East Winders who traveled far to help out with the fire recovery, straw bale work and dozens of other tasks we need help with going into winter and the busy season.  Viva East Wind!

 

east winders help destruct heartwood

~East Winders help tear out the damged floor in Heartwood at Acorn~