Archive for October, 2009

Bonfire Evening

Saturday, October 24th, 2009
acorners around the bonfire

acorners around the bonfire

in anticipation of the rains that came today, jason lit up our massive burn pile last night and we gathered round for an evening of fire worship. some sang, some just sat and pondered, others convened in the smoke shack (that’s most nights, though). there were swapped massages, poi spinning, and offerings released into the fire to be cleansed.

though sometimes our fires are a big event involving food and friends and frenzied activity, last night was much more calm, and with the number of people at acorn now, it’s starting to feel like we have a nice big cozy family to celebrate with. these are the good times.

mousetrap (my cat of 18 years, a venerable old lady) joined me around the fire, enjoying various laps and much tall grass for late night stalking. that’s us in the picture, with various acorners in the background (and the fire, of course).

you can see a nice picture of the fire itself on the “culture and recreation” page under “about us”.

infusing herbal massage oils

Friday, October 23rd, 2009

just a few nights ago odilia and i set out on a mission to create herbal massage oils. a lot of massage exchanges happen here, what with garden work as a daily chore, and the re-organizing of heavy boxes of seed catalogs, huge bags of seed – you get the idea. we end up with a lot of sore backs and people looking to loosen up.

i’ve been reading about various ways to infuse oils with fresh herbs, and finally settled on a method. so we went into the herb garden, kindly asked a few of the herbs to let us take some of their leaves to help nourish our sore muscles, and then harvested away. we chose four different herbs – lavender, sage, rosemary, and lemon balm. luckily our patches of these herbs are healthy and overflowing, even after our first frost.

lemon balm oil

lemon balm oil

into the kitchen we went, where we chopped and poured into sterilized and dried jars. we chopped, and waited. heated water (to sterilize jars), and waited. dried jars in the toaster oven, and waited. and finally, filled the jars with herb and oil, capped them, and

waited. the oils have to infuse for six weeks. we’ll have worked up some serious knots by december second! while those cure we’ve created two other little jars of oil that we mixed together with some essential oils, so our massage nights aren’t so lackluster (if there is such a thing!).

herb infused oils

herb infused oils

i found the process of pouring oil over the fresh herbs surprisingly beautiful. the pictures aren’t top notch, but they will hopefully convey a bit of the magic that went into that evening of creation.

have you created herbal infusions of any sort? what did you make, and for what purpose? thanks for reading!

why folks come to acorn

Friday, October 16th, 2009

recently i asked what you wanted me to write about here. i got one response from a reader named franklin asking for “reasons why folks move into acorn community… and what keeps them there.”

well, this is for you, franklin.

rainbow with onlookers

rainbow with onlookers

it is, of course, easiest for me to speak from my own experience, so i’ll do that first. i was drawn to acorn at the wee age of 19, when i had finished my ‘general ed’ courses in college and was required to choose a major to continue studying. i was paying my own way (and working three jobs while taking out loans – it still wasn’t enough), and couldn’t see any sense in paying for some degree that i couldn’t even afford unless i was sure i wanted it. and so, one spring day as i sat at my computer, my subconscious spoke up. a buzzword that i had heard but not noticed popped into my head. “intentional community” it said. i did a web search, and found ic.org and thefec.org. from there i realized that there were two intentional communities near my home – acorn and twin oaks.

acorn appealed to me because of the seed business – looking for something important to focus on in my life had led me away from college and out into adventure, and growing and preserving healthy organic seeds seemed pretty darn important. so i wrote my visitor letter and came for two weeks at the end of spring in 2007.

the healthiest meal of my life, up to that point

the healthiest meal of my life, up to that point

by the end of the two weeks i had

  • felt the exhileration of not needing an alarm clock
  • successfully eaten more healthy vegetables than i ever had in my life (no, seriously.)
  • enjoyed physical work in the outdoors with people who were fun and open-hearted
  • been in awe of the tolerance and understanding i found (e.g. not being yelled at for mistakes)
  • enjoyed a high number of quick friendships with mature, open, and honest adults
  • fell in love with the beautiful land, climate, and wildlife

so those were my initial reasons. there are ups and downs, of course. every community is different. i have been through two big personality clashes, cried at meetings, howled at the moon, thrown a surprise 60th birthday party for a dear friend, and enjoyed countless moments of wonder and awe with others here at the farm. there have been double rainbows, cool bugs, exciting projects successfully completed, delicious food tended from seed to seed, lots of silly moments, and many evenings of movie-watching and video games (don’t forget delicious homemade popcorn!). i’ve been supported in efforts to become a healthier person, but have also had the space to go within myself and grow. i have struggled through community process that didn’t always turn out how i wanted.

chocolate heart homecoming cake with a platypus sweet potato.

chocolate heart homecoming cake with a platypus sweet potato.

i suppose what it comes down to is this: i love this land, and i love many of the people here. they bring laughter and joy into my life much more often than sadness, and i am enriched by sharing a home with them. there is meaningful work to be done here, and the space and flexibility for me to pursue the type of lifestyle that i crave (mostly focused on sustainability and self-sufficiency). and that’s about all a creature can ask for, isn’t it?

i’ll post a poll in heartwood and see if i can get responses from other acorners. feel free to comment and ask more questions!

moving toward sustainability

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

several days ago myself and several other acorners volunteered at the first ever day of workshops presented jointly by master gardeners and master naturalists. the theme was ‘moving toward sustainability’. we learned about supporting butterflies throughout their lifecycles, creating habitat for wildlife along the edges of fields, replacing invasive plants with natives, and thereby supporting local pollinators, and maintaining your harvest into fall and through winter. i learned about a few plants that might do well around our farmhouse – it’s an area full of dry shade, which makes landscaping tricky. and, perhaps best of all (as i now sit listening to the rain splashing on the leaves outside), the weather was beautiful.

here at acorn we’re working toward sustainability as well. bathrooms are not often thought of as places to start ‘going green’, but circumstances have prodded me to do so over the last year, and so i’ve made some changes.

cloth toilet wipes

cloth toilet wipes

in the bathrooms at acorn, we have low-flow toilets to conserve water. we have a normal trash can, and then a box or bag for paper waste – mostly cardboard toilet paper rolls and their wrappers. this waste is either fed to the furnace as kindling, burnt on our ‘burn pile’ as kindling during potlucks and gatherings, or recycled.

i take it a step further. after living at red earth in northeastern missouri, i learned to live without running water or conventional toilets. since it is generally inadvisable to leave much urine in a composting toilet, i started to pee outside – anywhere off our few main paths was fine. though i did seek out shorter grasses, as ticks are a problem some of the year!

cloth toilet wipe

cloth toilet wipes

to facilitate my outdoor pee adventures, i made cloth toilet wipes out of old flannel shirts. it was incredibly easy, and takes about 12 minutes to make one. all i do is cut out two squares of fabric (about 4-5″ per side), sew up three sides, flip it inside out, and sew around the outside edges to further protect the inside seams during machine washing. of course, at red earth, i washed them by hand, with dr. bronner’s soap and rainwater.

some of you may wonder how it works – it’s simple! you keep a clean wipe in your pocket for whenever the moment arises. when it does, take the wipe out, wipe yourself clean with soft flannel goodness, and then – depending on your comfort levels with such things – either consider the wipe ‘dirty’ and put it in the wash pile, or fold it up and put it back in your pocket to be used again later.

this is a great way to save money on toilet paper, and very helpful if you live on a lot of land and a toilet isn’t always handy. also great for camping trips!

so what do you think? would you ever make or buy toilet wipes? what would your concerns be? how would you see it working in your home?

moving into autumn

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

autumn has settled in at acorn, and i’ve just moved back in after almost an entire year away. my name’s joan – and i’ll be doing my best to give you some beautiful pictures and exciting stories to check out here at acorn’s web site.

if there’s anything in particular you’d like me to cover about life at acorn, feel free to comment!

watermelons
in the meantime, here’s a recent picture – our watermelon harvest. a resident dog, moonbeam, guards them from squirrels during the day (by which i mean he lays around out front, where the watermelons happen to be, and also likes to chase squirrels).

i’m also working on making this site look a bit more snazzy – adding photos, more and newer information, and (as you may have noticed) nice, crisp, and seasonally themed photos to the top of the site. i hope you enjoy those! i had a lot of fun picking them out. it’s a treat to have photographers come through as visitors or interns and take nice photographs for us.

rose
here’s another nice one – a rose growing along the northern edge of the herb garden, which is surprisingly free of weeds right now, thanks to lots of helping hands throughout spring and summer.

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