Archive for November, 2014

Clear-cuts. And the Dream of Expanding Our Local Community Network.

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

Yesterday morning as I was waking up, my boyfriend Ken walked in, opened my window, and told me that it was 65 degrees and that the forecast said it would reach 75.  This is great in terms of having a pleasant afternoon, but not in terms of what it indicates about global warming.

Within a few minutes, through the open window, I could hear the sound of a very large machine, punctuated by the occasional sound of a falling tree.  There were already two large clear-cuts on our road, and I could tell this new logging was close.  I took a walk.

The newly logged area is about 3,780 feet long and starts about 1,925 feet from our property.  I measured it in my 5-foot paces and then multiplied by 5.  When I showed up, about half the trees were still standing, in contour strips across the property.  I got the tiniest smidgen of hope that the clear-cutters would log selectively, rather than clear-cut, and leave at least strips of trees, roughly on contour, thus helping natural forest regrow on the land and probably increasing its value in the meantime.  As of this afternoon, about half the trees were still standing, and the machines were at rest.  My smidgen of hope has grown into a sliver of hope.

Monday is the day we get a van-load of free pre-dumpstered produce from Relay Foods (things coming out of Relay’s inventory, that otherwise might have gone in a dumpster, had we not taken them.)  So our neighbor and ex-Twin-Oaker Jim Adams was over to claim his share of the haul.  Seeing my sadness, he suggested writing to the Central Virginian newspaper about how valuable it is to have a mostly wooded county, and that we shouldn’t give that up for a few peoples’ profits.  And I plan to write such a letter.  Jim inspired me to think that I am not powerless in the face of local clear-cutting.

But then another member inspired me more.  He told me about the frequent willingness of East Wind, a community we’re affiliated with, to sometimes go into debt to acquire land adjoining their own.  He pointed out that we could start a food forest project on a clear-cut piece of land.

The trouble with that idea is, we have very little savings, and we have debt related to our fire recovery.  Twin Oaks, Living Energy Farm, and Sapling communities are also not in great financial situations; I certainly wouldn’t expect them to buy the land.  So, unless we get both some unexpected financial support, and a good amount of enthusiasm from Acorn members, we can essentially conclude that existing commuities won’t be buying this newly logged land.

But what about our friends?  Well, that’s why I’m writing this post.

I envisioned that the three clear-cuts on our road could one day, not too many decades from now, be owned by three groups aligned with our missions – they could be allied communities, or ex-communitarians, or community-minded families.  They could be seed growers, chestnut orchardists, permaculturists, well-rounded homesteaders, or other farmers with an interest in sustainability.

Is this dream likely to become a reality?  No.  But some part of it might.

One week older in baby goat world

Monday, November 24th, 2014

I put some food out to distract the meat goats so that Lanco and Tippy would hopefully do some cute things.  Herein you may see some ear-wiggling, tail-wagging, hop-skipping goat antics.

Baby goats

Thursday, November 13th, 2014

Our first birth for the season came a bit early. Here, they make pathetic baby goat noises and try to figure out where milk comes from while their mother consumes their amniotic sacs and tries to clean them up before it gets dark and cold.

Chickens update

Sunday, November 9th, 2014
Austrolorps on fresh pasture

Austrolorps on fresh pasture

We have about fifty Austrolorp laying hens and one rooster, Hans.  We just moved them onto a fallow field near the goats today.  The rest of our fields are getting limed and cover-cropped for the winter, so we need to get all the fencing and trellising off them for right now.

They’ve been laying eggs for about two months now.  Austrolorps are classified as “dual-purpose” chickens, which means that they lay eggs at a good rate but also gain weight quickly enough to be used as meat birds.  Which means, basically, you can’t have enough Austrolorps.

On Oct. 15th, we took some of the eggs and, instead of eating them for breakfast, we put them into a $40 styrofoam incubator.  Some of us were skeptical, but then one day we started hearing “peep peep!  peep peep!” from inside the eggs, and pretty soon, they were pecking through.

Freshly hatched chicks next to their incubator

Freshly hatched chicks next to their incubator

Freshly hatched chicken egg

Freshly hatched chicken egg

Day-old Austolorp chicks

Day-old Austolorp chicks

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