Posts Tagged ‘virginia’

March Maddness

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

March is probably one of the busiest months of the year for Acorn.  Our seed business continues to require lots energy because of all the spring orders coming in.  The garden is also starting to pick up steam as we prepare beds and sow seeds.  We are also working on numerous side projects too.  Here are some pictures:

Heartwood Residing

Heartwood Residing

Lynn & Phillip

Lynn & Phillip

One of the major projects we are doing is residing Heartwood, our main residence here at Acorn.  We are replacing the upper half of the siding with new, sustainably harvested cypress trees.  The lower half will be stucco with some kind of mosaic.  The project has actually evolved to greater depths, and we have replaced our main doors and many windows.

Bike Shed

Bike Shed

This is our new bike shed.  Hans made it recently just before he returned home to Oregon.  He did a great job salvaging, using fallen cedar for posts, and old siding taken off of Heartwood.  Now we have somewhere to put all the bikes we fix up!

The Chicken Coup

The Chicken Coup

The Chicken Coup now has a nice fence up, and a shady spot outside for the chickens to hang out underneath.  We were initially having problems with dogs getting underneath the fencing, but it seems to be doing well now.

The Straw Bale Building

The Straw Bale Building

We are also involved in the last phase of construction in the Straw Bale building.  Right now, we are constructing the earth floor, and preparing lime plaster for the interior walls.  By the end of June, it should be basically complete.  That will be exciting, because we are totally running out of rooms to house people in!

Solar Dryer

Solar Dryer

Hans also made us two new solar dryers.   Sunlight will penetrate the glass and heat up the metal plating, and then the heat will rise up into the upper chamber.  It is really useful for fruits, vegetables, herbs, and maybe even flowers.

Irena weeding strawberries

Irena weeding strawberries

I caught Irena weeding the strawberries and took a picture.  Ooohhh, I can’t wait for those to start fruiting.  I wonder if we’ll use the new solar dryer with some, or simply eat them all fresh.

Daffodils

Daffodils

Fruit Trees Blossoming

Fruit Trees Blossoming

More Daffodils

More Daffodils

I thought I would throw in some pictures of flowers too.  We are already seeing lots of beauty, and it is just beginning.  Soon everything is going to explode!  Well, I gotta run, see ya!

Selling Seeds

Monday, March 1st, 2010

We are really, really, really, really busy.   I mean it, really.  This winter so far, much like last winter, has brought huge success for our seed business, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. This February has been our best month ever in sales, bringing in nearly $150,000. Before that in January, we saw a 40% increase in sales over January of ’09. It seems that more and more people are not only gardening, but also appreciating the value of organic, heirloom varieties of plants. Fulfilling the needs of our customers requires endless work during the winter. Our main office is constantly busy throughout the day with people buzzing around trying to get seeds in the hands of gardeners. There is other labor to be done as well though. Our seed rack services are expanding very much this year, and we are busy creating lots of our new wooden seed racks for customers who distribute seeds in stores. I went around various work areas here at Acorn and took a few quick pictures of people. Now you can see what an average day is like during the Winter at Acorn.

Hans & River shipping out seed orders

Hans & River shipping out seed orders

Irena & Puck picking seeds out in the inventory room

Irena & Puck picking seeds out in the inventory room

Lauren and Ashleigh packing seeds into packets

Lauren and Ashleigh packing seeds into packets

Andy constucting wooden seed racks

Andy constucting wooden seed racks

Hans posting packages of seeds to be mailed

Hans posting packages of seeds to be mailed

Not only is the office really busy, but the snow is melting and we are entering March.  It’s time to start preparing for spring and gardening!  This is of course another important aspect of our business.  We are excited to be doing lots of variety trialing this year to provide the highest quality seeds we can.  It will be an exciting time for blogging, because there will be lots of beautiful things to take pictures of!  Well, till next time.

We Got Chickens!!!

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

Acorn just purchased 18 pullets of 4 varieties. We have Black Stars, Red Stars, Barred Rocks, and Rhode Island Reds. The Star breeds are Hybrids, and the other two are Heritage breeds. All of them are dual purpose breeds that will lay eggs, and also provide some meat. We purchased our pullets and supplies at Eden Farms, right down the road in Gum Springs. Our particular birds are 14 weeks old and should begin laying in about a month. Once they get going, each bird should provide about 5-7 eggs per week. We eat a lot of eggs here at Acorn, so 90-127 eggs is unlikely to supply our needs. Hopefully in the future we’ll be able to provide for all of our own egg needs.
Fortunately for us, years ago Acorn had chickens and there was already a mobile chicken coup available. It was cleverly built on top of an old car frame in disuse. It had lots of aging problems, but Andy and I have done a rough refurbishment. It’s likely in the future we will build a new stationary coup, and maybe even build a new mobile one using this old car frame. Ideally, we would already have fenced in the area around the coup for the chickens to roam in, but all of the intense snow has prevented us from getting to that stage. As soon as the snow melts enough, we will get the fence up and start letting the chickens out during the day. Well, here are some pictures:

Chickens...

Chickens...

Inside the Coup

Inside the Coup

Outside the Coup

Outside the Coup

Andy Feeding the Chickens

Andy Feeding the Chickens

A Chicken and I

A Chicken and I

Chickens Eating

Chickens Eating

Andy

Andy

Oh yeah, this is Andy.  He is our newest provisional member.  Andy has been traveling through the FEC, other communities, and even to China.  He has been the main source of energy in starting up our new chicken system.  Thanks Andy!

Winter Wonderland

Saturday, January 30th, 2010

I love Acorn! One of the many big things I love here is that the land is absolutely stunning. As the land evolves throughout the seasons, everyday brings new beauty to the surface to enjoy and marvel at. Today brings a thick and fluffy snow that covers all of our buildings and landscape. It is the second major snow fall we have had this winter. It was so inspiring, I decided to go out while it snowed and take as many pictures as I could.

Heartwood Residence

Heartwood Residence

The Frozen Pond

The Frozen Pond

The Barn

The Barn

Farmhouse Backyard

Farmhouse Backyard

The Farmhouse

The Farmhouse

The Greenhouses

The Greenhouses

Acorn

Acorn

Various Buildings

Various Buildings

Into the Woods

Into the Woods

I can't feel my face.

I can’t feel my face.

Well, that’s all for now. I think I’ll try to start blogging more about my Acorn adventures, and I definitely want to start putting up more pictures!

days go by, and the year turns over

Friday, January 1st, 2010

it’s been a few weeks since my last post. we’re still doing old-fashioned mondays, i still have a lot of crafty stuff to do. i still have laundry days and wash my things by hand (my clothes now, too, instead of just my cloth wipes), and we’ve had more snow since early december. here are a few photos from the past weeks.

orange and blue sunset

orange and blue sunset

this beautiful horizon was  a nice surprise one evening as i went out back to bring my laundry in before dark. i love the silhoette of trees in the wintertime.

gloves from a cut up old sweater, fixed

gloves from a cut up old sweater, fixed

i made these fingerless gloves in the winter of 2007 with two then-interns at acorn. we cut up a hole-ridden sweater from commie clothes and used dental floss to make gloves. i knew better than to attempt fingers with cut-up knitting. and now, two years later, the edges were getting awful ragged – and i finally had enough basic knitting skills to just pick up some of the hanging loops to keep it from unraveling further. other places required more creative measures.

fiver climbing ladder at heartwood

fiver climbing ladder at heartwood

i woke up one morning to find fiver ascending a ladder just outside my window. the heartwood re-siding project was going ahead full steam every day until the snowstorm came (and then christmas). that ladder is still outside my window.

laundry day - hand washing clothes

laundry day – hand washing clothes

another laundry day. it feels good that it’s becoming a simple routine, and still isn’t something that i resent or feel stubborn about. sometimes i put it off for a few days, but it’s always a pleasure once i make it outside and sit on my bucket in the sunshine for a simple hour of rewarding work. now that i’m washing my clothes as well, i have that delicious fresh air scent all the time. you can’t find that scent anywhere but line-hung clothes.

ashleigh wrapping crystals

ashleigh wrapping crystals

another old-fashioned monday found ashleigh wrapping a few crystals to turn into necklaces. i got one of them as a trade for some henna body art that i did on her weeks before. it’s wrapped in copper, and i haven’t taken it off yet.

after the snow - heartwood wreath

after the snow – heartwood wreath

we got nearly two feet of snow out here, and so for the first day or two everything was especially scenic, a veritable winter wonderland. of course now we’re in the waning days of dirty slush and scattered patches of stubborn snow. i made this wreath for heartwood after pruning an evergreen that always tickles my head when i walk on the path to the farmhouse. the trimmings made a fine wreath (for a beginner, anyway), and made heartwood feel a bit more festive.

dandelion tincture

dandelion tincture

i just started this dandelion tincture yesterday, after going on a weed walk the day before and finding some hearty dandelion south of the greenhouse. it’ll serve as a good winter tonic six weeks from now. i’ve been really excited to be undertaking more herbal projects, and have also finished decanting the herb-infused oils, and then used some of them to make lemon-balm lip balm and lavendar burn salve.

i hope you’re having a good new year wherever you are.

ah, the snow

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

snowheart

i almost forgot! i meant to share a picture of our first snow. it was a lovely day – bad for driving, but great for staying in and sipping hot cocoa. i walked around late the next day to catch a few pictures. it was cold enough that even two days later patches of snow still lingered in the most shaded areas.

snowy garden shed

i grew up in rural pennsylvania, and really appreciate a good snowfall. i spent my elementary school years making forts in 5-foot snow drifts and sclupting snow turtles, tromping around in snow clothes knowing that Mom was waiting with hot chocolate when i got home. it’s nice to see snow come back to visit this year… i’ve been living in richmond and alabama for the past ten years, and the snow was… not plentiful, there, to say the least. i’m looking forward to hunkering down at acorn for a snowy winter.

snow on the woodpile

here’s the wood pile outside of heartwood – we’re in the midst of a huge re-siding project, and this is the pile waiting to be de-nailed. needless to say, no de-nailing happened that day.

Old Fashioned Mondays

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009
my pile of tasks for the evening

my pile of tasks for the evening

this past monday we gathered in heartwood for yet another ‘old-fashioned night’. usually it means crafty things – mending clothing, knitting, or crochet. this monday had all three and more. i was joined by several lovely acorn ladies and a few gents while we created headbands, baby wipes, hats, and tooth powder (i was running out). the guys in the room helped by playing old-fashioned music and reading books on the elizabethan era. one guy said he enjoyed just sitting and watching us all at work. it was a cozy evening.

today we went on a craft store run to charlottesville. we got various knitting needles and crochet hooks so more of us can do projects at the same time, and hit the goodwill for sweaters to unravel for yarn. i think it’s safe to say good times were had by all, though we were very happy to get home just in time for dinner. we had enough of the city for one day.

day of the dead celebration

Friday, November 13th, 2009
day of the dead altar

day of the dead altar

sixer and i organized a low-key celebration for day of the dead just after halloween. we turned the piano into an altar complete with marigolds, other flowers, painted skull masks, candles, personal offerings, and lots of skull cookies. here are a few photos.

skull cookies

skull cookies

for those of you unfamiliar (we were pretty unfamiliar too!), day of the dead is a celebration of loved ones who have passed on. it is often a multi-day celebration, during which families honor those who have passed with flowers, favorite foods, drink, and other things the dead might miss from life on earth.  there is typically a parade to the related cemetery, where festivities continue, altars are created, and offerings are made. stories of dead loved ones are shared amidst traditional sweet bread and sugar skulls. there are also often dolls made to look like the deceased.

day of the dead altar

day of the dead altar

we had a fun time with the cookies – i made vaguely skull-shaped sugar cookies and then filled a few henna cones with chocolate icing for decorating. we ended up with cookies decorated as famous folks, bugs, spaceships, and all manner of crazy things.

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!

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