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Dancing Rabbit

Hello again from Ted at Dancing Rabbit with all of this week’s news.

Despite the oppressive heat, life continued apace here in the past

week. Various people could be seen doing rain dances throughout the

week, including Aurelia, who has been dancing to the slightest

suggestion of a beat or tune since about age six months. As I write

it seems to have paid off, with soothing rain falling today at

intervals, and somewhat cooler weather predicted for the week to come.

In the absence of any rain until today, the hauling of water for

garden irrigation seemed to be among the primary occupations on farm.

There are various forms of rainwater catchment here at Dancing

Rabbit. The common house and several other buildings have barrels set

up to collect rainwater from downspouts, often taking the first rain

that falls, which has the most particulate matter being washed out

of the gutters, before the rest is allowed to fill cisterns where

they exist. In Ironweed garden we also have 10 barrels set up for

irrigation, and we fill them by siphoning from the rain barrels at

Ted & Sara’s and Tamar’s houses, or from Ted & Sara’s cistern when

the barrel supply runs out. But for those without rainwater

catchment, five gallon buckets hauled from the pond in carts seem to

work just fine.

We’ve seen our first tomato hornworms in the garden this week, sure

sign that summer has nearly arrived. Last year we saw only a handful

in our garden, and though we can hope for similar good fortune this

season, we won’t be letting our guard down. Our first tomatoes look

as though they will start showing color within a few days, and we’re

busily training them up on their trellises and pinching side shoots.

Salad season has sadly reached its end with the heat and lack of

rain, so we’re in maintenance mode until the summer fruits start

ripening in earnest, though raspberries and peas are keeping our

garden interest piqued in the meantime. The Milkweed work exchangers

began joining Ironweed’s thrice-weekly harvest mornings this week,

and gardens in general seem to be serving as social settings more

than ever this year, which I love.

Wednesday evening the ongoing 80’s film series continued with a

showing of Weird Science, which was well attended. The third and

final installment arrives this week with The Breakfast Club. In more

active entertainment, Dan, Claire and Diane, the Milkweed work

exchangers, are collaborating in music making as well as construction

and gardening, and adding much to the annual summer bloom of social

energy at DR. Thursday evening some of that energy went into

celebrating Nathan’s and Kim’s (a Red Earth neighbor) birthdays with

dancing and other revelry in the common house. We’re sad to bid

farewell to two of our three remaining visitors as this new week

begins, but excited to welcome Toby, a visitor from the UK who, while

he has visited DR a number of times going back to 2001 or so, is just

now making the leap to ask for residency. That makes five new adult

and three new child residents this season, with a number of visitor

sessions yet to come. Here’s to growth!

With the imminent sale of member Dan Steinicke’s house, which will

soon be home to an arriving family of five, Tom and Tereza are

converting Bluestem kitchen into a living space. Step one in that

process was to decommission the building as a kitchen to allow for

various alterations prior to the move-in, which meant that after a

fruitful collaboration of nearly three years, "Blueweed" came to an

end, and Ironweed eating cooperative had to find a new home.

Following a celebratory farewell dinner Thursday evening, we spent

most of Friday sorting out which dishes, spices, canned goods and

assorted other bits belonged originally to whom, and then packing up

most of those items to store until Ironweed is ready to move into its

own home kitchen, hopefully this fall. It was tiring and a bit sad

to see the kitchen empty out, but Ironweeders have been welcomed into

Sunflower, the common house food coop, which, at 16 members (and many

more during full visitor weeks), begins to approach in size the

former Cattail food coop most rabbits ate in for many years. There’s

quite a bustle at mealtimes, but each member only has to cook every

10 days or so, while having most meals prepared for them the rest of

the time, so it is a fine bargain. And with Tom already beginning

work on Bluestem, it won’t be looking like an empty husk for long.

Friday afternoon a number of rabbits departed for Kirksville to take

part in the third monthly Critical Mass bike ride, which we later

heard was well attended. John, a participant from Kirksville who’d

visited DR a couple times before, returned with the group to visit

for a few days, staying long enough to play ultimate frisbee with us

this morning. That’s always a boost, since our game-playing

population varies significantly from week to week with travel,

scheduling conflicts, weather and the occasional injury making for a

wildly fluctuating playing population.

Aurelia produced a wonderful Father’s Day present for me on Sunday.

While feeding her small chunks of banana, I found my finger running

across something hard and rough on her heretofore very smooth lower

gums– her first tooth! New horizons of solid food now appear before

us, and Sara and I had to share the news with everyone we saw or

talked to, including our own fathers. Happy Day to all you fathers out there.

As this new week begins, I’m pleased to report that the

several-times-delayed start of Milkweed Mercantile construction has

begun! The folks from Horst arrived this morning with a backhoe, and

by lunch time had dug an impressively large and deep hole which will

soon take shape as the basement-cum-DR storm shelter of the new

building. Those of us who’ve been building (or want to build) with

earth oohed and aahed at the prodigious piles of beautiful clay

accumulating next to the hole, while the gardeners among us savored

the sight of a fine new mountain of topsoil.

Sadly, the start of the construction process also spurred further

consideration of the health of our stately elm tree, which, after

serving as a community icon and sheltering shade since Dancing

Rabbit’s earliest days, is now showing increasing signs of succumbing

entirely to Dutch Elm Disease (we’d already done some surgery earlier

this year to remove some limbs that had died last year). With dieback

visible on all remaining limbs now, and a new structure soon to rise

under one side of it, we’ve now agreed it is best to bring it down.

We’ll gather to celebrate its life and importance to us on Tuesday,

then Thursday bring our saws and ropes to do the deed. The

possibility of perching a tree house atop the remaining trunk has

been tossed about, so our beloved elm may yet live on in other form,

but it will be long remembered in its former glory.

Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage is an intentional community practicing

ecological sustainability in Rutledge, MO. We offer tours on 2nd and

4th Saturdays of the month at 1pm. The next will be June 23rd. Please

call us at (660) 883-5511 to let us know you plan to attend. For more

information about Dancing Rabbit, please see our website at, or come join one of our tours.