Touring the Tri-Communities

After years of hearing about the “tri-communities” of Northern Missouri – Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage, Red Earth Farms, and Sandhill Farm – we finally had the opportunity to visit the three communities yesterday.  To say that it was an inspiring day would be an understatement.  The three communities are vastly different, in size and in focus, but I came away from each of them feeling so invigorated and excited about the path that lies ahead as we seek to create our own homestead.

Our primary goal for this tour was to check out the basics of food, water, and shelter.  How are people building in Northeast Missouri, and what kinds of materials are they using?  What kinds of irrigation systems are in place for growing food?  How are communities meeting their drinking water needs?  What about electricity?  How can we adapt what we see for our own needs as a family of four?

What was truly exciting was to see a diversity of systems that worked well for each person or family.  For instance, the first small home we visited cost less than $3000 to build, had one single solar panel to power a light and radio, and the owner only built fires indoors when the temperature got below 40 degrees!  Contrast that with the exceptionally comfortable and spacious community building at Dancing Rabbit, in which there is internet, hot showers, composting toilets, refrigerators and washing machines.

Here are some of my favorite buildings:

A south facing sun room/greenhouse provides growing space and warmth.  In the winter, the residents open the door to their house, and let the warm air from the sun room enter.  In the summertime, they shade/screen the sun room.

A south facing sun room/greenhouse provides growing space and warmth at this Red Earth Farms home. In the winter, the residents open the door to their house, and let the warm air from the sun room enter. In the summertime, they shade/screen the sun room.

A composting toilet at Red Earth Farms.

A composting toilet at Red Earth Farms.

30 x 60 foot greenhouse.  My dream.

30 x 60 foot greenhouse at Red Earth Farms.  There were still greens and carrots growing, even after several 20 degree nights. 
An underground cistern collects rainwater from this house's roof.  Water is pumped through a filter before drinking.

An underground cistern collects rainwater from this house’s roof. I love that they used an antique hand powered pump to move the water from the cistern to the house. Water can be poured through a filter before drinking.

The community building at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage.

The community building at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage.

A temporary structure at DR.

A temporary structure at DR.

Many of the dwellings at DR had living roofs.

Many of the dwellings at DR had living roofs.

Mosaic in earthen plaster exterior.

Mosaic in earthen plaster exterior.

This house really captured my heart with its big windows and warm colors.

This house really captured my heart with its big windows and warm colors.

Another awesome building at DR.

Another awesome building at DR.

Timber-framed strawbale house in progress.

Timber-framed strawbale house in progress.

There was a very wide diversity of houses at Dancing Rabbit, including this old school bus!

There was a very wide diversity of houses at Dancing Rabbit, including this old school bus!

Check out these communities’ websites.  They have so much to offer and share!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Birthday vest, take two!

I had to do it. I simply had to make Everett a new birthday vest to make up for my gross error in improperly sizing his Milo vest.  So I searched for a super cute, super fast knit that I could whip up for his special day, and found the gloriously simple and adorable Plain Vest by Pickles.
Pickles is a rocking pattern and yarn shop, in that they offer one size of each of their many patterns for free!  The 12 month version of the Plain Vest is free on their website, and it was easy to upsize it to fit my 2 year old pumpkin (see Ravelry notes here).

Everett was very happy with his new vest, and so was I!

 

Joining the fine crafty folks at Frontier Dreams today for Keep Calm Craft On

 

A Sweet and Simple Birthday Celebration

My sweet little Everett Alder turned two today.  It’s almost impossible to believe that the mellow baby I birthed two years ago is the same active and talkative little boy!  His sweet spirit has remained constant – underneath his loud voice and big energy is a sensitive soul.  We love him so.

We planned a day of quiet celebration, just our family, and after a big celebration for my (38th!!) birthday just two days ago, it was nice to have a peaceful day.  Ev awoke to a new (used) Brio train set, and after breakfast we biked to the train depot to watch trains.  What fun for a two year old boy to live in a town with an Amtrak station just a few blocks away!

I stitched him up a new wool felt birthday crown.  I’m really pleased with how it is coming along, and plan to add some more embellishments in coming months or years.

In the evening, we honored Everett’s two years by telling his birthday story, and lighting the candles on his birthday ring. (These rituals are taken from the Waldorf tradition and are so beautiful.  Brian made this wooden birthday ring, but they are available in lots of Waldorf-y stores.)  Some gluten-free brownies and a few simple presents and that was that.

(And yes, my birthday was also wonderful.  A picnic lunch at the land, dinner with friends, and afterwards an amazing goat cheese cheesecake, goat milk pudding, and a short somewhat-original musical performance entitled “Missouri!”)

Sweet and simple.

 

Stash Busting

It is officially birthday season.  Me, Everett, and Ella all in November and December (oh, and a few other significant holidays thrown in there too!).  And with my sincere efforts to give my children handmade gifts, I have been knitting like crazy.  Drum roll please … I have FINALLY completed Everett’s birthday vest.  Just a few days before my sweet pumpkin turns two.

It is the Milo vest, a totally cute and very easy pattern (my Ravelry notes are here).  What made this vest great fun for me is that it was a stash buster.  So I got to revisit several yarns that I have used and loved over the past year.  The garter stitch shoulders – these fingerless gloves, the light blue Cascade 220 – the oh so cute Manda Ruth cardigan, the sapphire and brown – two Pebbles vests for very special little boys.  Such sweet memories. (Not to mention the fact that now I have a total free ticket to yarn purchasing!)
The only problem with this wonderful project is that it is too big for Everett.  SUPER big.  Like, it’s even a bit loose on almost 5 year old Ella.  And why? Because I was too darn stubborn to do a gauge swatch.  I HATE to gauge swatch!  And that, my friends, is what keeps me from being a really great knitter.  So now I have a total ethical dilemma on my hands:  do I let this superb sweater languish in a drawer for two years, or do I give it to Ev for his birthday, then let Ella wear it until he grows into it?  She sure looks cute in this vest!

What would you do with the vest?  Help me out here!!

(*check out more crafty fun at Keep Calm Craft On)

Receiving

Shop, sweet shop.  That cute little red building is our new 24 x 36′ metal sided shop. While we will do all future building on the land ourselves (for instance, our future timber framed strawbale home!), the idea of arriving in Missouri with no place to store our many belongings was a bit too daunting; we decided to hire a local Amish man to build this shop.

Currently, most of our worldly possessions fit into half the shop.  The future plan is to use half the space as a workshop and smithy, and the other half we will wall off and insulate.  Come spring, we will all move into a cozy 18 x 24 foot space!

With the help of our local community, we unpacked, (mostly) settled into our house-sitting arrangement, and were beginning to do the work of creating a homestead.  However, a few days after we arrived into Missouri, we came upon a very unexpected road block in the form of a significant health challenge.  Instead of contracting pond diggers and road graders, Brian’s been going to doctor’s appointments, having surgery, and recovering.  This has been a very humbling experience for us both.  We epitomize Do It Yourself, and are not very good at asking for help.  And yet, over the last month, we have asked for, and received help over and over and over again.  From friends that helped us pack, or played with our kids while we loaded the moving truck, to friends and family that received us with open arms on the road, from the folks that embraced us and welcomed us here, and came in droves to help unload the truck, to the community that is sending us home with complete meals each day, just to make our days easier.
It is a true blessing, and yet, it is not always easy to receive.  Somewhere along the line, I internalized that in order to ask for or receive help, I better be able to reciprocate,  And yet right now, I know I am in no position to reciprocate.  Right now, in this moment, I am receiving.

Thank you dear friends.