Monday, July 23, 2007

A Post For Dawn and Ken

Our good friends Dawn and Ken recently informed me that they were going to stop looking at this blog if I didn’t get busy and make a post. They even went as far as to say they were going to find another blog to read. Of course they were bluffing. I think. Well, I hope so anyway. So Ken and Dawn, this one is dedicated to you!

Our friends are absolutely right it has been awhile since I’ve made a decent post, not that I’m saying this one is going to be anything to write home about, but at least something’s better than nothing.

We were in Illinois a couple weeks ago attending our nephew Justin’s wedding. It was a home wedding done very nicely in my in-laws back yard. A fitting endeavor for another home school family. You know home school people are independent sorts. Home schooling, home weddings, home births. Well, no home births for my in-laws but, Dawn and Ken did do a couple of those, I believe their youngest two were born at home plus home educating all 5 of their children.

Been pretty busy around here this summer. Not hectic but, the weeks are full. Between gardening, moving sheep, getting pigs and just maintaining things, weeks go by and I wonder were the time went.

Kelli and I went to the renewable energy fair, which I’d say went over at least as well as last year, judging by how full the workshop tents were. We were traveling light so I didn’t bring a camera this year, but the lay out and everything was virtually the same as last year. We took in 9 classes in two days of the three day event. We were there Friday and Saturday. On Friday we attended 5 workshops. Intro to Permaculture, Straw Bale in the Midwest, Timber Framing, Beginner Veg Seed Saving, and Eating Year Round. On Saturday we attended 4 workshops. Intentional Community, Building with Stone, Root Cellaring, and Advanced Veg Seed Saving.
I think that the classes that stood out the most for both Kelli and I were the seed saving classes. In light of what’s happening to commercially available seeds we feel that it is important for folks to be involved in saving their own seeds and helping to maintain the diversity of the food supply. These classes gave us a good start in understanding the fundamentals of saving seeds. We came away with a much better grasp of the subject than before we went in. For me it was easier to hear the instructors explain things than to read something about it. It just seemed to sink in better. Enough that I think we’ll be giving seed saving a serious try.

The Straw Bale and Timber Framing workshops I had seen last year but, since I have enough interest in alternative building techniques I thought it would be nice to revisit those classes. There was more to pick up on the second time around so it was well worth it. The building with stone workshop was well done but, it was all about the slip form method and I already have pretty good grasp on how to do that so it was a bit redundant for me.

The Intentional Community workshop was interesting. It was about a group of people who went in on 120 acres in Michigan. It started with 10 college friends who wanted to live in a place where they would be around others who shared the same values and ideals. They began by meeting together monthly to discuss what kind of property they would want and to hash out all the details of what their community would be like. It took several years of meeting and searching for land until they finally settled on a place. In the beginning they all owned the property in common, but as things evolved they decided to deed off the property to each member. Over the years there were marriages and divorces so I imagine deeding off the land helped to simplify some of those issues. They still hold a couple spots in common, one being the source of water, an artesian spring, which they all help maintain. Also as time went by they created an association so that even though they own their own parcels of the original 120 acres there are certain rules they all have to abide by, similar to many of the associations that govern subdivisions and gated communities these days. For us their story sounded slightly familiar, with us co-owning our 120 acres with my parents. All of their names were on the deed just as it is with our place. However the people at the workshop said there are no longer any permanent year round residents on their property. They come and go using the place more like a private retreat. It sounded to me like they must have had issues about being able to make their livings. They all have jobs and homes else where.

The workshop gave us a lot of food for thought now that our kids are getting older and we will be wanting to include them in our “association”. Not only for that but also part of our vision for this place has been to one day form a C.S.A. or community farm. They addressed a lot of the dynamics and issues that arise in operating in an organizational system. I think for us one of the things holding us back is the fear of forming an organization and all the personality conflicts that inevitably ensue in any group setting.

But there are advantages to collaborating with others. For instance this year I joined the Rhinelander Honey Bee Association and have found it to be a valuable source of information and encouragement. You just can’t find that kind of thing going it alone.

Recently Kelli and I built a chick brooder for our 90 new baby chicks. We got 2 dozen Rhode Island Reds and the rest Cornish-Cross broilers. When I was a kid I had a couple short seasons raising Rhode Island Reds and always wanted to get some one day. But, until now even with all the chickens we’ve raised here these past years I never for whatever reason ever managed to get that breed. They hold a great nostalgic sentiment for me so I am really enjoying these red little birds.

Here’s some pictures of the brooder as we were building it.

We made the brooder mostly out of scraps and junk we had on hand. We cut up an old shower insert and used it for the floor. Some plastic water pipe made nice hoops. The only things we bought were poly carbonate sheets for the top and screws.

The hatchery gave us this little tufty head exotic. Looks like someone glued on a cotton ball.

Until Next Time


Blogger Dawn said...

Woo Hoo!! Imagine my excitement when I opened your blog and saw a new post, and not only a new post but one with our names on it. You made my day, Russ.

You and Kel definitely have a busy life with running the farm. I love the chick brooder you built. So many of the things you do are for sustaining life and very productive. It feels like Ken and I are still stuck on the mouse's wheel, and sometimes I'm envious of your life on the farm. But, then I remember that God's plan for each of us is for good, and I cling to that.

I look forward to the next time the 4 of us can sit in the cabin and discuss ideas. Would love to hear more on the intentional community. Can certainly see where problems could arise with different personalities and all, but would be a fun topic to explore.

Until next time, we remain your loyal readers. Dawn and Ken

6:49 PM  
Blogger RL said...

Howdy Dawn,

I'm glad it made your day! I would like to be doing more blogging but, time has been getting away from me this summer.

I think that even though we may wait for God to make changes in our lives he still uses us and shapes us in the here and now for his glory and purposes. Looking back at all the years I waited on the hamster wheel in IL, I realize that God was still active and doing a work in our lives.

Yes that would be nice to do some more discussing, we didn't get a chance to do much of that last time you guys were here.

I like some of the ideas behind intentional communities, like the idea of people working together towards a common purpose but I am a little leery of the term "intentional community" for fear of it being perceived as some kind of "cultish" activity. I think you know what I mean. We can talk more about it next time we get together.

We got a break from the heat last night as a storm system moved through and brought us cooler temps for today. Another one of the things I like about living up here in the north.

Well, got lots to do today as we are planning another sale for this weekend.

Take care and God bless.


10:19 AM  

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