Friday, December 31, 2010

New House Pictures

Here are some crazy, but good pictures of the new house taken by Jess Ahlemeyer. She has been taking pictures of all the houses at DR so we can update our virtual tour on the DR website. Watch for the update soon. I'm writing the text for the pictures.

Jess used a program that allows her to create a composite image of many photos. She is a great photographer too so these are really nice. Unfortunately, the house is not really finished or furnished and is not looking its best. But still it gives you a better idea of what it looks like inside, with some distortion. Thanks for these pictures, Jess.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Hoop House!

It's finally getting to the end of the working season. We had our first snow yesterday and many days it's too cold to do much outside. I've finished most of what I wanted to finish outside, though I still have a few important tasks to complete, like building a wood shed and putting gutters on the house. For a while there I was worried I wasn't going to be able to finish the hoop house in time to plant in the spring. I've had a number of problems with the kit. There was no information in the instructions about how to build the end walls, so it's been interesting trying to figure out how to do that and how the plastic on the end walls is attached. There seem to be major parts of the instructions that are left up to the person putting it up to figure out for themselves even though parts provided are sometimes not compatible. It's been much more of a struggle than I would have expected from something prefab, but I have now finished it. The plastic is up and it's pretty tight for the winter.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Insulation in the attic

As the weather gets colder it seems I'm moving faster to try to get things done in time to move into the new house by winter. I'm shooting for Oct 31st to have it ready to live in and it's still possible I could make it. I just have to finish the earthen floor, get the wood floor laid on the second floor and enclose the east gable end. Once that is done it will be sealed from the cold at least. I may not finish the interior plaster, but I'm not sure I want to since I would like to add some detail to it and I'd like to take the time to make it really aesthetically interesting.

I found this little critter on the trim above the front door of the new house when I was about to lime plaster the wall. I've never seen a frog just sitting relaxing like this. It's a tree frog and probably like a cool spot to rest in. They have suction cup toes. I moved it before plastering.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Monarch Butterflies Take Over

I've continued this busy building season working on the house. I'm making progress on the earthen floor. The light clay straw has taken way too long to dry and is setting back the entire project, unfortunately. At least now I know it needs at least a month to dry. I've even resorted to pushing boards underneath the layer of light clay straw to prop it up and allow air flow underneath. This worked but it did loosen the straw somewhat. I couldn't wait any longer for it to dry though.

The monarch butterflies flooded our fields this year to feed on nectar from the white snakeroot. I don't know what was going on with the migration or why they are suddenly in such great numbers this year. I've never seen so many in one place before. All the white flowers in the picture below are white snakeroot and each plant has 5-7 monarchs on it. There have got to be thousands in our fields.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Quick Update

So I'm going to try to make this update brief since I feel like blogging takes a lot of time and I don't have extra right now, but I really want to get up some pictures of the changes happening with my projects this season. We'll start with the successes.

The vineyard

All this rain has been great for the vines. They need plenty of water when they are getting established and this season has provided it steadily up until the last couple weeks.

Many of the vines have been growing so fast I was forced to get going on putting up the trellises. They went up just in time and now many of the vines have reached the trellis wire and some have even fully filled out their allotted space on it. I'm hoping that by the end of the season nearly all the vines will have filled in their space so next season they can produce a full crop.

These are locust posts harvested from nearby Sandhill farm. They are an organic rot-resistant alternative to treated posts, and they look a lot more organic too.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Building a Sustainable Economy at DR

This is the first of a few articles I will be writing exploring the economics of Dancing Rabbit. The economic system we develop here at DR is vital to the survival and growth of our community. If we are to serve as a model for sustainable societies, it is important that our community be not only ecologically sustainable, but economically sustainable. If we cannot find sustainable ways to meet our basic needs, generate income, and trade and buy goods we will not be a viable model for sustainable living. Though we have in many ways achieved our goal of living more sustainably than most Americans, we are still dependent on the unsustainable global economy for most of our income and livelihood. This dependency contributes greatly to our impact on the planet. Creating a healthy economy based on the same principles of sustainability we employ in our everyday lives at DR will make us an even better model for a new way of living.

But developing a vibrant and ecologically sustainable economy is not easy. Part of the challenge at DR is that we are living in both the sustainable and the unsustainable economy. In our ideal world we would produce everything we consumed, so we had control over our resources and could ensure that production was sustainable. We are far from that and probably will be for the near future. Instead, we bring in resources and money from outside our local economy and we pay out money and resources to the larger economy. We have to have as much coming in from outside as we do going out or we are operating with a deficit. Trade deficits are talked about in the national news, but they can exist on a smaller scale as well. Maintaining a trade deficit will jeopardize the sustainability of our economy. If we can produce something to sell from our domestic resources to offset this deficit we will have a more viable economy. But we have to be careful, because we don't want to export all our natural resources either.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Challenge of Finding a New Vehicle

For most of my time at DR, I've been involved with our vehicle co-op, a three-car carsharing organization members of DR are required to use for auto transportation. It's interesting that so much of my time here has been spent on the DRVC since so much of my life has been devoted to the movement against cars. I have long believed and there is a lot of evidence to support the idea that the automobile is responsible for much of the ecological destruction being done to the planet. In everything from the extraction of resources to produce vehicles, fuel, and roads, to the destruction of the natural world to make way for roads, to the wars we fight over oil (which are by far the most effective way of destroying a planet), to their importance as a huge chunk of our unsustainable economy, to the way they dominate our lives and shape our landscape, our use of cars is a major contribution to our own destruction. But our lives and livelihood have become so dependent on the car that it is almost impossible to live in our society without using one. This being the case at least at this point, we at DR are trying to come up with the most sustainable option for meeting our vehicle needs and for demonstrating an alternative to the rest of the world.

The first thing we do to reduce the impact of cars is reduce our vehicle use. Over 50 people get by using only 3 cars. To reduce our use, we do what aside from not using one is the most significant thing one can do to reduce the impact of a car-- rideshare. Each week at our weekly meeting we plan out the week's vehicle use and coordinate rides. There are regularly scheduled weekly trips to the three most popular destinations of DR members and this allows us to plan our activities to fit into those regular trip time slots. Unfortunately, some people don't plan well or decide they need something at the last minute and take a trip without sharing the ride at all. There are also those who just prefer not to have to coordinate a bunch of errands with many other riders and avoid ridesharing. Both of these things greatly increase the impact of the car. Just having one rider who would otherwise have taken a separate trip effectively doubles the mileage of a vehicle.