Digging out or digging in? Either way, Arthur is loving it. Photo by Ben.

Digging out or digging in? Either way, Arthur is loving it. Photo by Ben.

Howdy y’all. Ben here, with another brief report of events and happenings here at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage, near Rutledge, MO. Actually, there aren’t a lot of human centered events or happenings here at the moment, which I am totally fine with.
Our quaint little ecological community is experiencing a brief lull in population, as a trainload of folks have taken off for Danielle and Hassan’s commitment ceremony, out at Hummingbird in New Mexico. While I expect the many folks who’ve taken the few days away from DR to celebrate the conjoined lives of our friends way out there in the Southwest are having a fine, and probably less humid time, I am rooted here with some basic homestead responsibilities, and remain happy to feel stuck, even with the ragweed pollen, barn muck, hollering children, et cetera.
Whenever I head out on a westbound train, which seems to be never, I feel a strange tinge of relief to be leaving behind community and all its associated responsibilities, even for a brief time. I couldn’t imagine traveling a thousand miles away, just to be sitting next to my neighbors the whole time, but that’s just me… and me, I’m here, with basically no one to talk to.
A couple weeks ago, a neighbor said something to the effect of, “Well, that’s the last hot day of summer.” That person was incorrect. Weather conditions have been nasty humid again, and breezeless to boot, though the bounty of ripening tomatoes and peppers is much appreciative of current climatic conditions.
Once again, I hear the familiar rumbling of the school bus, which marks the beginning of the end of summer, not to mention the beginning of firewood splitting, stacking, and sorting for our household at least. Maybe I’ll get to it next week, if the weather cools down. Also appreciative of these windless, sweaty, moist August days is the fungal life. Mushrooms, slime molds, and other living things which are neither flora nor fauna are blowing up all over, in the blink of an eye. This morning, the interior room of our barn had neat little rows of parasol fungi all over, and soon will begin the time of giant puffballs, one of my favorite mediums for ingesting large amounts of butter. Then again, I’d eat butter straight out of the churn, were that socially acceptable, or easy to get away with.
Most of the time, I find the silence around DR these days to be a pleasant thing, and without so many humans, the other sights and sounds of life here come through, like the cacophonous song of locusts, the mischievous rustle of bunnies in the brush, and the slow, aerial gyrations of turkey buzzards on the horizon. Down the slope, I am awoken every morn by a couple dozen or so cockerels, many of which we’ll be butchering in the coming month or two.
It has been another good year for sunflowers, as evidenced by the sudden, grand bursts of yellow flower heads about, a blaze of gold to match the burgeoning, budding, nodding heads of goldenrod, primrose, and tickseed coreopsis. My days have a rhythm, at least when things are going well. I awaken, mix feed for the pigs and poultry, let everyone out on pasture, trade my wheelbarrow for my son Arthur, (who seems to suddenly be able to pull himself along on flat surfaces, if there are any), fix breakfast in our outdoor kitchen, and wait, listening for the telltale bleating of goats that signals Mae and Riley returning from milking the goats. Most mornings, I see the same few sights, such as the flirtatious pair of cardinals (or is it a trio?) flitting about the low branches of osage and cherry, and our nonplussed kitty, Ragweed, lazing about the gravel road, the same dingy white tone as her own fur.
As of now, I feel little change in the situation of my life here. Every morning is about the same. I work as effectively as I can, in between chores and other obligations, and go to bed tired. It feels like endless summer, though I suppose it shall end soon enough.
Still, real change is happening. My older child, Althea, has lost her first tooth, while the younger one has traded napping for scooting around, often making a beeline for the dirtiest thing he can get into (which in my world, is pretty dirty.) He’ll have a stout immune system, at this rate.
This year’s goat kids are getting huge, not to mention the pigs, ducks, and chickens. Our garden has transitioned from mostly turnips to mostly cowpeas. Some of these silent, sudden changes feel good to me. Others come with a drop of sadness.
Of all those who are gone from my life at DR, some are gone forever, whether or not they still inhabit the land. This week saw the passing of canine matriarch Isis, guardian of Ironweed courtyard.
I already miss having to negotiate her fuzzy form on my bicycle as I ride up the footpath to the common house, and will also miss her occasional unannounced visits on the cold mornings after a day of poultry processing. While I am unable to get any firm numbers from either Membership or Pet committee, I think she may well have been here at DR longer than 95% of our population. Isis, for me, wasn’t merely a dog friend, but a part of my landscape, a fluffy traffic calming device who so often caused me to take a moment to be more intentional about my movement across this place. A mindfulness dog. As much as she blended in to her surroundings, her little alley now seems oddly vacant to me, and I hope to continue to consider the lessons that old dogs have to teach me.
The morning has grown long, the sun high, and there’s pasture fence to be wired, babies who need bounced, billy goats needing fresh browse and duckweed needing harvested for poultry feed. I desire for the wind to pick up, for the acorns and honeylocust pods to ripen, and for some amount of slowdown to creep into my life in coming weeks. I do not know what energies my absent neighbors will return with, nor whether enough dry days will be strung together to harvest the pounds and pounds of potatoes which await my fork. Change will arrive, nonetheless, and I hope we can all strive to make it the change we want, the change our little village, and our little planet both need, to thrive and survive in an uncertain climate, in a time when things out there are anything but quiet.