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Celebrating Our Land: A Dancing Rabbit Update
By Parmejean (John) Demaree
Dancing Rabbit’s six founders purchased 280 acres in Scotland County, Missouri, on October 1, 1997. They chose this location because it was close to Sandhill Farm, an intentional community that had been in the area for over 40 years, the land was cheap, and there were few land restrictions. Every October, Dancing Rabbit celebrates our founding on Land Day, with events to commemorate our good fortune to live simple lives in community.
Parmejean here, relating to you the doings of our village of late. Land Day began with a muffin breakfast, sponsored by Alline and Kurt in the park outside the Milkweed Mercantile. Besides Alline’s muffins and cider, we had banana muffins made by Dorothy and corn bread muffins made by several people, including myself. The weather was lovely to boot. This outdoor celebration drew a nice crowd and lots of lively conversation. The large pin oak shading the park was planted by Kurt and Alline, symbolizing their 20-year commitment to living at Dancing Rabbit.
That afternoon we had a formal Land Day celebration in our town center with several rounds of singing, including the song, “We’re Building Dancing Rabbit.” Alyson brought a large collection of flowers from her home at nearby Red Earth Farm to share with all the participants. We also had a round of individual testimonies, sharing why we love this land and this community. It was emotional for me to hear the heartfelt comments of long term members as well as new arrivals. The common values we share to live lightly on the Earth gave me a renewed commitment to quit driving my personal vehicle and use our ride sharing vehicle cooperative for any trips I might need.
My connection with this land goes back to a brief visit here with my family in the year 2000. The land was quite open around the village then, with just a few trees around the edges and now it looks like we had to clear a lot of trees to build the homes that are here. After our visit in 2000 I started getting the DR monthly email newsletter, the March Hare, and so kept loose track of events in the village. I remember reading about a third intentional community, Red Earth Farm, being established on land abutting Dancing Rabbit, thus creating what we refer to as the tri-communities.
When I retired two years ago and started traveling, I thought I should visit DR and see how things were going. I signed up for a visitor session and really enjoyed the experience. I asked around if someone would sponsor me as a guest. Right away Mae offered me a position as a wexer, or work exchanger, and my experience working on Fox Holler Farm was excellent. I am most proud of the timber frame barn that we built that summer, led by Cynthia Main and Thomas Kortkamp. I also moved a large steel-framed greenhouse. It was a challenge to remove about 200 bolts!
I became a resident in August, 2018, and a member this year on May 17th. I believe in the mission of Dancing Rabbit to showcase sustainability and demonstrate cooperative community. The community is what I love here, with so many wonderful and helpful people. Though I grew up on a farm 100 miles east of here and farmed for a while there, the knowledge and experience of the folks here are a great help in eating healthy and locally.
Though I lived in Texas for 30+ years, it is easy for me to readjust to Midwest weather. The weather does seem a little more erratic these days, with 80 degrees here yesterday, a hard freeze forecast for tonight, and snow on Monday! I love the snow and still wonder how I managed to live in Texas so long!
With winter coming on we have some building projects that are going well. Roofs are the priority on the new homes which will make it possible to work inside through the winter. Arune, with the help of Jed and three wexers, has made great progress on her home. Her house sits on sturdy black locust timbers with about eight feet of clearance underneath. Connie’s home is coming along, and includes a hydroponic greenhouse for farming tilapia fish. Connie has been raising tilapia to see what needs they have and how to incorporate them with hydroponics.
As winter approaches, eight of us are forming a dinner coop at Skyhouse. A few of the people joining us have been eating at an outdoor kitchen which is closing this weekend. Our dinner coop will feature a vegetarian diet with occasional meat options. Organizing grocery shopping and cooking schedules takes time, and as we are starting from scratch there will be a learning curve. Hopefully all eight of us are good cooks and know how to make good-sized portions!
Cat gave me a gift last week of homemade bread, fresh from the oven (thanks again Cat!) With the cold weather here it is a wonderful time to be baking. I think of making soup and filling Skyhouse with savory aromas.
We are shifting to indoor activities, and though this can be cozy, we are well aware of the risks. We take precautions seriously here and as cautious as we may be, there is always the risk of COVID-19 infections, so we must limit outside contacts.
With holidays coming and people visiting outside the village, it is difficult to completely eliminate risk. Social distance and wear a mask when out in public, please. That said, I hope you all have wonderful holidays and stay very safe. Much love to all of you!
Parmejean (John) Demaree is a member of Dancing Rabbit ecovillage. He is a regular at happy hour in the park and keeps our shared vehicles in good running order. To see more photos and videos of DR village life, visit our informative website: www.dancingrabbit.org