Tuesday, December 30, 2008

To a New Year and new beginnings

The holidays passed quickly, if fairly quietly, here at D Acres. With most residents returning to their families for feasting and gift-giving, it was a small group that celebrated in the D Acres kitchen. It was a story of snow and shoveling, spiced up with snow plow adventures, ham cooked to perfection, and some vigorous chess playing. Now the D Acres diaspora is slowly regrouping, one by one returning to this wintry abode we call home.

I'll, however, be leaving for some wintry weather farther north and a jaunt up the Appalachian Trail come spring. Many months from now, I'll relish my return to these people, and these acres, just in time for the fall gardens - and more mulching.

A friend once asked how I felt about goodbyes. My response: that they are one more chance to tell people how much they, and our shared experiences, mean to me.

And so it is with D Acres. Like any community, I suppose, it has it's issues and struggles that never fail to emerge, but like few places it also harbors friendships, hard work, lots of learning, satisfaction, snowball fights, and laughter. For which I am grateful, and to which I will return.

I hope that in this New Year, you, too, are able to join us in our community events, our workshops, or your own efforts in local sustainability. Change begins with each of us, and when we unite in striving, so much is possible.


Thursday, December 18, 2008


This years demise has also been the demise of an unattractive way of living for me, personally. It has been extremely refreshing to live away from the hustle of an over-consumptive lifestyle for almost a year now. I have to say it was hard at first to change some habits of mine, but by seeing other people's lifestyles here at D Acres, I have been inspired to live as simply as possible. The biggest factor is to just stop buying "stuff." If I do need, and I stress "need" something, it is a lot more rewarding to seek something out in a thrift shop or to buy locally. There is so much stuff already in the world that it seems futile to continue manufacturing more stuff. The best thing to happen is when I am looking for something I really need like boots, and it just happens that somebody I know has a pair they want to get rid of. There is such a feeling of gratitude to obtain something in this way.
I can't leave out my brother Brian, when I mention how my way of thinking has changed, because he is the one that originally planted the seed. I remember shopping in the Freehold Mall with him and my girlfriend a few years ago, and my behavior then was to buy my girl as much "stuff" as she wanted. My brother mocked me for spending $50 on a smell as I purchased her perfume. The ideals in my head back then were the more stuff I could purchase the better I looked or felt about myself.
The summer here at D Acres was amazing. I slept in a hammock in the Sugar Shack for as long as I could last in my sleeping bag. Now to be sharing Edith's studio is like the luxury sweet, since I have electricity. To be in the studio has some strange energy that permeates through the walls, as this was Aunt Edith's art studio back in the day.
One question that seems to reoccur at our meetings, especially at our Projects and Goals meetings, is "why are we here." I know that I came here because I wanted to live differently. The more aware I became of how globalized and destructive we are to this planet the more depressed and agitated I became. D Acres offers something that no commune has in common and that is an educational opportunity to truly explore a way of life that will outlast our race. Living in harmony with the environment and treating it like a delicate piece of glass.
Back to the holiday greetings. This is the first year that I am not purchasing any gifts for anybody. Not that I'm not giving gifts, because I love giving gifts, it is an awarding feeling to be able to unselfishly give something to someone. This year the majority of what I am giving will be made by myself. Since I've gotten into woodworking and blacksmithing I can handcraft some Christmas presents this year. Not to mention that for the first year ever I made organic Peanut Butter Balls. My mother thought it was impossible, but I proved her wrong and I will be bringing home proof that they are just as buttery and delicious as ever.
So, this Christmas or Hanukkah, try doing something different for a change. A friend of mine once told me that to make something means a lot more, because you are giving somebody your time. It's a lot better than giving someone a gift card or an I-Pod that will self-destruct in two years. Happy Holidays and Happy New Year from me and everyone at D Acres.


Sunday, November 30, 2008

When Pigs Fly

I'm not prone to intense dreams, indeed I rarely remember my dreams at all. Last night, however, proved the contrary.

Asleep in the Shanty, I was laid flat, spinning out of control under the roof while undefined animals were running around just inside the structure's walls. Josh and Louie, or perhaps sinister look-alikes, were stomping ever closer with snowballs. More frightening, the ghost of the Streeter Woods Hermit, this toolshed-turned-treehouse's previous resident, finally made his first visit. He was hovering, suggesting without speech that he wished to reclaim his old home. No longer sure whether I was in the dream-world or the real-world, I was also caught between hiding and confronting. From some source of dream lore, I was sure that I could turn the Hermit into a good ghost if I only calmed my heart-rate and concentrated hard enough. Easier thought than done, I think it was the approaching snowballs that diffused the situation.

I awoke to a pinkish sunrise, no trace of the night's madness.

In retrospect, it seems a somehow fitting - albeit strange - culmination to a week of not-quite-ordinary events. Things began on Tuesday when we each awoke in our respective abodes to wet, dense, heavy snow rapidly blanketing la tierra firma. With no apology, the snow showed us what we had yet to accomplish to be ready for winter. A flurry of shoveling, plowing, bringing projects indoors, and fixing weakened fences ensued. The beauty didn't last long; by afternoon it had turned to a dismal rain. Nonetheless, it did provide a haphazard yet almost picturesque backdrop as we said our goodbyes to Eve, bound for Canada and paperwork better suited for the illogicisms of our government. Eve, ton amies nous vous manquons et vous souhaitons bien. And our French is getting worse.

Then, before we knew it, Thanksgiving was upon us. Though not particularly in favor of cultural genocide or short-lived gratitude, nor butterball hotlines and GMO-cornucopias, this national Day-off did proffer a reason to eat pork.

Which we did:
7hrs cooking
15lbs dead pig
10lbs potatoes/sweet potatoes
4lbs collards
also bread, more bread, beans, gravy, pumpkin pie, and accompanying beverages
The result?
15 minutes of masticating such intensely rich and delectable food that sound effects were required. This was followed by a comic, over-stuffed, waddling attempt at cleaning up dirty dishes, hot knives, and what-not.

Though leftovers lasted about 24hrs, we returned to our routine the next morning. Which on Friday, meant pulling wood with the oxen. Joe, Neil, Louie and I did the usual morning's work of a few hours, digging out felled trees now covered with snow and ice, chaining them up, hauling them in via Henri and August. After a break for lunch, we continued. This time, though, I was given a turn at leading the oxen.

Thrilled yet also unsure, I took hold of the lead rope and stick: "Henri Haw, Henri Haw, August Step up!" It may be hard to say who was more unsure, me or the oxen. No serious disasters unfolded, but I suppose I stumbled, bumbled, tripped, and slipped enough to earn some charity attention from the two of them. Sometimes, we'd be in sync; sometimes in a mess of snow and ice and branches I'd be mixing up their names and or threatening to snag my own arm on their horns.

I realize you learn a lot about yourself, by working with the oxen. They can sense your confidence, poise, attitude, clarity and forethought - and lack thereof - before you're aware of it yourself. They are dynamic creatures, intuitive and perceptive where we often don't give them credit. And hard-working. I was passed out on the couch after a solid day in the woods.

Big Poppa, of our Big Pigs, provided some excitement this week as well. Over the course of Friday night, he managed to jump into the birthing house, currently empty and partially shut up (this is a 700lb boar, mind you). Saturday morning, then, I saw him jump out. Front legs over the stall door, a slick wiggle move got his massive cylinder of a torso ricocheting off the walls, then a kick and his back legs were over, too. If there's a lesson to take from this animal, I suppose it's simply to jump for the stars, you'll at least beat gravity for a second or two. Impossible things are happening every day.


Monday, November 24, 2008

What Happens in a Meadow at Dusk?

As the days shorten, I find myself succumbing to the need to turn inward, both mind and body. I feel inclined to silence, and in that spirit, the following observations will be rather concise.

The cold is striking. A glimpse of the bitter and unforgiving winter yet to come. As cynical as this sounds, it is the truth, and it is not to say that I am not wholeheartedly up to this challenge.

In terms of the farm itself, the last of the gardens are being put to bed this week, the few remaining root vegetables are being pulled up, and firewood is stacked to the roof.

I look forward to my new position as staff, and also to continued planning for the upcoming year. In 2009 our focus will be on Arts & Ecology. Personally, as an artist I will have an amazing opportunity to grow and in turn, share my humble experience and knowledge with others. As an organization, D Acres will grow by addressing a need in our society that is often overlooked or short-changed. Possibilities are truly endless.

The reason I came back to the farm was my thirst for a simple way of life. It's hard at times, but ultimately rewarding of course. Simple pleasures are in no short supply at D Acres. Sunday afternoon, Louie, Eve, Kevin and I stood at the edge of the pond in awe of Beth, the unexpected figure skater extraordinaire. A beautiful moment.


Finally, I would like to bid a final farewell to "The Duck", a confused but kind-spirited vagabond in a cruel world of angry chickens and vicious pigs. As a vulnerable wondering soul, I feel as though I should have done more to prevent his untimely death.


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Dusty Shelves, Hardy Hopes

This week, one of my chores was dusting. The exact listing on the chore chart is “Dust all wood.” Have you been to DAcres? The directions may as well instruct: Dust all surfaces. This, along with mopping, is one of my least favorite tasks, and I think I’ve figured out why. To be clean, dusty bookshelves, sills, tables, stands, and banisters require constant vigilance (like our liberty, please note) and regular upkeep. But with an intimidating quantity of wood surfaces in our Big House, and an unnecessary number of knick-knacks upon them, victory over dust is neigh impossible.

So I was faced with two options: 1) rush through it and call it good, because who’s really checking? or 2) make a complete job of it. Unfortunately it was raining outside, and there was no appealing outdoor alternative; the latter option it was.

Doing a thorough job seemed to justify being nosy, or so it felt, poking into spaces wherein I could have scrawled a graffiti tag in the accumulated dust. I found out that our garlic surplus is stored next to a small airplane model in one closet, next to a box of donated clothes in another. Better yet, I found a pink wool sweater that fits just right and itches just as well, and a pocket-sized version of The Man Who Planted Trees.

This entire introduction is, however, unimportant and a mere set-up. The story begins when I dusted an unobtrusive armoire containing various odds and ends of office supplies. Some hand-written pages caught my lingering eye and I lifted them out, dust rag still in my grasp. A short, handwritten account of Uncle Delbert’s death (the previous owner of the DAcres land) described how he left his barn, and the accumulation of discriminately stored tools, machinery parts, and salvaged materials that lay inside. More pointed was the conclusion, that this land, in being passed to the next generation, was the future. It came with as many tools as the past can proffer; it came with the energy, attention, and gravity of a moment of both loss and change; and yet It – the future – was a mere blank, to be determined by those who wished to be conscious of its formation.

So I finished my dusting duty considering the future, and the present out of which it grows.

I will do a poor job of paraphrasing Blaise Pascal who wrote, roughly, that we modern humans often look to the future without living in the present, to our detriment.

Which I don’t think is the case here. We are quite present in the present: food, animals, community. Each of these are about the here and now. Feeding the pigs, mulching the garden beds, sensing the coy approach of this tease of a winter season. Noticing changes day to day is what we do. And people. Just last night we had a small but vibrant crowd for our monthly Full Moon Potluck. Tonight, is Soup Night (the third Saturday of every month). Such is the DAcres community - those friends and neighbors who come to share conversation, music, and delicious meals at the farm. For those of us who live here, community also means the relationships that let us call these acres Home. Why we’re willing to work in the rain to finish a task, or how we laugh over a headless chicken chase, or why we linger over conversation.

And the future is so present in each of these actions.

Storing food for the winter season, putting the beds to sleep for spring, planning seed orders, discussing possibilities, sharing goals. The next season, the next year, the next decade, the next century (we’ll finally have a surfeit of black walnuts!) is embedded in all we do.

As is the future of ideas, of goals, of efforts, of hopes. In joining with the present work on the farm, I – we – are joining in the future work of shaping life as we wish it to unfold. Sustainability, agrarianism, artistry, simplicity, self-reliance. Dusty, if need be.

What’s on your list?

~ Beth

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Little Lebowski Achievers

This last week was definitely a hard one to be at D Acres. Not only did the farm lose two valued members of it's community, Bill and Lauren, but also Tyler has taken a much needed hiatus. This hits hard personally because the original reason I came to know of D Acres was through high school buddy Lauren B. She planted the seed of sustainability in me. After not seeing each other for at least eight years, somehow we were rejoined in this effort to try and create something and be a part of something different.

It was amazing having Bill as a part of the whole experience and watching how the two of them complemented each other. I had so many great times with both of you. I especially loved all the summer nights at the bonfire, playing music together and listening to Lauren sing. Sorry, for each time you thought Dakota was kidnapped because I was walking him, but I couldn't resist playing with such an awesome dog. Thanks for the trips to FAT BOBS and the swimming holes and teaching me how to catch a chicken on the fly. It really is best to hold a hen like a football.

I don't want this to sound like some soppy story, because I know this is not the end to this relationship. Eventually we will unite once again and as Bill put it, "we are all working on the same land." I wish the both of you the best of luck in Maine, and in dirty Jersey, no matter where you are. The two of you are beautiful and I hope you continue to spread your wealth of knowledge to other communities.

At least we got to take it out in V.I.P. style before you left. Kick it.
Keep in touch, well I'll see you by Christmas anyway. Love ya all.


Friday, October 31, 2008

Snow, Sauerkraut, and Social Justice!

This week, I'm representing on the blog as a visitor to D Acres. I've been here for just over a week, visiting D Acres resident Beth, a good friend I met my junior year at college. I arrived on the scene eight days ago at dinner time, excited to catch up with Beth and eager to see what 's involved in living on an organic farm and in a community of people mutually committed to sustainability and fostering healthy relationships with the land.

I was not at all let down by the community I found here. I've shadowed Beth from day to day, getting to do a variety of things. Though the harvest has winded down and the season's first snow flew the other day, there are still important tasks to attend to: weeding, edging, and mulching to put garden beds down for winter, feeding pigs, tending chickens and collecting eggs, slaughtering chickens, turning compost piles, harvesting greens. The daily rhythm of work has been really enjoyable.

That's not to say there hasn't been ample time to simply enjoy the community here: delicious, fresh communal dinner each evening; guitar-playing and singing; pumpkin-carving (accompanied by dramatic readings of Harry Potter); taking French lessons with Eve on Thursday evenings; storming a costume potluck in Plymouth dressed as ninjas.
There have also been two special events while I was here: a workshop on fermentation, and a presentation by the phenomenal Beehive Design Collective on their posters discussing issues of exploitation, globalization, and environment. On the subject of events, I'd better go - it's open mic night with a Halloween costume theme and the performances have started.

Anywho, it's been a pleasure to be part of such a fun, artistic, musical, globally-thinking, and locally-acting community grounded in relationships with the land. I may not miss cold nights with Beth in the shanty (too much), but I will miss almost everything else. Thanks to everyone at D Acres!


Saturday, October 25, 2008

Changes and Choices

Two weeks ago, I was the slightly disgruntled resident of a wet, cold, snowy canvas tent, fixing up trails and composting privy waste somewhere in the Pemigawasset Wilderness of northern New Hampshire. Today, I am the contentedly pleased resident of the DAcres Shanty - a fixed-up toolshed that offers a new definition of "drafty" - immersed in the fall harvest, chiding at chickens. The only fixin' I'm doing is eyeing up my next pig riding session.

I first lived at DAcres this past spring, when the snow was beginning to melt and the approaching summer inspired long hours and hard work. Now it's autumn and the unknown of winter is inciting a flurry of preparation. The pace is slower, and the work different; regardless of the season, though, we are continually preparing for the next.

With temperatures brisk and daylight diminishing rapidly, no hour is to be wasted. A stone wall is soon to be completed around the silo; 212 lbs of carrots were harvested Tuesday morning alone; the basement is almost filled with winter wood; the pigs are still to be fed, the oxen walked. And, of course, potlucks and art presentations, food preservation workshops and open mics continue. This Sunday 10/26, for example, is Volunteer Day, a chance for folks to head to DAcres and dirty their hands; there's a fermentation workshop 1-3pm, and also a potluck 6-9pm with a presentation by the political arts group The Beehive Design Collective - y'all should come out for this, now. Seriously.

Winter, challenging for the cold and the snow, does, however, provide more time for play. As residents here, we're no doubt a small community of quirky yet competant characters. Life, work, and play overlap in a fairly narrow fashion. Translation: never a dull moment. From nonsensical dinner conversations to the grunts of hardwork that suffice for communication; to reading Harry Potter out loud and playing beats in the basement; to french lessons and foam-dome eco-home house warmings; we appear to have a lock-down on the entertainment sector.

All this is why I am so contentedly residing in my well-chilled Shanty. An invigorating and rewarding rhythm to life, yes it is; and a rhythm steeped in community.

But not a community so insular as to forget the issues of the larger whole with which we are connected. Which currently means: folks, we have a Presidential election on our hands! Yes, I think Obama is the best choice we have; yes, I think it's ok that our POTUS is not Joe Schmoe nor can fix the oval office plumbing. No, Obama's not the Revolution, but what's the other option? I used to be a figure skater and am not particularly impressed with Hockey Moms. My opinions aside, though, please do not be passive. Make a choice. Vote. But don't be content with that alone. Your vote is not just about one (at least 2/3 detached) chad on one November day; your vote is each choice you do and don't make, each action of your daily life.

As we learned in french class this week: courage de décider

Courage to choose.

If you're not sure where to start, try this:
Resist much. Obey little. --Walt Whitman


Sunday, October 19, 2008

From Sunrise to Moonrise

My morning walk from the woods and my treehouse, Eastside, where I've been living for the past five weeks, has changed significantly.

I arrived at D Acres on the busy weekend of the Wellness Conference, a balmy couple of days, a little bit of rain, a little bit of sun. At the end of the conference, some of us were tired and sticky enough to take a chilly swim at the swimming hole (my great idea!). On the way back, we collected some tart apples from a tree by the side of the road--the first basketful of many this Fall.

That rocky path down the hill to my fallen down "slantyhouse," as I've occasionally called Eastside, can sometimes feel like a journey. Muddy and sloshy after a full week of rain, it becomes a precarious rock-hopping adventure as I leap to avoid sinking in too deep. Earlier this week, the trip was majestic. The colorful leaves have quickly been making their seasonal fall to the ground, making a blanket of crispy shades of yellow, orange, green, and red. The swish-swish-crunch-crunch of my boots through this layer gives me a rhythm and an awkward beat to my step, and it releases that fresh seasonal smell, dry and chill.

But the mornings have changed drastically. The sun is lower and longer to greet me, and the faint "cock-a-dooodle-doo" of the roosters is no longer a 5 o'clock alarm. When I open my eyes, and see my breath vapor into the chilly air, I realize it is no longer summertime. And again, as I pull on cold pants, and slip my feet into stiff, cold boots, to take my wobbly journey up the path, looking at the ground I see the sure sign that summer has ended--frost. Edging the fallen leaves are tiny ice crystals, coating blades of grass, making the kale and cabbage heavier and sweeter, is the frosty signifier of Winter-is-on-its-way.

So the only strategies to take for these short journeys are: more layers, a snug hat, long underwear, a sure stock of kindling and fuel, and the warmth of good company to bring hearty laughter and storytelling.

My first five weeks have been full. Arriving in the fall season ensured my work here to involve readying for the Winter. We have already begun stocking the root cellar shelves and bins with jars and root crops, while the freezers are quickly filling with extra beans, greens, and fruits. We will eat as well as we do when it is fresh. If anything, we have a zingy horseradish sauce to keep us entertained with its punch in the darker days of the Winter.

For now, I'm content with the frost, making bets on when the first snow will arrive (my guess is October 27) in anticipation of the first snowball fight, and collecting kindling everyday.


Monday, October 13, 2008

Indian Summer

Yea, a great time to be in New Hampshire. We did not have much of a summer, but October is making up for the rainy part of the year. Warm days make you feel one more time at the swimmin hole is still possible. Not for me, It is just a reminder for the weather that will be back around in another six months. I am ready for the snow to be piled up high and the only thing left to do in the day is to build a fire. Untill then just be checking task off my list.
Thankyou for your time LD!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Desde Mexico!

Hola a todos en DAcres! Pues me tarde un poco en escribir porque seguía en el shock del viaje, seguia aterrizando y muy exitada con todo lo que viví por allá.

Sigo procesando mi experiencia, los frutos que me ha dado seguirán surgiendo a lo largo de mi vida y en esta nueva aventura que me espera de regreso en México, ahora que me muevo a Pátzcuaro, Michoacán, y que iniciare nuevos procesos teatrales, y un jardín a la par, lo cual me emociona mucho. Ya los tendre al tanto de todo eso.

Me preguntaron aqui en México si este viaje habia cumplido o superado mis expectativas, yo contesté que las habia superado, aunque de hecho, no tenía expectativas. Sigo celebrando el haber decidido ir a DAcres a la mitad de mi viaje, y agradeciendo el que me hayan recibido, porque es de lo que recuerdo con mas cariño. Encontré gente maravillosa, con la que me sentí como en casa, como en familia. Aprendi muchísimo, mas allá de lo que haciamos cada día, aprendí una forma de vida distinta, posible y una nueva visión que me ayudó a definir hacia donde quiero enfocar mi trabajo y mis fuerzas. Recuperé la fe en una forma distinta de vivir y hacer teatro. Me di cuenta de cómo las cosas mas sencillas me hacen muy feliz. Escarvar la tierra con las manos y sacar una papa, o compartir una fogata, hacer música, cosechar los vegetales, alimentar a los animales, cocinar, contemplar lo maravilloso que es ese lugar de grandes árboles y hermosos jardines. Respirar ese aire puro, nadar en el río. Seguire agradecida siempre. Y extraño mucho, los extraño a todos y al lugar, realmente me encariñé mucho, de pronto me da la nostalgia, y muchas ganas de estar alli otravez, bailar a la luz de la luna.

He platicado a la gente de aqui acerca de mi experiencia allá, y siempre me vienen a la mente detalles maravillosos de lo que viví. No me es suficiente expresarlo aqui en palabras, pero lo que escribo aqui, lo hago con amor de verdad y muy sinceramente. Cambió mi vida, estoy decidida a renunciar a muchas cosas que antes me importaban y ahora se que son ilusorias, he decidido enfocarme en lo real, lo sencillo, lo que me hace feliz en escencia.

Ahora estoy en Mexico, ensayando ya para una función, pero me siento distinta, disfruto mucho más mi trabajo, cada ensayo, el sabado tendre función. Despues me voy a Patzcuaro.

Espero verlos a todos otravez, regresar y que tambien puedan venir, tienen una casa en Mexico.
ahora. Les envio un enorme abrazo.

Con mucho amor.

Pd. Si! que Viva la Revolución!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Now the autumn is here...

The last couple of weeks have been a wonderful whirlwind of all sorts of exciting things. Our Cultivating Wellness Conference, held Sept. 13th and 14th, went exceptionally well... a HUGE thank you to all of our speakers, practitioners, sponsors, work-traders and attendees! What an empowering experience to bring together a group of inspiring, creative teachers and healers willing to share their knowledge and energy with the D Acres community. Our 100+ participants got to experience and learn about a host of things ranging from yoga and craniosacral therapy to healing with fruits and beehive products. Vendors were set up throughout the weekend, and we celebrated the weekend with a circle dance, bonfire, and drum circle Saturday night. Good times.

The following weekend, six of us from D Acres headed east to the Maine Organic Farming & Gardening Association's Common Ground Fair in Unity, Maine. Always an enjoyable adventure, the fair provided great networking, educational classes, and Maine-raised whole-wheat fried dough. Classic. We had a D Acres booth in the Agricultural Demonstration tent, where fairgoers could learn about all of the programs and activities we've got going on at the farm. Additionally, Bill, Tyler, Josh, and myself delivered a lecture entitled "Home and Community Scale Permaculture" during which we shared our experiences growing food and communities with the crowd of over 50 people who attended! We hope that folks left feeling energized and empowered to turn their lawns to gardens and share in the abundance of food and spirit with thier communities. Viva la revolucion!

Immediately after the fair, we passed through the autumn equinox (September 22nd). The equinox marks the begining of the fall season, but also the point of perfect balance between light and dark, day and night; as we celebrate the coming season, we prepare to enter into the dark time of the year. This is a well-earned time of solitude and introspection, a contrast to the bustling height of summer's long days and exuberant activities. As the days grow shorter, we are able to thrive when we embrace the darkness, the quiet times, the magic and mystery of the shadow side of ourselves and our world. Slow down, look inward, and compost what is no longer needed in your life. Autumn and winter are times of transformation, a death of the old ways of being and feeling, a journey toward the spring, when the landscape will be reborn, re-emerging from the depths of the winter.

Enjoy the bounty of the autumn harvest and the brilliance of the foliage decorating the landscape; breathe deep the crisp autumn air.


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

It's been about a year.

Wow. A year has passed since I started living here. Maybe it has something to do with my watch breaking and not finding a good enough reason to buy a new one, but I've never experienced time like I have in the past year. So much progress and maintance on the farm, so many heart-touching friendships made with: interns who have come and gone, long term residents, and staff, and people of the surrounding community. It makes my head spin thinking about it. The time has flown by, but at the same time it feels like the experiences exceede those of a previous life.
Looking into the future, we're going into winter with at least 8-9 people, and possibly up to 13. That's 13 exceptionally creative people only having to shovel snow, feed fires, take care of pigs, chickens and oxen, and do chores. Plus, we'll be living in very close quarters. Luckily, any free time or insanity, that surely will arise, will quickly be unleashed on fiber crafts, ceramics, woodworking, jewelry making, silk screening, blacksmithing, music, dancing, painting, and snow ball fights. I'm excited to say the least. Not only will the arts be a blast, but also an opportunity to build up ideas and invintory for next season and allow us to rev up for the 2009 theme - something along the lines of "Arts, Tradition, and Culture".
Take your time.
-Dirty Joe

Thursday, September 4, 2008


1. Compost your poop, pee on the bushes.

2. Instead of buying something new, try and fix what you have.

3. Grow you own food, whether it's fruits, veggies, or piggies.

4. Take a bath in the river.

5. Recycle everything and anything you can.

6. Instead of voting Republican or Democrat, vote for a change in the way you live.

7. Try doing chores instead of working for the man.

8. Pick up an instrument.

9. Question everything until you know the truth.

10. Be yourself for a change, without any interruption or distortion from social norms.

Monday, September 1, 2008

An Intern's Relfections...from Miss Fay

I left D Acres in the end of July after a six-week internship. If it were not for obligations at home and a semester of travel beckoning, I would still be there now. What I found there far exceeds what I could have imagined when I decided, amidst January gloom, to be a farmer for the summer.

D Acres helped me toward an understanding and a way of life that I did not even know I was missing. What D Acres offers, in addition to farm skills, a welcoming community of eclectic and energetic individuals, good food, and a beautiful place to let loose, is an approach to personal and collective reintegration. At D Acres, we spend our time doing work that contributes directly to our own collective livelihood. For just six short weeks, spending my time working in the very garden beds that I could count on to produce my own meals yielded a satisfaction and a feeling of wholeness and integrity that I have never before felt.

It was not until I experienced the fullness, wholeness, and connectedness of my life at D Acres that I also understood the relative disjointedness and incongruity of an unsustainable lifestyle—the kind lived by most people in the United States, urban, suburban, and rural alike. In this incongruous life, one’s work does not and cannot sustain one’s life because the “work” of the average person is not connected, in any way, to land cultivation or food production. While this kind of job never seemed desirable to me, it now seems inevitably unfulfilling because of the gaps it leaves between the way we spend our time and the way we sustain or lives.

D Acres helped me to recognize these gaps, these incongruities, which exist unrecognized and unquestioned between the foods in the fields, the “work,” in an office building or shop, and the consumption in the super market. To lead a sustainable lifestyle is not only to engage in practices which sustain the land and the natural resources that we depend on, but is also to engage in work that contributes to personal and collective sustenance—to fill the gaps toward a reintegrated wholeness.

-Fay S.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Summertime, and the livin's...

well, not really easy per se, but such is the life on a farm. Summer is the season to grow, develop, bring to fruition what we have planted the seeds for early on in the year. The challenge is to find the delicate balance between growing, preserving, and storing as much food and medicine as we need for the coming year and indulging in the deep breaths, stretches, and summer afternoon naps in the hammock that are so necessary to our own growth and wellbeing.

As we near the end of August, the days are finally hot, the unusual summer rains seem to have subsided, and from the back porch at dinner, we can see the leaves of the maples already turning their lovely shades of scarlet while the sun sinks behind Edith's farmhouse. Though it feels too early for summer to be drawing to a close, the nights are becoming cool and the harvest season is nearing its peak. Ripe red tomatoes are coming into the house, along with pink, striped green, yellow, and orange heirloom varieties. We’re eating zucchini and have nibbled the first ripe green beans and apple drops, and, while we bring in an abundant blueberry harvest, we are waiting for the peaches to reach perfection.

D Acres’ Annual Farm Day was a smashing success this year. On August 16th, we welcomed over 250 members of the community-at-large to the farm to join in our pig roast, local veggie, potluck dessert, raffle, tour, and music extravaganza! We extend a special thanks to the Crunchy Western Boys for providing the entertainment into the evening and to neighbor Ken Gould for the peanut butter cheesecake...great food, music, lots of dancing, and a good time had by all. The night was complete in the wee hours of the morning after a bonfire with the D Acres Family Band (goddess bless whomever invented the tamborine) and our favorite fire spinners.

During Farm Day, Bill (my co-farm manager) and I announced that we will be leaving D Acres come November. We feel incredibly blessed by the relationships we have developed with the people, plants, animals, earth, and water here in Dorchester, both at D Acres and in the broader community. I know we have learned many things through a lot of delightful and challenging opportunities here, and I hope that we can leave a sense of the peaceful passion for the earth and all our relations that we have in our hearts with the people and the land at D Acres when we move on.

But before it's time for that...there is still much to come! The D Acres Cultivating Wellness Conference will happen on September 13th and 14th, 2008. This two-day event will welcome healers of all types and forms to the land and community with the hopes that we can bring natural, traditional healing one step deeper into the New England community. Michael Phillips, author of The Apple Grower, will join us to discuss the medicinal properties of fruits and garlic (in two seperate workshops), while Ross Conrad, author of Natural Beekeeping, will share the tradition of apitherapy. Other workshops include:
Herbs for Dental Care, Sandra Lory
Essentials of Aromatherapy, Joann Vollmer
The Garden of Your Soul, Preparation, Planting, and Pruning, Lynn Durham
Nutritional Botany, Barbara McCahan, PhD
The Herbal Kitchen, Maria Noel Groves
Homesteading for Health and Happiness, Bob St. Peter
Mycological Landscaping with your Garden, Dave Wichland
Hands-On Soapmaking, Karen Lacharite
Transformation, Quantum Physics, & Ourselves, Jahnay Pickett
Herbal Remedies & Your Animals, Carol Lizotte
Craniosacral Therapy, Kathy MacKay
Break-Through! Ceremony, Karen Lacharite
Mushroom Food, Mushroom Medicine, Terry-Anya Hayes
The Art of Fermentation, Louise Turner
Knowing Your Intuitive Self, Corey Calaio and Susan Lucas

It is such a gift to be able to convene all of these wonderful teachers at the farm for a weekend of festivities...my deep thanks to all of them, and a sincere invitation to you to join us for this event! We are currently taking registrationsplease visit http://www.dacres.org/ to download a registration brochure, or call the farm at (603) 786-2366 to sign up. And, (it just gets better!), thanks to a grant from the Robin Colson Memorial Fund, we are happy to offer scholarships to the conference for folks in need! Contact us to learn more...we hope to see you in September!

Summer Blessings,


Tuesday, August 5, 2008


An effective sustainability dynamic means that all processes function together as a whole, each one complementary to the other. When we modify one, we affect all the other as well.

What about ART and CREATIVITY into the farming dynamic?

As long as I’ve been at D acres, it seems to me that the principles of sustainability involve art and creativity. I truly believe that art plays an essential role here. Creative decisions allow us to extract our living from the land as the interest, while preserving the community and the land as well.

The month of July was certainly a creative month. I can see that all the project going on have a positive impact on the farm and local community. It also includes the quality of life of those who work and live on the farm, including good communication, trust, and mutual support.

Art is everywhere. Creative project can be as simple as cooking food, make a huge bouquet of flower or tell a story. I’ve seen people singing and playing music, make sculptural bonfire, drawing, painting, «circusing», make necklaces, silk screening, spinning fire, woodworking, reading poetry, blacksmithing…and much more.

Finally, consider that all these creative works are part of the whole sustainable system and truly affect and modify the positive dynamic of the land and community, and I in the first one.

Thank to everyone who make life a piece of art.

Merci à tous. Xx


Friday, August 1, 2008

Ramblings of Reflection Summer 08

I found D-Acres thinking that it would further enable me as a member of the Co-Op in which I live at school: that I would understand more about how viably sustainable communities work, within each other and without the grid, the grocery store and most of the things we tend to brush as “given” in our daily lives—I know I did. And within days of coming to DAcres my expectations of my organic farm experience had been far exceeded. People power; it’s so simple. People so different, all wonderful and crazy (aren’t we all in our own right), choosing to come together—to live together and cook together, weed garden beds and go to the swimming hole together—all with visions of change in the world, held together by a common goal and the friendship and solidarity growing amongst them, these people do much; get much done.

Turning compost for the first time (at school turning the compost meant rotating the metal barrel in which our compost lived), I found myself in the middle of the pile and the peak of my dramatic feelings of insurmountable exhaustion, and Eve passes with laughter and some words: “Yeah! Solidarity!” And the last time I turned compost, that feeling of solidarity, freedom, empowerment, all of it just running and flowing through my body with rhythm I had finally developed with the swing of the pitchfork.

Growing up and going to high school, there was always someone telling me that I could be whoever I wanted to be, do anything I wanted to do. But, at prep school no one is too excited about your dreams of being part of a commune or living in a tree house, those freedoms, that life didn’t seem to be included in their plans. So I can only begin to express the immense feeling of freedom and joy in using your body everyday to enact what you’ve been thinking about, to be the change you want to see; the beautiful feeling of walking around and watching things grow day by day. It’s magical really. And now I find myself driving around the suburbs running errands, and scanning the fields on the side of the road for plants I know. I’m so happy to find something familiar, thistle everywhere that I just want to root up or flowers to harvest for tea.

Being home it’s been really interesting talking to people about my experience and my plans to follow. Some of them seem to think it just sounds so dirty (and aren’t I relieved to be back with real or clean toilets and showers...and no); and others still find it hilarious that I’m waiting to build my own treehouse; but I was surprised how many have said, yes I think I’d like doing that, or I’ve always dreamed about that, or only in paradise. I’m infinitely joyful and whole to be in that dream, living and sharing and working hard with people who care for one another and those ideas we hold in common, those buzz words given life, community & solidarity and sustainability.

I have to thank everyone at D Acres for all of the experiences this summer, I’ve never learned so much and I’ve never been so anxious to do anything as I am to continue gardening and building and growing. Keep truckin’. I’ll always remember those moments when I realized and saw that everything we’d talked about with friends could and will be done, and tree house became much more than a word or a dream.
All the freaky people make the beauty in the world…

submitted July 31 '08 by Hooookah Annie Tague

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Sugar it up!!!!!!

Life…let me tell you about life here on D Acres farm, because as of recently, I’ve been rather non-existent in the fragments of words called “blogs”. I’m serious, look thoroughly. I came here March 1st. A new beginning for a person who was living the depressing lifestyle of the many New Jersey warehouse workers. Garden State my ass. A state that once was booming with agriculture, is now a barren wasteland of warehouses (thanks to the NJ Turnpike) and developments that only the insanely rich could dream of owning. What is it all for, I keep on asking? It all seems too surreal. So, in order to clear my mind of the million distractions that life had afforded me I decided to break it down to a more simplistic form of living. I was first turned on to the idea of it all just by a days visit. It made me want to heat up my friend and mines townhouse in Somerset, NJ only by means of firewood. I found myself walking down the street rather than driving, for a bottle of Brandy. I laid my sleeping bag down before the fire, only to wake up freezing cold because the fire had died out, but it was a test, and I passed. For the first time in my life did I realize I could live with just the bare necessities of life. Screw your I Pods, cell phones, TV’s, CNN, and every other distraction you throw in front of yourselves, I felt free.
The winter I had arrived at D Acres was the harshest the state of NH had seen in almost 100 years and I have to say I enjoyed every minute of it. Watching this place thaw out was the amazing part. To finally see what this place had to offer was the eye opening experience. From maple sugaring to beer brewing to delivering three healthy piglets, I can’t say I’ve ever experienced anything like this in my life. D Acres has taught me and guided me and still is guiding me through a way of living that is self-sustaining, at it’s most bare minimum. Take only what you need and leave the rest. This is concept that seems so distant from normal American. I feel as if we’ve distanced ourselves from the root of it all. D Acres takes nothing for granted, no piece of land, no ounce of food, nobodies opinion is not important enough. The seed of civilization lies in what our community and many others like it have to offer.
I can’t thank D Acres enough. For all that this place has shown me and offered me. To have a place to live and be happy and express myself the way that I want to without being judged is like a dream come true. I don’t even get paid to be here and I’m happier than a pig in sh_t. Well you know what I mean. Thanks for all the great times….JT, LD, L Train, Billy Coyote, DJ, K-Wall and Sara all of those who have passed through during my stay here, I love ya all!

Neil (a.k.a. Coolio)

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Reflections on a D Acres Internship

As my internship at D Acres comes to a close, I can count the weeks that have passed by the size the plants in the gardens have grown. The peas in the mandala garden, which had barely begun to reach their curly tendrils off the ground when I first got here, have now surpassed me in height and are bursting with juicy, plump pods. I knew I couldn't leave without first sampling their crunchy fruits, and luckily those peas made it just in time, though it took some coaxing and cussing as I passed them each day on the way to and from my treehouse ("Come on, peas. You can do it--just grow a little faster!" or the more urgent request: "Damn it, grow.").

It is amazing all the other changes the farm has undergone since I arrived here a mere month-and-a-half ago: so many people (interns and hostel guests alike) have come and gone, seeds big and small have awoken from their long sleep and sprouted into plants of all different shapes, sizes and colors, dandelion and daisy pastures have been tamed and reclaimed into lush garden beds, three piglets were born, the chickens have seen two new homes, the rooster has gotten meaner, the bonfires have gotten bigger and more elaborate, and each new day only brings more laughter and joy (and bug bites, too) to the D Acres residents.
It is no surprise that laughter and high spirits abound in such a place--after a hard day's work in the gardens, the kitchen, or the blacksmith shop, it is hard to keep from doing various types of international dance (or often something more similar to the funky chicken) or crooning endless renditions of "What do you do with a drunken farmer" (you put him in the compost and let him rot).

And with so much care and compassion for the surrounding community of people, plants, and animals, D Acres is buzzing with life. Here at the farm, almost everything has a name (or two) and a familiar face, from the treehouses to the medicinal plants to the individual interns (including one aptly nicknamed "Maddog"). And almost everything and everyone has a specific function within the community that only that individual, be it person, plant, or conch shell, can bring.

What I especially love about D Acres is the way of life here--the means and accommodations are simple but rich, the community bonds strong but just loose enough for independence, and there is ample freedom to make mistakes, try new things, and get dirty. Living at D Acres is so inspiring because it is a proactive choice--the people here have chosen to be here and to live their lives a certain way and they have made the changes necessary to do so. It is refreshing to be reminded that we really aren't completely stuck in the current societal system--as Ghandi once said, "I believe it to be perfectly possible for an individual to adopt the way of life of the future. . .without having to wait for others to do so." Indeed, D Acres is a place of positive change and proactive decision-making--its residents seem to be striving not just to make their vision into a reality, but reality into a vision of a better, more sustainable world. And from the sight of the place, it seems to be working (and if you haven't been there yet, I highly suggest you go).

All in all, my time at D Acres has been so much more than just an internship--though I have come away with many useful skills for the present and future (and black fly battlescars to prove it)--I have learned about permaculture practices, cooking with whole, seasonal foods for large groups of people, how to build a stone wall, how to castrate a pig, how to change a bike tire, how to (almost) do a handstand, how to live and work with a diverse (and largely crazy) group of people, and so much more--in the end it was the journey itself, the experience of interning at D Acres, which is most dear to my heart. No words could ever really describe the reality of what it is like to live there--nor could any photograph depict the beauty of the surrounding environment or the thriving community (I have heard, though, that there's a pretty good D Acres video in the works). Certainly, no peas could have ever tasted as good as those I ate on my last day at D Acres--nor could they have been eaten in better company.

With much love and thanks to those that have made D Acres possible and keep it going strong,
REL (speedwagon)

Monday, June 23, 2008

Middle Earth Solstice Party at the Farm!

Ah, the summer! The Summer Solstice begins the official season of summer, the time of the year when, though the days are often warm and sunny and nights are far from freezing, here in north America the days begin to recede, and we have a little less light each evening as we progress toward the dark sleep of winter. Though it feels like summer just started here in New England, and we have many more weeks of lengthy daylight (as we certainnly need for the farming season!), this is the time of year during which we begin the journey toward a winter 's rest.

This year, in celebration of the Summer Solstice, the farm was host to a one-of-a-kind Middle Earth Party! Our neighborhood band, Big Love Monster out of Plymouth, provided the evening entertainment for a lively bunch of wizards, hobbits, elves, ents, and the like...

The festivities began in the afternoon, with construction of the ceremonial bonfire that would celebrate the longest day of the year and honor the beginning of summer while conveniently representing the depths of Mordor as well.

Here, JT and hostel guest/volunteer extraordinaire Chris, complete the recently welded out of scrap metal Eye of Sauron, filling its center with newspaper and waste veggie oil for maximum burnability.

As the evening progressed, JoEl the astrological wizard, DJ Vachon the psychedellic dwarf, and R.E.L. speedwagon, also a dwarf, certainly got into character quite well.

The ladies of the farm were ready for battle, or perhaps dancing, in Middle Earth: Ariel, Eve, myself (Lauren), Annie, and Fay, all current residents of D Acres, are joined by special guest star Lea in this shot (absent from this pic are farm ladies Erin "Mad Dog" Matson and Sarah Hall).

Joe Vachon...Sean Jean...Psychedellic Dwarf. Good times. What more can I say.

Attending the party as The Lady of the Wood, an elven queen, it was only appropriate that I was joined by the amazing tree people here! Tyler (in largely hemlock attire), Chris, and Eve (both in birch) made for spectacular Ents.

Later in the evening...
I think Bill said it best, "Ya'll are a bunch of yahoos yahoodling!" Here, I'm joined by none other than Skintz Jimmy (Louie was on vacation this weekend), Lea, and "that guy," the mysterious Middle Earth tiki god...

And finally, a shot of JT running, or more likely dancing, out of the explosive depths of Mordor...I mean, come on, who else has a party in Mordor? Did I say one of a kind, or what?

A huge thank you and lots of love to all who attended and made this event a great success...great costumes, stellar music, lots of dancing, and a good time was had by all.

until the Circus Sideshow...


Monday, June 16, 2008

Planting Time

Last weekend Lauren and I taught a day-long "homescale organic gardening" workshop. We focused on how to grow food in this climate utilizing whatever space is available. Participants had gardens ranging from a few potted tomatoes on a back deck to several acres under stewardship. The D Acres gardens provide examples of these varying degrees of scale that are applicable to home gardeners and market growers alike. We discussed composting, planted hops and elderberry, and created this garden bed..

Last year, this was a compost pile on the edge of our orchard. We have since used the compost and were left with a nice base of organic material, under which the grass had decomposed. We just gave it a quick forking and laid cardboard covered with woodchips around the perimeter to prevent any weeds from creeping in. The wooden box is a simple cold frame.

We then made some compost mounds and planted winter squash, surrounded by lettuces and direct seeded radishes. The radishes should be ready to harvest by the timethe winter squash is big enough to occupy that area, and the lettuce will probably be going to seed by then. Extra winter squash seeds were planted with the squash transplants to ensure that if our plants did not acclimate well, there would be another crop behind it. With such a short season and limited growing space, we need to maximize our garden beds and think at the square-foot level. Notice the damage on the squash plant caused by striped cucumber beetles. Good thing we planted extra seeds!

This is the plant that was covered by the cold frame, which provides shelter from intense sun, fierce winds, heavy rain drops, and most importantly, the voracious appetite of striped cucumber beetles. These insects are particularly abundant this year due to our mild winter, which was not cold enough to significantly reduce their overwintering populations. This season has been great so far though. The rains have come when we needed them, the sun has been shining, and the temperatures above average. All in all, the plants (and weeds) are growing strong and we have been working hard to take care of them.

There is an abundance of fresh vegetables, flowers, and herbs that we can all grow in our yards with some effort and intention, creating biodiverse ecosystems that are not only healthy for humans, but also for bees, hummingbirds, worms, and native wildlife. Hopefully some of these age old practices will take root in people's yards and communities, inspiring neighbors and friends to grow food instead of lawn on their piece of Earth.



Summertime is here and we got alot to do this season. Not much time for words from me, so come on out to see all that is going on. LD

Monday, June 2, 2008

When the $#!% hits the fan.

Cool huh? These are pictures of the manure spreader a number of us got back up and running. Who knows how long it's been since it was last used. Josh bought it a year or two ago from someone who had it sitting on their property long enough for all of the nuts and bolts to seize beyond what a few wrenches can fix, and for the wood to mostly rot away. On the bed of the machine is where you pile up the manure compost, which is pushed back to a series of spinning teeth and fanning blades by a conveir-like contraption. All this is powered by the oxen who pull the cart, which spins the wheels that turn a bunch of gears. It's been working great for fertalizing the upper pasture with oxen manure so far. Gotta love technology that an average Joe can understand with his own eyes and hands.
Speaking of Joes, I got the 2-car garage set up pretty well as a "smithy" (a.k.a. blacksmith shop). I can't express how great it was to light up my coal fire in there for the first time... I'm filled with passion when thinking of my role here as a blacksmith, general farm worker, and contributer to a community as beautiful as this. After about 6 months of adjusting to this life-style I can confidently say I love it. One of the things that tickels me about it is that when I go to bed at night, I don't feel like my day was incomplete. I feel ready to sleep and satified with my efforts and what my energy is contributing to. Even when nothing went as planned, or I screwed up a dozen things. I'm learning, adapting and growing at a rate I haven't felt in a long time. It's exciting. I like it.
This week we gained a new intern named Areil (aka REL to Louie and I) who seems to be adjusting and integrating herself nicely. Beth, the small vegan girl with awesome writing skills and work ethic recently took off, but will be back in the fall for some time to make sure we're up to snuff ;-) Also, Morgan who headed our veggie oil operations and some of the garden stuff moved out to a neighboring "farm in the works" to lend a hand and to utilize as a stepping stone to possibly start his own organic farm and homestead in the future. All of us wish him the best in his branching out and look forward to the future possibilities of our new relationship.
Gotta get some sleep.
Much love,
joe v.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

On Views New and Old

It's Memorial Day weekend and a chill still hangs in the air. At times the sun shines strong and summer seems just around the corner...and yet when clouds dot the sky, or a wind dashes through the trees, a hat and jacket are more than justified. June 1st is the official frost-free date - and it's easy to believe. Off the back porch, Mt. Moosilauke can be seen along the horizon. It is steady and immense even from a distance, and snow still lingers on the slopes up to the summit. A reminder of the winter we have put behind us, and the tenuousness of faith in favorable farming weather.

A friendly climate is what we recently have been enjoying, though. The past week or two has been witness to a variety of workshops, both inside and out - bird identification, traditional dance, herbal medicine, tree identification; farmer's markets have begun, community dinners are drawing crowds to D Acres, and mid-week bonfires have been the result of an increasing number of hostel visitors.

Throughout all these events, though, D Acres is first a farm, and farm work is what rapidly fills each day. And it is black flies, now, that further define our work. Giving new meaning to the adage 'small but mighty,' these minute flesh-eaters are not affronted by the cold whimsy of spring, and indeed, it is only the nippy breeze that keeps them from eating us New Hampshire-ite farmers alive. The past ten days we have provided the pesky critters plenty of opportunities as hopes of rain have kept us outside on a planting frenzy. Last week saw us in the garden 'til 8:30pm one evening, hostel guests included, frantically rushing peas, carrots, beets, and greens into the upper garden beds in anticipation of gathering storm clouds. This week saw us planting 70lbs of potatoes, and weeding more than sleeping...and yet we have yet to see significant amounts of rain. The soil is dry, the pigs without mud, and our "ponds" diminishing.

Dry weather, however, has allowed for a variety of projects to be tackled, beginning with a new outhouse. The outdoor privy of D Acres' first decade had become a rickety excuse for a structure. The "enter-at-your-own risk" disclaimer was routinely uttered with just enough sincerity to prevent both staff and guests from tempting fate in pursuit of bathroom scenery. With the hub-bub of a summer season approaching, a new building was put up with remarkable alacrity. Some standard features remain - celestial sillouette on the door, wood-chip flush system; but this updated outhouse has the added benefit of a mere three walls. A meandering creek and burgeoning woodland fill the void of a fourth wall, providing a pleasant vista for the completion biological necessities. An idyllic perk for the mundane repetitiveness of bathroom duties.

Picturesque is not quite the word to describe a second noteworthy project of the week. Thursday morning saw 13 staff, residents, interns, and a friend convened next to the Skinny Shack, furrowing our brows over a 1,000-gallon water tank. The monstrosity was on the back of a trailer; we needed to up-end it on a platform of cinder blocks and gravel. With a few metal bars, some rope, a winch, and a come-along, the task was completed - and with relative ease. Really? There was grunting, yes, and straining; some nervous questioning and forceful reassurance; giving of orders and calling for help. Now that the tank stands tall and rusty on the edge of the meadow, it is a testament to group work and the strength of many hands. But the view that sticks with me is of the tank, maybe 65 degrees up from the ground: a couple of residents poised to be pancaked if a metal pole or two gave way, a handful of us to be left-hooked out of consciousness if physics overpowered our stance against gravity, and a few more in a direct line with the metal winch should our fulcrum of simple technology give way under the weight. It was dangerous, perhaps foolish; but water is a necessity and our egos formidable.

So. The past week has seen a lot of work that tells a tale of the unspoken trust necessary between us, and the confidence that each of us must maintain in the work ethic and genuine effort of all those we live with here. But that sounds quite grave and solemn, and the reality is one of laughter, affection, goofiness, spontaneity, and the winning karma of goodwill and good intentions. While that may not be enough to bring the rain, it is only those sentiments that can keep our spirits up and our community strong. May we never lose sight of the fun, alongside the honesty and the effort, that let us flourish.

And to close, a clarifier of the opening picture: our very own blacksmith, Dirty (Debonair?) Joe, with some newfound style.


Friday, May 9, 2008

The Carbon Pig

P.S.- I meant to include this in the bulk of my post this week, but we have staying in our farm hostel this week the one and only Carbon Pig! Actually, The Carbon Pig refers to a fantastic site you can use to network "all things carbon." What's the best part, you ask? By purchasing a certain amount of carbon offsets (this means you spend a little cash to balance out some of the CO2 emissions that result from your daily life- driving, of course, but also energy use in your home, fuels that went into producing your food, you get the idea) you get a FREE organic Carbon Pig T-Shirt! Rock on! Don't be a Carbon Pig :-) visit www.thecarbonpig.com today!!! Tell them D Acres sent you!

Bees, Herbs, and Mark Fulford

Last week we welcomed about 60,000 new members to the D Acres community...they are now three wonderful colonies of honeybees living in various locations around the farm! They arrived just before the new moon, which brings good energy to new endeavors (and, since these are my first bees, I'll take all the help from the universe that I can get!). The girls have settled in really well, each hive releasing their queen into the mix and beginning to build comb and bring in the nectar of what flowers are beginning to bloom here in the north country. I'm feeding them honey instead of the standard sugar-syrup that conventional beekeeping practices recommend- and what a difference it seems to make already! Looking at the comb the girls produce with the honey they are now eating compared to what they made with the sugar syrup they were eating when they arrived is so interesting- the "sugar syrup" comb is white, brittle and almost crumbly in places, while the "honey" comb is supple, strong, and beautifully golden. The last weekend in April, I attended a wonderful natural/organic beekeeping class at the Pfeiffer Center in New York- it was a fantastic weekend full of inspiration and information led by Ross Conrad of VT and Chris Harp of NY. It was a perfect start to keeping bees, as both Ross and Chris have eco-bio-logical views similar to mine, and they genuinely care about the bees. The pics above show the bees who now live at Edith's (in the "Florence") hive clustered prior to their hiving and myself (left) and Sue (right) hiving the girls in the lower garden (the "Hanna") hive. Not pictured are bees of the "Isis" hive who live in the upper/forest garden area of the farm.

I spent this past weekend at Sage Mountain herbal center in VT in the first of seven classes of Rosemary Gladstar's advanced herbal training program. We have a great group of about 30+ herbalists who will learn from a different teacher one weekend a month May-October. The classes are focused on becoming a better practicing herbalist, and include skills I hope to bring both to my teaching at D Acres (next herbal workshop- May 24th- hands on herbal medicine making!!!) and to my practice (http://www.wiseriverherbals.com/), clients and formulating herbal preparations. Margi Flint of EarthSong Herbals (Marblehead, MA) was our teacher for the first weekend- Margi is an exemplary herbalist and teacher- as inspiring and charismatic as she is well-versed in herbal knowledge!

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the D Acres crew served up a HUGE farm feast breakfast on Sunday- our biggest to date perhaps- we served up pretty much all of our sausage, greens, potatoes, and eggs, with barely a pancake left for me when I returned from herb class! The New Moon Reiki share was also well attended- it is wonderful to see the healing energy spread throughout the community here in Dorchester.

This weekend we are super psyched to have Mark Fulford join us to teach a grafting (Saturday) and composting (Sunday) workshop! Mark was here at the farm in the fall and led a great soil nutrition workshop, so we're certainly looking forward to what the weekend will bring...


Saturday, April 26, 2008

Pigs, frogs, and weeds weeds weeds

With talk of more snow in the upcoming days, these past two weeks of sunny, warm weather puts the fickleness of the seasons in perspective. But impending flurries or not, there is no doubt that the hustle and bustle of spring has begun on the farm.

This past week was witness to a fantastic assortment of endeavors. Workshops are picking-up, a delicious potluck filled the kitchen mid-week, and an open mic started off the weekend entertainment. In the gardens, carrots and jerusalem artichokes from last fall were plucked from the ground, proving their hardiness. Raspberries, garlic scapes and chives had mulch cleared from their burgeoning leaves; beets, sugar snap peas, and super sugar snaps - among others - were planted. Fast growing tomato plants are quickly growing into larger and larger pots....Weeding is a task as constant as the rising sun.

The sun! It is rising earlier and setting later, encouraging the sweet songs of the feathered realm by morn, and the less-melodious-but-not-exactly-cacophonous speech of dozens of frogs in the dusky evenings.

The frogs, incidentally, have thoroughly claimed the "pond" of the G-Animal pig pen as their territory. Perfect timing, really, as the excitement of the week peaked on Wednesday when we moved the eight pigs residing in the above mentioned pen to their new pasture about 1/2 mile away. Pigs - while cute at one time of the year, and tasty at another - are fat, dirty, fairly ridiculous creatures with a low center of gravity and a distaste for solitary confinement. So you can imagine the process of moving, individually, each oinker from one place to another. We have a wooden crate, pulled by oxen, that makes the actual transport comparably "easy." Getting the pig into the crate is another thing altogether. So. Wednesday afternoon saw a group of four or five of us wrestling pig after pig. Covered in mud and muck, cut-up and bruised, cursing and laughing; sitting down at the end of the day felt like a luxury. But oh so much fun! Some pig riding was even had when a rogue pig tried his own Great Escape.

More than anything, the spring is subtly and insistently showing the importance of process, and of heart. Most of the work we're now engaged in will come to fruition at a much later date. But though we hold to a steady faith in nature's continual cycles of life to death and back to life, it is a joy in the process of the work that rings through the day-to-day efforts. And heart - celebrating that process, working hard, laughing harder, coming together, sharing with each other and our larger community. And hell, chasing pigs, getting dirt beneath the fingernails, enjoying spring's first greens - these are life's little things, yes, but they build the stories and the colors and laughs that fill our lives with gumption and interest. And wonderful it is, that spring is here to remind us. Indeed.


Monday, April 14, 2008

Hello from up on the hill.
As winter very slowly loosens its grip on the land, we continue to do all that we can to prepare for the outdoor growing season.
This past week we had help from a group of students from the Newfound region. They were not expecting quite so much snow when they arrived, but their surprise did little to dampen their enthusiasm. With their help we were able to plant several flats of tomatoes, peppers and greens with exciting names like "space spinach". While it is satisfying labor to be placing tiny seeds in little packets of rich soil knowing that soon they will be sprouting, there is nothing quite like planting those same tiny seeds in the great outdoors.
Believe it or not, we were able to do some of that too. It did require a bit of shoveling earlier in the week, but we are all now anxiously awaiting the first signs of new growth from the south-facing bed next to the house.
That garden is next to a house fast-filling with farmers. We are currently growing a great crop of signs that are sprouting from the snow. Earlier in the week, there were a few trees across the street labeled with a sign that was just barely visible. A few days of radiant sun revealed a top word; "roadside". After a day of steady rain, "orchard" appeared. Now, the sign and post can be seen declaring "roadside orchard". Most of the fruit trees have been pruned, but we are still waiting for the slightly shorter perennial shrubs to show themselves, so we can trim up the blueberries and raspberries too.
The hostel is getting busy. This coming weekend we will have quite a few guests joining us. We hope that anyone reading will be able to come on up too for our Saturday Soup Night. This month, a group of students from Plymouth State will be sharing a presentation about their recent trip to a few eco-villages in India.
Stay tuned for more news from the farm.
Be well. -Tyler

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

A Day at the Beach

So my time in Argentina is fast heading towards my flight home. I have left Tunuyan for now. We went out with a bang with a dance party and extensive fire show. I have the chain marks to the face to prove it and we now know that "gas/oil" is about the same as diesel. Then on Sunday we grilled 5.5 kilos of carne with the maestro of asado Mario Lopez-Garcia. Leaving was definetly tough, i really relate to the people, the project and the lifestyle. That is not to say that i love the DAcres tribe anyless, Tunuyan and Vida are just super special. My last moments in Tunuyan are typical, i had called my bro Mario from Town at about 11 and he missed my wake-up call looking for his phone, I left a message and he biked over with a bike with a kiddie seat on the back and these funny arse soccer shorts and sparkling white addidas shoes, headphones and sunglasses the whole outfit...when we asked him about the baby seat he said "holy shit i lost the kid he musta flown out in a pothole"...so we proceeded to eat and talk about "safe" travels until at about 2 i decided to go ahead and call the cab since i really didnt have to be at the bus station until 5...well after 2.5 hours of waiting for a cab from various miscommunications etcetera, i decided it was time to start walking. After about 2 km of hot exercise in the Argentina sun, Mario drove by in his trash truck and picked me up and took me the rest of the way to the bus station. I really is indicative of the experience that I had in Tunuyan...with time, patience, good humor and positivity, good fortune will prevail...this is something i will try and take home for the future activities at the D Acres farm...

right now i am sitting in an internet cafe in the bus terminal of Mar de Plata which is probably equivalent to Atlantic City, NJ...it is super busy here in the peak of the summer in January but although it is supper hot to me right now, we are talking fall to the locals who are wearing scarfs and jackets to my shorts and open shirt, well from here i travel 2 hours south this pm to visit my friend Bernardo Lamas who i met several years ago at Association Gaia where we did some sustainable living exploration...Bernardo is working on a straw bale house, by himself which sounds like a major challenge so hopefully i can give a hand if only for a day before i make the 7+ hour trip back to Buenos Aires for my flight home thursday night....

gosh it has been an amazing month, for being at a farm 95% and in a bus the other 5% it has been a enriching and learning experience that i will surely not forget...in finale i suppose it is a reminder to live and love every day with the intensity and manner in which we are comfortable with the knowledge that this life will not last forever...thanks again to Vida Chavez-Garcia , mom Margot, Beltran, Mario, Favio, Emmanual, Ricardo, Madre Tierra, the people at the Kiosko for the fortys and the laughter, and the tribe at D Acres for all....enjoy life until we meet again
ciao for now
josh t

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Do what UUUU can!!!!!

Ahh, Spring in New England. From a day spent snowshoeing near melting streams, to a day spent helping children's full fill their childhood dreams. The fire's blazing in the evening of the greenhouse after the seedlings grow in the springtime sun. It is time and may be awhile before the ground is visible, but dreams of the first dandelions pushing up to rinse our winter pallet's will arise. Time for new growth for 2008!
Also, the blacksmith formally known as Joe is back in town wacking the old tools and equipment back in shape. We're looking to expand the blacksmith shop beyond the tipi, into the the 2-car garage, where the accessibility of the blacksmith shop will be more inviting to the community and will increase the potential for creativity at the forge. On another HOT note, following the footsteps of Uncle Delbert Gray we have started utilizing the Sugar Hut after digging through 4 inches of decomposed leaves just to open the doors. Back and better than ever a few of D Acres residents have boiled down some of New Hampshire's finest maple syrup. So far we have boiled down 210 gallons of raw sap into approximately 5 gallons of the sweetest thing you ever tasted!
CONCLUSION!!!!! The appreciation of the Dacres crew goes out to everyone.
Together! We can reach enlightenment from Community, Family, whole foods, and honest work. But, SkintzJimmy Say's LAUGHTER IS THE BEST MEDICINE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!?????!!!!!!
THAT"S RIGHT Love ya'll LD JV dude

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

continued schooling in argentina, life is a lesson

i miss the dacres farm and the people, it has been a lot of learning here, i hope that i return more compassionate for the people who are pledging and actualizing their lives to this cause, for me such a difficult balance to be assertive and proactive yet understanding of the many stages we are all at...i am looking forward to getting back to the farm and putting my back to it, i know we got a great thing going, the challenging part seems to be our combined passions and energies can conflict at times, we just hafta take the time to be aware that we all want similar goals and we can share time and space together despite our idiosyncracies etc...
vida told me the other day that she was unsure how long she was gonna stay on this property in Argentina, this is after i have been putting in 12+ hour days sweating my arse off often alone in a field pulling quack grass and making raised beds, it sorta threw me for a loop, then i remembered saying much the same thing during the first couple years at dacres, and shit even now who is to say how long it can go along without a dedicated crew...eventually i hope to come to internalize that uncertainty continues to be part of life and we must continue despite, in fact we must be strong enough to fight this uncertainty off and be more resolved to see it through, it really is an internal struggle that we all must face in order to bring our best forward..

today we poured a shit load of concrete, the guy who has been the boss had to take off to another meeting and i was sorta letting the paid help handle the pour, i was more interested in finishing the field work and i hate concrete...as things manifested i was called upon to be a part of the pour and the first half was a messy bit of chaos with the architect holding the chute, concrete was flying everywhere it was not supposed to be and there was curses in several languages, then adriana the architect was injured with some cement to the eye and i was ready to throw in the towel after the first truck...it was disheartening, i am uncertain of my role here on this job site, i am not the one who will see this house completed, nor am i the best communicator in spanish especially during a critical juncture like a concrete pour, also there are other egos involved and well we are humans here...during break between trucks, vida and i had a heart to heart in which she excels at being there for others, truly a spirit that i aspire to be....
when the truck came back i sorta took over and things worked much better, smooth and quick, assertion through hand signals and physical actualizing, doing things i have experince and can manifest, the truck driver gave me the thumbs up and a slap on the back and in this business that is the sign of success...not sure what that means other than we just gotta search for the role in which we can be most helpful in the nicest way possible, sounds easy but gosh at times it can be challenging for me
rite now i am in an internet cafe with a bunch of kids who just got out of school, they are shooting each other on the computer and i am about to put a dacres sticker in the bathroom and get a forty for the bike ride home
hope to see everyone in april, D Acres 2008 is gonna be a blast

we will have some pics online shortly, you gotta see the house and the field to believe.....
ciao for now
josh t