Our farm is a commune: ie, we own everything together and share all our income and expenses. We are a small group: 5 adults and a 13 year old – she spends a lot of time at school. Over our 35 year history, we have generally had 3-12 members; however, we are usually a larger group – we have friends/family as well as community visitors, and during the growing season, have 3-6 interns. Having interns here and being open to visitors, including group tours, is part of our vision/mission of teaching people about how to live more sustainably and grow & preserve our own food. We strive to demonstrate how to accomplish this on a small scale and believe that growing your own food and eating locally is a political/economic statement – to foster communities having control of their own food supply and economic security in the face of multi-national corporations controlling all aspects of our lives.
We are often asked “how do you few you get all this work done?” The answer is that we have a lot of help – our sorghum harvest/operation is an excellent example: 3 weeks ago, there were 20-25 of us harvesting and processing our sorghum crop – there was a labor exchange group from Twin Oaks, a friend from East Wind (both communities are in the Federation of Egalitarian Communities), interns, ex-interns, and visitors. It truly feels like a harvest celebration – many hands make light work. There is an amazing feeling that comes with a group of people working on a common project. It reinforces our commitment to working together and living in community.
Contrast: today, I am on the farm by myself. Interns and visitors have left, 2 members are off on a hiking trip, 2 others are off on business – different directions – leaving me, 3 dogs, 5 cats, twenty some chickens and 4 turkeys. This seems such a contrast to the traditional/average family farm – where the human population does not vary much.
I enjoy the changes – similar to how I enjoy the changing of the seasons. I usually do not feed the non human residents here – today I will. As I walk about doing the chores and maintenance tasks, I imagine what it would be like to live this lifestyle by myself. Naturally, I feel alone – but more than that – separated from the human community – like, my actions don’t matter to anyone else. However, I do feel more connected to the critters, plants, and nature in general. I am more aware of my physical environment, noticing animal tracks, birds, various colors of leaves, etc.
I appreciate both: my natural environment and the people I live with and enjoy this sweet homestead & lifestyle. I feel blessed.