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EcoReality Co-op Newsletter

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It's been a month of new beginnings at EcoReality.

Spring has sprung, the garden is full of activity, the "ch, ch, ch, chirrr" of male hummingbirds' courting dance fills the air. And three new residents joined us, less than a week ago!

Cute as a baby goat

Tuccha, Sanskrit for "small," is already getting familiar with the milking stand.
I guess all baby animals — including human animals — are cute, but there's something about baby goats that takes the prize, in my mind.

Perhaps it's the combination of independence, clumsiness, and curiosity that makes it for me. Unlike kittens or human babies, they are born with their eyes open, and can stand and walk almost immediately.

And yet, there's something weird going on, almost like they'd been designed by committee. The feet are too big, the legs are too long. and they haven't quite figured out how to move with easy grace. Almost from day one, there's an insatiable curiosity, an admirable (but probably dangerous) fearlessness. If it weren't for mom Shakti, herding them about with her nose, they'd probably get in all sorts of trouble.

Mama Shakti keeps a close watch on the "cuddle puddle," just nine hours old.
Yea, human babies are cute, but they just sorta lie there for many months, eating, pooping, sleeping. They can't jump up, turn around in mid-air, and come crashing down on top of a sleeping pile of brothers and sisters — at least not at five days old! There's something very satisfying about seeing five months of pregnancy end in such a climax!

But let's go back a month for a moment. You may recall from the last newsletter that Maya lost her kids a month early, a tiny, stillborn buckling and doeling. Rudy fed them to the eagles, and he reported that seven eagles feasted on Maya's misfortune.

Milk flows

Maya tries out the new milking stand for the first time.
When Maya lost her kids, Carol and I were visiting Carol's parents in Oregon. Although James had some experience with goats as a child, I was the only one with very much experience, and I was the only one who had been studying the books, visiting websites, reading mailing lists, getting educated. I knew that if Maya was not milked, she'd quickly dry off, and the breeding and four months of pregnancy would have been wasted.
Carol demonstrates her milking technique.
So, our fellow farm residents James, Shannon, Susie Anne, and Rudy filled in for us, calling friends on the island for advice and taking turns milking to keep Maya freshened. We are so grateful that they were there and able to help at this critical time! And although the circumstances were less than ideal, they seemed to enjoy the process — Susie Anne said she felt like a farmer for the first time when she started milking.

I can't stand it

One problem dairy goats have that dairy cows don't have is low clearance. With a cow and a stool and a rope, you can milk. But this results in bad backs and spilled milk when you try it with a goat. Not having been milked before, Maya wasn't always on her best behaviour. One time, she actually picked up her food container by the edge, lifted it up over her head, and dumped it on my head as I was milking! She also tended to "kick the bucket," often spilling the entire milking.

Rama and Priya get used to the milking stand.
Before we left for Oregon, I knew we had to have a milking stand. The only problem is that I thought I had a month to build one when James called to tell us Maya had miscarried. And now, we were getting our buckets kicked and aching backs and grain dumped on our heads and everyone was less than happy with the situation.
Priya shows off her great legs, just five days old.
So we got home, and I started to look at three different plans I found on-line. I didn't really like anything I looked at, but I got the crucial dimensions: how high off the ground, how wide and long, how high up for the food bowl, how wide apart for the stanchion. Since our "goat shed" was mobile so we could easily move goats between pastures for rotational grazing, it seemed a good thing to make the milking stand light weight, so it would be easy to move around with the goat trailer. That indicated metal construction, rather than wood.
We don't have to drive these kids to soccer practice!
Next was a search for materials. Our first art van, had a nice bit of expanded metal that we had salvaged, already framed in 3/4" angle iron, which became the platform and step. The legs and bowl holder came from 1" angle iron left over from another project. The stanchion came from an old bed frame and some unused exhaust pipe. The braces were old shelving brackets and electrical conduit. This would have made it easy enough for two people to carry around, but then my eyes fell upon some wheels Carol salvaged from her dad's old golf bag cart, and I figured that would make it moveable by only one person. Best of all, the wheels say "Bag Boy" on the hubs, which seems strangely apropos. A bit of cutting, welding, and painting later, and we could milk in peace, although we still have to resort to at least some physical force to get Maya up there.

So now we're prepared, we've established a milking procedure, Maya is up to nearly two litres of milk a day, Shakti is keeping a close eye on her darling triplets, and the frisky kids are already starting to sample grass and hay. In another couple weeks, we'll wean them and double our milk production. Life is good!

(More photos here. Hit your browser's "back" button to return to the newsletter.)

Jan Steinman

Making choices on the path

What's happening right now!

Jess and I are on the road again. I had started a different article a few days ago about the incredible stress and release I was experiencing while sorting through my worldly possessions deciding what to leave behind forever in the Yukon before journeying south again. However, today is a new day and I have found wireless in a little café at the turn off to Highway 37. There is a different thing to say today. Jess is watching the Discovery Channel in her pajamas. Our tummies are full of scrambled eggs, hashbrowns and toast.

I have been driving for the last four hours after getting on the road at 5am from Marsh Lake, one hour south of Whitehorse, where we stayed with friends last night. So far I have seen a black bear and five caribou, listened to one and a quarter book tapes and eaten a lot of carrots. We have many hours of driving ahead before we reach EcoReality again. And we are on our way.

This moment I am not yet even sure if we are about to turn off to Smithers or proceed to Liard Hotsprings. There are good reasons for either choice. And yet it isn’t clear yet. This is not unlike my life. How do I make this choice? Does it really matter which route I proceed along? How do I measure the pleasure we would get from going to the Hotsprings again against seeing friends we have not hooked up with in two years and missed at Christmas?

I just asked Jessie what her preference would be. She knew unquestionably that she would prefer to go to the hotsprings. "Why?" I asked. She remembers it fondly and she can touch the bottom. Seems like a good enough reason to me. After days of wading through difficult choice after difficult choice a long soak in hot stinky water where we can both touch the bottom could be just the thing. There’s a tricky bit. Its bear season. We don’t have a tent or really a place to sleep except the inside of the truck. This route will increase our travel time by at least two hours.

Okay, I have just conferred with Jess. Yes, she is only four but anyone who knows her can confirm that she knows what she likes. She doesn’t know what to do about the bears, except look at them if we see them. (I do have bear spray.) She is totally willing to sleep in the nest I made her behind the seats. And she wants to go swimming. We have a choice in the making. We are motivated by our own enthusiasm. It will make the next two hours of traveling much more fun. And we have twelve book tapes, lots of snacks and water. We are back on the path with one more choice behind us.

See you all soon!

Susie Anne Bartsch

Rudy's ruminations on "life style"

Rudy Jessie.jpg
A beckoning detour billboarded intrusively on the highway of Life is Western Civilization. A highly developed democratic Demonology offering a glittering rest stop, the "Inn" "Stable" Hillton Hotel accommodation, called Life Style, the advertised hardware of ultimate Culture, the Cataleptic Consumer Catalogue of Choice, flaunting the feasibility of a fulfilled individualism within a never defined reality context, the content of which is strutted in the blind arrogance of self adulation on a stage from which a true actor and appreciative audience is ever absent.

Life Style, the wardrobe of a subversive idealism from which, like the emperor without any clothes, a true selfhood is surely missing. Life Style, the postured pre-tense of image mimmickery, a devious plot of land abuse with no living soil or fertile see, no vital core idea to ever produce fruit or maturate an abundant harvest but mostly Life Style is the lonely emptiness of a gardener without a garden, a steward not guarding his domain, and an orphaned child without it's home and parents.

Rudy Siegers

Let's make yogurt!

With lots of new baby goats around, there is also an abundance of their mommas' milk at EcoReality. Since I am an offsite member of the co-op and live in Vancouver, I have only gotten the privilege of trying these happy goats' milk once, but mmm, it was delicious. Super creamy, fresh and frothy, and not at all goaty. With all of this goat milk in mind, I have gotten excited about all of the beautiful dairy delights that can be created with it.

A few months ago I tried out making cheese for the first time, with great success. It was a simple paneer (or vinegar cheese) made with store-bought organic cow's milk and it tasted great. This month I thought I would try my hand at some homemade yogurt. So, again I am using store-bought full fat organic cow's milk, but this recipe can be made with raw goat's milk just as easily.

I found a website with a step-by-step tutorial on exactly how to make yogurt with stuff you probably already have at home, no fancy equipment necessary. I won't try to re-create the recipe, instead I will simply share my experience. If you'd like to try it out yourself, here is the link:

Here is what you will need:

  • about a half-gallon of milk (cow or goat, skim or full-fat, pasteurized or raw, etc.) or whatever quantity you choose, it doesn't need to be exact
  • 3 tablespoons of good quality plain yogurt without any additives
  • a double boiler or one large pot and a smaller pot (large enough to hold the quantity of milk you decide to use)
  • a kitchen thermometer
  • a metal spoon
  • a heating pad (that's right, the same kind you use for achy muscles) or crock pot

Here's a quick run-down of what I did (please refer to the website for lots of tips and explanations that make good sense):

I started out by sterilizing my pots, thermometer and spoon to eliminate any little kitchen critters. Next I placed my smaller pot inside my larger pot of boiling water and poured in the milk. I brought the milk to 180 degrees, then plopped the smaller pot into a sink full of ice water. This is meant to quickly cool the milk down to the magic temperature of 110 degrees, which is the comfy temperature in which yogurt cultures thrive and multiply. Next I mixed in about three tablespoons of organic full-fat yogurt. (This was store-bought yogurt, but from now on, I can use my own homemade stuff as the starter.) Then I the put the pot on a warmed heating pad, which according to the author of the yogurt making website I chose to use, is just about right for keeping your milk at that magic temperature for the next seven hours.

What do ya know? I checked the temperature of the soon-to-be yogurt a few hours later and it was exactly 110 degrees! The next morning I had lots of homemade, fairly runny yogurt. I then poured it into containers and put it in the coldest part of the refrigerator to stop the fermentation and to help it become more creamy and less runny. When my two-year-old daughter and I tried it at the end of the day, we were very pleased. It was delicious home made yogurt indeed. Much cheaper than buying it from the store, less packaging and lots of self-satisfaction. I can't wait to try it out with fresh goat's milk the next time we are at EcoReality!

Osha Roller

Recent sightings

Here is a reviewed list of Internet resources and articles of particular significance to EcoReality and our values, vision, mission, and purpose.

Have you come across a link that you think might be of interest to readers of this newsletter? Send it to the editor, together with a few words about why it is important and how it relates to EcoReality, and we'll try to include it in the next newsletter.

More categorized and reviewed links are available via our reviewed links page.

On Choosing - A Hyperlocavore Responds to Catastrophe 
"One of the most useful things I have ever learned in my life is that the most effective way to deal with worry and anxiety is to act on those things in your life that you can control, and leave the rest up to the Universe." I really need to listen to Liz McLellan! Not that this advice will help much if you feel nothing is in control, but Liz is taking control of something many people will need to do if they expect to survive the future: she is systematically turning turning modern, (sub)urban neighbourhoods into food sources!
Swarm Savvy 
(from Science News, 9 May 2009) "How bees, ants, and other animals avoid dumb collective decisions." This is an interesting look at consensus quorum, a way that (for example) a honey bee swarm can quickly move to a quality new location without having all 10,000 bees speak out at a big meeting. Small groups of "elderly, experienced bees" form an evolving consensus as to the best new location, based on their enthusiasm for sites they've found. They recruit others to check out their sites, who then express their own degree of enthusiasm. Enthusiasm wanes over time, unless new recruits keep up the enthusiasm. By this method — a form of range voting — the quorum quickly achieves consensus, and the rest of the hive trusts and follows their lead. EcoReality culture routinely includes quorum consensus in an informal way: "trial balloons" are floated, others are recruited to back those requests, enthusiasm wanes if no more than one person continues to support the request, and if a request has the enthusiastic support of a small group, it goes to the membership for approval.
The Gentle Art of Non-Gardening
Here's another gem from Gene Logsdon, one of my favourite farming and gardening writers. "With a little luck and laziness, anything that matures seed in one season can be non-gardened," writes Gene. Like Fukuoka's "do nothing farming," this article calls on us to have more faith in nature and a bit less arrogance about our need to intensively manage our crops. Gene himself is conflicted: "If I had any brains, I would quit the cold-frame lettuce, but so far I just don’t have enough faith in nature to do it," and yet he makes a clear case that his "escaped garden" often out-performs his carefully tended plots. Perhaps every garden should have a "leave me alone" area, where it is allowed to explore doing what it wants to do!

Jan Steinman

Next EcoReality work parties

Friday, May 29th and Saturday, May 30th

Chain Gang.jpg
You are invited to an EcoReality workparty. This is open to folks who want to get involved in our developing ecovillage, meet our members and get busy together for the purpose of food production and sustainability projects.

Please call or email me via the link on my user page in advance if you would like more info, or if you plan to attend: Susie Anne 250-653-4663.

We are not able to host people on a drop-in basis throughout the day. If you plan to attend, please commit to the full time, or call and work out specific arrangements before hand. If you work the full day, we are happy to serve you lunch at no cost, if you have let us know in advance. If not, please bring your own lunch.

TIME: 9:30 am to 3:30 pm Friday, May 29th and 9am to 12pm Saturday, May 30th
PLACE: EcoReality 2172 Fulford-Ganges Rd (park by the Qi Gong classroom) (How to get to EcoReality.)

Looking forward to another great work party!

Susie Anne Bartsch, work party steward

Recent happenings

Past calendar.jpg
Here are some highlights of recent meetings and events. Click any entry for details.
Members' Meeting 
revised 2008 financials, discussion to rescind stock dividend, discussion on upcoming events/visitors/presenters, update on prospective members, more.
Members' Teleconference 
facilitation training series report, woodshed extension update, long-term parking request considered, proposed website steward introduced, request to rescind stock dividend, discussion on big-name October event, more.
Residents' Meeting 
re-starting biodiesel production discussion, co-op ownership of livestock discussion, request for new resident, water pressure issues, more.
Residents' Meeting 
lawn mowing, pipe finding, irrigation, classroom rental, more.
Members' Teleconference 
request for shelving, communication model planning, discussion of increasing requirement for moving out of provisional membership, more.

Upcoming events

Busy calendar.jpg
Here are some highlights. For details, please go to the meetings page on our website. All activities are at EcoReality, 2152 Fulford-Ganges Road, Salt Spring Island (directions), unless otherwise noted.

Regular events

every Saturday
5PM farm tour: please bring footwear appropriate for soggy fields!
every Saturday
6PM potluck: Please let us know you're coming, so we have enough seating.
every Saturday
7:30PM movie or program: Call or check meetings to see what's playing. If nothing is planned, bring your favourite movie! (No gratuitous violence, please.)
every Sunday 
7PM: Residents' meeting, business and work around the farm. Please ask to attend; no drop-ins, please!
two Fridays before the last Sunday of each month 
7 PM, Members' teleconference. Please ask to participate; no drop-ins, please!
Friday before the last Sunday of each month 
9:30 AM through 4:30 PM: Work party! Lunch provided if you work all day. Please plan to arrive at either 9:30 or 1PM, as we can't stop in the middle of something to orient late-comers. Drop-ins at 9:30 or 1:00 are welcome! Please let us know in advance if you'll be having lunch, so we have enough food.
New.gif last Sunday of the month
members' meeting and other monthly group activities. (Was last Saturday in the past.)
Friday after the last Sunday of each month 
7 PM, Members' teleconference. Please ask to participate; no drop-ins, please!

Specific events

Friday, 29 May 
Monthly work party: nothing specific planned this month, but there's always stuff to do!
Saturday, 30 May
13:30-15:30 : Meeting about residents at the farm, for members and residents and scheduled guests; no drop-ins, please! We will practice deep listening on the topic of residents and non-residents, and the rights, responsibilities, and expectations of each.
Saturday, 30 May
19:30: You, Me, and the SPP, presented by film maker Paul Manly.
Sunday, 31 May
Monthly members meeting: communications mode possibilities, Eco Living Tour, debt discussion, more.
Saturday, 27 June
Greenpeace co-founder Rex Weyler presents on the state of the planet, and where we go from mere.

Paul Manly presents film

You me SPP.png
With over twenty four years of creativity as a musician, filmmaker and sound-designer Paul Manly has dedicated his efforts to produce and support the production of work that educates, inspires and illuminates. Inspired at an early age by art, politics and issues of social justice Paul has grounded his practice in activism, choosing subjects that shine a light on the topics that engage him. Starting a music career at age 17, Paul played bass professionally for ten years. Inspired by the work his mother, Eva Manly, was producing, Paul decided to enroll in Broadcasting at Algonquin college.
Paul Manly.jpg
‘You, Me, and the S.P.P: Trading Democracy for Corporate Rule‘ is a feature length documentary which exposes the corporatist agenda that is currently undermining the democratic authority of the citizens of North America. Two processes, the Security Prosperity Partnership (SPP) and the Trade Investment Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA) are rapidly eroding and eliminating standards, civil liberties, regulatory systems and institutions put in place over generations through the democratic process.

Told through interviews with various experts who oppose this agenda and through the experiences of ordinary citizens who are feeling the effects of its implementation ‘You, Me and the SPP’ lays out the breadth and depth of the SPP and TILMA and outlines what we as citizens can do to stop it.

Greenpeace co-founder to present

In June, Rex Weyler, with four decades experience in ecology, talks about the state of the planet.

Rex Weyler.jpg
Rex Weyler is a journalist, writer, and ecologist. He was born in Denver, Colorado in 1947, went to high school in Midland, Texas, and later studied physics, mathematics, and history at Occidental College in Los Angeles. He worked as an apprentice engineer for Lockheed in 1967, but left engineering for a career in journalism. In 1969, he published his first book with photographer David Totheroh, a pacifist discourse with photographs from a winter in California’s Yosemite Valley.

Weyler married Glenn Jonathans in Nijmegen, Netherlands in 1971 and immigrated to Canada in 1972. He worked at the North Shore News in North Vancouver and with Greenpeace. Between 1974 and 1982, he served as a director of Greenpeace, editor of the Greenpeace Chronicles magazine, and was a co-founder of Greenpeace International. He sailed on the first Greenpeace whale campaign, and his photographs and news accounts of Greenpeace appeared worldwide.

Weyler’s photography and essays have been published in the New York Times, Oceans, Smithsonian, Rolling Stone, New Age Journal, Conscious Choice, New Times, Shared Vision, National Geographic, and other publications. Weyler received a Pulitzer Prize nomination for his Native American history, Blood of the Land, and he co-authored the self-help classic Chop Wood, Carry Water. He co-founded Hollyhock Educational Centre on Cortes Island in British Columbia – dedicated to environmental, personal, and professional studies – and which remains Canada’s leading educational retreat centre. He co-developed the Justonic tuning software used by innovative musicians around the world and wrote The Story of Harmony about the history of musical tuning theory. His account of the first decade of Greenpeace is available in September 2004 from Raincoast Books in the Canada and Rodale Press in the US, UK, Australia, and New Zealand.

Weyler was married for the second time in 1990, to Lisa Gibbons. He remains active in environmental work. He writes for magazines and newspapers, is widely reprinted on the Internet, and appears weekly on Canada’s Omni-10 News show, The Standard. He lives in Vancouver, BC, and has three sons: Jack, Jonah, and Liam.

Weyler and his wife, Lisa Gibbons, are foster parents for displaced teens. Weyler serves on several company and non-profit boards, including Greenpeace International Marine Services. He speaks regularly to schools and public audiences.

Rex Weyler will present a presentation based on the state of the planet and where we go from here.

This visual presentation served as the keynote lecture for the March 2009 "Biosphere" conference at McMaster University.

In his talk, Weyler examines ecological factors such as carrying capacity, overshoot, population, consumption, and net energy. He describes the link between ecological and economic collapse and distinguishes "false solutions" from authentic strategies to solve global warming and resource shortages. Following the visual presentation, Weyler will facilitate a dialogue on ecology, energy, and global warming.

Justin Roller

Thank you for supporting EcoReality with your interest, ideas, and good thoughts!

Want to write for this newsletter? Or want to see something written about? Contact the Communication Steward with your story ideas!

EcoReality Coop (directions)
2152 Fulford-Ganges Road
Salt Spring Island, BC V8K 1Z7, Canada
+1 250.653.2024
Info AT EcoReality DOT org

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