Every Saturday the residents of the Homestead get together and have a work party. We use this time do some upkeep around the Homestead. Typical work party tasks include:
- Cleaning up the yard
- Work on the gardens and greenhouse
- Cleaning the cabins
- Learning about electrical wiring, solar power, etc.
At 11:00 am every Saturday we all sit down for a hot and delicious brunch. All are welcome to join us for a great meal and to help us keep the Homestead beautiful.
The Homestead sure has been busy! We have been working hard on our light school days and at work parties to keep the Homestead alive and kickin’ and to develop it for Homies of the future.
The biggest project is Cabin Phoenix (the cabin sitting on top of the old Cabin 2 site). This structure is blending two sustainable building techniques: half made of an earthship technology (dirt pounded into tires as walls) and half made of strawbale. There will also be another greenhouse in front of the strawbale portion. This semester Homesteaders have dug out pea gravel and dirt behind the structure so we can finish and cover the tire wall in the summer of 2008. This summer we are expecting to have many Homies working on the site pounding tires, bailing straw, and doing other thangs.
Other than the cabin we have many other projects going on:
- Farm Field Goes Organic
Homesteaders wrote a letter to Seth Patton and upper administration voicing concerns about the use of agricultural chemicals in the field adjacent to the Homestead. The farmer who leases the land from Denison has agreed to farm hay for three years and we are currently looking for a farmer who will raise organic “calorie crops” (such as grains and beans) on the field (any old Homies interested???).
- Chickens Return!
In the summer of 2006 we built a coop in the orchard that is not really a coop, but more of a chicken palace. We fenced it in, built a roost, insulated it with straw and are currently in the market for some hens and a rooster. Yay return of the chickens!
- Laundry Machine
We purchased a hand-crank laundry machine for the Homestead which will eventually be housed in the basement. This means no more going up to campus to clean our clothes (thus adding to the stereotype that we are dirty hippies). Few on campus know that hand-crank washing is cleaner than machine washing (Chalk one up for the Homestead)!
Every work party we’re cutting, chopping, and collecting wood for use in our stoves and want to be completely dependent on our own sources this year. There is talk of getting a DNR forest management plan as the weeds and invasives have really grown up around the place.
We have a bumpin’ greenhouse filled with lettuces for eating and just planted more herbs! Starts for the garden will be planted. The new Lower Garden fence is up, effectively keeping deer out of the garden, but we are still having problems with groundhogs getting in. New projects are coming up all the time and Homies are coming up with ideas for improvements all year round.
- Maple Syrup
This winter we tapped two Sugar Maple trees on Homestead property and collected the sap daily. Once we got about 60 gallons, we boiled it down in a big copper kettle over a fire. Once the sap had been reduced, to 1/40th of it’s original volume, the syrup was done and jarred for our enjoyment.
New projects are coming up all the time and Homies are coming up with ideas for improvements all year round.
Past projects have included a diverse array of improvements to the Homestead. Many projects were accomplished thought the Seminar this year.
Every year, we start new plants for the greenhouse and garden. This is quite a task, but the weeds never stop growing, and always need tending. The Greenhouse is now the home of the Homestead art gallery.
There is a new stairway leading to the front door of Cabin Bob, made from reused stairs salvaged from campus.
A new patio is now in place in front of Cabin 1. The patio has reused stones on the ground chairs, and an intimate fire pit for ambiance.
Cabin 1 new has a new door with a beautiful red window. Wonderful and creative.