With apologies to the Beatles, the Federation of Egalitarian Communities, and the state of Vermont.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Chapter Forty-Two: Chickens!

Wednesday night was the almost weekly commune meeting.  Once again everyone met and worked their way through many and sundry issues.

Chuck was facilitating for the first time and he was a bit nervous.  The first three items on the agenda had been easy and were dealt with in less than ten minutes.  The next item was the commune’s clothing policy.

“We already lost two folks because we don’t have a clear policy,” Luna said.  “I don’t want to lose anyone else.”

“Well,” said Sal, “if we’re going to say that we’re an egalitarian commune, whatever policy we come up with has to be the same for men and wymyn.”

“Let’s not be like Three Sycamores,” Nancy said.  “They have a nudity policy that’s twelve pages long.  Single spaced.  Using small type.  And written on both sides of the paper.”

“Whoa,” said Ken.

“I want to be able to take my shirt off if I’m hot and I’m working,” said Patsy.

“Me, too,” said Viv.

“Yeah, me too,” said Broc.

“I want to be able to go skinny dipping,” Will said.

“Hey, that sounds like a great idea,” said Marge.  “We’ve got this lovely pond that’s out of sight of the road.”

“Well, I just don’t want anyone naked or shirtless where it’s going to upset the neighbors,” Luna said.  “We’ve had enough trouble this year already and I want to keep us out of any more.  At least for a while.”

“Okay, okay, okay,” Chuck said.  “I’m sure we can figure something out that will work for everyone.”

“How do you know that?” Blue Sky asked.

“Shh,” Chuck said.  “It’s gotta work.  It’s gotta.  Otherwise, what else can we do?  Anyone have any ideas?”

“We can make this work,” Nancy said.  “Really.  It won’t be that much of a problem.  Why don’t we just say that people can wear or not wear whatever they want anywhere except for some place that can be seen by the public.  I think that’s simple enough.  Does anyone have a problem with that?”

Everyone shook their head no.

“Do we have consensus?” Chuck asked.

Everyone stuck their thumb up.  Luna’s thumb came up slowly and was the last one raised.  She seemed hesitant.

“Yay,” Chuck said.  “We have a decision.”

“Wait just a second,” said Cat, who was taking notes.  “I’m writing all this down.”

“And let’s add that we’ll let people who want to join know this before they join,” Sal said.  “That should keep us from having more problems in the future like we had with Wahina and Birch.  I know that wasn’t pretty.”

After the meeting Dan pulled Luna aside.  

“Are you happy with the decision on clothing?”  Dan asked her.

“Well...” Luna looked down at the floor like she was searching for something on it.

“It doesn’t sound like you are,” Dan said.

“Not really.”  She still wasn’t looking at him.

“Then, why did you agree to it?”

“I was kinda afraid we’d have more conflict.”

“You agreed to it just to avoid conflict?” Dan asked.

“Yeah.  I guess.”



“Guess what I have?” Sal asked Nancy.

“I have no idea,” Nancy said.

Sal opened the box she was carrying.

“Baby chicks!”  Nancy cried.  “They’re so cute!”

Marge was nearby.  “Baby chicks!  Let me see!”

Viv came into the room, saw the three women staring into the box and cooing and, of course, she had to look.  Cat followed and joined them.  When Will came in, he also wanted to see what everyone was looking at.

Soon there was a small crowd around Sal’s cardboard box.

“Where are you going to put them?” Cat asked.

“I want to build a henhouse for them,” Sal said.

“Maybe we can make one of those chicken plows,” Chuck said.  He had just joined the group by the box.

“I don’t know, it’s a little early to try to figure out exactly where they’re going,” Sal said.  “They’re still pretty small.  I’m going to keep them in my room with a warming light for them until they get at least a little bigger.”

Sal took all the little chicks up to her room but stories soon began circulating around the commune.  

By the time Luna and Dan heard the stories, they were informed that Sal had gotten a flock of geese that she had put down by the pond.  Since they weren’t far from the pond, Dan and Luna went over to look but naturally they didn’t find anything.

Eventually, Luna found Sal.

“What’s all this about you getting geese for the place?” she asked.

“Geese?” Sal said.  “Where did you hear that?”

“I can’t remember.  It was either Paul G or Blue Sky.”

“That’s pretty funny,” Sal said.  “Naw.  I didn’t do anything like that.  I just got a few little baby chicks.”

“Chicks?”  Luna got louder.  “Are you going to raise chickens?”

“Yeah,” said Sal.  “It’s a farm isn’t it?”

“It’s a vegetable farm, not an animal farm.”

“Well, now it’s a farm with chickens.  When they get bigger we’ll have a lot of eggs.”

Luna didn’t look amused.  “Well, I guess chickens will be okay.  I just don’t want to see us raising big animals.”

“Big animals?”

“Yeah,” Luna said.  “Big animals like horses and pigs and cows and, you know, things like goats. I just don’t want to see us having goats on this farm.  I don’t want this to be one of those animal farm things.”

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Chapter Forty-One: The Spring Fling Concert

It rained the night before the concert and the communards worried about how muddy it would be and whether it would rain again in the morning.  Their worries increased when the day dawned cloudy and cool with plenty of patches of fog.  But by nine o’clock the clouds had almost all disappeared, the sun was shining bright, the sky was deep, deep blue, and the weather was getting warm.

The concert was to start at noon.  Bands started to set up.  Guitarists began tuning their instruments, drummers and keyboardists spent time testing out their sound, Dan and Cat checked out the microphones.

The farm stands were closed for the day and there was a makeshift gate put up at the beginning of the commune’s drive.  Marge, Ken, and Grace were out directing incoming cars to a field down the road, and Sal and Nancy were by the gate collecting donations.  Dozens of cars were coming by by ten but the communards really knew the concert was going to be crowded when, shortly after ten-thirty, a bus showed up with thirty people on board.  A second bus showed up a little after eleven.

By noon the field was packed and the crowd was ready for a show.  The Green Mountain Boys started the show with a bunch of their crazy punkgrass tunes.  They barely finished their set when the Krazy Kashas broke into a klezfunk frenzy.  Uncle Zucchini joined them for their last number (the two bands shared a bass player) and then took over with a slew of countrydelic covers.

Luna got a little concerned when she saw the sheriff and his two deputies show up but he waved at her and made his way up to where she was standing.

“Don’t worry,” he said in the relative quiet between songs.  “I’m not gonna worry about what anyone’s smoking today.  We’re just here to catch some tunes.”

“Whew,” said Luna.  “That’s good.”

“How late are you planning on running this?” The sheriff looked right at Luna.  “That could be a bigger problem if I had to deal with complaints about noise from the neighbors.”

“We were only planning to run until ten pm, maybe ten thirty with encores.”

“Okay,” the sheriff said, as the next song started up.  “But try not to let things go past that time.  I don’t want to have to come by and tell you that you have to shut things down.”

“Gotcha,” Luna said.

By the middle of Uncle Zucchini’s Band’s set the weather was getting quite warm and people were dancing away.  Lots of folks started taking their shirts off and one young woman took off her shorts as well and started dancing naked.  Pretty soon she had a half dozen men dancing around her, at least two of which were also naked.

Everyone seemed to be having a good time, everyone that is except maybe Wahina, who Luna spotted with a large suitcase dragging Birch with her toward the parking lot.  Luna made her way over to them.

“Are you leaving?” she asked Wahina.

“Absolutely,” Wahina said.  “I thought this was a farm, not a nudist colony.”

She kept moving toward their car but Birch made his way back to Luna long enough to say, “Don’t worry. I’ll be be back again next year--with or without my mother.”


By the time that Amazon Angels came on (“For womyn, by womyn, and about womyn”) it was getting late in the day.  

Ken, Marge, and Grace had cooked up a vegetarian feast which they were distributing for free to the participants.  Nancy and Will and Darren, however, were selling pastries, cookies, and sweet snacks which were in high demand.  What the commune was losing out in the expense of the vegetables they were more than making up in income from all the sweets they were selling.
The Amazon Angels were followed by Luna’s friends’ band who called themselves Sweet As Syrup.  They were a trippy spaced out hypnobeat group and they soon got everyone more than a bit wired and almost to being tranced out.

Tinkerbell and the Rubyfruits woke everyone back up, however, when they played their brand of acoustic rockabilly with a ecoqueer twist.  The sound from their water jug bass started echoing off the barns in neighboring yards.  The music shrieked and pulsed and kept folks dancing away even as it began to get dark.  Luna started worrying about the sheriff and the neighbors, especially when she realized that everything was running way behind schedule.

But the final group was the Fae Whispers, the band that Darren had recommended, who had a soft, sweet, almost gossamer sound.  It was just what everyone needed to mellow the night out.

Although the Fae Whispers kept playing until almost eleven, none of the neighbors complained--in fact, a couple of them (not including Peter who was at the concert) said that the music was just what they needed to get to sleep that night.  The only complaints were from concert patrons who said that they had a hard time getting up and leaving when the music finished.  Several concert goers tried to convince the BBAAers who were helping close up that they could sleep in the fields.

It was well after midnight by the time the communards got the last of the festival goers out of there and got themselves to bed.

But they were all up bright and early the next morning, taking down the festival stuff and breaking down the stage.  While Sal and Dan were directing that process, Luna, Marge, and Nancy were counting up the take.

“Unbelievable,” Luna said when the group gathered for lunch.  “We made almost a thousand in donations at the gate.”

“Not too bad,” Viv said.

“But wait,” Nancy said.  “We made another thousand in sales of all our sweet treats.  We’re completely out of flour and sugar.  We sold everything we could make.”

“Whoa,” Dan said.  “I guess I’d call this concert a success.  It certainly exceeded my expectations.”

“We’re going to have to do more of these,” Ken said.

“But not any time soon,” Luna said.  “We got a lot of other work to do.  We’re a farm, remember?”

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Chapter Forty: Out in the Fields

By mid May the weather was warm enough for the crew to be outside in shirts and shorts.  And the farm crew was outside in force.

Broc was out there wearing a thin plaid shirt, jeans, and a cowboy hat.  Patsy had on a cowboy hat with a dirty white t-shirt and jeans.  Birch was wearing a tan sleeveless shirt and tan cargo pants.  Wahina was wearing a similar outfit in burgundy.  

Meanwhile Viv had on dark blue shorts and a sky blue blouse.  Chuck also had a sky blue blouse with an indigo skirt and an azure bandana.  And Luna had on faded gray jeans with a sea green top.  And this rainbow of folks were all out in the fields armed with hoes, rakes, spades, and pitch forks.  They were tilling the soil, planting seeds, and watering, watering, watering.  And they were sweating.

“I’m getting hot out here,” Birch said.

“True,” said Broc.  “The weather is not as hot as my country, but I think it is warm for here.”

“Oh, it gets warmer during the summer,” Luna said.

“There seems to be some stuff coming up over here,” Patsy remarked.

“Yeah,” Viv said.  “We started planting greens the week before you got here.  We’ve switched over what we’re planting in the EcoGreenHouse to zucchini and summer squash.”

“This is the year that we’re going to have plenty of everything,” Luna announced.  “All this stuff is just the beginning.  We’ve got lots of customers for it all, so we gotta just keep planting and harvesting.”

“Well, I’m up for it,” Patsy said.  “I like to work.  That’s what I came here for.”

“Me, too,” Wahina said.  “Farming is what I’m all about.”

“Okay. I’m hot.  I’m taking my shirt off,” Broc said, and did.

“Me, too,” Patsy said, and did.

“Wait a minute,” said Wahina.  She tried to block Birch’s view of the now shirtless Patsy.

“Hey, if he can take off his, I can take off mine,” said Patsy.  “Isn’t this one of those equality communes?”

“That’s what I thought it was,” said Viv as she took off her blouse.

“Um, maybe we should have discussed this in a commune meeting first?” said Luna as she watched Wahina marching Birch away from the fields and back to their tents.

“It might be a little late for that now,” Viv said.

“Hey, I like the view,” Broc said.

“Oh my,” said Luna.


In the field behind the tents, Sal and Dan were working away, setting up the stage.  They were also sweating.

“Looks like they’re taking off their shirts out in the fields,” Sal said, pointing at the farm crew. “I hope you don’t mind me taking off mine.”

“Nothing I haven’t seen before,” Dan said, which was true.

“We only have another week until the concert,” Sal pointed out.  “Do we have all the bands lined up?”

“Far as I know.  Ken got the local band he was talking about and Chuck got the faery band that he said he would.  Now Darren says he knows another faery band and they’re coming too.”

“Well, Nancy got us two bands from Three Sycamores, Uncle Zucchini’s Band and the Krazy Kashas.  I also found a wymyn’s band that plays wymyn’s music at wymyn’s music festivals.  I persuaded them to play here even though we’re not all wymyn.”

“I think Luna is also talking with a band from the town she grew up in.”

“Well, that should give us a lot of music.  I think it’s going to be a whole bunch of fun.”

“I’m sure it will be.  Give me a hand with this plank.”  The two of them struggled to get it into place.

“I hope we get enough folks to come,” Sal said.  “It would be kind of a bummer if we got all these folks to play here and no one came to hear them.”

“Well, we’ll all be here.  At least it will entertain us.”

“That’s true, but I thought the main idea was to raise some money for the farm.”

“I think the main idea is to have fun.”

‘Yeah, I guess the main idea around here is always to have fun--work hard and have fun.”  Sal took a kerchief out of her pocket and wiped her face.  The two of them now were each wearing nothing but shorts, boots, and work gloves.  Their bodies glistened with sweat.

“Nothing wrong with hard work and fun,” Dan said.  The two of them began trying to lift the first of the three arches that would support the cover for the stage.  They didn’t get very far.

“Wait,” Dan said.  He got a long rope and tied it to the top of the arch.  Then he threw the other end up and over a branch of an oak that was behind the stage.

The two of them tugged and tugged at the rope and slowly the arch rose and settled into place.  Both of them collapsed.

“Two more to go,” Dan said.

“Look, here comes Luna,” said Sal.

“She’s still wearing her tank top,” Dan said, “and she doesn’t look happy.”

“I wonder what happened?” said Sal.

“I have a feeling we’re going to find out,” Dan said.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Chapter Thirty-Nine: BBAAers

“Baa?” asked Dan.

“BBAA,” corrected Luna.  “Building Better Alternative Agriculture.  It’s called BBAAing and the folks who do it are called BBAAers.”

“And we’re talking about BBAAers, why?”

“Because these are folks that are really interested in helping out on farms like this.  I think we can get a lot of folks who’d be happy to live in tents all summer and work on growing vegetables and even work the stands or help out in the kitchens.  It’s just what we’re going to need during our busy season.”

“So I can see why you’d be interested in getting some of these folks but what do they get out of it?”

Luna sighed.  “These folks just want to help. They’re really interested in alternative agriculture and want to learn more about it.  Honestly, they don’t usually have a lot of skills but most of them have a lot of willingness.  And some of them come from all around the world.  They also do it to travel.”

“I guess that makes us an exotic locale.”

“To someone from Europe or Asia or Africa or even Australia, it does.  And these BBAAers come from around the world.”

“So when do we start seeing these folks?”

“Very soon, actually.  I put in the applications a while ago and we may be seeing some of the first arrivals later this week.”

“And you think they’ll be happy living out on the land in tents?”

“Yeah, I hear that’s what lots of them do in lots of different places.  You’ll see.  It’s an adventure for them.”

“I guess it takes all kinds.”

“Aww, c’mon.  I think this will be a great experience for them and for us.  You’ve just got to think positively about it.”

“Yeah, I’d like to but after all the strange folks we’ve gotten, like Stan and Barbara and Edgar, I don’t know what to think.”

“Hey, Edgar turned out to be really helpful.”

“Yeah, but he wasn’t what we thought he was at all.  And who knows who all these new folks will turn out to be.”

“I think you’ve got to stay hopeful.  Now that Peter and George and Fred are on the case, I don’t think the Reagons will try anything for a while.”

“Yeah, but just because they’re not working for the Reagons doesn’t mean they’re going to be good workers.  Stan had nothing to do with the Reagons but I’d hate to see several more folks like him.”

“Okay, okay.  But think about all the good folks we’ve gotten working here.  Darren and Chuck and Ken and Grace and Will have all worked out fine.  And I didn’t even know you when I invited you to be part of the farm.”

“Yeah and look what you’ve got.  A cranky guy who rains on all your plans.”

“Not all of them.  And don’t talk about rain, please.  We’ve had a couple of nice days recently.  I don’t want to see all the rain returning.”

“I’m just worried about having lots of new people, that’s all.”

“We’ll just have to see what we get.  I’m sure it’s all going to turn out just fine,” Luna said.

“BBAA,” said Dan.


The first BBAAer arrived a couple of days later.

Patsy Calla was from a town north of Banff.  She was a good natured young woman with short ginger hair and strong hands.  She said she’d spent many summers farming at her cousin’s ranch near Medicine Hat.

“I know lots about growing canola, if that’s helpful,” she said to Viv.  She also laughed at the dress Chuck was wearing.  “It looks lovely, dear,” she said, “but are you sure you want to wear a dress while you’re farming.”

“Hey,” Chuck said, “works for me.”

“Okay,” Patsy said, “but the last time I wore a dress was when I was twelve.”

The next BBAAer to show up was Paul G who claimed he knew all about farming because he came from “Cowboy Culture”, deep in the southwestern desert.  Then it turned out most of what he knew was from working in a grocery store.

“Three years at a WaySafe in the southern Rockies,” Paul G finally admitted.  “I managed the produce.”

“Perfect,” Sal said.  “We can use you at our produce stand.”

Blue Sky was next and also ended up working at the produce stand.  Having two new workers delighted Dan and Sal to no end.

“Okay,” Dan said as he took the final piece of fennel out of his hair.  “Now Sal and I can focus on doing maintenance and repairs.”

Wahina and Birch arrived a day later.  They were mother and son and totally up for farm work.

“We’ve been working in the fields together since Birch was five,” Wahina said.

“It’s been us against the weeds,” Birch said.  “We got each other’s back.”

“This is great,” Luna said after she introduced them to Viv and Chuck and Patsy.  “We’re going to have quite the farm team this year.”

Two days after that, another BBAAer showed up--Broc, a stocky, solid South American man who had farmed all his life.  He also got assigned to the farm team.

“Give me land and water and I will grow you food,” he said.  “There is nothing better.”

After Broc arrived the influx of interns seemed to have slowed and stopped, at least for the rest of the month.

The back field at the commune was now dotted with tents and the BBAAers were all ready to get working.