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

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Chapter Forty-Six: The New Construction Crew

When Ken opened the door, he was surprised to see two familiar faces.

“Hi,” said Sowbug.  “We just got laid off.  Trollwork is having a slow season.”  

“Hey,” said Ken.  “Come in, come in.  Let me see if I can find you someone you can talk with.  I’m kind of busy at the moment.”

Ken found Nancy who was busy baking but figured she could take a few minutes to talk with the Trollworks folks.

“No work, huh?” she asked.

“Yeah,” said Dandelion.  “Do you need folks for your commune?”

“We remembered how awesome this place was,” said Sowbug.  “We were hoping  you needed workers.”

“You’re good at construction, right?”

“The best,” said Sowbug.

“Okay,” Nancy said.  “Let me get Sal and Dan.”

Sal and Dan were in the back building listing construction projects still to do.

“I don’t know how we’re going to get to all of these,” Dan was saying when Nancy walked in.

“Oh, good,” Nancy said.  “I may have a solution for you.”

“So,” Sal said to Dandelion and Sowbug.  “Is this just something you want to do while things are slow or are you interested in living here indefinitely?”

“The Troll is a nice guy to work for but work is sporadic and it usually means moving from place to place.”  Dandelion looked right at Sal.  “We’re ready to settle down.”

“Yeah,” said Sowbug.  “We want steady work, we want to be with folks we like, and we want community.  I think this is the place.”

“How about if the work is renovations rather than building new stuff?”  Dan asked.

“Fine with me,” Sowbug said.

“Yeah,” said Dandelion.  “It’s interesting putting up new buildings but I’d be interested in work on rehabbing old ones for a change.”

“Well, you see this nice new house you folks helped build,” Dan said.  “It makes us more aware of all the problems with the other, older buildings.”

“Oh, yeah,” Sal said.  “We got lots of work that needs to be done on them.  But when that’s all done, we have ideas for making yet another building.  We’re still growing in terms of people and it’s going to get cramped here sooner or later.  We’d rather have the room to grow.”

“Are you willing to live in a tent for the summer and then move into the new house you’ll have helped build when the weather gets colder?” asked Dan.

“That would be fine,” said Sowbug.

“Yeah,” Dandelion said.  “No problem.”

“Okay,” Sal said.  “Let’s go talk to the community.  I think we have a couple of new community members.”


The next morning, Sal and Dan and Sowbug and Dandelion did a tour of the commune.

“So,” Sal said, “I’m sure you know Groovy House top to bottom, but this is what we call the Side House.  I think it was an old barn that got converted into a house before Luna bought the place.”

“Yeah,” said Sowbug.  “It looks like a barn to house conversion.  But it seems to be structurally sound.”

“True,” said Dan.  “But check out the paneling over here.”

“Looks to me like you should rip it out and start over,” Dandelion suggested.

“That’s what we want to do,” Sal said.  “But it’s a lot for Dan and me to do--especially when we need to keep a half an eye on the produce stand and help out there now and then.”

“And look at this door,” Dan said.

“Needs to be rehung,” said Dandelion.

“The whole place could use a good coat of paint as well,”  Sowbug said.

“You noticed,” said Sal.  “Ken and Marge and the house crew would be willing to do some of it but they’re a bit stretched as well.  Are you folks willing to paint?”

“No problem,” said Sowbug.  “But I think some of this other stuff needs to come first.”

“Absolutely,” said Dan.

“There’s also a broken stair here and there that needs to be fixed,” Sal pointed out.

“I get it,” Dandelion said.  “That goes on the list.”

They walked out of the Side House and into the commune’s third building.

“We call this the Back House,” Sal said.  “It’s got its share of problems as well.”

They spent fifteen minutes going over the problems of the Back House.

When they walked out the back door of the Back House, Dan pointed to a space just in front of the field.

“This is where we’ve been thinking that another house could go,” he said.  “Do either of you have any thoughts about this?”

“Well I know that we’ve got a bunch of time to figure this one out,” Sowbug said.  “First of all, we’ve got to get through all the problems in the Side House and Back House before we can even start thinking about building a new place.  I’m figuring it will be August at least before we’ll get a chance really to do anything about.”

“And by then we’ll have lived here for several months,” Dandelion added, “and we’ll have a much better understanding of what the commune wants and needs.”

“Okay, okay,” Sal said.  “It’s obvious you folks have been doing this for a while.  Welcome to the construction crew.”

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Chapter Forty-Five: Joining the CEOC

“It’s cool that you’ve got an equal-opportunity commune up here,” Strange Brew said to Luna as they were working out in the field.

“Yeah, well, I was inspired by Old Corn and Three Sycamores,” Luna said.

“I’m just being curious, but why aren’t you part of the Confederacy of Equal Opportunity Communes?” Strange Brew asked.

“Wait,” Luna said.  “I thought we were.”

“That’s the first I’ve heard of it,” said Strange Brew.  “When did you join?”

“Don’t you automatically become part of the CEOC when you set up an equal-opportunity, income-sharing commune?”

“No, of course not,” Strange Brew said.  “You have to apply to join.”

Luna stopped what she was doing and stared at Strange Brew.  “Oh no.  I never heard that.  Why didn’t someone tell me?”

Strange Brew stopped working and said, “Who did you ask?”

“I didn’t know you had to ask anyone.”

“Well, how did you think you got to join the CEOC?”

“I thought that you just became part of the CEOC by setting up a commune.”

“Well, you don’t.  You need to actually follow a process of applying for membership.”

“Okay.  So how do we do that?”

“We’ll do it a step at a time,” Strange Brew said.  “When we get back to the house, I will walk you through the process.”

“Thanks,” Luna said.  “I’m sorry.  I didn’t know.  I guess I thought it would be a lot easier than it is.”  She picked up her hoe and went back to work.  After a few minutes, Strange Brew started working again, too.

A couple of hours later, Strange Brew sat down with Luna and Dan and Sal and Nancy.

“Oh, man,” Sal said.  “I didn’t even think to tell you about joining the CEOC.”

“Me, neither,” said Nancy.  “And I should have, but we were so busy doing everything else.  You never said explicitly that you wanted to be part of the CEOC.”

“That’s because I thought we were part of the CEOC,” Luna said.

“Okay, okay,” Strange Brew said, “The first step is we actually fill out an application.  Do you have computers here?”

“Of course,” Dan said.  “What century do you think we’re in?”

“just asking,” said Strange Brew.  “Let’s print out an application and fill it in.”

“Wait,” said Sal.  “I think we need to talk about this in a commune meeting first.”

“That’s right,” said Nancy.  “Everyone needs to agree that they actually want the commune to be part of the CEOC.”

“This is going to be a lot harder than I thought,” said Luna.


Wednesday night again.  Commune meeting again.  This time Viv was facilitating.

“What!” said Will.  “We’re not an equal-opportunity commune?  I thought you told me that we were?”

“Well, we are.  Sort of,” Luna said.  “It’s just that we’re not officially members of the Confederacy of Equal-Opportunity Communes.”

“And now we have an opportunity to join,” Nancy pointed out.

“Why didn’t we do this before?” Patsy wanted to know.

“Luna and Dan didn’t realize we had to apply to be members and Nancy and I didn’t think about it because we’ve been so busy here,” Sal said.

Three people started to speak at once.

“So what do we do…” said Darren at the same time that  Paul G said, “Do you mean that…” and Broc said, “I think we should all…”

“Hold it!” Sal screamed.  “Viv is facilitating.”

Viv looked confused.  “Umm,” she said.  She looked around and focused on Nancy who had been helpful to her in the past.

“Okay,” Nancy said.  “Do you know how to do stack?”

“Is that a dance?” Viv asked.

“Do you mind if I take over for a few minutes?” Nancy asked.

“Oh, would you?”

“Sure,” Nancy said.  “Okay, Darren is first, and then Paul G, and then Broc.  Is there anyone I missed?”

“I’d like to go after Broc,” said Grace.

“Okay,” Nancy said.  “You’re after Broc.  Darren?”

“Yeah,” said Darren.  “So what do we do to become part of the CEOC?”

After Darren, Paul G, Broc, Grace, Blue Sky, Cat, Marge, and Will all got a chance to speak, and Viv took back the facilitating,  Luna, Dan, Sal, and Strange Brew went over the CEOC application with everyone and slowly got agreement on most of the answers.

“Do we have any religion?” Chuck said.  “What do they mean do we have any religion?  We’re all children of the Earth Mother, aren’t we?”

“Let’s say that it’s up to each person,” Sal said.

“I can live with that,” Chuck said.

“Yeah,” Marge said.  “Me, too.”

“Okay,”  Strange Brew said.  “Two more questions.  What does this commune give its members and what do members have to get for themselves?”

“This commune hasn’t given me nothing,” Broc said.

“Other than food, a job, a place to stay…” Sal started in.

“Hang on,” Luna said.  “How about saying that we provide basic food and work for each person and a little spending money and people can get other things that they want with that money?”

“Okay,” said Strange Brew.  “Now, the very last question.  How does the commune deal with people who break rules or threaten violence?”

“Nobody better threaten violence,” Broc said.

“If you don’t shut up...” Sal said.

Suddenly the two of them were standing glaring at each other.

“Wow,” Will said.  “It looks like we’ll have a chance to find out.”

“I think we should say that this is something to be decided in future meetings,” Dan said.

Strange Brew looked at Sal and Broc who were still standing, staring at each other, but decided not to say anything.  “Okay.  All finished.  Now we just need to send this questionnaire in.”

“And is that it?”  Cat asked.  “Are we now members?”

“Unfortunately, no,” Strange Brew clarified.  “The next step is that the commune needs to send someone to the next CEOC Convocation.”

“When is the next Convocation?”  Marge asked.

“Fortunately it’s in a few weeks, which is really lucky because the Convocations are only held once a year.”

“So who are we sending?”  Ken asked.

“Send Sal,” Broc said.  “I think she could use some time away.”

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Chapter Forty-Four: Cow

The Maple Milk Dairy Farm only had eight cows, but two of them were pregnant and they gave birth in the night within three hours of each other.  The first one just had a calf that looked a lot like her, but the second one gave birth to twins, two little cows, one a typical black and white holstein and the second an almost totally black heifer who got up and wandered off not very long after she was born.  

When Noreen Davis-Hudson checked up on her cows that morning she only found the two calves who had stayed with their mother and assumed that that was all the little cows that there were.

Meanwhile, the little black calf had found an opening in the fence behind the Maple Milk Dairy Farm and wandered through it to the next farm, a large communal place.  She sauntered the fields there until a couple of the women on that farm found her.

“Holy cow!” Sal said. “Where did you come from?”

“Maybe it came from the Maple Milk Dairy Farm,” Viv suggested.  She started petting the calf who seemed friendly enough.

“Well, it certainly doesn’t belong to us.  Let’s take it back there.”

It wasn’t easy convincing the calf to go back the way that she came.  Eventually Sal and Viv found the gap in the fence the calf had come through and managed to coax the calf back through it.  Soon after that they spotted their neighbor, Noreen, taking care of her herd.

“Hey, there,” Sal yelled.  “I think we found one of your cows.  A pretty young looking one from the look of her.”

Noreen took a good gander at the calf.  “Young nothing.  She’s a baby.  She looks like she was born this morning.”

“One of yours?” Sal asked.  

“Probably,” Noreen said.  “Two of our cows gave birth today.  I’ve seen calves from both of them but maybe one of them had twins.  It’s not common but it happens.”

The three of them took the calf to both mother cows.  Neither one paid any attention to the little calf.

“It’s got to have come from one of them,” Viv said.

“Probably,” Noreen said.  “But now that you’ve touched her, the mother most likely doesn’t recognize the scent.  I don’t think the mother will take her back at this point.”

“So what will you do now?” Sal asked.

“Well,” Noreen said.  “You found her.  As far as I’m concerned it’s finders keepers.  She’s your cow now.”

“Really?” Viv said.

“Really,” Noreen replied.

“Hey,” Viv said to Sal.  “It looks like we’ve got a cow.”

“Yep,” said Sal.  “It looks like we do.”


“Honest Luna,” Sal said.  “We didn’t ask for her.  She came here.  Noreen doesn’t want her and says that she’s ours now.”

“Great,” Luna said.  “I hope there aren’t any bison or water buffaloes in the area, otherwise I’m sure they’ll find their way here soon.  I wanted a farm not a zoo.”

“I’m sorry,” Sal said.  “I know you didn’t want any animals here and now we’ve got a whole bunch. But you’ve also got Strange Brew here and you wanted more farmworkers.  It’s just that Strange Brew came with three baby goats.”

“Yeah, I know.  And people really wanted the chickens and I believe you that you didn’t try to get the cow.  It’s just not what I had in mind for the farm.”

They were walking back toward where there were now a pen for the kids and calf and people petting and playing with and feeding all of them.  Nearby Dan was making a henhouse for the chicks.

“That cow looks so funny in with the baby goats,” Patsy said to Will.  “She’s three times the size of any of them and they’re all beige and white and she’s so black.”

“Well,” Will said. “She seems to think that she’s one of the goats.”

“I saw one of the goats trying to nurse on that poor confused calf,” Chuck said.  “I wonder if it’s asking, ‘Are you my mother?’”

“I’ve never seen anything so ridiculous looking in my life,” Viv said.

“Check out how big the little chicks are getting,” Ken said.

“They’re growing so much every day,” Marge said.

“They’ll be real chickens soon,” Broc said.

“Okay, okay,” Luna said to Sal.  “I know.  I can’t control everything.  I had this vision of a commune and a farm but I do know that if it’s truly communal, it can’t be exactly what I want.  I guess I’ll just have to see what evolves here.”

“I’m glad that you can see that,” Sal said.

“Yeah, yeah, I know it,” said Luna with a sigh. “But please, please, please, let’s have no more animals.”

And this time, fortunately, there were no more animals added to the farm.  At least not for the rest of that season.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Chapter Forty-Three: Baby Goats

“I’ve got two words for you,” Strange Brew said.  “Baby goats.”

Strange Brew was an old friend of Sal and Nancy’s from the Old Corn community who decided to come north to join the commune.  They were excited to have an comrade from the southern commune join them but they were even more excited about the three little goats.

“Baby goats!”  yelled Nancy.  “Look at them. They’re so adorable!”

“Wooeee, they’re just amazing,” said Blue Sky.  “I’ve never seen baby goats before. This is so great.  It looks like a real farm here now.”

Strange Brew seemed happy to have brought them.  “I thought that you folks could use a few animals for your farm.  Besides, we had way too many goats at Old Corn.  Hey, I only brought you three of them.  I could have brought a lot more.  Really.   But I only brought a couple of the little ones.”

“Oh, wow,” said Marge.  “We have goats now!  Real goats!  This is wonderful.”

“Goats and chickens,” Sal said.  “That means milk and eggs.”

“Goats and chickens mean that we’re a real farm now,” Patsy said.  “It didn’t feel like a real farm to me when we were just growing vegetables.:

“Oh, my,” Viv screeched, “Baby goats!  They’re so cute!”

Slowly folks gathered until there was a flock of people around the goats, who simply took it all in stride.  They were petted and brushed and hugged and eventually Strange Brew came back with bottles of goat’s milk and the communards took turns feeding them.  The goats enjoyed being petted but they enjoyed being fed most of all.

“Aren’t they the cutest things you’ve ever seen?” asked Chuck.

“They are pretty cute,” said Darren.

“What’s cute?” Ken asked.

“Check it out.  We have baby goats.”

“Oh my goodness,” Ken said.  “Look at them.  We have goats.  We really have goats.”

Cat was calmer about the whole thing.  “Nice goats.  It’s too bad I’m allergic to most animals or I’d want to pet them.”

Blue Sky and Paul G and Broc came by and each picked up a goat and carried it around on their shoulders.  The goats took all this in stride as well.  They seemed quite happy as long as people kept petting them and giving them milk.  The goats knew what they liked and they liked life at the commune.

Pretty soon everyone knew about the cute baby goats.

Everyone except Dan and Luna.

“Maybe we should tell Luna soon,” Nancy said.

“Do you want to tell her?”  Sal asked.  “I don’t.”

Dan didn’t find out about the goats until the next morning at breakfast when he heard Grace say, “I still think they’re the cutest things ever.”

“I’m sorry,” he said.  “I missed that. Who do you think is cute?”

“Those adorable baby goats.  Haven’t you seen them?”

Sal and Nancy were nearby and held their collective breath.

“Wait,” Dan said.  “We have goats?”

Grace took one look at Dan’s face and realized she made a mistake.  

“Oops,” she said.


Dan found Luna out in the fields checking out how the crops were coming up.

“What do you think?” he asked Luna.

“I think we’re doing very well,” Luna replied.  “Most of our greens are up and the other crops are doing well.  We’re going to have a full fledged farm this year.”

“Absolutely,” Dan said.  “With chickens even.”

“True.  I mean I didn’t really want animals on the farm but the chickens will produce eggs and we can integrate them into the farm management.”

“You’re really good at integrating things into the farm.  I really admired that about you.  You’re pretty flexible in dealing with things.”

“Yeah, I like the challenge.”

“Hey, are you interested in more challenges?”

Luna stopped what she was doing and looked at Dan.  “Is there something here that you’re not telling me?”

Dan spent a minute thinking about what to say next.  “I think you might have some more interested challenges now.”


“What would you think about figuring out how to integrate some more animals into our communal farm?”

“You mean beyond chickens, don’t you?  Somehow I think you’re not talking about ducks or geese.”

Dan paused again.  “What would you think about the idea of integrating baby goats into the farm mix?”

“Why do I think this isn’t a theoretical question?”

“We’ve got a new commune member.  Have you met Strange Brew from the Old Corn community?”

Luna took a minute to put it all together.  “Okay.  Did Strange Brew bring some baby goats along?” she asked.

“Apparently they had too many at Old Corn.  It’s their gift to us.”

“Do we have any choice in the matter?”

“We could figure out who we could give the goats to, I suppose,”  Dan said.  “Of course it might be a little difficult since almost everyone else in the commune already adores the oh so cute little baby goats.”

“How many baby goats are we talking about?”  Luna asked.

“Just three.”

“Well, that’s at least not as bad as I feared.”  Luna paused and thought some more.  “Okay.  I guess that now we have vegetables and chickens and goats.  It’s not what I wanted but I think I can live with it.  Probably.  But please, please, please.  No cows.”

“I don’t think you have to worry,” Dan said.  “I don’t think anyone here wants cows.”

“Good,” said Luna.  “No cows.”