Part one of a three part podcast. Paul is joined by Jocelyn, Evan the ant and Fred the gapper. Over the summer Jack Spirko asked Paul to do a once a week update on what was going on at Wheaton Labs. Paul kept good notes and all the folks present have been at the lab since April/May. Paul says that there are four spots left in the ant village and several people have said that they are sending their money to be part of the ant program. This podcast will contain all the updates that Paul would provide as part of Jacks expert council. Paul went out to test the hot water on the shower shack . Currently, Paul reports that there is not hot water yet. The tubing did need to be turned and readjusted. A person added a road kill racoon to the compost pile. Adding the racoon to the pile did not help the compost. As the pile cooled the racoon did not compost properly. When they opened the pile up the smell was horrible and very messy. Through the summer the showers never got scalding hot. The summer before, the pile did make hot scalding water. This pile only got warm and only made the water luke warm. When the pile gets rebuilt this year, Paul thinks it needs to be redone and rebuilt. Moving the location of the pile may also be in order. Some of the untreated wood has developed some mold. During the PDC people preferred to use the larger of the showers. The larger shower might help with the mold and dry out quicker.
Next was the skiddable shed. Willow Candy Warehouse collects material that comes out of your butt and aged for two years and then this is fed to a willow tree. There are two of these now. Paul is happy with the final product. It is doing its job and working great. Evan worked on this and it was his first experience with shaked roofs.
Planting seeds. Fred planted a ton of seeds in June. June is supposed to be the wet month. Most of the seeds germinated but the rain never came. Because of the dryness, there was lots of dust. All those seeds got two inches tall and then died. Some seeds did survive. There were some showers in July and they did do some watering with a fire truck. Once the hugelkultur gets started they hope to not have to water. With the hugel collecting water over the winter next season should be easier.
The new dump trailer needs a new hydraulic ram. There is a problem with the fittings. Because of this, the trailer is not getting much use. Paul is considering renting a new dozer. Paul paid the money in May but he has yet to see the dozer. Volcano road has been constructed by Evan. Base camp is about 20 acres. Three acres could be used before the road was built, now there is better access to the rest of the property. It took Evan a few weeks to construct this road. Paul rented a little excavator to help build the road. Being tired of equipment breaking down, Paul rented a newer machine. The people Paul rented from took advantage of him. Paul’s advice is that if you rent, rent from a group of people who are reputable. The road has four parts. Submarine section is the part that Paul built with Rex. The Turkey leg got built next. This is where the turkeys like to roost and hang out. Evan was amazed at how they fly and how many turkeys there were. Raspberry Leg goes past Raspberry rock and then Caldero Leg is last. There has been raspberries planted around the rock. The whole area is rock and Evan learned that some rock is much harder than other rock. Paul thinks that building roads in rock takes ten to twenty times longer to build a road than in softer material. Paul is happy with Evan’s work and building it by eye is an amazing accomplishment. At the end of Turkey Leg, there are some cliff outcroppings that made it pretty difficult. Evan also learned that some trees do need to come down when they are in the way. Jocelyn confirms that they are not clear cutting and the site will benefit greatly from this road. This is where the ant village will be developed.
Paul did a free PDC for Ants, Gappers(Greater than 4 weeks) and Deep Roots people. For the other folks is was $400 or $600 depending on when they signed up. During the PDC people got turns working the excavator and tractor. Paul bought a new kubota tractor (55 hp). The John Deer would not give service on site but Kubota would for up to three years. The Kubota did need some bolts replaced do to normal wear and tare.
Evans Ant Village plot. A debris hut can be built in a day and a half and a person can survive through the winter in this hut. The downside is that it will spring leaks and it will need constant repair. You will also have lots of critters living with you. Even if the walls are three feet thick it will look cool but have lots of mice living in the walls. The second Ant is Jesse. Evans structure is missing two of the four insulated walls. Evan is waiting for the earth to settle. Jesse built his with floating walls so that when things settle the walls don’t crack. Evan may follow Jesse’s example. Fred has a plot and a subplot. He is building a plot with many paddocks. Each area has its own name and serves a different purpose.
He has lots of ducks and a nice garden. He grew lots of sunflowers and plans to replant the seed. Paul saw some raised beds and small hugel beds. Using the excavator he built taller hugel beds. Fred has been gone for a few weeks touring the northwest. Paul is getting ready to order some seed and plans to do some frost seeding soon. Jim was the last Ant to show up. He came in October. or maybe late September. Jim had a friend come help him and he bought lumber that he brought with him and he built his house very quickly. There is a wood burning something in there for heat too. Jesse has all four walls up. Josh has his poles up. Paul has extended the Ant Village deadline by one year. Paul wanted to do the contest with at least six people. The group agreed that they would not have six shelters built by winter so Paul made the executive decision to extend the deadline to September 10, 2017. Each Ant will need to pony up $400 each to get the year extension and any new Ants need to pony up $1200.
During the PDC a guest came by and he was an expert in Botany. He did not teach but he did visit. The herb class was excited to meet Thomas Elpel. Paul missed several of the presentations but of the ones he did see he thought they were really good. Dave Hunter came and spoke about mason bees. Morgan Bowen was at the PDC as well. There is a boneyard at base camp and there is a boneyard at the lab as well. Paul wants plantings done to hide the boneyard. The boneyard can be seen from Sherwood Road and Paul thinks he wants it to hide the boneyard with plantings.
Both wofatis have been cleaned up and they are much nicer than they were in the past. Evan saw the pictures before and after. Paul thinks they look twenty times better now. Keeping the job site tidy during construction makes it much cleaner looking. The tracks come off the excavator because the part that holds the track in place has been warn down from use. Michael Buyer is the props guy from Penn and Teller and he was at the lab. He signed up for the old gapper program. He was driving from one show to another show and he stopped by. When Michael came by Paul asked him to make the change RMH and Pauls design worked great. Using a single duct through the bench the RMH was kind of finicky. Pauls idea was that the RMH would cause smokeback and Paul wanted the exhaust ducting to go around and down and then back up and it has worked fantastically. Ernie and Erica did not think this would work. Pauls design is now working awesomely. Mike Buyer made this change and did a great job to make it look awesome. Jocelyn enjoyed visiting with Mike because he and his wife share many common beliefs with her in the healing power of food and keeping traditions alive.
Credit: Kevin Murphy
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This post comes from the RichSoil.com Permaculture Blog.