Jocelyn and I are having fun with soapnuts, and we discovered that just grinding them to a powder in a coffee grinder makes a nice, gently abrasive hand/dish soap.
It works best in conjunction with hot water since we're basically using the powder to make an instant version of the "tea" usually made with soapnuts.
Used on hands it produces a nice lather even when used with cold water, probably due to the heat caused by the friction of lathering and the heat inherent in warmblooded bodies.
When using the soapnut powder on dishes, however, higher temperature water is more important. For lightly soiled dishes merely warm water will get you enough lather no problem. For greasy dishes the water will need to be quite hot and you'll need to use more of the powder. For a particularly greasy bowl I heated some water in the tea kettle (not to boiling though that might have been even better), let it sit in the bottom of the bowl with some soapnut powder for a minute while I washed other stuff, then cleaned the bowl out easily. I ended up having to rinse it twice to get all the suds off.
We're keeping the powder in a little shaker-topped mason jar with some rice mixed in to absorb moisture and keep it from clumping. We'll see how well that works.
Hopefully the powder will have a longer shelf life than the tea.
FYI when you shake the shaker it produces a fine airborne power in addition to the stuff going onto your hands/sponge/dishes, which if inhaled will make you sneeze hard enough to knock a little piggy's house down.
It's worth mentioning that this doesn't make big mounds of foamy suds like commercial dish soaps do.
The first picture shows the suds I got after soaking the powder in hot water for about a minute and then scrubbing. They are small but seem to do quite a good job. The debris on the plate is from the soapnut powder itself and rinses off very easily.
Sorry for the delay. We've decided that yes, it'll be a flat rate and you can reserve the whole wofati.
Bringing children is totally fine and encouraged as long as their parents are confident they can keep them safe and supervised. There are coyotes and mountain lions around, but at least the bears are sleeping this time of year.
If you want, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd rather work out the details in a more private place.
Chris Magwood from the Endeavour Centre in Ontario, Canada takes us on a virtual workshop of natural plasters.
He thoroughly explains the different types of natural plasters and the way they work, where they can be sourced, what their embodied energy is, and their advantages and disadvantages.
There is a long section explaining the composition of the most commonly used base layer -sand, straw, and local clay soil.
Chris also covers the importance of preparing the substrate, and describes the meshing process of transitioning from one material to another. He illustrates many of the concepts with both a straw bale substrate and a wooden lath substrate.
The DVD also covers the logistics of preparing large amounts of plaster: the mixing, transportation and application.
There is a whole section on the tools required to do natural plasters.
He covers a wide range of finishes that include pigments and protective coatings to add some weather resistance to the wall. He emphasize the fact that some natural finishes are actually very toxic.
The last section of the video covers repairs. Chris takes us around the outside of a house where he did natural plaster 10 years ago. He shows how well the walls held up to the cold harsh Ontario winters, and where some repairs would be needed. He does a demonstration on how to repair a crack and how to match colors.
Throughout the video, we see the evolution of the interior of a strawbale construction from the raw walls to the almost finished ones.
Please use just one link per post.
Please use the "thumbs up" for the posts you like the most.
Please take discussion to other threads, this thread is just for links and a quick description of the links.
Jocelyn and I have been trying to figure out how to make donating though Azure work. The telephone number isn't the only problem, and we're finally giving up on it.
So no donating though Azure =( but if you want to donate money to be put towards food for the ants, there's a variety of ways to do that. The ant love forum - http://www.permies.com/t/45973/labs/ant-love - has more info on that.
Sometimes we get sent gifts that are so wonderful we need a new thread to fill with gratitude. This thread shall be that thread!
We'll begin with a big fat thank you to Justin Rhodes the Permaculture Chicken Guy! He sent Paul an Amazon gift card to spend on audiobooks and the like to keep his mind off how much time he has to spend lying in bed in pain. Paul is super stoked about it and is now happily watching season 2 of Rick and Morty in between doing what work he can.
Shan Renz wrote:Hi Paul, I'm going to ask these questions here because due to the apparent volume of email sent to you, I suspect you'll see this post sooner than you would if I emailed.
Paul probably won't be able to address this for a while - he's having some health issues right now. So I'll do my best to give you some answers, keeping in mind that I'm not in charge of anything and haven't checked with Paul.
I would say that if you guys are serious about this ant village thing, don't buy an RV until you get Paul's go-ahead. Aside from issues that he may have with parking one on the land, there is wofat 0.8 which is, in a word, large. I don't know the status on its long-term availability, I just know that it's currently unoccupied. It does need work, but that doesn't seem like something that will intimidate you guys.
Secondly, I'd say don't get too serious until you've listened to more of the podcasts, maybe even all of them.
Third, if your hubs works on the internet he may struggle with that on the lab. Cell and data signal up there ranges from acceptable to pathetic to non-existent, and that's in the patches where you can get it at all.
From what I hear the ground won't be workable until late March, but this is my first winter here so I'm not speaking from experience.
As far as families being welcome, I'm afraid I don't have any intel on that. I don't recall anyone saying anything that would imply that they're not, but that doesn't mean anything.
I hope I don't sound discouraging! You folks seem passionate and experienced and like we'd be lucky to have you here.
An easily-ignored twinge of back pain has blossomed into cervical radiculopathy, and he is currently in so much pain that he is unable to use the computer, read, or sleep without the help of Valium and painkillers. On the Brosh pain scale (attached), he's been hanging out in the 6 to 10 zone.
He is going to be out of action for at least a week, possibly for several weeks. On top of this, it is already a crazy busy time for Jocelyn, so please send them both good vibes.
Cervical radiculopathy, also referred to as radicular pain, is a somewhat broad term for symptoms of any "condition that irritates a nerve in the cervical spine (neck)." The good news is that it's probably not caused by a herniated or ruptured disc, but he will be getting an MRI soon to make sure. The likely culprit here is long hours at the computer, so consider this a reminder to get up and stretch.
He wanted me to post about his condition not only as an update to his loyal public but to ask for help and advice. Does anyone have experience dealing with cervical radiculopathy, or any kind of spinal nerve pain? We seek tips for exercises, stretches, remedies, meditations, and anything, really.
I'll post updates on this thread as things unfold.
All lodging is first-come, first-served with the caveat that all can change according to the whim of the dictator or the needs of the community.
The first-come, first-served is for gappers, ants, workshop participants, or those doing other jobs or bounty work around here, otherwise rent will be charged.
You will be expected to keep your lodging tour-ready if you are staying in one of the provided structures rent-free.
If you are paying rent, you cannot be shuffled out of your lodging, and you will not have to keep the space tour-ready because tours will not be taken through spaces that are being currently rented.
"Wait, tours?" you say. Yes, tours. We want to be able to show off the cool stuff we have here! If you have a sweet rmh in your bunk, or if you're kipping in a wofati, or the tipi, these are a big deal and people want to see them. Unsurprisingly, this also means that there is a minimum level of tidiness we expect you to maintain.
Without further ado, here be the latest on the lodging availability at both base camp and up on the lab. If you're thinking about coming out to gap or to ant, etc. this is information that you want to know. Note that the following information is subject to sudden and capricious change.
Everyone is responsible for purchasing their own food and feeding themselves. On Feast Days Jocelyn cooks a delicious dinner for everybody, and everybody tries to help as much as possible without becoming a nuisance. Feast Days are also the day when people can shower in the house if they want. There are outdoor showers, but they do not function in the winter.
As of this writing (Jan 5 2016) there are 3 gappers likely to show up soon, so expect to see the “currently unclaimed” space diminish rapidly.
good well water
outdoor willow feeder (like an outhouse)
bedroom only (no kitchen, no bathroom)
minnie mouse rmh newly installed
limited electric power
claimed from February on
Porta-cabin “The Loveshack”
bedroom only (no kitchen, no bathroom)
partly/mostly insulated (needs work)
will have the waterbug rmh installed soon (currently no heat)
has solar panel for light & device charging (somewhat spotty in dark winter times)
currently unclaimed after February
The Lab The lab is two miles from base camp up a paved-then-gravel-then-steep-dirt-sometimes-mud-or-snow-adventure road.
as yet no water source, so water must be brought up from base camp
one willow feeder (like an outhouse) between the Abbey and tipi
solar off-grid power at the Abbey and wofati 0.8
Wofati 0.7 “Allerton Abbey”
powered by the solar voltswagon
small propane oven and 3 burner propane cooktop
also used as community space/kitchen due to its proximity to the ant plots
a couple bunks - claimed from February on
Wofati 0.8 “Point Eight”
powered by solar leviathan
has full size gas range running on propane
double sink (though water is hauled in)
nice rmh and bench
Could house 5-10 depending on arrangements
One spot taken from March on
Tipi “The Tipi”
In the winter time, most of these places are pretty rough living. Paul and Jocelyn used to share their house more than the weekly feast and shower nights, but that didn't work out so well, so for now the extra beds in the house are reserved for special and short term guests.
The winter is not a fun time for tent or camper living, but in the other seasons people are very welcome to bring their own habitations.
Su Ba! We got the goodies! I am drinking the coffee right now and enjoying it greatly. The chocolate covered treats are so good! SO GOOD! We're waiting til Christmas to break into the coconut candy. Well, we're acting like we're going to wait til Christmas.