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Lab Ant
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In March of 2015, I began work on a permaculture inspired lawn to low water landscape conversion on a suburban San Diego home. In line with the permaculture principles, I sought to capture and store as much water as possible by channeling rainwater from the roofs into infiltration basins, where it can soak into the soil instead of running off the property. This will hopefully allow the landscape to thrive throughout the dry summer months without the use of irrigation. There are many different ways to apply permaculture design to traditional landscaping to achieve a more efficient and ecologically sound design, this is just one example.

In December of 2015, I was finally able to visit the yard again to see how the design was progressing following its first summer season, which turned out to be one of the hottest on record. Despite receiving little or no maintenance from the home owner, the design was doing remarkably well, and functioning mostly as planned. Some of the plants showed incredible growth, thanks to the initial irrigation schedule not being adjusted down as planned, providing ample water to the young plants. Now that the plants and trees are established, the irrigation has been turned down drastically, even turned off completely or most of the yard. I am excited to see how the design progresses into the future.
 
steward
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Strong work!

I can't believe how that passion vine grew. Very impressive. I like the use of urbanite, and the pergola is gorgeous.
 
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Location: New England
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Great job on the videos, Jesse. I especially enjoyed the first one; your introspective approach and use of the debarking metaphor was masterfully done! I can appreciate the dilemma you faced and it sounds like you handled it with wisdom, maturity, and dignity. For all it's worth, I think you made the right choice.



I couldn't agree more.

Also, your first podcast was very well received. I've heard quite a few podcasts from a variety of characters and, for what it's worth, you've got natural podcast presence. Thanks for sharing!

This message probably seems a little out of place. I am realizing now that I have three more pages in this thread to catch up on. Good news for me.
 
Jesse Grimes
Lab Ant
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Hello patrons and supporters. It's been quite a while since I have posted anything, videos or otherwise. To be honest, the last couple months have been a challenging time for me. In December, I moved to Bonner's Ferry, Idaho to live, work, and learn with mike oehler. Mike was one of the original back to the land hippies, leaving the Bay Area in 1968 to settle on his 40 acres in Northern Idaho. As part of his experience living on the land he came up with some important innovations in underground house design and construction, which lead to his "$50 and Up underground house book." This book has become a classic in the back to the land, homesteading and permaculture communities. It has inspired countless people to make a change in their lifestyles, empowering them with the confidence that they too could build a home with their own two hands and live a life in closer connection with Nature. He inspired me long before I ever met him. I was excited at the opportunity to get to know him, to get to know his land and his buildings, and to learn from a man who has done many of the things I hope to do in my life.

I lived with Mike for two months, just me and him on his land with visits from his secretary and friend Lacey. I worked on finishing his Ridge House, a magnificent showpiece of what could be accomplished with his methods. I hiked around the land getting to know the trees and trails, and had my first experience of living through a winter with snow. I took care of and got to know the animals, the chickens, the goats, the dogs Mica, Bummerella, and Wolfie, as well as the deer and elk that wandered through the forest, offering me brief glimpses. Most of all I got to know Mike. We ate together, we drank together, we talked. Mike told me many stories from his years on the road, the varied life he lead, the many people he met. I helped him proofread three new books that he had written and was preparing to publish, memoirs of different times in his life, filled with even more stories. He shared with me his vision for his land, as a sanctuary for those wishing to escape the madness of industrial civilization, a village of good people taking care of the land and each other. I found that I have many things in common with Mike, many shared values and viewpoints, and in this short time I feel like we became close friends.

On February 2nd, I walked over to Mike's house for breakfast and found that he had passed away of a heart attack that morning. I was in shock at first, but soon this was replaced by a deep grief at loosing my good friend. I had already planned to leave two days later, to attend my cousin's wedding in Arizona, and so I left Idaho in a hurry with many questions and much sadness. Thankfully, I flew right into the arms of my loved ones. I have been lucky to spend time with my birth family, my spiritual family, and my partner Shelby, and they have supported me during this grieving process. Part of this process will be working on a video about Mike, and my time with him. I have been trying to work on this video, but so far I just can't seem to get started. I was thinking that I needed to get this video made and published before I could move on to other subjects, and this has kept me from posting anything over the last two months. I have recently come to the conclusion that the video about Mike with come when it needs to, and I can't let it keep me from doing what I set out to do, what I Love. I need to move on to other videos, and keep sharing my journey with you. Just like Mike, I am driven by a desire to inspire others to create a life in closer connection to Nature, and empower them with the knowledge and confidence that they can do it with their own two hands, and with the help of a like-minded community. Continuing to spread the ideals of permaculture and inspiring others in my own way, through my videos and by example in my own life, is the best tribute I could give to Mike.

Thank you, as always, for your support and your encouragement. Keep a look out for more videos in the near future.
 
master steward
Posts: 24003
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
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Posts: 61
Location: Reeds Spring, MO z 6-7 prev South Florida, z 10a-10b 1989-2015 prev 1981-1989 North Vermont
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The only thing that I can say is be glad you got to spend as much time with Mike as you did. Not many are so lucky as to say that they lived with a truly legendary person in their lives. We are here for you with moral support always. Keep your head held high as homage to the greatest underground home builder in history.
 
gardener
Posts: 323
Location: AB, Canada (Zone 4a - Canadian Badlands)
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Very sorry for your loss, Jesse.
The video will come to you when you're ready to make it.
 
Jesse Grimes
Lab Ant
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This is not a long video, but I think it greatly represents why I do these videos and what I am trying to inspire people to do. Last summer, around the same time that I moved out to the ant village in Montana, my friend Ben moved from Salt Lake City to a rural property near Boulder, Utah. He began building a tiny house on wheels, and helped out on the farm in exchange for a place to park his home. Ben is a great example of how it is very possible to leave the city and make a life for yourself in greater connection with nature, and in the company of a like minded community. Not to say that it will be easy, anything worthwhile requires work, but if you are willing and determined to do the work necessary, there are plenty of land owners out there who would be happy to give you a place to live in exchange for your help with the multitude of tasks on a farm, and the comfort that a good community of people provides. You don't need a lot of money to start living off the land, you don't need to buy your own property, you just have to be willing to put in the work

 
Jesse Grimes
Lab Ant
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Im going to file this video in the category of "baby steps." I recently paid an unexpected visit to southern California, and while I was there I picked up some work turning a friend's gras parkway strip into a decomposed granite low water landscape. I am well aware that decomposed granite is not the most "permaculture" material as it is a mined product, and transporting it takes a lot of energy. In fact, I have stood at the edge of a decomposed granite mine in southern California looking down a 60 degree slope into a mountain sized hole in the ground. I would certainly choose something else to put in the parkway strip, like mulch and food plants, but a lot of people like the look of DG and the fact that it requires almost no maintenance, and a lot of them are not going to be easily convinced to choose something else. That was the case with my friend, and so I decided to see how I could apply permaculture design to this very common landscaping job. I hope people will find this video when they type "drought tolerant landscape" into youtube, and learn a little bit about capturing water, it might even be the first time they hear the word permaculture. Like I said, baby steps.

“Though the problems of the world are increasingly complex, the solutions remain embarrassingly simple.” - Bill Mollison, Father of Permaculture

Many people are now converting their traditional grass lawns and parkway strips with drought tolerant landscaping, due to an increasing awareness of the need to conserve water in a dessert environment. Converting your lawn to a low water landscape is a great idea, and by taking a little more time and effort to consider more factors than just the looks you want or the budget available, you can create a landscape that is just as beautiful, but far more functional. Living in a desert environment requires a particular relationship to water, rain, and storm run off. By becoming aware of this relationship and integrating it into our homes, we can help mitigate and even reverse the drought conditions that have plagued the southwestern United States. The Permaculture design system shows us how to better harmonize with our climate, our environment and our communities, allowing humans to thrive in any region while actually helping Nature to thrive as well.

 
Jesse Grimes
Lab Ant
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I'm working right now to replace my broken truck and get back out to the Ant Village while spring is still springing! Until then I'm catching up on the videos from my travels this winter, including a visit back to my permaculture project in San Diego. It's only a year old and everything is starting to fill in!

In March of 2015, I began work on a permaculture inspired lawn to low water landscape conversion on a suburban San Diego home. In line with the permaculture principles, I sought to capture and store as much water as possible by channeling rainwater from the roofs into infiltration basins, where it can soak into the soil instead of running off the property. This will hopefully allow the landscape to thrive throughout the dry summer months without the use of irrigation. There are many different ways to apply permaculture design to traditional landscaping to achieve a more efficient and ecologically sound design, this is just one example.

In March of 2016, I paid a visit to the project to see how it is progressing into spring, following the winter rains. There are flowers blooming all over the yard, and fresh green leaves poking out of their buds. The water harvesting features have soaked lots of water into the soil, so everything is green and lush right now. It will be interesting to see how long this water lasts with the hot weather on its way.

 
pollinator
Posts: 655
Location: Meppel (Drenthe, the Netherlands)
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Jesse Grimes wrote:I'm working right now to replace my broken truck and get back out to the Ant Village while spring is still springing!


Hi Jesse, did you return already to the Ant Village? Maybe you're so busy now you don't have time to post here ...
I really love the way you tell about your experiences, both in writing and in videos!
 
Jesse Grimes
Lab Ant
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Hi Inge. I was able to get back to the lab for a short few days, while I was moving my broken truck back from Mike's in idaho, and buying a new truck. Some business opportunities and family concerns have kept me away from Montana since then. I have been in Seattle doing a permaculture design, down the coast and in orang county visiting with family, and now I am in utah for the month of june at a spiritual gathering. I should be back at work in the Ant village come July. Life never seems to work out like planned, but what happens instead is usually pretty cool too. I have made a few videos about what I've been doing in the last few months, but I didn't post them here because they don't have anything to do with the Ant village or wheaton labs. You can find them all on my patreon page at www.patreon.com/jessegrimes

Thanks for following my adventures.
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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Jesse Grimes wrote:.... Life never seems to work out like planned, but what happens instead is usually pretty cool too. ....


Hi Jesse. You're right. Life just happens When we see it in a positive way, pretty cool things happen in our lives.
I will hve a look at your other videos. Sorry I can't afford to be a 'patron'. All I can give is 'flags' and sometimes a slice of 'pie'.
 
Jesse Grimes
Lab Ant
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I'm back!

Back in April, I made a short visit back to my plot at the Ant Village in Western Montana.  I only had one day to work on the project before I needed to leave again, so I decided to conduct an experiment with cover crops and conifer mulch.  I made a mix of several different cover crop seeds and spread them randomly over one of the Hugelkulture berms at the edge of my acre plot.   I also took down a few trees to clear space for a root cellar I am planning to build, so I had a large amount of douglas fir limbs with needles.  I mulched the newly plants cover crop seeds with the douglas fir limbs to see how they would affect the germination and growth of these plants.  Well I just got back to the Ant Village, two and a half months later, and the results are pretty cool to see.  


 
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Good to see you back, Jesse!  Looking forward to more of your wonderful posts and videos!
 
pollinator
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Location: Unincorporated Pierce County, WA Zone 7b
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Jesse, I have really enjoyed your video series.  The Patreon link to PayPal does not seem to be functional and they don't seem to have much in the way of contact information.    
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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I am glad to see you're back Jesse!
 
Jesse Grimes
Lab Ant
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I've just arrived back at my homestead after an eventful winter and spring which kept me away for the Ant Village.  This video is an update to show how everything has been progressing without me, and a baseline to show where I am starting from this year.  There are a few things I did last year that are showing signs of working out, and I've brought some new tools with me this year to help get things moving.  My main focus for the next few weeks is to get my earth integrated house ready to bury.  I realize now that having a comfortable place to live will make working on the rest of the project much easier.  I've just got settled in and I'm excited to get to work!

 
Jesse Grimes
Lab Ant
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It's my first few days back, and I'm getting right to work felling trees for future projects and getting materials ready for the retaining walls on my house. On the 4th of July Paul and Jocelyn hosted a barbeque down at basecamp, so we got some good food and good company. While digging a post hole for the wall, I realize the value of having the right tools and knowing where they are, as well as how much faster work goes when you have a little help.

 
Jesse Grimes
Lab Ant
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K Putnam wrote:Jesse, I have really enjoyed your video series.  The Patreon link to PayPal does not seem to be functional and they don't seem to have much in the way of contact information.    



Thank you K.  If you go to this page on patreon.com there is a little blue ling in the middle that says "send us a note" and you can contact them by email.  Patreon is usually very good about resolving issues quickly.
 
Jesse Grimes
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The forward momentum I was building on my projects got interrupted by a summer storm, flooding the post holes I had just dug and forcing me to work on other projects, and at times to just rest indoors with the other ants.  Despite the rain, I did still manage to fell and peel some trees for use on my retaining walls, while also clearing an area in which I plan to build Randy's Racetrack, the beginner's line in the future permaculture bike park.  I also spent some time at basecamp, getting a nice hot shower thanks to the new rocket stove hot water heater, and repairing a section of Paul's junk pole fence that had been damaged by the storm.  There's more rain in the forcast, so for now progress may be slow.
 
Jesse Grimes
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The rain continues here in the Ant Village, slowing down progress but also giving me a chance to see how the water runs through my rudimentary water harvesting features. I take a much needed trip into Missoula for supplies, and show off two of my favorite places there: Freecycles, a community bike shop where people can come and work on their bikes for a donation and any kid can come and get their own bike for free: And The Good Food Store, probably the best organic foods market I have come across. I was also fortunate enough to be able to ride my bike at the Missoula skatepark during a break in the weather. Once back in the Ant Village and with sunnier weather, I found it hard to get out of the restful rain mode and get back into a good working pace. Thankfully, Ben offered a helping hand for a few hours and enabled me get a bunch of over-due tasks accomplished.

By the way, I'm looking for gappers to come help with the permaculture bike park, check out the thread.

 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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Thank you Jesse, for your advice to keep motivated: one litte project at a time.
 
Jesse Grimes
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The hot July weather has returned to Montana, and with it comes the Huckleberry season!  The Ants and Gappers piled into Kai's truck and took a trip up the mountain to our favorite huckleberry patch to load up, slowly, on some of the world's tastiest berries.  After getting lost in a good book for a whole day, I got back to work on the retaining walls of my house, getting the third one framed in.  After a trip to Missoula with my neighbor Steve, in which we visited the public pool and I was able to get the casters I needed, I got to work on my own low cost version of a chainsaw mill.  I made a mount for the saw out of a large metal plate, and then spent the next day fabricating and welding up a carriage to roll up and down the guide rail.  I'm getting closer to bringing about my idea for the chainsaw mill, as well as being able to make my own lumber to complete my house.

 
Jesse Grimes
Lab Ant
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After some failed first attempts, and a day of tinkering, I finally got my makeshift chainsaw mill working properly. I was able to make a number of beautiful 2 inch slabs, which I will use to line the retaining walls on my house. Of course, milling lumber requires logs to mill, and I've got to get those heavy logs to the mill somehow. I've worked out an easy method for moving logs with the help of my truck, although it is a bit dusty. The neighbors above the lab have some more work for me, so I've been helping them build a modern stick frame cabin. The use of purchased materials, along with a generator, power tools, and a nail gun make this type of construction a stark contrast from the way the Ant Villages are going about building their shelters.

 
Jesse Grimes
Lab Ant
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I spent most of this week working up at the neighbors', who are building several cabins so veterans can have a quiet place to stay and unwind.  I still managed to get some work done at my own plot, gathering logs and milling them into boards with my chainsaw mill.  In this video I share more about how I set up the mill and make cuts.  A summer heat wave moved in, bringing with it a change in the scenery around my plot.  I give a short tour of the different plants and flowers showing up around my plot.  While getting ready for my trip out to Oregon, i made some sourkraut out of a purple cabbage.  It's so easy I could do it on the tailgate of my truck!

 
Jesse Grimes
Lab Ant
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Me and Ben headed out on the road for a trip to Oregon, to visit some friends, see my Sister, and explore the beautiful Pacific Northwest. On the way we drove through the Palouse region of Eastern Washington, which is almost completely covered with wheat fields. With the wind howling we saw over and over the long term effects of Chemical Agriculture on our soil. Our first stop is with my friends in Hood River. We played with their new kittens and I went mountain biking with the Kuder Brothers on some incredible trails. We joined my sister on her and her husband's vacation, and we toured the beautiful waterfalls of the Columbia River Gorge.

 
K Putnam
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The red flower at your friends' house is crocosmia.  They are known for attracting hummingbirds to the garden.  I stuck some bulbs in right alongside comfrey.  The swordlike leaves make a nice visual contrast.
 
Jesse Grimes
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K Putnam wrote:The red flower at your friends' house is crocosmia.  They are known for attracting hummingbirds to the garden.  I stuck some bulbs in right alongside comfrey.  The swordlike leaves make a nice visual contrast.



Thank you. I just saw two hummingbirds at once on the flowers.
 
Jesse Grimes
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The Oregon road trip continues. On the second day hanging out with my sister and brother in law, we went on an amazing hike/swim up the Oneonda gorge to a beautiful waterfall. After a fun rope swing session with the Kuder Brothers, Ben and I headed to Portland to visit my friend Hayley and check out the city life. Hayley has a nice area in her backyard to turn into a garden, and I gave her some advice on how to apply permaculture principles to the home garden. Before heading out the the coast, we visited an indoor bike park called the Lumberyard which was really fun. The coast was rainy, as usual, but I got to get some surfing in and we did some hiking through the incredible temperate climate rain forest.

 
Jesse Grimes
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During our Oregon road trip, we stopped by One Green World Nursery in Portland to check out their supply of useful Permaculture plants.  We got such an informative tour from Sam, one of the employees, that I decided to make a whole video out of it.  One Green World almost exclusively stocks the kind of multifunctional and edible plants that permaculture designers and gardeners are interested in, such as nitrogen fixing berries, and rare edibles from around the world.  Sam was very knowledgeable about the plants and happy to share.
 
Jesse Grimes
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Today you get a twofer!

On the final leg of our Oregon road trip, Ben and I started out by visiting a community food forest in the making in Portland. We then stopped back in Hood river to do some more mountain biking and plant a simple guild around the Kuders' cherry tree, using some of the plants we purchased at One Green World nursery in Portland. Our trip then took us out to the high desert climate near Bend, Oregon, where transformed a friend's front yard lawn into a water harvesting hugelkulture garden. After a relaxing float down the Deschutes river, we made the long drive back to the Ant Village in Montana.


During a recent trip to Oregon, I had the opportunity to help a good friend of mine replace part of her water hungry lawn with a water harvesting veggie garden, utilizing the design principles of permaculture.  We removed the sod, and replaced it with a couple of hugelkulture beds, which have woody material buried within them.  Once the wood starts to decompose, it turns into a huge sponge that soaks up water and saves it into the dry season.  We also included a sunken pathway that will contain the water coming out of a rain gutter downspout, allowing the water to soak into the surrounding soil and garden beds.  In this high desert climate near Bend, Oregon, capturing and storing as much water as possible goes a long way towards a more resilient and abundant garden.  For more information on designing a garden using permaculture, please visit www.earthcaredesign.com
 
Jesse Grimes
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With all the work I've been doing on the house, I've got a bit behind on the videos.  I hope to get caught up over the next few days.  Here is another video from the Oregon trip, where I go a bit deeper into the design of the water harvesting garden, and how the principles of permaculture helped guide the design and implementation process.
Many people are now aware of the wasteful qualities of a traditional lawn, and are converting their yards into gardens for growing their own food. This is a great way to make a positive impact on the environment, with the added benefit of a little extra money in your pocket every month, and a lot more healthy food right outside your front door. This video shares a few examples of how you can make your lawn to garden conversion even more water/energy efficient, abundant, and resilient by applying the principles and decision making tools of permaculture design.

 
Jesse Grimes
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Ben and I are back from our Oregon trip, and it's time to get back to work on our houses before winter hits.  That doesn't mean we don't have time to help out our neighbor Josh to finish the repairs on the berm shed.  Despite the heat, and a good book that was competing for my attention, I managed to get the last retaining wall framed up on my house and am one step closer to finishing it.  All of the Ant villagers are busy working on their own houses, and when a new Gapper came to help I filmed a little tour of the Village and Lab as I showed him around.
 
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Thank you so much,  Jesse, for video of some of the people and projects going on at Base Camp and at Ant Village. Would love to see more of that when the people are not missing

Best wishes for the completion of your house build before winter!
 
Jesse Grimes
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Got something a little different for you this time.

There is a lot of musical talent here in the Ant Village community.  Ben and I recently started jamming together and having a lot of fun, so we decided to share some music with you all.

The first two songs are by Nahko and Medicine for the People, http://www.Nahko.com

The third song is by Jason Anderson, http://jasonanderson.bandcamp.com

The fourth song in an original by Ben

The last song is an original by me, Jesse Grimes, http://oneheartfire.bandcamp.com/

 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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I only had time to listen the first song (hope to find time for the other songs too). I liked it very much!
 
Jesse Grimes
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Gapper Jonathan came out for a few days to help me with the house project.  It was great timing as I needed to hand dig a sloping ditch around my entire house, on which to build the insulation/watershed umbrella that is key to a passively heated and cooled house.  With two, and sometimes three people helping the digging went by fast.  Jonathan also helped me get the chainsaw mill working smoothly, and we gathered up a pile of logs for me to mill once he left.  There was more work available at the neighbor's project, as he hired a lift operator to help install roof trusses on his modern construction cabins.  Josh and I had a good time riding around on a catwalk attached to the lift, which made it much easier to get the roof installed.  Modern construction seems much quicker, but I know the true costs of all those materials and am happy to put in a little extra effort for my own home.

[youtube]Ant Village Journal #29 Digging by Hand, Gapper Help, and Roofing On Top of a Carnival Ride[/youtube]
 
steward
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I couldn't see the video Jesse so I reposted it.



If others can see it let me know ( might just be my computer?)and I can get rid of this post.
 
Jesse Grimes
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I'm back to working on the house project by myself, with the occasional help of the other Ant villagers, but things are moving right along.  In preparation of burying my house in it's earth and insulation layers, i begin to gather materials like tarps and cardboard. While gathering tarps from the "boneyard," I came across a wasp nest, but a previous experience out her at the Lab has taught me that there's not much to worry about.  Ben and I went to Missoula on a materials gathering mission, and found some time to go to the skate park, where I met some new friends to ride with and found some new lines on my bmx bike.  We struck gold on the craigslist free section with a bunch of quality windows, a box of high power springs, and two free bikes, among other things.  What we couldn't find for free we bought for cheap at Home Resource, a sort of thrift store for building materials, tools, and other odds and ends.
 
CLUCK LIKE A CHICKEN! Now look at this tiny ad:
2018 need a rental/event manager for great pay
https://permies.com/t/50293/permaculture-projects/rental-event-manager-great-pay
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