Welcome, friends, family, lovers, acquaintances, strangers, and of course, permies! Thank you for taking an interest in my permaculture boot camp journey.
Four days ago I left home with a packed car. Today, August 1, 2021, I'm arriving at Base Camp.
The irony of burning a hundred or so gallons of petroleum in pursuit of a regenerative, natural lifestyle is not lost on me; however, I am convinced that what I learn from this experience will profoundly affect how I live for years to come.
Now, with your herbal tea of choice (coffee's fine) make yourself comfortable, relax and enjoy. If you see something you find interesting, please reply with a comment or question!
Welcome to Boot Camp Grey! After you get situated today, come on up to upper Wheaton Labs and I can give you a few pointers if you'd like. I sent you a Purple Moosage with my number you can text if you want help getting up to the Lab from Base Camp.
I arrived with a thunderstorm at 4pm on Sunday. Was greeted by Lara, who made me tea and gave me orientation. I unpacked my car at the love shack, then went back to the house for dinner. Met Kyle and Fred. After eating, rode my bike in the rain over to the lab. Orin met me at the gate and we walked to Cooper Cabin where I met Josiah and Jen. Saw ant village, had a good talk, then biked back to base camp. Slept very well.
Glad to say my first week in boot camp went smoothly!
Obviously, recapping the day hasn't yet become a habit, but overall, adjusting to life here is going quite well. After spending some time writing a recap of the past 7 days and losing it to the digital aether, I realized I might be over thinking this journal entry. Immapost gratitude and pictures, mmkay.
I'd like to thank
Paul, for the sweet deal
Fred, for the free apples
Lara, for the warm welcome
Josiah, for the jubilant mornings
Orin, for the astute insight
Dez, for the gentle guidance
Mags, for the delicious food
Kyle, for the confidence boost Mom and Dad, for all the things
And you, for reading.
Monday. Woke up and did yoga outside. Stiff hamstrings and lower back are typical, but my upper back is now getting worked in new ways.
Morning gardening, mostly sowing seed: peas, spinach, chard, brussels, and carrots. Marked with spruce branches so I can easily spot them
Afternoon made some headway on tbe solarium. With the sill complete, Kyle and I turned our focus to the vertical posts. Went a bit overtime gathering the sawdust, which is used for covering food waste and other waste. Topped off the storage barrels and had bucket or two extra for use in the garden.
In the evening I did laundry: first a load of dirty rags, then my clothes, all hung up to dry. Went on a midnight stroll uphill to get a good look at the night sky. Excellent stargazing.
Tuesday morning, we assigned each of ourselves some daily chores (nest labor). Then I accompanied Dez to the shop, where he tidied up and I worked on tool maintenance. Sharpened one hatchet, which went ok. Then, considering the Solarium project is high priority, I decided I'd do better to sharpen chisels. Once those were all done, I took some rubbing alcohol to all of the hatchets and got lots of sappy gunk off of the heads and handles. All the metal surfaces got a coat of oil (extra virgin olive; expired). Mags came by the shop, cleaned up some messy nooks, and made sure I did not work through lunch.
In the afternoon, we all worked on the greenhouse with Josiah at the lab. I took on the task of building a dry stack rock wall extending from the west wing of the structure. It was my first time building a rock wall, and building it along an already existing dirt wall made it much easier. The first hour or so of stacking, I made the wall free-standing; however, at only a couple of feet in height, my layering was too messed up. The solution came with a load of much bigger rocks: I started over from the bottom, and with each layer of rocks I stacked, the space between the wall and the dirt pile got filled with gravel. This allowed me to lay rocks not just on the previous layer in the wall, but partially on the gravel as well. By 4:40pm. I felt like I had the hang of it, and that it was certainly time to be done with rock stacking for the day.
For taco Tuesday, I prepared some squash flowers from the garden and leaves from several full grown lambs quarters pulled from my the spot where my rock wall went. Also cooked up some chicken breast. T'was well received. After community business and cleanup, I decided to take on a sewing project.
One of my favorite things to do is to elevate worn out or discarded things into elegant and useful artifacts. While folding the rags I had hung out to dry, I set aside some of the more "ragged" ones. Once I got familiar with the library sewing machine, I got to work combing rag bits into more usable combo-cloths. I put a lot of though into how I wanted to combine different textiles and what use the end result would have. I made two creations, cleaned up my workspace, and went off to bed.
Fred met us boots in the morning and asked "Are ya ready?" Ready for what? I wondered. My headache from working in the heat the day prior was still with me, so I was feeling a "maybe." Lucky for me, our work on Fred's plot took place in partial shade.
My first assignment was weeding a couple of garden patches. After showing me what not to pull, I rested my knees on the spongy soil covered with leaf mulch and plunged my hands into the tangle of snow berry roots. After I got Fred's approval on the job I'd done, he showed me over to where he has young apricot and hazelnut trees growing. Kyle had already been working on mulching around the delicage saplings marked with flags, so I hopped in to do the task in parallel. I admit it was a leisurely pace at which I worked, but I was intrigued by all that Fred had done with his plot thus far. He seemed glad to answer my questions.
Lunch was Tuesday's Taco fixings. Afternoon was spent at the greenhouse again. This time, the heat was greuling. I went with Dez and Kyle to gather one final batch of rocks we needed for our dry stack walls. While building, I was much stingier with my energy. Although I was moving more slowly than the first day, my wall went up at about the same rate. My heat exhaution was obvious to Dez, who gave me assurance that taking breaks in the shade with generous sprays of water to my face would not be frowned upon.
I deemed the wall complete when I heard Josiah say, "Now he's building a fortress," and I took a step back to see I had built it higher than the wood of the structure. After backfilling with gravel, covering with dirt and taking turns stomping it underfoot, both the stability and the aesthics met the standards of everyone present, and that was good enough for me. Then, Josiah gave Kyle and me a boringproject... We made a hole for a pipe to go through a straw bale wall plastered with cob. I was happy to have a task that I could accomplish while sitting in the shade.
For working through the hurt from the heat, I rewarded myself with a stack of delicious huckleberry pancakes, topped with whipped cream. Through pain, pleasure is made all the more sweet
Thanks Dad! Yea, they're very cool cats. I'll keep the pics a'comin'
Thursday, my biological debt was paid off. I woke up feeling good, but I slept through breakfast and the boot meeting. No alarm got me up, as I had been naturally waking at 6:30-7:30am even before I arrived at boot camp. If I'm going to trust my body to accomplish what I need it to, I must be willing to listen to what it's telling me and provide it with the rest and nutrition it needs. Shutting down earlier at night is a must; having alarms as a fail-safe is a good idea.
So, I started up at 8, grabbed a couple avocados for a tactical breakfast option, and got to the Library at 8:10. Dez appeared and, after confirming everything was all right with me, gave me the scoop on showing up late. When it happens, we're expected to work late to make up for it. That's cool, but getting a late start, even by a few minutes, does seem to set a precedent for the whole day.
I worked in the garden for the morning: making sippy cups, chopping grass, moving mulch and repairing walkways. Didn't feel like I accomplished much by lunchtime. In the afternoon, Kyle and I resumed the Solarium project. It didn't take long for me to finish the middle mortice on the long sill. I wasn't sure what to do while Kyle made the tenon for the NE half-round post. I tidied tools, swept the floor, and finally decided to take on the NW half-round post. I cut both ends with a chainsaw to make it square and a workable length. Kyle got his first post in place, and I moved mine onto the saw horses to begin work on the tenons.
Making the most of the cool morning in anticipation of a sweltering day, Kyle and I jumped back on the Solarium while Mags and Dez fetched water for the garden. I had a much better time working than the day before and managed to get the tenon done and the post in place.
The second half of the workday, we cleaned up a few cells in the bermshed. I took it upon myself to sort through the mess of thermal brick pieces covering the nice, whole thermal bricks stacked neatly on pallets. I stayed while the others moved on to clean the garage. When I arrived, they were already hauling a truckload of items to be stored in the classroom, where we keep things that are used for events. I channeled some airline luggage packer energy and hopped onto the huge rolling shelf to stack the totes and maximize the shelf space. Finished Friday strong.