After encouragement from a friend, I'd like to post more on this thread :) Here goes...
Alan Booker taught a Permaculture Design Course (PDC) this summer at Wheaton Labs. I like his design for a 'bee bubbler', which is a fountain of sorts to provide water for bees, so they can drink and not drown. The design prevents open standing water mosquitoes may lay eggs in.
The first photo shows the testing of the components for the bee bubbler. The solar panel and pump are indeed compatible! However, I will need some tubing and different electrical connections.
The second and third photos show two awesome books Gary sent. Gary and I discussed Wofati design during the PDC, as I tried to determine the design details of my future house. Thanks for the inspiration Gary, and for sending these books! I look forward to sharing the ideas I've been pondering.
Many spots on the lab have deep silty soils. In summer, traffic on the roads churns that silt into what we call "moon dust". It can almost feel like walking in mud, as it holds onto your feet. It can make for some treacherous biking as well. But, the benefit is that everyone who walks (or slithers) through it, leaves some tracks.
I tried to ID the beetle, but information is lacking:
https://fieldguide.mt.gov/displaySpecies.aspx?family=Tenebrionidae It could be Broad-necked darkling beetle (Coelocnemis californicus). ID book says this beetle lives across socal to southern Oregon...so, maybe it's not quite the right one. A different ID book says 1250 species of darkling beetle in western North America. I'm pretty confident on the genus, at least. I posted photos of the ID pages below.
The fist photo - see the wandering path of the doodle bug, AKA the ant lion, as it looks for a place to set a trap.
The second photo shows the sand traps several ant lions have set...waiting and hoping someone will fall in.
The last photo - the elusive ant lion. I saw him moving at the end of his doodle and blew the dust off so we could have a better look. He scoots along backward until he finds a place soft and sandy enough to lay a trap.
Sorry for the poor exposure. My lens is having some aperture malfunctions.
We have those same silty moon dust roads at our place. My three year old niece seemed to think dumping the silt on her head and rubbing it into her scalp was quite luxurious, so maybe give that a try 😁
I spend a lot of time looking at tracks in the silt too. I didn't know those were ant lion tracks, so thanks for that! I've wondered about them many times.
The first step to organization is to put everything belonging in a category - in a spot where it can all be viewed all at once. Then, thinning can commence, and the task of making sure every thing has a home, and if a thing doesn't, making homes for them. But, since this is all good jam and dried fruit and more, there won't be any thinning in this category.
First step done.
The potted succulents have taken root and grown new leaves.
New kittens were born at the abbey - spot one and spot two. The other two kittens are hiding.
As I work on the construction of the bee bubbler, I thought I'd show y'all the current critter watering station on my plot.
This watering station has been on my plot for a couple of years. The bird bath is a ceramic plant pot base - these are way cheaper than commercial bird baths, and the birds seem to like it just the same.
Next to the birdbath - see the bucket with some rocks and sticks, which I fill with water. I figured bees might like the rocks, on which to stand. As the water level drops, deeper rocks on one side of the bucket reveal themselves for the bees to stand on. I discovered that birds like the bucket quite a lot too. Some bird species prefer one or the other. Someday I'll replace this plastic bucket with a stainless steel bucket to help reduce plastic in my environment.
As you can see in the photo, the water bucket is not just for birds and bees -- it is one of very few dependable water sources for some distance. I wonder - who is it coming to drink during the night, as the water level is often much lower by morning? Maybe I'll get a motion-activated game camera - then we will see!
Almost as soon as I fill the bucket, the nut hatches land for a drink. The chickadees sip next. The jays and others approach more cautiously and wait for me to move away. Sometimes a squirrel is very brave (or thirsty) and rushes in for some much needed water.
The cottonwood tree branches touch the teepee now, so some branches needed to be cut = another opportunity for plant propagation! ...rooting begins at the abbey.
After sitting in water for a few days, a few different kinds of wasps started using the rooting cottonwood bucket as their water source. I guess they feel more comfortable climbing down the sticks for a drink compared with visiting the open water source I maintain for the cats.
I'm trying to nurture cottonwood branch rooting in another bucket of water on my plot. I stripped off most of the leaves since they don't have any roots through which they can supply water for leaf transpiration. After a few days the wasps on my plot found the bucket!
The biggest downside with these methods is that every several days I need to refresh the water in the bucket and in my critter water source to prevent mosquitoes from breeding.
Here's a few pics from the early stages of the bee bubbler build when the bootcamp came to work on my plot.
Caleb and Hao helped out by digging a hole where the barrel is to be buried. In that area of my deep roots plot the soil isn't too hard to dig. After you make it through the root mat, it is a mixture of silt and sand with a little clay with virtually zero rocks. Looks like there's still a little moisture after you get down a couple of feet. The hole they dug just fits the barrel and has very straight sides, which is possible because this soil type is pretty stable.
Stephen helped by screening gravel from the dirt pile of and earlier excavation. At the highest edge of my plot, there's quite a bit of gravel mixed in the silt. He shoveled it through a screen i made from 1/2" hardware cloth.
The gravel turned out to be very dirty. I thought i better wash it to prolong the life of the pump i'll be using. It turned out to have quite a few root fragments mixed it too. After many times agitating it in buckets of water, the water stays clear. The dirty water then helps some of the growies make it through this heat.
I'm doing laundry! Look how clean this tiny ad is: