Two attempts at solar cooking this week. One in a solaroven (undercooked lentils) and one in a crockpot plugged into the solar voltswagen (delicious black beans). Beans have been tricky for me since moving back off grid, they take a lot of energy to cook and subsequently I have been eating less of them. Now that the days are longer and the sun is more frequently out, solar cooking becomes an obvious solution.
I built up a test patch of the wall treatment for interior of the first wofatigreenhouse using raw sheep’s wool as insulation and cobbing over it. I think it will work nicely and am planning to begin installation tomorrow, after I go pick up the glass for the South wall. So exciting.
What a week. We got a lot done, we are all pretty tired and it shows.
Matt and I retrieved the glass for the first wofati greenhouse from Missoula. I had built up a rack for hauling the glass on one of Paul’s flatbed trailers, which was very intimidating as I have never hauled glass before and this glass in particular was very expensive. It was extremely reassuring when the glass worker who helped us load was impressed by what he called my “legit glass hauling setup”. We made it back to the lab safely and had some good conversation on the drive.
Wall treatments are underway and they’re looking good! Unfortunately we learned that Erica is allergic to the raw sheep wool while she was helping with the install. Four boots learned to work with cob for the first time. Always a plus to pass on some of the skills that I have gleaned from my time here.
Next week I dive deep into the glazing system. So many facets to factor in to sealing a building.
There is something relaxing about brunch, and Kyle really likes pancakes, so I made pancakes both days this weekend. Saturday was coconut banana pancakes and Sunday was zucchini onion oatmeal pancakes.
I don’t measure when I cook because I like adventure, but here is a recipe for the coconut banana pancakes with approximated measurements. Yields plenty of pancakes for four hungry boots.
2 mashed bananas
1 can coconut milk A bunch of rolled oats, maybe a cup and a half
1 cup ish of water
Stir and let sit for 15 minutes
Add 2 eggs
2 tbs oil
A bit of cinnamon
2 tsp salt
1 cup whole wheat flour
1.5 tsp baking powder
Stir together and add any additional flour to bring the batter to proper hot ale consistency.
It’s important to let the rolled oats soak. Usually people mix the baking powder into the dry ingredients separately before mixing in the wet ingredients to prevent getting a clump.
The whole boot camp took a quick garden tour this morning to check the soil moisture in hugelkulturberms and identify plants that are newly sprouting. I spotted this gorgeous Lepidoptera camouflaged in the honey berry.
Jennifer and I harvested and screened sand to make more cob for the greenhouse walls. We talked through a rough design for some rainwater catchment off the greenhouse glass and I doodled it out on the back of a receipt. I will be keeping my eyes out for the necessary plumbing to make it happen next time I go for materials.
Matt and I wrapped up all the last little bits of framing carpentry on the greenhouse this morning and then recorded lots of video for the movie. It’s nice to work with someone who has an opinion about the camera angles and lighting. I think we got some good stuff :)
More cob. You know, cob has a very specific smell. It’s more than just the smell of wet clay, or wet sand, or wet straw. Together they have an emergent cob smell. It’s very pleasant, almost sweet.
Matt figured out how to fold a piece of sheet aluminum so that it works as a corner flashing cap. Excited to seal this puppy up.
Also, I found some weird galls on a willow tree. I wonder who makes these little willow hollows?
We couldn’t do our normal wofati greenhouse build update today so I recorded a little video and am posting it here for your enjoyment. Spoiler alert, the most exciting part is Kyle’s wooden door latch mechanism in action! Today Jen said “wow it actually is looking like a building now”. Which I think is a good sign because I have been beating my head against it for almost 9 months.
Things are growing! I harvested quinoa leaves, pennycress, pea tendrils, green garlic and walking onion for dinner. The taste of spring is finally here. The days are getting so long. I really love to linger with the twilight but for now I better get to bed.
We did our first water run of the season today, hauling about 500 gallons from a local source on the back of our trusty water tender “Judith” or Judy. Fixing judy’s water pump was one of the first things I did here as a student during the 2019 ATC. The pump had run without pre filtration and the impeller was plugged. I learned a lot during that course. Today I took 3 new (relatively) boots to learn how to fill up. I forgot the suction hose, and we had to come back for it. Then the motor faltered and I had to emphatically jiggle the choke on and off to get it to run long enough to warm up. I pointed out the feral apple tree next to the fill site.
I believe this is fifth time I have taken fresh boots out to teach them the water hustle, something I learned that first month I was at Wheaton Labs. Despite today’s hang ups, it still went better today than in 2019 when I busted my knuckle open pulling the engine over, we didn’t get any water and then the brakes on the truck failed.
Water is life. I am satisfied to see the gardens get more water than they ever have before.
Also, I got to some more siding on the greenhouse. Looks pretty cool!
Companion Planting Guide by World Permaculture Association