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Straw clay slip/permaculture in central Maine  RSS feed

 
Chuck Stephens
Posts: 4
Location: Soon to be central Maine - zone 4a-b
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Hi, my name is Charles and my wife and I will be moving to Maine this summer to build a straw clay slip post & beam cottage and start working on our 8 acres in central Maine. The land has a small pond and a few streams flowing over it. We think our well is fed by a spring since it is currently overflowing...We have a lot of water and are thankful for it. Much of the bigger trees were select cut several years ago but there are a few big cedars left.
If anyone is interested in helping to build a straw clay slip house (put up the walls) please respond. We have not done this before but it will be a great learning experience for all. We are constructing the post & beam frame out of a pre-cut kit. We do have the knowledge on how to make the straw/clay slip and how to construct the forms, know when to remove them, and when to start plastering. This could be beneficial if you are interested in building a house like this or are just interested in natural building at all and are in Maine. Even though you don't pay for this "workshop" (we don't want to call it a workshop because we are not experts at this) you'd gain some first hand experience. Lots of natural building workshops are expensive for tuition or transportation costs or both.

We only have one neighbor uphill. Our land has acreage facing south but also facing east/northeast. It is basically in the middle of a hill, and that's why the streams/springs run through our land to get to the bottom of the hill. Would it be a good idea to increase the size of the pond? The pond is about 15-20 feet across. It is not very big but the berm that surrounds the pond is lush and grows very green grass. We also have a ton of boulders and some old logs in a pile. Would they work for hugelkultur?

 
Neal Foley
Posts: 49
Location: union Maine
5
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Hey Charles, et al.... Welcome to Maine! Sounds like you've found a great property....

When you say "central Maine"....where do you mean? There seem to be lots of Permies in Waldo and Knox County, although I've yet to really meet any..... And there is quite a permaculture group in Portland....too far for me to leave the farm to head down there.... I ask this as well, because if I say I live in Mid-Coast Maine, some one from Bath will think I live near them, because they think the mid-coast ends with them, but if you ask someone from around here, they'll think you live somewhere between Belfast and Daramascotta.... It's a funny old place to live.....

Be sure to get hooked into MOFGA, as they are a great resource and have a good forum for posting stuff. There are also free papers like the Free Press, where you can post ads for "workshops" etc and get a wider audience.....

And do you know about Uncle Henry's? a great market place booklet sold for $2 just about everywhere..... great for finding inexpensive used items and equipment, and swapping stuff.
 
Chuck Stephens
Posts: 4
Location: Soon to be central Maine - zone 4a-b
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Thanks, Neal, for the suggestions. I purchased an Uncle Henry's when we were out there in May. Great publication!
Our property is just northeast of Harmony (but before you get to Dover-Foxcroft). I know, it's in the boondocks..only have about 5 neighbors up the hill and several more a couple miles downhill. It really is central Maine. If you draw an equidistant triangle with bottom tips from Harmony to Dexter up to Pingree Pond, well, there it is...Maine highlands.

It's more like a diamond in the rough. Right now there's a lot of trash that needs to go to the dump because it was a foreclosure. But if it was bare bones, it would really be beautiful. Signs of wildlife everywhere. I think they are attracted to the pond. If anyone knows of anybody who needs some free building materials in exchange for helping to take down the buildings, I'd appreciate them pointing out this thread. When the place gets cleaned up we will start the swales and berms and hugelkultur.

Does anyone also have experience with planting alders in Maine? if so, where did you get your trees?
 
Neal Foley
Posts: 49
Location: union Maine
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Chuck Stephens wrote:
Does anyone also have experience with planting alders in Maine? if so, where did you get your trees?


Look around your property...they'll be everywhere.... Alders are a pioneer species here in any patch of wet ground. Actually they help make the ground wet and then the birches move in. Anywhere there is a clump of trees. I find them to be highly annoying because they're always trying to colonize pasture, but they make great stove wood. I am sure you could dig up little ones and plant them if you didn't have any. Ask your neighbors I'm sure they'll give you all you want....I am not sure the alder here is nitrogen fixing..... They are certainly different than the western alders.

Another idea is to collect their seeds in a month or so. You should also be able to find honey locus and black locus seed if you keep a close eye out...there are plenty along the sides of the road. Around here at least.

Good luck! I'm looking for a foreclosure property as well....I have my eye on one which has a house and barn which need to be torn down... Older Mainers had a strange habit of filling their houses with garbage as they aged....a great many houses around here, many still being lived in, are nearly full. A very odd thing.
 
Chuck Stephens
Posts: 4
Location: Soon to be central Maine - zone 4a-b
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I know there are lots of birches, balsams, and cedars on the property. I didn't know about alders until recently actually. I will be planting elderberries, Siberian pea shrubs, apples, and locusts. I did read that black locust is invasive. I can't decide if this would be a good thing or a bad thing.
Finding this foreclosure was purely accidental. We weren't even thinking that way when we were searching for land. Good luck finding yours! Even now that we have our land, we still sometimes look for listings just for fun, to pass the info along to other people who might like a listing we see. Having that barn would definitely save you some trouble later on when needing to store things during the building process..

Do we have to use a picture hosting site to post pictures here?

 
Neal Foley
Posts: 49
Location: union Maine
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Chuck Stephens wrote:Do we have to use a picture hosting site to post pictures here?


Chuck, I believe so... Dropbox sort of works, but I think many people use Postimage.org or Flick. I suppose instagram might work too, but not sure about that.

Neal
 
Tristan Vitali
Posts: 313
Location: south-central ME, USA - zone 5a/4b
38
cat dog duck food preservation forest garden fungi solar trees
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How is everything progressing Chuck? We're right in you're neck of the woods, closer to the howland/enfield area. Seems a lot of us heading out this way the past few years which is just awesome Let us know if you're still looking for extra hands.
 
Sarah Houlihan
Posts: 89
Location: Central Maine
2
hugelkultur tiny house trees
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I'm near Skowhegan in Maine...how is your project going?
 
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