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ant village

 
paul wheaton
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The mission of ant village: be an ant the first year, so you can be a grasshopper the rest of your life.

This is going to be the living document describing participation in the ant village. I will edit this post as needed in a feeble attempt to keep this top post the latest word on ant village stuff.

There are 12 plots set out for ants. There are currently three plots available.

Each plot will be close to 1 acre in size (209 feet square). First come, first serve.



Each ant will pay $900. This agreement can be terminated by either of us at any time. This covers you sticking around through Dec 31, 2017. If either party terminates the agreement, then all improvements are owned by me. You must have listened to the first 200 podcasts before you can begin - in theory, this will give you an understanding of why I might terminate the agreement. No funds are returned if there is early termination.



Possible options for beyond the initial period:

1) rent the same spot for another year. Just keep renting it year after year. With more infrastructure in place, it will probably go up each year - so there are no guarantees on price. I like the idea that the ant program is an easy way for a person to be a permanent resident.

2) pay to convert your acre to shallow roots or deep roots.

3) If you have built something worthwhile, it is possible that you can sell it to somebody else. That person would pay me for raw land (ant plot, deep roots, whatever), but they would negotiate with you to purchase your improvements.

4) if you have built something worthwhile and I like it, and it sounds fair to you, I could let you stay another year or two in exchange for my taking ownership of your improvements at the end of this period.

5) An infinite collection of possible arrangements: maybe I hire you and staying on the acre is part of your compensation; maybe your rent is paid in enormous quantities of food; maybe, maybe, maybe all sorts of things ...



I will provide 60 "fysh" to first time ants. Fysh can be used for excavator, tractor, truck, shop access, tools, dump trailer, flatbed trailer, sawmill, solar voltswagon, solar leviathan, access to the fisher price house, etc.

There is water about a mile away. We hope to have closer water this summer.

There is access to a willow feeder (aka "wheelie bin pooper").



Traffic on and off the lab is limited to twice per week. The ant village project is for people who strive for a lifestyle that will spend months on the land without leaving. This is not something for people that intend to be commuters. Nor for people that desire a lifestyle of frequent trips to town. During construction, it is understood to have vehicles bringing materials, but in time it is expected that access will be limited to foot traffic and non-petroleum vehicles. I like the idea of carpooling and if somebody is going into town for something, others will chip in five bucks for gas if they pick up some thus-and-such. I very much like the idea of moving to something that is pretty car-less. We currently have a little pickup we call "ranger doug". It is possible that we might rent that out once in a while.

There will be no more than one ant per plot. Although an ant might have friends, woofers, gappers, family, etc. working with them on their plot. This one ant will be the person I talk to about issues, ideas, etc. Kids are okay - but child safety is 100% your responsibility. The lab is riddled with dangers and the priorities for this particular property are that permaculture innovation comes first and child safety is not considered. If you need child safety, then you should build it into your plot and keep your children on your plot.



I think it is possible that when gappers come to the lab this year you might wish to poach gappers from me. I am totally cool with this. Of course, you would need to feed the gapper and provide a bunk for the gapper on your plot.


I suspect that what an ant would do is:

1) build a perimeter fence to protect your growies from deer and wild turkeys. Maybe the perimeter could be a short fence on top of a hugelkultur or berm. Stacking functions!

2) build and plant a first hugelkultur bed.

3) build a winter shelter. Probably a wofati or oehler structure. Anything else would need approval from me.

4) preserve food for winter.



Income opportunities:

1) I hope that at least a few ants arrive with residual income streams.

2) I think some ants will arrive with some sort of on-line or long distance biz.

3) I think some deep roots people and some ants will be hiring for short term or long term. I can think of a few things for which I would be willing to pay.

4) I suspect that most ants will have a little something in the bank for tools, materials, seeds, food for the first year, etc.

5) I suspect that there will be other income opportunities once in a while.

6) There is no guarantee of income. Part of the mission for ant village is to end up in a state where your income needs are very small.

7) Develop income with videos or books about this experience. Check out jesse's patreon account and Evan's patreon account.



Food opportunities:

1) wildcrafting

2) what you grow

3) hunting and fishing opportunities

4) buying food from others on the lab

5) organic (or better) food only! Can be purchased in missoula. (we want organic poop in our poopers)



Here is a pic of some of ant village from the fall of 2015:

 
paul wheaton
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A propane generator will be periodically allowed during the first year. No gas generators.

It is assumed that most ants will set up a small solar array for some electric needs. No more than 750 watts of panels per ant is allowed.

 
Jocelyn Campbell
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paul wheaton wrote:Although I will provide 16 hours of excavator use for wofati and hugelkultur construction.

From talking to Paul about his experience renting earth moving equipment and the cost of diesel, the excavator (aka the track hoe) use alone is worth more than $800, let alone the value of renting land for a year.
 
paul wheaton
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To stake a claim in the ant village, send $800 via paypal to paul at richsoil.com. Once all twelve spots are taken, I will edit this post to reflect that there are no spots left.

Since we have never travelled this path before, I don't know if all these spots will be gone in a hour, gone in a week or a month ... the feedback that I've received so far seems to suggest that they will all be gone. But I guess I won't know until ..... later.
 
Tom Kozak
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this looks great! wish I lived anywhere near montana!

 
Lynne Smith
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Sounds interesting
 
paul wheaton
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Tom Kozak wrote:this looks great! wish I lived anywhere near montana!


If only they would invent roads.
 
paul wheaton
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Lynne Smith wrote:
I tried to privately message you but couldn't. So here are my questions to you.


I'm glad it didn't work. This way I answer the questions just once.


I don't know much about your area up there. How is the ground? Diggable soil or rocks?


The soil on the lab is deep. Very deep. In a few spots we dug holes about 30 feet deep and still didn't hit bottom.



I am wondering if you would allow a underground house?


That would be fine!



Are the spots taken up yet?


Zero spots are taken so far. So 12 are still available.



Is a dog allowed?


Yes. Tim and Kristie have several dogs.

I think that it is good to keep in mind the rule of any farm: if a dog kills farm animals, then the dog has to go.

Dogs that threaten me or other people that are supposed to be there - gotta go.

Barking dogs are a borderline case. LGDs will bark - it's part of their job.

Dogs that chase livestock are not allowed.

So, yes, dogs are allowed. But the goal is to have a working farm with people. And some dogs don't fit - so those dogs won't be allowed.


 
Simon Johnson
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Dang, if I lived in the states I would be all over this. Sounds like a really sweet deal for those lucky folks who sign up.
 
paul wheaton
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Evan asks:

How wooded is the land? How rocky? What existing species of plants and animals are already present? I know you mentioned deer, turkeys, douglas fir.


The soil is very deep - which is one of the things I spent so much time shopping for when I was looking for land. I think the growth on the lab is much lusher than a lot of the land around here. Here are some pictures that are, I'm pretty sure, from near the spot:








These pictures were taken when Jocelyn first looked at the lab. Probably May of 2013. This is pretty close to the northern end of ant village.






This is at "the clay pit" which would be on the southern end of ant village:




Ant village will be about 150 yards to the east of wofati 0.7:





I'm not sure, but I think this picture was smack dab in the middle of ant village:



The "wheaton labs" forum is packed full of threads with pictures of the lab.


What about solar orientation? Topography? Soil types? depth? ph? etc.?


Ant village will be a line of 1 acres squares following what I call "pascal road". The road runs roughly north/south. It will be on the west side of the road I have attached a pic. In the top-left is wofati 0.7. Along the right is pascal road. I've tried to map out in purple the general area that I think will be ant village. The slope generally faces the west, but there are spots that face the south or the north.



ant-village-map.png
[Thumbnail for ant-village-map.png]
 
paul wheaton
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Also, can I buy all 300 podcasts at once, along with the ant plot. I'll just send you $800 for the ant plot (+$25 for the podcasts? how much would you sell me all your podcasts for?)


All of the podcasts were once free. And we are slowly working on getting them all up for free again.

At the same time, we've made a lot of the podcasts available for sale in convenient podcast gobs (zip files that contain 40 podcasts each). I just now updated the big combo package. It had podcasts 001-200. I updated it to include up through 280:

http://www.scubbly.com/item/87971/

So you could buy all of the podcasts through that link and then send the $800 via paypal to paul at richsoil.com.
 
paul wheaton
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Jocelyn Campbell wrote:
paul wheaton wrote:Although I will provide 16 hours of excavator use for wofati and hugelkultur construction.

From talking to Paul about his experience renting earth moving equipment and the cost of diesel, the excavator (aka the track hoe) use alone is worth more than $800, let alone the value of renting land for a year.


I was just talking to Tim. Tim says the street value is $800 per day.
 
paul wheaton
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I like the idea that we can all have a potluck once a week. I think it would be a good time to answer any questions that people might have. Maybe we can do a walkabout and look at the progress of ant village - maybe make suggestions? Would this be of value to folks?

 
paul wheaton
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Getting 12 ants signed up right away gives me the foundation for a variety of other plans. Further, I think if I have eight ants signed up, four more will easily follow. So I hereby offer "candy" to get this done.

ant 1: 8 pieces of candy
ant 2: 7 pieces of candy
ant 3: 6 pieces of candy
ant 4: 5 pieces of candy
ant 5: 4 pieces of candy
ant 6: 3 pieces of candy
ant 7: 2 pieces of candy
ant 8: 1 piece of candy
ant 9: zero candy
ant 10: zero candy
ant 11: zero candy
ant 12: zero candy


1 piece of candy = (one of the following)

2 hours with the excavator and driver
1 day with the sawmill
1 day in the shop
1 day with the pickup
1 weekend stay in the tipi (maybe for a guest)
1 day of an EV
3 days of electric chainsaw
8 hours of tractor
4 days of the voltswagon
4 days of the log arch

To get more info about the candy or to make suggestions for more candy, please look at this thread.

So it is official: the first person to send in their $800 gets "8 pieces of candy". The second person gets "7 pieces of candy". Etc.

 
kadence blevins
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Just to specify.. 1 candy equals that list or 1 candy equals 1 of the listed things.
 
paul wheaton
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kadence blevins wrote:Just to specify.. 1 candy equals that list or 1 candy equals 1 of the listed things.


One unit of candy is equal to one thing on the list.
 
evan l pierce
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Ah, good to know. I originally read that as one piece of candy = the list of things. Maybe some "or"s would help clarify. And is it just my imagination or didn't that list used to include "4 hrs with my brother Tim"?

Does EV mean electric vehicle? The bad boy buggy?

What about the use of a chainsaw? Might there be any opportunities to trade candy, labor, or money in exchange for chainsaw time? I'm packing extremely lightly, and trying to decide if a saw will make the cut.

As far as the map goes, which direction and how far away is the nearest source of drinking water? Is it a well? Spring? Stream? Is there water at 0.7?

Thanks for taking the time to answer my incessant questions, Paul, and thanks for this amazing opportunity.
 
paul wheaton
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Shortly after putting the thing in with Tim, I visited with Tim and decided it would be best to retract that. Since nobody had put up any money in that tiny span of time (and now it has been days until it is mentioned) I fell okay with removing it.


Does EV mean electric vehicle? The bad boy buggy?


Yes. Or the polaris.


What about the use of a chainsaw?


I added "chainsaw" to the list.

the nearest source of drinking water?


Currently a tiny creek that goes underground - maybe half a mile away. We hope to have much closer water this summer.




 
paul wheaton
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Evan gave me permission to share that he is the first ant.

With the candy, does it include the electricity/fuel? Like, if I wanted to use the electric chainsaw, does it mean I need to power it with my solar array, or does it include the use of a generator and power cords? Or is it a battery, and if so, does it come charged?


For the excavator: it does include the fuel.

For the electric chainsaw: I will say "probably". It depends on which saw. I think the leviathan will probably be parked near ant village to supply some power needs. We will see how it goes.
 
paul wheaton
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Evan,

Here is my question for you: do you plan on hosting any gappers?

 
evan l pierce
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do you plan on hosting any gappers?

I'm not necessarily opposed to the idea, but I don't anticipate being able to compete with you as far as providing hot meals and a comfy place to sleep, at least not in the beginning. On the other hand, if a particularly industrious gapper were to offer their services in exchange for, say, sub-renting a half-acre of my plot, that's something I might consider. Would that make them an aphid?
 
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Congratulations Evan, I wish I were ready to be an ant!
 
Karl Thompson
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This looks like an amazing opportunity. I'd jump at the chance if I was in the USA. An acre of agricultural land around where I live in the UK would cost upwards of $30 000, and you'd have zero, (and I mean zero, as in no chance whatsoever under UK planning law) of actually building anything on it. I'm having to make do with a miserly 30*150 strip on my local allotment. Would anyone like to marry me so I can jack in my day job, emigrate over to Montana permanently and get involved in yer proper big scale Permaculture? I'm quite a catch, GSOH.
 
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Thanks Susan!

Paul, I thought of a couple more questions. My apologies if the answers are already available in the podcasts, I'm still working my way through them.

Toilet paper. Is normal toilet paper okay? Surely mullein is preferred, but is it the only acceptable option? Do I need to buy some kind of fancy-@ss organic toilet paper?

Internet / Cell Reception. Does antville get cell reception? Known providers? How far away is the nearest (free?)wifi? Will I need to go into town to upload videos / document progress on the forums?
 
paul wheaton
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evan l pierce wrote:
Toilet paper. Is normal toilet paper okay? Surely mullein is preferred, but is it the only acceptable option? Do I need to buy some kind of fancy-@ss organic toilet paper?


At this time we have been purchasing "natural value". I like the idea that some day we evolve past the use of toilet paper, but for now ... TP is something that I have not put a lot of thought into.



Internet / Cell Reception. Does antville get cell reception? Known providers? How far away is the nearest (free?)wifi? Will I need to go into town to upload videos / document progress on the forums?


Verizon and AT&T seem to work well.

Basecamp has free wifi that is supposed to be 14 down 1 up, but tends to be more like 8 down and 0.75 up.
 
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Just so I can't say I didn't ask:

I'm assuming the property is generally not very wheel-chair friendly. True?
 
paul wheaton
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Chad Sentman wrote:
I'm assuming the property is generally not very wheel-chair friendly. True?


An ant could make their acre as wheel-chair friendly as they like.

Nature tends to offer lots of sticks, logs, rocks, rodent holes, mud and slopes that would probably be classified as not wheel-chair friendly.
 
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Hmm, I'm not in the US and not likely to be, but if I was, I'd be interested in showing up, through probably as a gapper first...

One question about ant housing, whats your view on rammed earth? You mention woftri or what you discuss with and approve for the ant. The way I would be building would be rammed earth, I've noticed you have a clay pit, lots of trees for withes, all that would be needed is some burlap and cement for the surfacing. Just how permanent are you looking at the village structures being?
 
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paul wheaton wrote:
Chad Sentman wrote:
I'm assuming the property is generally not very wheel-chair friendly. True?


An ant could make their acre as wheel-chair friendly as they like.

Nature tends to offer lots of sticks, logs, rocks, rodent holes, mud and slopes that would probably be classified as not wheel-chair friendly.


Then again man offers the ante dote if you have the moohlah




 
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Paul wrote:
the nearest source of drinking water?


Currently a tiny creek that goes underground - maybe half a mile away. We hope to have much closer water this summer.
A couple more questions about water: Does the creek run year-round? Has it been tested (informally or formally?) Do you or any other folks on the lab or basecamp drink it? With or without filtering? What do you mean exactly by "goes underground"? Does it emerge from underground, or leave underground, or is it underground the whole way? How is it accessed?

Thanks. I'm flying into Spokane late on April 6th. Assuming I can find or hitch a ride into Missoula relatively soon after arriving, I can be there as early as April 7th. Looking forward to setting up camp and getting started.
 
paul wheaton
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evan l pierce wrote: A couple more questions about water: Does the creek run year-round? Has it been tested (informally or formally?) Do you or any other folks on the lab or basecamp drink it? With or without filtering? What do you mean exactly by "goes underground"? Does it emerge from underground, or leave underground, or is it underground the whole way? How is it accessed?


The lab is currently 100% dry. Even when all of the nearby creeks and rivers are flooding, there is no water on the lab.

I'm pretty sure it has not been tested. And I don't know if people have been using that water.

It is a creek that is uphill of the lab on forest service property (so, free to access by anyone). And then the creek goes underground before getting to the lab - and is never seen again.




Thanks. I'm flying into Spokane late on April 6th. Assuming I can find or hitch a ride into Missoula relatively soon after arriving, I can be there as early as April 7th. Looking forward to setting up camp and getting started.


If you were coming to missoula we could give you a ride from the airport.

You could take the bus here from spokane.


 
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The lab is currently 100% dry. Even when all of the nearby creeks and rivers are flooding, there is no water on the lab.

I'm pretty sure it has not been tested. And I don't know if people have been using that water.

It is a creek that is uphill of the lab on forest service property (so, free to access by anyone). And then the creek goes underground before getting to the lab - and is never seen again.
I see. So all the drinking water on the lab is brought in from off-site?

Well, I guess I'll let y'all know how drinkable the creek water is. My day 1 plan includes building a filter anyway.

If you were coming to missoula we could give you a ride from the airport.

You could take the bus here from spokane.


Flying into spokane was cheaper, it seemed at the time, and purchasing a non-refundable ticket was a gamble. I was planning on taking the bus from spokane until I spoke with the bus company and they said they wouldn't accept my id that just expired. *facepalm* Even the TSA was more forgiving, answering that as long as it had only been expired for less than a year, they would let me fly. This sounded too good to be true, but I called them numerous times and got the names of multiple TSA folks who said the same thing.

Why did I let my id expire? I never use it for anything in my day-to-day life of farming and off-grid living, and I strive to avoid giving the departments of sad my money whenever possible, (mainly because I have reason to believe they will use it to pay for things that I can't, in good conscience, support.) While it's my own fault for not checking to make sure that I had the required paperwork to travel in the "land of the free," sticking around to get it renewed here before leaving would waste valuable time I could be using to establish gardens, cut and debark logs for my ant hill, and build ant village infrastructure.

It will be nice to leave civilization behind and focus on the essentials. The soil microbes don't usually ask me to show valid photo identification. The chains of wheaton-style eco-tyranny will surely rest lightly on my shoulders by comparison.
 
Wyatt Brush
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Mr. Wheaton, don't be discouraged if you don't get very many Ants this year. Your plan is a good one, and should be continued, even if the sign-up rate is dismal. There is no telling how many people are intrigued by the opportunity, and are imagining how they could do it, if they signed up. I am such a one. My family and I's current situation we feel gives us slightly more advantages, and we would have to give it up, to sign up for your Ant Village. Your ant village challenge really captures my imagination, and I would like to think that it might be available again in future years. I imagine that even if you don't fill all of your slots this year, you will probably be turning people away next year, especially if the adventures of one or more of this year's Ants grabs a lot of attention!

P.S. I told farm show Magazine a little bit about you and your friends building super efficient, cheap, home built wood burning stoves. So look for them to contact you about the rocket mass heaters. If they do an article about it, you might have a hard time keeping up with the influx of people wanting more information! We can hope so anyway, right?
 
Stephanie Meyer
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Wyatt Brush wrote:Mr. Wheaton, don't be discouraged if you don't get very many Ants this year. Your plan is a good one, and should be continued, even if the sign-up rate is dismal. There is no telling how many people are intrigued by the opportunity, and are imagining how they could do it, if they signed up. I am such a one. My family and I's current situation we feel gives us slightly more advantages, and we would have to give it up, to sign up for your Ant Village. Your Ant Village Challenge really captures my imagination, and I would like to think that it might be available again in future years. I imagine that even if you don't fill all of your slots this year, you will probably be turning people away next year, especially if the adventures of one or more of this year's Ants grabs a lot of attention!


I think this is a very good point, most people are probably going to need some time to "arrange their affairs" before they can join the awesomeness. (no, I totally have not flirted with the logistics of picking up and moving my entire homestead and household in the next month or so, nope). I think following the trials, tribulations, and triumphs of the ones that do sign up this year will create an irresistable temptation to those on the fence though too.
 
a wee bit from the empire
The stocking stuffer game for all your Permaculture companions
http://www.FoodForestCardGame.com
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