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! evan's ant village log

 
evan l pierce
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Day 1

I've arrived at the labs and selected my spot in ant village. I've already seen lots of deer and turkeys. I'm definitely going to need a good fence asap.

So much of the flora is different than what I'm used to. I have so much to learn. Mullein is one of the few familiar faces.

The pooper is functional.
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dibs
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cowboy toilet paper
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pooper
 
Mariamne Ingalls
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Location: NE Ohio (Zone 6a, on the cusp of 6b) 38.7" annual precip
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Hi Evan -

Yay!
Thanks for posting this, and letting us know about your dibs in ant village and including pics!

Best of luck!
Mariamne
 
Rhys Firth
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Wooly Lambs Ear... Thats a familiar plant down here too!

Fancy loo That roof looks a bit big for the cubicle are you planning for future expansion? Slave-gapper latrine space?
 
M Johnson
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I look forward to your postings, thanks for trying the ant village out.
 
evan l pierce
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Day 2

There's still snow on the distant hills, but it's nice and warm here in the afternoon.

Tiny little yellow flowers are popping up amongst the lichen-coated rocks. I haven't identified this species yet, but I admire it's tenacity in the face of adversity.

I put together a swingy covered bench thingy on top of the volcano in exchange for a couple meals. There's no shortage of work to do around here that Paul is willing to pay to have done. I won't starve while my gardens are getting established.
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distant snow
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tiny yellow flower
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a place to sit and watch the lava flow
 
Julia Winter
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Good going, Evan!

I'm so glad you are there and helping out. I've got a good feeling about this.

I can't wait to see what you've built by late July when I'm planning to drive out there!
 
Bill Bradbury
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Nice photos Evan! The one with the swing could be for their catalog.

Glacier Lily - a good spring edible, with tasty little bulbs.
 
Wyatt Barnes
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I have a couple of questions and a comment about the " outhouse ". First of all is it an outhouse, secondly who built it and thirdly are any of the buildings other than the wofati's built with poles? I was just telling my daughter that there used to be lots of pole sheds, stables and utility buildings in our area. You still needed lumber of some sort for the outside of the walls and the floors and roof but the studs, joist and rafters were frequently made with poles. If I had to cut lumber with a pit saw I would build with as many poles as possible, with a solar electric saw maybe not so much.
 
evan l pierce
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Day 3

The mornings have been a bit frosty, but I've got a good sleeping bag. I took a picture of a plant I'm told is maybe Kinickkinick? Still need to brush up on my local wildlife.

Got a ride into Missoula today to pick up supplies. Did a little spot of dumpster-diving at the recycling center to gather materials for building my rocket cook stove, but I didn't find everything I needed so I bought a couple cans of beans, mainly for the cans, but they'll also help round out a few humble meals first. Stack those functions.

Besides a few small tools and some food, I also picked up three plastic bins. These should help keep the critters out of my food.
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ants love frosting
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rocket stove materials
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mouse frustrator
 
Julia Winter
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Wyatt, the pooper went up in 2013.

You can read about it here.
 
nancy sutton
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Thanks for 'taking us along', Evan! Looking forward to your adventure. And thanks also for your tagline... will be pursuing it ;)
 
Sue Rine
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Thanks for keeping us up to date Evan. Looking forward to following your adventure from the other side of the planet,(NZ).
 
evan l pierce
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Day 4

I woke up this morning to above-freezing temperatures and a gentle drizzle of rain. Barely enough precipitation filtered through the tree canopy to wet the grass below.

After hiking up the dry creek bed and weaving my way through thick underbrush, I finally found a spot where the creek was still flowing. The crisp cool water was refreshing after the hour-and-a-half journey and then I found a shorter route back that only took about forty-five minutes. The creek seems like it's about as far away from ant village as basecamp, but I could be wrong. For now, I may continue to fill up my water jugs at basecamp rather than the creek, since I often head down there for one reason or another anyway.

On the other hand, the walk to the creek is full of wild beauty, and while the deer and birds didn't hold still long enough for me to snap a picture, this shelf mushroom did.
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rain-dropleted blades of grass
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running water in the creek
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shelf shroom
 
Wyatt Barnes
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Are those mushrooms edible? In my area craft painters use them as a canvas.
 
jacob wustner
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Evan, I think your little yellow flower is a yellow bell, not a glacier lily.
 
evan l pierce
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Day 5

There was a lovely dusting of snow on the ground when I woke up this morning. It continued to snow off and on until the afternoon, but it melted faster than it accumulated.

I made some progress on building my first hugelkultur wall along my eastern border. There was tons of old logs just to the east, many of them charred as if somebody had tried to have a big spread-out bonfire several years ago. Paul said it would be fine for me to use them for my hugels, even though they weren't on my plot.

It was naive of me to assume that I would be the first ant here. Thousands, perhaps even millions of ants are already hard at work gardening in antville.
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oh snow
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hugelchar
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selfie! no wait... that might be my aunt
 
Baxter Tidwell
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Just wait until the grasshoppers get there...
 
jenny shore
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hi evan, sure is fun to read your daily journal. i know its early and you've barely begun, still in my book you are a first class bad ass. good on ya.
 
Cee Ray
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Wyatt Barnes wrote:Are those mushrooms edible? In my area craft painters use them as a canvas.


that's red belted polypore, super common in the pnw.. makes a great energizing tea, less mushroomy than most polypores..
 
Natalie Manor
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Hi Evan, I will be coming out in July. You are the person who will be answering the logistics questions for the super weeks, so let me know your email and I will ask my questions. Glad you are there. You will be a local guru by the time I get there. Best of luck. Enjoy your journey. Thanks, Natalie Manor
 
evan l pierce
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Day 6

Look at that turkey! He wants me to plant a garden so he can eat it.
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gobbler
 
Dillon Nichols
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Hi Evan, Congrats on being the first ant!

That turkey looks kinda tasty... needs a bit of fattening up on a nice garden though!

Are you boiling or filtering your stream water, to avoid Giardia etc?
 
evan l pierce
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Day 7

It was raining this morning, so I figured it would be a good time to plant a couple seed potatoes and a sad raspberry plant that Paul was getting rid of. I also stuck a couple sunchokes in the ground. Hopefully the critters will leave them alone long enough for me to get my fence up.

I spent some time helping Tim and Kristie move, and even got some grub out of it. They make a mean pork sausage. They've been raising all kinds of livestock and I had a good time visiting with their piggies and little ducklings. They had a brand new flock of Khaki Campbell ducks, which is just the breed I'm hoping to raise myself here some day soon. But I think if I end up keeping pigs here in antville, I'll go with a smaller, perhaps more manageable variety.

I've been doing lots of observing of my site, and pondering the many potential options.
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poor lil raspberry
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oink
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therious thelfie
 
Preston Hard
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Location: Dallas, Texas, Zone 8
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Yeah I was wondering if you had a water still. I'd think setting up an initial shelter would be important - could you take a shot of yourself and your sleeping bag (I presume)? Access to a mini excavator or backhoe would help with covering the hugelbed.

At first I felt this idea of human "ants" eeking an existence out on Paul Wheaton's property sounded feudal and perhaps criminal.
And it still may be. But quickly, even before reading this blog by Evan, I realized this is a kind of homesteading school / opportunity. People pay a lot for Outward Bound, which is a kind of death-defying forced march. This isn't so much a crude imitation of an earthship village as it is a permaculture My Side of The Mountain experience, albeit arbitrarily roughly confined to an acre, with a de facto labor indenture aspect. And no hunting allowed?

As a scientist, I rarely - as attorneys do - want to see a ban. Extremely few things, I feel, should be forbidden. Outlawed. Put into laws. Having anything to do with law, police, lawyers, courts, and other human failings. Much of what we consider illegal activity, I see as more of an experiment.

For scientists, then, the quality of experimental design is what counts. Scientists have killed themselves just to prove a hypothesis (e.g. ulcers caused by bacteria) (e.g. chemists all used to record the taste and smell of a chemical) (e.g. standing in a field with a kite to capture lightning). So if you're going to do something ethically reprehensible, immoral, dangerous, etc, it should at least be done well, with full consideration, limited variables and controls, & etc.

As regards this ant farm experiment, it seems very open-ended i.e. in an exploratory phase. Everyone involved ought take extensive notes, and beware any apathetic (e.g. feudal, i.e. let's just work for Mr. Wheaton) dynamics that may begin to form. It ought be democratic, non-hierarchical, the same ebb and flow as a renter and landlord. A method may begin to take shape, and perhaps with some readings one can find previous similar experiments, and learn from their failings and successes. It's American, but it's not natural to homo sapiens to go out alone homesteading, our natural unit of 1 is a tribe, in a village -- people only went out for days on hunts -- so hopefully the community aspect, as with actual ants, will begin shortly.

And for God's sake, be safe. This is not worth long term health issues. This experience won't help your resume much.
Don't get lyme's disease (deer ticks), hypothermia, animal bites, bad sun burns, broken bones, or depression.

Sincerely


 
Preston Hard
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Has anyone here ever played the game "Banished?"

This reminds me a lot of Banished. There's a small group of people who start off in the wild with a cart full of basic tools and supplies, and go about chopping down trees to build houses and go off hunting and gathering. Then they set up a trading post on the river and begin trading for seeds to start farming. Eventually it ends up with a full village, stone quarries, mines, hospitals, herbalists, schools, grazing pastures, fishing, wood cutters - the whole 9 yards.

The ant village.


.
.
.



I'm totally following this. Thanks, Evan et al.
 
Natalie Manor
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Evan, I totally agree with Preston - staying well is top priority. Let me know if there is anything that I can do for you from TN. I will be following - admiring from afar - and sending positive energy to you.
 
evan l pierce
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Day 8

Little brown mushrooms pop up from the soil like ideas from an open mind, spongily decomposing and recomposing cyclically.

People have been asking about my shelter situation, so I finally posted a picture of what I'm sleeping in until I get my wofati built. Lots of fresh air.

My 30 watt solar system arrived in the mail this evening. Looking forward to trying it out tomorrow. Thanks Dad! My parents are awesome, by the way.
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lil brown mushrooms
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home sweet home
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solar
 
evan l pierce
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Day 9

Been making progress on my hugels along my borders. And when it started getting hot in the afternoon, I found some shade and put my rocket stove together. It still needs a bit more cob and one more little piece, but it was sure nice getting my hands into some cool mud.

I know the L-tube is an inferior design compared to the J-tube, but this was simple, and I don't mind loading the sticks manually. I like to think I've gotten pretty good at it after using these stoves for my gray-market mobile food vending biz: Rocket Taco. Anyway, when I build my rocket mass heater in my wofati, it'll definitely be a J-tube design.

I've been staying busy, but not as busy as these honey bees.
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dirty cobber
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rocket cook stove
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bzzzzz
 
Natalie Manor
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Love love love seeing what you are doing. How is the solar device working that your parents sent you? Would you describe more as I am unfamiliar with it. Blessings, Natalie
 
Kate Muller
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Good Luck Evan! I am looking forward to seeing what you do out there.
 
Thomas Partridge
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I am loving these updates! Keep them coming!
 
Dan Huisjen
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If I remember right, bees and beavers typically work about five hours a day.
 
evan l pierce
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Day 10

I helped Tim and Kristie move some more of their stuff this morning, and helped load their pigs onto a trailer. I didn't expect to get much more out of it than a meal, but they quite generously gifted me a whole pile of calf panels! Wow! Thanks guys! These will be a great start to getting my gardens fenced in. I spent the rest of the morning dragging the panels over to my site, and I'm hoping to get them set up tomorrow morning.

My ant plot was one of the last places they kept their herd of cows last year, and the cattle left behind some gifts of their own as well. Thanks again!

There's so much to do and so many things I can pick from to talk about in this log, but one thing I've been trying to do is post at least one picture of a new and different species of plant, animal, or fungus every day. Today's pic is of this crazy-looking giant beetle. This little guy had some seriously sharp spurs on the backs of his legs that helped him grip the log he was on. He would not be moved.
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calf panel
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cow pie
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beetle!
 
evan l pierce
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Day 11

I started fencing off a section of ground in the southern corner of my plot using calf panels. I cut down some trees using a bow saw, cut them to length, and de-limbed them, ending up with some pretty nice fence posts. I dug holes about 2 ft deep, planted the posts in them, and then filled the holes back in, tamping as I went.

The calf panels alone won't be tall enough to keep out deer, but I reckon I'll start planting anyway, and maybe I'll find the time to make the fence taller before my seedlings start coming up.

I really appreciate all the lovely feedback, questions, and comments everyone's been posting here. I'm glad to have y'all along for the ride. I'll try to address everybody's questions eventually, but I like this format where all my posts in this thread are media-rich daily updates. I especially appreciate comments aimed at identifying the species in the pictures. I can use all the help I can get when it comes to learning about the local flora and fauna. Thanks!
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ye olde post hole
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some fence
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purty yellow flower
 
Penny Dumelie
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Thanks for the updates, Evan. Really enjoying them.


I had a thought about the panels.
A second fence-line within the first one, maybe two feet in or so, would probably keep out the deer.
It won't be high, but the depth of two fence lines will stop them. You can still plant in between and the fence will double as trellis on the inside loop.
Might make a decent chicken run too.
That might be more fence than you want to put up but I thought I'd throw it out there. It might make better use of the same material.
 
Rhys Firth
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depending on howmuch of that calf panel netting you have, you could just put a second run around the top above the first.
 
Wyatt Barnes
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Or eat venison, rabbit and turkey.
 
duane hennon
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hi Evan,

on a video somewhere here
there was a talk from a "forest person"
I think he was talking about roads
but he mention that he discovered
that deer won't go where their feet might get trapped
ie brush piles
he found saplings growing surrounded by brush
while others were chewed to the ground
might be worth finding and looking at
 
Hans Quistorff
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You can extend the height and possibly even cover the top with plastic bird netting. Tie some bright survey ribbons in it so the deer recognize it is there. Some videos I have watched have covered the panels with it to keep small birds in or out as the case may be.
 
Wyatt Barnes
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I wonder if a visible line, string, flagging tape or single strand of wire strung up high would deter deer from jumping?
 
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