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Josh Huorn
Lab Ant
Posts: 70
Location: Eastern Mass, western Montana
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Hello Permies! I arrived at the lab about a month ago as a gapper intending only to stay for a few months working on the projects around here and helping out any ants that wanted a hand. After working here for a little while and seeing that the land Paul designated as ant village is ripe with potential the timing is right and, with lots of encouragement, accepted his offer and selected an ant plot. I'm excited to begin developing but before I dive into my new acre the berm shed has needs to be the focus of attention.
During the PDC we made a lot of headway on the berm shed thanks to all the folks braving the 100°+ days hoisting logs, cutting trees and wiring poles, you guys are awesome! Now there's just a few things left to button up and then I'll be going full time in ant village.

Oh ya, it rained this weekend! All the plants are looking much happier and there's been some accumulation in the ponds.

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Little pond across from Zachs pond
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Zachs pond
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The creek
 
Gary Huntress
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Hey Josh! Great post! Keep 'em coming.
 
Josh Huorn
Lab Ant
Posts: 70
Location: Eastern Mass, western Montana
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After being reassured by the weather forecast that there was a 0% chance of rain for the day Evan and Curtis came down to put the roof onto the berm shed, shortly after which we stopped when the thunderstorms moved in. Since the roof went on hold Evan helped me dig a sweet hugelbed, the off and on downpours were a great way to start cool.
Evan donated a mix of seeds that got planted just before sunset.

During the PDC there were two rabbits that avoided the chopping block and I have inherited them, they had been in a cage for several days and were very excited to get out and explore the area right around my tent, they seem to be happy to stay within 10 yards or so and they return to the cage pretty often making it real easy to put them up for the night. I look forward to finding a more sustainable way of keeping them outside and happy and also safe from predators.

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Little bunny
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Hugeling with stumps
 
nancy sutton
gardener
Posts: 656
Location: Federal Way, WA - Western Washington (Zone 8 - temperate maritime)
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Looks great!! ... er... maybe 'cool' way to say that is.. it looks SWEET, Josh! :) Looking forward to more bunny photos.
 
Josh Huorn
Lab Ant
Posts: 70
Location: Eastern Mass, western Montana
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Thanks Nancy the rabbits are fun to watch they sure have been a lot more active since they've been exploring the outdoors. Last night I was trying to corral them both to pick them up and put them away for the night but neither would let me get close enough so they stayed out on there own, I saw them both this morning so I know they made it through the night.
Though we have hawks and bald eagles I haven't seen any ground predators yet, the rabbits mostly stay under the conifer canopy but I wonder how long free ranging rabbits would last..
I think that if I got a large net, maybe 30x30 or so I could prop it up a few feet off the ground and secure the edges, giving the rabbits enough variety to fortage from for a couple days and protection from things that think rabbits are tasty. I've heard that as long as they have a burrow in their paddock already they are less likely to try to dig out from the enclosure.

Yesterday I was digging through the worm bin from the PDC and found it loaded up with red wigglers, definitely many more than came in the bag just a couple weeks ago. Thank you Howard for everything you did to help Ant village, leaving the worms to the Ants was really thoughtful we are planning to have a mutually beneficial relationship with these little composters.
I moved half of the material (and worms, I think) from the original bin and into a fresh bin and topped off both containers with some of the cow pies I cleaned up from around my tent, yes there are LOADS of prairy patties peppering my plot.

Today Curtis and I grabbed a couple chainsaws and a freshly sharpened hatchet (thanks Brian) and felled some of the fire hazard wood up around the lab to use as building materials. I think I had more fun limbing with the hatchet than anything else!
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Curtis all geared up
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Mmm worm food
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Happy rabbit
 
Julia Winter
steward
Posts: 2020
Location: Moved from south central WI to Portland, OR
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Sounds like you need your own junk pole fence, for the bunnies!

I'm sure you do have ground predators, like raccoons, coyote and fox. The fact that you are out there sleeping near them has got to help, but putting up some perimeter fence will make predators think twice before entering a place that's going to be tricky to leave in a hurry.
 
Josh Huorn
Lab Ant
Posts: 70
Location: Eastern Mass, western Montana
52
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Yes a fence of some sort is on the to do list for sure, I wonder if there is a bamboo hardy enough to withstand Montana winters.. I think bamboo would be a great fence material if it grows even half as fast as I hear it does.
This morning Paul loaded up his van with people and brought us in to Missoula where I went with Fred Curtis and Evan to Freecycles to take a class and learned about all the rules and stuff regarding bicycles in Montana and specifically Missoula, I learned that it's ok to ride on the sidewalk as long as you don't run over pedestrians. This place has a warehouse fill ed with every style of bike imaginable and probably had a few thousand in various stages of assembly. Most of the individual pieces like chains and wheels and derailers were all sorted in different areas making it easy to use the provided tools to build or fix ant bike.
After the class we all put a few hours in working on bikes and got to bring some sweet rides back to the lab, now I can commute in style!
Within five minutes of being back at the shop Evan jumped in the tractor and started making hugels and Curtis started moving roof poles into position, these guys these guys are worker ants!
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Jocelyn made scones!
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New bike! And rexcavator part! !
 
evan l pierce
Lab Ant
pollinator
Posts: 743
Location: ava, ant village
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chicken duck forest garden greening the desert hugelkultur hunting solar wofati woodworking
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Hey Josh! Here's those pictures we talked about. Keep up the great work, and thanks for being an outstanding neighbor!
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inside Free Cycles
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Kids Korner outside Free Cycles
 
Gary Huntress
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Nice bike, Josh. And you say it was free?! Too cool!
 
Josh Huorn
Lab Ant
Posts: 70
Location: Eastern Mass, western Montana
52
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If someone goes to free cycles they can exchange work for a bike, anything from sweeping the floor to organizing tool bins or rebuilding wheels, there's a job for every skill level.

Speaking of bamboo there's this little plant sprouting up around the lab that looks like bamboo but the tallest I've seen is less than 2 feet, I think I've heard it called horsetail.

James came back for super-week and has been helping collect materials for the berm shed! He went into the woods with his chainsaw and the next day I was able to load up the trailer.
We also brought the fresh excavator parts up and installed them, one of the tracks kept popping off and we sent a spring and the tensioner pulley off to be rebuilt, those things are heavy and James was a beast and made it look easy to pick up.

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Horsetail?
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Building materials
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Few hundred pounds of steel
 
Aj Kopec
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That is indeed horsetail. I have it memorized because I'm allergic to it! But as a folk remedy, it's a diuretic and astringent herb high in silica, used for hemorrhaging, ulcers, infections and the like.

Keep up the good work, man.
 
brandon gross
Posts: 212
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Did you name the baby bunny after me?
 
Josh Huorn
Lab Ant
Posts: 70
Location: Eastern Mass, western Montana
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Thanks AJ I didn't know that was a plant one could have an allergy to, I was chewing on some the other day with some yarrow which helped a lot with some swelling in my gums.
Brandon is a funny name for girl bunny but we could roll with it.

Ernie and Erica sure covered a lot in the couple of days they were here, I got to stomp in cobby mud and mix all the ingredients together while we worked on the lyrics for a cobbing stomping song.
Ernie showed us some tricky techniques for sewing straw bales together to encapsulate a post with straw which involved sewing ears into the end of the bale and cutting a square out with a handsaw.
I think everyone learned a lot and we all hope apply what we learned to our own projects.
Kelly Ware brought a ton of plants with her! I now have a whole bunch off comfrey planted around my acre, Jerusalem artichokes, catmint (for the mountain lions) rhubarb, and a bunch of little maple saplings, and that's only a few of the variety she brought. Thanks Kelly!
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Carrot munching
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Ernie Bura and Zach
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Beans, sunchoke, comfrey, knapweed mulch
 
Josh Huorn
Lab Ant
Posts: 70
Location: Eastern Mass, western Montana
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The weather has been nice, my body's feeling healthy what more could I ask for? It's the perfect combination to gather more poles for the berm shed! The bad boy buggy has been being charging at the Solar Leviathan along with the batteries for the electric chainsaw. I've been using the Greenworks saw and though it can be a little temperamental when under a bit of load keeping the chain sharp and tightened correctly seems to play a big part of keeping the saw running smoothly. Also, in the name of eco, Paul has supplied biodegradable bar oil to use, the label says it's made from canola oil and the chainsaw has been doing good at applying an adequate amount to the chain and bar, I wonder if this stuff is a little thinner than conventional oil.

Curtis and I just had dinner with Paul and Jocelyn and she made a terrific Korean barbeque with cabbage and rice and some of the tastiest beef I've had. Thank you for supper! Just as we were headed up to the house the latest addition to the colony, Ant number 5, Chris Allen showed up! He packed light and intends on using his boy scout skills to make a shelter in the upcoming days. I look forward to hearing his opinion on the different ant plots available to choose from and what factors go into his decision.
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Leviathan powering stuff
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Fungus of some sort
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Brian being brutal
 
Gary Huntress
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I bet Fred knows what that fungus is.
 
Josh Huorn
Lab Ant
Posts: 70
Location: Eastern Mass, western Montana
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Whew still feeling trees for the berm shed, Curtis has been helping in that department using his chainsaw skills to gather a lot of material, Jesse has loaned us his saw to speed the process up, Chris has put some blood and sweat into the project, Evan jumped in and got some roof poles trimmed up Fred threw down tarps on the roof and shovelled a layer of dirt on top while Carol Anne cooked up some soup and Apple crisp to refuel us.
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Mushrooms on dead standing
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Caterpillar at the Abbey
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Precision draw knifing
 
Josh Huorn
Lab Ant
Posts: 70
Location: Eastern Mass, western Montana
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While I was skidding logs out of the woods today I made a little path with the tractor that involved crunching over a partially decomposed log, I probably ran it over about a dozen times and when I stopped and looked at it I realized I had just inadvertently made woodchips and spread them around the area. Another stump that I had run over also turned into chips and the stump-chips from the center were all pretty wet even though everything else around is dry. It reminds me of what geoff lawton talks about when he says "a new forest grows on an old forest." I think that planting seeds in rotting tree stumps might give the seed the moisture and mulch that it needs to take hold.
All around the lab there is a long stringy hair-like lichen that grows on the branches of trees, many of these branches were shaded out by neighboring trees and didn't receive enough sunlight. As we move through the land fellng trees there is a LOT of this lichen on almost every tree we fell, since I read that native peoples would soak and cook this lichen and later grind it to a powder to add to other dishes I've started collecting it to try. It's got a funny consistency but munching it straight off the tree makes for a good snack.
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Old log, before and after
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Curtis unloading
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Treebeard
 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1976
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
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One thing I love about lichen is that it is a symbiosis. The idea of two life forms getting together for mutual benefit is a pleasant one.

Also, lichen is a sign of clean air! Don't see much of it in cities.

 
Sue Rine
pollinator
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That shed looks like some very useful space. Thanks for the update.
 
Dennis Lanigan
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Josh, that mushroom is likely Dyer's Polypore or Phaeolus schweintzii (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phaeolus_schweinitzii). If you ever come across All the Rain Promises and More, a pocket mushroom guide by David Arora, you'll see Dyer's Polypore in action dying hair and wool.
 
Josh Huorn
Lab Ant
Posts: 70
Location: Eastern Mass, western Montana
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Howdy everyone! After a winter break I'm back at it at Paul's place, during this past week we've been blessed with several days of water falling from the sky! Rain is such a rare occurrence around here we have to hold onto as much water as possible when we get it. Ben, Kai and Sean gave me a hand putting this water-harvesting swale in during a nice drizzly afternoon, Ben used an A-frame to find contour (level) while I followed with a pick axe forming the ditch. The downhill side is a soft mound of soil for water to speak in and plants to put their roots down into. We seeded with a mix of white clover, sunflowers and a couple pounds of 13 bean soup mix from Good Food Store, I've had great germination from their beans and peas before so we have high high hopes for these nitrogen fixers.


Howard Story taught another awesome permaculture design course here that concluded last week, one thing he emphasized was the importance of promoting a wide variety of soil life from bacteria to insects, one of the ways we can quickly boost soil biodiversity is by introducing bacteria colonies with inoculents, Tom gifted me with this bottle of Effective Microorganisms which I'm getting down into the skill into the swale, these little guys will help build soil and provide nutrients to our plans, thanks Tom!

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EM going into the new swale
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circular stack of firewood
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Gary Huntress
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Hey, Josh. Good to see an update. How's your swale working out?
 
brandon gross
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Hey man Glad your still busting ass and getting things done looks like your plot is coming along.
 
Josh Huorn
Lab Ant
Posts: 70
Location: Eastern Mass, western Montana
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Sweet there's lots of little sprouts emerging from the swale mound! The lower layer of mulch has been staying good an moist while the pine bows are casting a bunch of shade and maybe keeping water from evaporating in the hot sun, there a couple sections with a thinner mulch cover and it sure looks like plants are doing better where they have more mulch.


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Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9734
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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I'm especially  interested to see how the food growing is going there, because of the very challenging conditions!
 
Josh Huorn
Lab Ant
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Location: Eastern Mass, western Montana
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Hey Tyler lots of peas and beans have emerged and continue to grow through the summer heat, this squash just recently started putting out flowers! Hopefully there's enough warm weather left for them to ripen a fruit or two.

I've heard that the majority of effort going into a natural building project is gathering the building materials and this is where my focus is for the next week or so, felling trees for posts and beams and peeling the bark right away, it always seems like slow progress but every day I look around and see a few more logs ready to be assembled.
We just had a movie night and watched Ben Law's Timber Framing, wow the precision of his joinery is impressive, it got me thinking about how I might go about fitting all the pieces of this log cabin jigsaw puzzle together without using metal fasteners.. Maybe a lofty goal but it sure seems doable
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Josh Huorn
Lab Ant
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Location: Eastern Mass, western Montana
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Oops, meant to add a pic of these beans coming to life, and check out this blurry photo of an excavator bucket repurposed into a mailbox!
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Rob Griffin
Posts: 99
Location: Huntsville, United States
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Last photo looks more like sunflowers than beans to me....Where is a shot of the house site?  Your swales catch a lot of water during the rainy season a few weeks ago?
 
Josh Huorn
Lab Ant
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Location: Eastern Mass, western Montana
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This morning was brisk! We can feel the wind blowing autumn air in and it's a reminder to get moving and get a house built.

Yes Tom those are definitely some little sunflowers there, the idea was that the beans planted all around then would trellis up and use the sunflowers for support, buuut the beans and peas are still kinda small, the swale filled up a bit during that big rain and soaked in for a couple days, definitely worthwhile earthworks.

The past weeks efforts to gather materials has been fruitful and I have a mix of Douglas Fir, western larch and ponderosa pine to build with, the larch will be used for posts in the ground as I've heard it lasts for a long while in the soil before rotting, it can last even longer if the end is burnt crispy before it goes in the ground. Ben helped me wrestle a bunch of posts around the fire pit this morning and we're just about ready to dig some holes and get em' in the ground. Thanks Ben!
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time+chainsaw
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charring posts!
 
Gary Huntress
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Hey Josh!  Looks like you have quite a stockpile of logs there.  Were you thinking of incorporating the use of earthbags into your structure?
 
Shauns Webbers
Posts: 61
Location: Brick, NJ
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I just spent 2 weeks camped out in ANT Village, and I got to spend a good chunk of time with Josh and Ben on Josh's plot . Great times , This dude has a great honest and open outlook on this planet and Life,  Thanks Again JOSH !  You guys rule. Sadly I suck at recording and lost over 80 Photos and clips of videos..... but heres a couple that survived..
    Heres some random photos of some progress Josh was making on the epic "Bear Cave"  "Bear Den"  "Debris HUT"


 

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Raw cave frame before covered
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Raw frame
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After layers of tarp and dirt, heres the first bit o debris
 
Shauns Webbers
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continued...
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another view
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Inside look from one view
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Kai helping build a Rumford fireplace
 
Shauns Webbers
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continued...
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Kai and Ben helping
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in progress
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Entry so far
 
Gary Huntress
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Shauns Webbers wrote: Sadly I suck at recording and lost over 80 Photos and clips of videos..... but heres a couple that survived..
    Heres some random photos of some progress Josh was making on the epic "Bear Cave"  "Bear Den"  "Debris HUT"

Thanks, Shauns, for posting the pics.   It's always good to see the latest progress of all the goings-on at Ant Village.
 

 
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