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Podcast 337 - Summer Overview of Wheaton Labs Part 2  RSS feed

 
Cassie Langstraat
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Summary

Credit: Lorenzo Costa

Paul, Jocelyn, Evan the ant and Fred the gapper keep talking of on what was been going on at wheaton labs this summer.

They speak of the food they ate from the gardens at the labs. The largest harvest they got was of Sunchokes. The sunchokes had some issues with digestion but all agree they will try some more ways of cooking them. The nice thing of the sunchokes is that some grew from last year’s plants that seemed dead after a really hot season, but instead they grew back. Those plants adapted to the land.

Paul tries to focus on the projects that were undertaken during the free PDC, or even just before while prepping for it. The RMH in the house was filled with the gravel and now works fine. Another project Paul had suggested was to build a swale down from the willow bank and the showers, and on the downhill some willows could have been planted. This project was not implemented.

One big problem has been the berm shed down at the house. The berm shed is a 100 feet long and 10 wide, not a Wofati but similar. Paul is a bit annoyed for the fact that the person that started the project had said it would take only four days to build instead it’s still there to be finished. Paul puts it clearly saying the berm shed has become a pain in the ass.

Two problems came up with this project one was a design flaw that is on Paul, focusing on the weight distribution, the second problem was related to the work load gathering the wood. All the logs had to be imported from the labs. The project though has proved to be significant, costing only for now 93 dollars in material, that is really very little for such a big structure. The important will be when building a new one up at the labs to collect all the logs, and have them ready. This way it could really take only four days to build.

Paul asks Evan and Fred how Allerton Abbey is working after the work that has been done on its structure. Wofati 0.7 is Allerton Abbey and Jesse the ant worked on one of the walls that were rebuilt as a strawbale wall. Now the whole structure is nearly airtight, Evan says maybe only through door some air still flows through. A few changes were made at the RMH of Wofati 0.7 it is not anymore mass heater but just a rocket heater. There were issues with mass heating so during the innovators event the RMH was modified as a rocket heater with a double barrel as heater instead of one.Paul says the real test for the Wofati will be next year, but already this winter Evan says they will run some tests for ten day to collect data, and see how the temperature is doing inside.

Another big project Evan the ant followed in person was the junk pole fence. Paul explains that anyone that has a forest that may have a thick growth of small threes all close together, that may die or be a forest fire fuel. Instead of doing what almost everyone does, cut and burn after some time all the cut trees, Paul decided to use the junk poles for a fence. And Evan built the fence that fences nearly an acre using one quarter of junk poles, pulling down costs. They discuss the importance of the structure, having used at base camp a distance between posts of twenty feet, Evan at his plot has used ten-twelve feet and Kai the ant has taken them closer. The difference lies in the necessity to have a more stable thickness in the horizontal poles that are used. If we take it up to twenty feet the risk is that it is too thick on one side and too thin on the other, so the structure is not so strong.

One great project for 2016 Paul has in mind is to program a dog week for April-May. The dog week idea is to have people that are passionate about dogs to pass by at the labs and implement a project that will help dog lovers come out at the labs. Paul and Jocelyn both recall the fact that many times they have had problems with people that come by to the labs with dogs. One can have a dog that doesn’t want to be tied, or someone that is scared about dogs, etc. So they have come up with the idea of creating a space where those that have dogs can camp and have some paddocks were the dogs can be left and are secure.
The idea is to have a system of maybe even four paddocks that are used to keep the dogs in, one paddock after the other get used. The paddocks should have trees, shrubs for shadow, a skiddable structure that can be used to keep sawdust so to avoid collecting the dog shit but covering it. After one paddock is to full you just shift the dogs around.
So next year Paul says we will have dog week were people that are passionate about dogs can come and help build maybe the first paddock or why not all the paddocks. Paul says that James could be great for this project having dogs and being a great worker (Hey James if you read this summary write an email to Paul!)

They all pass to discussing the great importance of skiddable structures at the labs. Up until now, there are ten skiddable structures, from pig shed’s, beehive’s, showers, tool sheds, etc. The skiddable structure is perfect for changing minds, you may think a structure is best in one spot but with a skiddable if you understand something is wrong you just turn it around, or move it.

They speak briefly of forest fires and how they have to be managed, especially in a region like Missoula. Some people that were at the labs really freaked out for the forest fires in these years. It has to be said that it is really a normal recurrent event in this region. But one thing that is clear is that a correct management of forests can reduce the effect of forest fires. Paul discusses the importance of recharging the humidity in the land and how this is going to be important up at the labs.

Next on to the solar leviathan that has been deployed at the labs and is working fine up with the ants at Wofati 0.8. Paul sees the differences between the leviathan and the voltswagon and sees where maybe the voltswagon could be upgraded with a stronger inverter.

Paul recalls the great weeks they had with the permies staff group and coderanch group at the labs. Burra that attended both events seemed to really have enjoyed it all. Paul notices the difference between the permies group wanting to stay at the labs and get their hands dirty in projects and stuff and the coderanch group more tourist focused, all went well and they visited a lot of places. The winner of all the events was the rafting experience, awesome!

Relevant Threads

solar cart; solar trailer; solarbago
wildfires and permaculture
wood fence



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Heather Ahrens
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Sorry this is not a great photo. However it is of Sir Chops in the VW Bug on his ride to Wheaton Laboratory.
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Sir Chops in the VWBug
 
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