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Su Ba
pollinator
Posts: 979
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
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I know that there are a number of ants now, but I seldom hear about what they are up to......and more importantly, what are their needs. From time to time I would like to help them out. If us folks out in the middle of the Pacific knew what the ants could use, them we'd be on the lookout for those items at our church bazaars, swap meets, recycling centers, thrift stores, even store inventory sales, etc. Sending them to ant village would be a form of spreading aloha, a way of life here in our community.

Would it be allowable for ants to post wish list items here? For starters it could be limited to 3 wish list items per ant, so that supporters don't get overwhelmed. Ants could always update their wish lists as time goes on and their needs change.

This an ok idea?
 
kadence blevins
Posts: 602
Location: SE Ohio
33
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sounds good. I would like to hear as well. I think a while back there was a short list posted but I think what I remember being posted has shown up in the packages they've gotten thread.
 
evan l pierce
Lab Ant
pollinator
Posts: 750
Location: ava, ant village
618
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Su Ba! You are so generous! Thanks again for everything you've already sent! I'll think about what I might could use, and make a list of 3 things once I consult with Kai and Sharla further. For now, one thing for the list might be a nice kettle for boiling water.
 
Jesse Grimes
Lab Ant
pollinator
Posts: 269
Location: Orange County, CA
155
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Hi Su! Thanks for keeping us Ants in our thoughts, and for all your generosity. You haven't been hearing much from me because I have been away from wheaton labs this winter, I'm over in Idaho helping out mike oehler with his underground house projects. I will be back in the spring to get started on this year's projects, and until then I'll be making a list of what I might need.

One thing I can think of right now which I will certainly need is SEEDS! Any and all kinds, as long as they will grow in zone 4/5. I'm hoping to get a good garden growing this summer.

Also, small hand tools of any kind: saws, hatchets, machetes, chisels, knives, hammers, ect... and gloves. Even if we get doubles of this stuff it means we have extra tools for gappers when the want to help out.

And you might not find this too much at garage sales, but we are always in need of wood screws. 2 1/2 to 3" is a good length, but any screws will be helpful. These things are 13 bucks a box at the local hardware store, ouch
 
Josh Huorn
Lab Ant
Posts: 70
Location: Eastern Mass, western Montana
52
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Ms Ba! Thank you so very much for the gifts you have sent our way, your generosity is evidenced all over the village from the toolshed to our wardrobes,

I left the lab for the winter and anticipate being back on the land choppin' droppin' and buildin' by spring.

I've been thinking and planning out how I'm going to build my house but more about the land and how to speed up the succession of species to accommodate all the productive plants I'd like to see. I think that introducing some mycelium will speed up the creation of soil and we could all use some more species of Fungus! After cutting down trees for timber I would like to inoculate all of the tree stumps left behind. This spring I'll be doing a bunch of earthworks for water catchment and making loads of hugel beds while I'm at it. I could certainly use a mix of cover crop Seeds to get those hugel beds sprouting. Thank you for all that you've done for ant village.
 
jim forster
Lab Ant
Posts: 64
Location: montana
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Thanks for your generosity Su Ba!

I could definitely put to use a good CO/smoke detector on my experimental wood stove.
 
Jesse Grimes
Lab Ant
pollinator
Posts: 269
Location: Orange County, CA
155
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I was just doing some internet browsing and thinking about the upcoming year at the Ant Village, and I came across something that I'm sure I will be using this year, and I'm sure allthe other ants would appreciate as well: Mychorrizal Soil Innoculant

I think this would be a big help in building the soil food web that has been disturbed by our earthworks, and helping to convert it into one that supports vegetables more than conifers. There are many that are specifically formulated for vegetables, and many to choose from. It would be interesting to do some trials with the different kinds/formulas/species and see what works best at the Lab.
 
Rob Griffin
Posts: 101
Location: Huntsville, United States
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Ants,
Here is my deal. If one of you will build a completely earth bag walled South facing wofati I will buy a pallet of 1000 bags and the barbed wire. 1000 bags will build approximately an 8 ft tall 100ft long wall. You cube it up how you want to, build the log pole roof and slightly buttressed windows and doors and build front wing walls then cob it.
Do the ants have a cement mixer at their disposal? It kills me that you are using at 10 ton excavator but mixing cob by hand. I am not opposed to buying a mixer either. I guess gas powered as it cost candy to use electricity up there. I think it was Paul that was down on gas powered chainsaws (but 10 ton excavators...), I have been around chain saws all my life. The key to keep one going year to year (or other small gas engines) is when you finish using it (I do this every time), dump the gas back into a container. Then start it and run it till it quits, then try and pull start it another 4 or 5 times. And of course sharpen the chain before use and at every tank of gas. There is nothing more wasteful than cutting with a dull chain.

So anyway think about and let me know.

Rob
 
evan l pierce
Lab Ant
pollinator
Posts: 750
Location: ava, ant village
618
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Rob,

If Paul is cool with earthbags, (I'll ask asap to make sure,) I would like to take you up on your offer. I realize I have a couple structures started already, (and I still intend to finish them,) but I have an addition and several more structures planned and I've been curious about earthbags for some time. The opportunity to build with this method would be amazing. At the same time, I would understand if you preferred to restrict your offer to an ant that was a little less far along than I. If so, I'll be helping my dad, (Steve Pierce, the 9th ant,) to build his structure and so I would also be excited to use earthbags for that. My mind races with the possibilities. I'll start playing with sketchup and post some of my design thoughts forthwith! Thank you for the offer, Rob.
 
Rob Griffin
Posts: 101
Location: Huntsville, United States
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Evan,
I just want to see a earth bag wofati made. I don't care who makes it.

What about the mixer?

Rob
 
evan l pierce
Lab Ant
pollinator
Posts: 750
Location: ava, ant village
618
chicken duck forest garden greening the desert hugelkultur hunting solar wofati woodworking
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Rob,

I just talked to Paul and he thinks it's a horrible idea, but he'll allow it. So, it's a go.

My understanding is that a cement mixer doesn't work well for cob, for whatever reason, and while I'd be willing to give it a try, I'm not as excited about the cement mixer.

Thanks again for the opportunity.
 
Rob Griffin
Posts: 101
Location: Huntsville, United States
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Evan,
All the better if Paul thinks it is a horrible idea....I like the earth to earth heat transition on the side walls. There are numerous examples of earth bermed earth bag structures on the web. I would still French drain it and add membrane between the berm and the wall, along with the membrane caps for the top and side berms.

As for the mixer that is on you guys. I have seen several videos and blogs where they used them to knock a lot of cob out in a short time. If it was just a one man job I would like to have it.


You want me to go ahead and have the bags shipped to you? I assume it would be easier to get the barbed wire in town...looks like you have Lowes there that has 1300 ft rolls for like 85 dollars. By my rough calculation one roll might just be enough for 1000 bags. Would it be better for me to buy it and you go pick it up ( I will through in a pair of wire cutters and some nails). If you google earthbag kaki donald you can get a pdf of the Earthbag Building book that has tons of good stuff in it.

Rob
 
Jesse Grimes
Lab Ant
pollinator
Posts: 269
Location: Orange County, CA
155
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Wow Rob, what a great offer! I would have hopped right on it if I hadn't already built my house. I'm glad Evan's dad will be able to experiment with it, and I will be watching the results along with the rest of the permies world.

As for the cement mixer, I have wondered about that myself. I believe paul even has one in the boneyard at basecamp. I asked Ernie and Erica about it when they were helping on the Allerton abbey project. They did a lot of the work for cob villa in oregon, so that have a ton of experience with cob. They said that a cement mixer mixes by tumbling the material, with cob that translates into a bunch of little balls of mud. When they are squished together and applied to a wall, the fibers in the balls dont really mix together and around eachother, which is what gives cob it's strength. What you need is what they call sheer mixing, such as when a foot presses down and across the cob material in the traditional method. It's the press and scrape action that you need when mixing, as well as applying the cob so that the fibers can be pressed together and around eachother.

That said, it could be a good idea to use the mixer for cob projects that are not structural, or just filler. It could certainly save a lot of labor.
 
Rob Griffin
Posts: 101
Location: Huntsville, United States
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Jesse,
I am curious how the earthbag stuff will work in a wofati. In the big scheme of things they are cheap and if they are working well I would have no qualms getting more bags.

As for the mixer I was looking at it more for making cob for plastering over the bags or the log seams not so much for structural integrity (that is where I was hoping the bags work better). The stuff I have read and seen they used straw in the mix, long straw for general fill, and chopped straw for the finer finish coat. Finished product out of the mixer looked just like mortar mud to me and they just troweled it on. One person did say they may be mixing it a bit wet and let it age overnight before using. Like I said one person was mixing some serious amounts and staying clean.

Rob
 
Jesse Grimes
Lab Ant
pollinator
Posts: 269
Location: Orange County, CA
155
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I could see it working if you mixed it wet enough to make a kind of slurry, and then let it dry out before applying, especially if you were using chopped straw or cow dung. I found that for the cob plaster I did over the log walls of Allerton Abbey, I liked to have the cob pretty wet when I was applying, just dry enough that it wouldn't slump under its own weight. A wet mix made it easier to get one trowel full to mix in with the previous trowel full, making one continuous layer. It was very much like applying a cement mortar, except it doesn't burn your skin, which is lovely.

I think this discussion is probably covered well in the natural building forums. Back to the subject at hand, and on a related note: if anyone has or comes across an electric weed whacked aka string trimmer, send it our way as it can be used to create chopped straw for cob. You mount in a trash can with the bottom cut out and throw handfuls of straw at it. Works quite well.
 
kadence blevins
Posts: 602
Location: SE Ohio
33
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gonna toss this out here since this is what you're talking about, what about those wooden shoes that someone was making a while back, like last year or so maybe? that would be good for stomping cob I would think? maybe like that only strapped over shoes or more better strapping to keep on your feet.
 
Rob Griffin
Posts: 101
Location: Huntsville, United States
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Ants,
I have sent you a couple of things as I had a coupon (actually got two). I sent a electric string trimmer Jesse wanted with a "free gift with purchase". It was cheap but had ok reviews, mostly said the string that came with it was weak and it worked better with larger gauge string.

I sent something a bit bigger that will give you something to do if you all are bored with all the snow. Maybe you can dry stack up a RS for it and heat up a 5 gallon bucket of water for a thermal mass to help it out....Anyway it should have tons of possibilities to help out the ant community.

Rob
 
Kerry Rodgers
Posts: 122
Location: North Texas, Dallas area suburbs, US zone 8
34
forest garden toxin-ectomy
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Jesse Grimes wrote:I was just doing some internet browsing and thinking about the upcoming year at the Ant Village, and I came across something that I'm sure I will be using this year, and I'm sure allthe other ants would appreciate as well: Mychorrizal Soil Innoculant

I think this would be a big help in building the soil food web that has been disturbed by our earthworks, and helping to convert it into one that supports vegetables more than conifers. There are many that are specifically formulated for vegetables, and many to choose from. It would be interesting to do some trials with the different kinds/formulas/species and see what works best at the Lab.


Hi Jesse (and other ants),
I too think it would be interesting to do some trials with different fungal innoculants. I have tried a few, but never did any kind of direct with/without comparison. I also haven't been very intentional about preparing soil properly. Too little soil organic matter, too little water, too little mulch--no wonder I cant tell whether the innoculant helped or not. I haven't tried with hugel yet, but I think that would be interesting also.

Offer: How about I become the (first?) sponsor of an experiment. I can buy and send some innoculants for any ants who want to participate. You guys can be just a little intentional choosing areas to try and writing down which product you used where. If you keep all the raw data on a thread(s) at permies, we can all participate and discuss.
  • Is anyone besides Jesse interested? Evan? Others?
  • When will Ants be back to the Village and planting?
  • Please help me shop for the innoculant products you would like to try. I've used some powder from fungiperfecti and packets from raintree, plus I just ordered one from Jesse's amazon link.


  • Anyone interested? Lemme know.
     
    Kerry Rodgers
    Posts: 122
    Location: North Texas, Dallas area suburbs, US zone 8
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    jim forster wrote:I could definitely put to use a good CO/smoke detector on my experimental wood stove.


    I have a plug-in one somewhere I got from the big orange box store, but you probably don't have a plug in your house. There are 12v ones for RVs, if you want to use a car battery or something.

    But these all just scream when they think you might be about to die. Is the simple safety kind what you need, or are you looking for a wood-stove-exhaust-measuring-device?

    Edit: Is this what you have in mind? http://amzn.com/B000MXJ498 I didn't know they combined CO into these home battery operated ones. Looks like this one has no radioactive ionization source: http://goo.gl/U7IN0r
     
    Kerry Rodgers
    Posts: 122
    Location: North Texas, Dallas area suburbs, US zone 8
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    Josh Huorn wrote:I could certainly use a mix of cover crop Seeds to get those hugel beds sprouting.


    Hi Josh, and other Ants (I think Jesse and elsewhere Evan also mentioned needing more seeds),

    I shopped for cover seeds online back in the fall, and the problem I found is that they really gouge you online, plus the shipping is cringe-worthy. Plus, I'm just guessing at what you need in MT, starting from my lack-of-experience in TX.

    I went to a Spirko get-together last fall at Nick Ferguson's place. He had made a diverse hugel cover mix mostly out of seeds from a local feed store. He may have supplemented somewhat with rare or saved stuff he had or traded for, but the bulk (weight) of it was cheap stuff readily acquired at local farming outlets. He emphasized diversity--much more than the mail-order mixes. Alot of veggies, as I recall, plus N-fixers. It reminded me of the mix that was used on that Sepp Holtzer mega-hugel project that Paul participated in. There was a podcast about it. It think it was in your climate.

    Maybe if there is an acceptable Missoula-area source for most of the ingredients, then we Ant-fans could help pay, and/or send rare and diverse additions to spice it up. Maybe an Ant could research local options and post back?

    Edit: Or maybe I just didn't find the right on-line sellers?
     
    evan l pierce
    Lab Ant
    pollinator
    Posts: 750
    Location: ava, ant village
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    Kerry, I would be interested in being part of a mycorrhizal inoculant experiment. It's going to be difficult to control for, especially since my earthworks and planting styles are so deliberately chaotic, but I'd be up for picking one or two of my paddocks and inoculating them with mycorrhizae. As for which products specifically, I have no idea and I feel very skeptical when I look at their various marketing claims.

    As far as seeds, I wouldn't turn them down but I think I might actually have enough seeds for this year. I suspect I'll be looking into getting more next year though, depending on what grows well and what doesn't.

    Thanks for all your support of ant village, Kerry! You're awesome!
     
    Kerry Rodgers
    Posts: 122
    Location: North Texas, Dallas area suburbs, US zone 8
    34
    forest garden toxin-ectomy
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    Thanks, Evan. I too like the chaotic approach, though in my case it maybe more from neglect than anything intentional. I haven't seen the benefits myself, and I'm also skeptical of the marketing claims. But Elaine Ingham gives evidence that increasing the fungal colonization of soil dramatically helps plants. I think she would advocate a more focused approach of using a microscope to find what you have and don't have, growing a fungal compost or tea that meets the need measured need, then retesting the soil with the microscope. I got stuck at the part about learning the microscope skills required, mostly due to lack of time and focus on it. I don't think she would like the approach of applying products without an initial measurement, but maybe that's the best most of us are likely to do.

    I think I will assemble and ship a care package myself, rather than trying to drop ship as in the past. I'll include some different mycorrhizal products and address the box to "Ants". Then whoever happens to be there can do whatever they want with it. Hopefully they will post some media about it.
     
    Jesse Grimes
    Lab Ant
    pollinator
    Posts: 269
    Location: Orange County, CA
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    This looks like a good deal on a ton of different varieties of seed.
     
    Kerry Rodgers
    Posts: 122
    Location: North Texas, Dallas area suburbs, US zone 8
    34
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    I've been shopping for seeds online, and I have some here, and maybe I'll try to make it to a local store or two for a better mix of cover seeds.

    What I ordered from Amazon I have drop-shipped to you at Missoula, and it is scheduled to arrive there Tue Mar 8. I've had trouble with other vendors drop-shipping, so I had the other stuff sent to me. I'll assemble a "care package" and ship that to Missoula whenever I get the stuff here. I'm spoiled to Amazon--the other vendors don't tell you when they'll ship, or how long the transit will be. Some don't even tell you that they have shipped! How horribly frustrating! ha ha.

    The "care package" should include some seeds and some fungal inoculants. Jesse, I ordered you the seed collection you linked--haven't heard from the vendor.

    When is the "planting window" at the Labs? I know you are trying frost-seeding, but when is too late?
     
    Jesse Grimes
    Lab Ant
    pollinator
    Posts: 269
    Location: Orange County, CA
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    Thank you so much for the seeds and innoculants, Kerry! My garden will much appreciate them, and I as well. Right now I am working to get back to the lab within the next month, which should be excellent timing for starting a zone 1 type garden. From what I hear, winter is starting to lose its grip on montana, but I also hear that the last frost date can be as late as june. It will be a new challenge for me as all of my other gardens have been in southern California. Frost? What frost?
     
    Kerry Rodgers
    Posts: 122
    Location: North Texas, Dallas area suburbs, US zone 8
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    Thanks for the reply, Jesse. I'm glad to know the timeline--I was thinking it might be too late to send seeds, since the snow seems to have disappeared from the Lab already. I just got the "shipped" email notification that a couple other seed orders have shipped to me. So I will consolidate and forward to Missoula and you should have them in a couple of weeks, or by the time you arrive back.

    Thanks very much for your last two posts: about Mike O and the vid about the tiny house and farm in Utah. No need to apologize for brevity. All stories very much appreciated. Joyful travels!
     
    Kerry Rodgers
    Posts: 122
    Location: North Texas, Dallas area suburbs, US zone 8
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    I finally received all the seed orders, and shipped out the consolidated box today. The UPS Store said it should be in Missoula on Friday. It has another draw knife, the "survival garden" seed pack for Jesse (linked above), and more seeds and various innoculants for all the Ants to divvy up.

    When is planting time? Hope you will post pictures when the spring flush happens on the earthworks. If anyone is interested, they could plant seed mix in a few fungal innoculant comparison zones and just take a few pictures. But don't feel like you have to.
     
    Kerry Rodgers
    Posts: 122
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    Maybe this thread should be merged into the Ant Love thread?
     
    A teeny tiny vulgar attempt to get you to buy our stuff
    The $50 and Up Underground House Book by Mike Oehler - digital download
    https://permies.com/wiki/23442/digital-market/digital-market/Underground-House-Book-Mike-Oehler
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