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Lab Ant
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Day 295 (part 2)

Artists Week.

Jim did some observation drawing too.
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Jim observantly drawing the path north of the Abbey
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path north of the Abbey
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Jim's observation drawing of the path north of the Abbey
 
evan l pierce
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Day 295 (part 3)

Artists Week.

I did some observation drawing as well.
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I'm trying to draw a stump
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a stump I tried to draw
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my stump observation drawing
 
evan l pierce
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Day 295 (part 4)

Artists Week.

Kai did even more observation drawing!
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Kai the artistically observant over-achiever
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a fireglove Kai observed
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Kai's observation drawing of a fireglove
 
evan l pierce
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Day 295 (part 5)

Artists Week.

We made snow sculptures!

I made a couple little ants. Kai made a big ferocious ant. And Jim made a giant snow monster!
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lil snow ant
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Kai's ferocious snow ant queen
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Jim's terrifying snow monster
 
evan l pierce
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Day 295 (part 6)

Artists Week.

After basking in the glow of our spectacular snow sculptures, we destroyed them by shooting arrows at them.
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Jim about to murder my poor lil snow ants
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Kai exterminating his snow ant queen
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Kai slaying Jim's snow beast
 
Posts: 318
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A little late on the original post. But, some tips on the recurve. The bow looks a bit small for your stature, so don't get too comfortable or frustrated. Try rotating your arm that is holding the bow, so the inside of your elbow is pointing up to the sky, and then twist your wrist accordingly, to hold the bow. Do not let your arm slump and have your elbow fold like a door hinge, it destroys your lateral accuracy. Another important factor for aiming is an anchor point. Instead of only looking down the bowline, which only mm's of head movement can change the perceptive angle by many feet in all directions, it is also very hard to keep consistency. Draw the bow string to a contact place every time. Most pro's use a place on their chin, with the head a bit straighter, But that can be scary. Most use the corner of their lips on the dominate side, wtih the head slightly cocked, to adjust the perspective angle. And then two debatable pieces. Consistent stance, and finger placement. I think after basic skill recognition, you should learn to shoot in many stances. And for the most part, index on top, next TWO under.

I personally belive that the ambidextrous longbow is the perfect lowtec hunting tool, that all who are serious should shoot both left and right handed. And the arrow should be on the oppiset side comercial bows are designed for. History, new and old shows that the best archers shot with the arrow on the same side of the bow, as their draw hand.

That's the end of my rant, and I realise that you may have just been goofing off and not trying to hunt for dinner, or play in the Olympics, but I would rather share the "proper" ways to shoot a bow than watch somebody waste their time. This isn't a matter of opinion, its what accurate archers have learned after a few thousand years of practice
 
evan l pierce
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Thanks for the advice, Chad. I haven't done much bow-hunting yet, just a few chipmunks and squirrels last fall.

Day 295 (part 7)

Artists Week.

We also did some sharpening, and started a batch of sour kraut. The much warmer temperature inside seems to have helped a lot in getting the cabbage to release its liquids, so I didn't have to add any brine. The eventual success of the last batch along with having Kai there to help and encourage made me much more confident that I did it right this time. We even added some garlic, whole peppercorns, and a little bit of basil. Should be some pretty delicious kraut.
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Kai sharpening his hatchet
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I'm vigorously squeezing that cabbage
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you can see the garlic, peppercorns, and basil
 
master steward
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Kai rocks the art of line drawing! Go Kai!
 
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Great description of proper bow technique, Chad. Very clear and succinct. You sound like a natural teacher.
 
evan l pierce
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Days 296-299 (part 1)

Artists Week.

Kai led us in a plant identification walkabout. He talked about how our local high-mountain desert ecosystem is fire-adapted, with the tall coniferous trees dropping their lower limbs and developing thick fire-resistant bark. He noted that dense stands of saplings and small trees that bridge the gap between the ground and the upper branches of the mature trees are a fire hazard, so it behooves us to thin out these smaller trees.

He also talked a bit about botany, noting the distinction between gymnosperms, (like our familiar coniferous trees,) which have unenclosed or naked seeds, and angiosperms, which are flowering plants. Angiosperms are further divided into monocotyledons and dicotyledons. Among other distinctions, monocots typically have leaf veins that run parallel, flower petals in multiples of 3, and fibrous roots, whereas dicots typically have branching leaf veins, petals in multiples of 4 or 5, and root systems with a taproot.

We walked around and Kai pointed out a variety of plants still identifiable even in the winter, noting some of their edible, medicinal, or other values. Plants we saw and talked about on this short walk included: mustard, pepperweed, knapweed, pseudo-lamb's quarters, white sweet clover, western larch, rye, douglas fir, saskatoon, nine bark, yarrow, mullein, ponderosa pine, oregon grape, black tree lichen, crustos lichen, sedges, bedstraw, timothy grass, evening primrose, sunchokes, rudbeckia sunflowers, tansy, rocky mountain bee plant, and hairy vetch. We talked about a few other plants too; dandelion, kinickinick, snowberry, grand fir, lodgepole pine, and western cedar, but during our walk we didn't specifically see these or the many other plants that can be found around the labs. We also saw at least one plant that, while familiar and abundant, none of us could positively identify.

Thanks for leading our plant id walkabout, Kai!
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mustard seeds, still delicious
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ponderosa pine bark, fire-resistant
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unidentified plant
 
evan l pierce
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Days 296-299 (part 2)

Artists Week.

We made wreaths. Kai somehow managed to make his without using any string or other attachments, but I had to use a couple little pieces of string to hold mine together.
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Kai displaying his first wreath
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my wreath
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my observation drawing of Kai's wreath
 
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could be totally wrong (its hard to tell when its not in bloom or whatever) but those seed pods on the "unidentified plant" look a lot like st john's wort. theres quite a few different varieties, and that might be one of them.
 
evan l pierce
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Hmm, st john's wort is definitely one of the things that folks have mentioned as growing up here. That might very well be it. Thanks Leila.

Days 296-299 (part 3)

Artists Week.

More observation drawings. Also, we did some wood-carving. I made a crazy spork.
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my shoes
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Kai observed my shoes
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my crazy spork
 
evan l pierce
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Days 296-299 (part 4)

Artists Week.

Observation drawing and woodcarving.
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Kai's spirally spoon detail
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road west of the Abbey
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Kai's observation drawing of the road west of the Abbey
 
evan l pierce
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Days 296-299 (part 5)

Artists Week.

We did some fence-building.
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Kai limbing junkpoles
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Kai pole fence starting
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Kai pole fence in progress
 
evan l pierce
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Days 296-299 (part 6)

Artists Week.

Sharla took me out to see a play in Missoula. It was insanely ridiculous.

Missoula is full of art. I try to remember to take a picture of one of the painted transformer boxes whenever I'm in town. This one might be one of my favorites so far.

We stopped by the public library. They have a sweet seed library; I'll have to come back and get some seeds for spring. And they had a funky little gnome house in the library too.
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dino cowboy on a missoula transformer
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gnome home in the library
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drowsy chaperone
 
pollinator
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This may be a really dumb question but I'm curious about all the roundwood timber you're using in contact with the ground. I assume it's ground durable?...or are you expecting to replace the fences every 5-10 years?
 
evan l pierce
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Sue, the wood is expected to rot away, but perhaps by then our living fence will be growing and hopefully able to serve as an effective barrier. I guess we'll see.

Days 296-299 (part 7)

Artists Week.

We did some cave "paintings" with clay-slip. We experimented with making our own brushes out of wooden branches and wool and human hair, and even hiked way up towards the creek to gather some cedar branches to see if they would work better than doug fir, but mostly we ended up just finger-painting.
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cedar branch, not really any better as a paint brush
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assortment of brushes
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cave-"painting"
 
evan l pierce
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Days 296-299 (part 8)

Artists Week.

Ancient cave art.
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eye see you
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ponderous grasshopper
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ant hunting a great beast
 
evan l pierce
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Days 296-299 (part 9)

Artists Week.

We also did a bit of macrame and seed mandalas to round out our artsy fartsy workshop week.

And somewhere in there we ended the heating stage of the Abbey thermal inertia experiment, (after 12 days of blasting the stove,) plugged up as many air leaks as we could, (though until the cob is done it's still not super well insulated,) and started the non-heating observation stage of the experiment. I'm about to post some of the experiment notes to the Abbey thread, so perhaps direct your questions and comments regarding the Abbey there. Thanks.
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a bit of macrame
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seed mandalas
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wooly stove pipe
 
Sue Rine
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Thanks Evan.
 
evan l pierce
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Days 300-304 (part 1)

Artists Week was fun, but after some discussion with Kai and Jim, I'm now thinking that perhaps future PEA Workshops might work better as just 2 or 3 day events, rather than 5 or 6 day events. If people want to stay longer, that's cool, but maybe more folks will find it easier to get time away from work if it's just a weekend rather than a whole week. I'll be revamping the PEA thread soon to reflect these changes.

I did some (very rough) pencil and paper drawings of some of my ideas for Ava. When I get a chance I intend to make these ideas a bit clearer with sketchup.

First, a little sketch of my latest plans regarding an addition to the downhill side of Siesta: Verona. I'm thinking a ~20'x20' structure with a lighter roof than a wofati, (just enough dirt and mulch to cover it, rather than enough to grow shrubs and such,) with windows on all 4 sides. The southern 5'x20' bit would be a greenhouse, complete with a shower/tub, a big grow bed, and a cold trench. Verona would have both a lower floor and a higher ceiling than Siesta, allowing for a loft. Plenty of space for a big country kitchen with a Walker Stove, (maybe even with a mass bench extending into Siesta.) And a physically but not atmospherically attached compost toilet room, (you'd still have to go outside to get to it but you'd stay under the overhang and it would share some heat.) Verona would be designed to be passive solar and to charge the mass of Siesta as much as possible.

The plans for the earthworks of Ava are almost constantly evolving. The latest entails getting rid of most of Pierce Parkway and replacing it with tons of texture: basically hugel, pond, hugel, pond, repeat. The south and southwest facing slopes of Avalon are still up in the air as far as what exactly to do with them, how best to move the water down them into the big pond at the bottom while leaving space for more structures and hugels and such, so the map leaves that mostly blank still.

Also I made an elephant out of an eraser.
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tiny sketch of Siesta Verona
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tiny sketch of the ever evolving map of Ava
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eraselephant
 
evan l pierce
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Days 300-304 (part 2)

Another duck was taken by a predator. Melian. This time the sun hadn't even set yet. In an effort to maintain a more consistent human presence in the area, and also to free up more bunk-space for new gappers who may be arriving soon, I've moved out of the Abbey and back under my tarp. Don't worry, my sleeping bag keeps me plenty warm. And I still do most of my cooking and drying out boots and stuff in the Abbey.
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just 5 ducks
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Abbey through a saskatoon from the east
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tarp sweet tarp
 
Lab Ant
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Oh man, tarp life! You can use my tent if you like, it should till be set up under my tarp. Might be a little warmer.
 
evan l pierce
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Thanks for the offer, Jesse, but I've found that the temperature difference between an enclosed tent and an unenclosed tarp is marginal, while the moisture/frost buildup inside is much less with my tarp. I like the fresh air, and like I said I've got a good sleeping bag. Besides, maybe this experience will incentivize me to finish my house before next winter. Maybe.

Days 300-304 (part 3)

Peeled a log. The bark doesn't come off as easily in the winter as in the spring, but maybe the lower sap content and the dry cold air will keep it from discoloring with mildew.

I'd like to get into the habit of peeling one log a day. If I can do that for several weeks I'll soon have enough materials to build Verona and a bunch of the other crazy structures I have planned.

That crappy plastic sled broke, predictably, so Kai and I built a new one. It's dangerous!
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peeling bark under a snowy sky
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mulchy aftermath
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sled of doom
 
evan l pierce
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Days 300-304 (part 4)

Kai loaned me a book by one of my favorite authors: Ursula K Le Guin! Thanks Kai!

Speaking of loaning, the Missoula library has a seed library program. So cool!
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peasants, radical journals, and revolutions, oh my
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Kai scored at the seed library
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symbiota on an apple tree
 
pioneer
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I'm so sorry about your duck! When we were losing ducks this October, we lost one--at NOON--on a stormy day when I was out of sight but outside with them only a few hundred feet away. Pretty sure it was done by a local bobcat--they don't sleep all day like other predators. I ended up penning the ducks up all day unless I was actively staring at them. I did this for a week or two straight (and felt horrible, especially since I have a toddler and could only stare at them for 30 minutes to an hour a day, but at least they were alive). I did this in hopes of training the bobcat that they weren't food. Then, slowly I've been increasing the time they are out while I'm not watching them. At first it was only in their electrified yard. But, then I let them out for an hour to free range. Still no more losses. Now they get to free range from 10:30-1:30 (when the sun rises over our trees and then sets over them), and then back into their electricified yard they go (I house them at 3:00pm).

I've found that fermenting their food really helps in replacing the nutrients that they normally get free-ranging. It also cuts down the feed costs from by 1/3rd to 1/2. Here's some info on it: http://www.scratchandpeck.com/wp-content/uploads/Fermenting-Feed_7-27-2015.pdf. All you need is water, something to stir the feed with, and two jars (gallon pickle jars work great, and you could probably get away with a half-gallon size mason jar with your current flock size). You could kick-start the culture with some of that sauerkraut juice, too.

I hope that helps and hope that your ducks will stop getting eaten!
 
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This may sound heartless or simply dumb but do you do a cost benefit analysis on keeping ducks (or doing anything else for that matter). From a complete outsider it seems strange to me to exert effort to keep ducks which produce few eggs and little meat and sleep under a tarp.

Starting Ava means more tasks than you have time for, so prioritising them seems imperative.

Your fortitude and motivation impress me no end, so this is not meant as any type of criticism, just a plea to decide which are the forest and which the trees and which are more important.
 
Sue Rine
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Sorry to hear about another duck demise.
Is that New Zealand I see on your map of Ava?? What is the significance?
 
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Sue Rine wrote:
Is that New Zealand I see on your map of Ava?? What is the significance?



I expect that's territory for Sharla. If you look closely you see it is "Kew Zealand".
 
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More plans for AVA ! Yay ! This is good fodder for sleepless nights in New York. I can't wait to get out there and see the land in person. I am sure my mind will be blown!
 
evan l pierce
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Thanks for the fermentation advice, Nicole! I hope the ducks like garlicky-kraut-flavored feed.

Alan, the ducks are certainly a commitment in time, energy, and money, but the joy they bring me alone is worth it. The ducks will hopefully this spring begin providing eggs and eventually meat, and some even more valuable services they've already provided and continue to provide include: fertilizing, pest and weed control, and improved water retention via pond and puddle sealing. The department of ducks is a valuable ally and can't be blamed for my choice to sleep under a tarp.

Sue and Ron, yep, Kew Zealand is Sharla's Kewtopian semi-nomadic territorial claim.

Sean, I'm glad you're enthused! See you in a few weeks!

Days 300-304 (part 5)

Truly Garden sent a bunch of hori-hori knives to Wheaton Labs. I'm super excited to try mine out come spring! Thanks Truly Garden!

The data is finally in from the Abbey thermal inertia experiment! Check out these graphs! Blue lines represent indoor temp while red represents outdoor temp.
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"to dig to dig" knife
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experiment 1
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experiment 2
 
Sue Rine
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Ah, thanks for the clarification re Kew Zealand.
So do the graphs say that the mass is still "eating" the heat from inside the Abbey?
 
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Waaaaaaa! You were born today, years ago! What a glorious day to celebrate! sending you a public display of affection, and wishes for merriment for your next voyage around the sun!

 
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That's an interesting experiment you have going there. What really stands out to me are the day/night swings of indoor temperature even when the temperature outside is consistently less than temperature inside.
 
evan l pierce
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Sue and John, my speculation is that the mass was warmer several inches deep into the walls and was slowly leaking heat into the space while the cold outside was simultaneously sucking heat out, and those little hills and valleys represent a sort of balancing act. I bet if the mass was more deeply charged, (like multiple summers from now,) then we'd see a similar 5-10 degree fluctuation in the interior air temperature throughout a winter's day, (just somewhere in the 60s maybe.) But I don't really know. Maybe folks in the Abbey thread have a better understanding of the physics involved.

Carol-Anne! Thanks so much for the birthday well wishes! I hope everything is glorious and lovely with you and I hope you come out to the labs again soon! Ant village misses you!

Day 305

'Twas my birthday. Phone calls and birthday greetings from friends amd family, and my brother Gabe became our newest Patreon patron! Thanks Gabe!

Sharla and I went to Jerry Johnson hot springs! A most relaxing and beautiful day.

There were three different sources where folks had piled up rocks to make little pools.

The first pool was down a rather steep and treacherous path and had a waterfall of almost unbearably hot water pouring right out of the side of the mountain. This was the nearest to the creek and when we were there the creek was swollen from snow-melt and overflowing into the pool. The water was stratified into layers with comfortably warm water on top and freezing cold water below, so mostly this first pool was both too hot, (under the waterfall,) and too cold, (everywhere else,) for a really comfortable soak.

The third pool was comfortably warm, nestled amongst huge fallen trees, and had perhaps the best views of the surrounding snow-covered hillsides.

But the middle pool was the best. Surrounding and surrounded by giant boulders, this pool was the warmest, and the silty-sandy floor seemed to be heated from below, with the occasional little streams of bubbles rising up to the surface.
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first pool, hot waterfall
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third pool, fallen trees
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middle pool, boulders
 
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I lost a chicken to a bobcat at midday a couple of days ago, while I was looking right at them through the window. It came through my human infested yard and snapped up Cookie, my oldest hen. A nice barred rock, still laying the occasional egg in her fifth year. Our ecosystem is diverse and thriving, and it is a lot of work to keep delicious birds alive.

I take my hori hori knife out with me on my belt even in the snow. I use it to cut small prickery branches out of the way and the measurement markings ate good for giving scale on Marie photos, like of tracks or scat or mushrooms.

Happy happy birthday!
 
evan l pierce
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Thanks Matu! Those all sound like good reasons to keep my hori hori knife on me. My nature photos thus far have tended to be pretty contextless, so it will probably help to show some scale in future photos.

Day 306

Jim, Kai, Sharla, and I all met up at the Missoula Winter Farmer's Market, and afterwards we went to the library for the seed swap! They had a talk on mason bees, and another on seed saving. And while some of the organizers seemed enthusiastic and grateful for the tree seeds Kai brought, which included black locust and honey locust, some of them seemed quite offended at the idea of these "invasives." All in all, though, it was an information rich event filled with lots of nice local folk excited about seeds and gardening!
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linden, honey locust, black locust, apple, and plum seeds
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swapped for seeds
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more transformer box art in missoula
 
evan l pierce
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Day 307

Cut a branch off a non-fruit-bearing apple tree in the hopes of using it for wood-carving. It's not very thick so I'll have to make fairly small things out of it.

Did some more bark peeling. So far I've only been doing one log every other day, but I think I can pick up the pace. This latest log I peeled had some strange pockets of juicier areas just under the surface. Maybe sap starting to build up in places? More data points needed. One thing about starting my log-peeling and collecting this early is that with any luck I'll find out just when the sap starts flowing and it starts getting easier. That'll be good to know.

As the spot it had been sitting on was plenty well fertilized at this point, we moved the duck ark over to Kailarado.
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apple wood
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under the bark, a juicy pocket
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the mobile duck command center parked in Kailarado
 
Sue Rine
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Seed swapping is so cool. We have a thriving group going in our region and have recently dispersed small seed banks around the province to aid access to the seeds between seedswap meetings, (or seed trafficking as one of our wwoofers called it ). I hardly need to buy seeds any more...just new and exciting things ....which I can then share with others.
 
He does not suffer fools gladly. But this tiny ad does:
It's like binging on 7 seasons of your favorite netflix permaculture show
http://permaculture-design-course.com/
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