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evan's ant village log  RSS feed

 
Lab Ant
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Since it's Year 2 now, I figured it's as good a time as any to switch up how I do things. I have been taking videos occasionally, but I've found that, for now at least, editing videos is not something I want to do. So, maybe I'll post a video if I get to it, but not on any set schedule. Speaking of set schedules, this year of logging my activities and projects won't really have one. I hope to keep up the trend of taking and posting tons of pictures, but without the stress of day by day by dailyness.

Year 2, Spring (1)

Got those plants from Kelly put in. Gathered up some moss and stuffed it into cracks between stacked stones. Started on an outdoor kitchen structure.
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moss for stuffing into stone walls
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planting comfrey from Kelly
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notch not too botched
 
evan l pierce
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Year 2, Spring (2)

We were making fast progress on the kitchen. Kai sliced open his leg with his hatchet, but we quickly stopped the bleeding with ground turmeric powder and fresh yarrow. When he went in for stitches the nurses were impressed by our herbal first aid.
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outdoor kitchen started
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Kai's hatchet wound treated with yarrow and turmeric
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outdoor kitchen beams up
 
evan l pierce
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Year 2, Spring (3)

The outdoor kitchen went together speedily. We put up a little temporary tarp to cast some shade so we could keep working even when it got sunny and hot.
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rafters on outdoor kitchen
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cross bracing on outdoor kitchen
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starting roof on outdoor kitchen
 
evan l pierce
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Year 2, Spring (4)

Put in a counter in the outdoor kitchen. And started filling in the pole roof. Only a few of the roof poles are screwed in, the rest are wedged tight up next to each other and they're all sandwiched between thin boards.

Working on a kitchen space reminded me about the dozens of dirty glass jars I'd been accumulating over the past year, and Jocelyn was kind enough to let me wash them down at basecamp. Thanks Jocelyn!

Should have plenty of jars for storing a bunch of the food I'll be growing, harvesting, and preserving this year. Now if I can just build some shelves to store all these jars...
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outdoor kitchen counter
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kitchen pole roof forming
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spring jar cleaning
 
evan l pierce
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Year 2, Spring (5)

The nectarine tree Kelly gave us looks quite fetching out in front of the ministry of quacks.

We went square dancing in missoula! It was fun! I think I like square dancing better than swing dancing.
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nectarine tree out front of the miniquax
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big black beetley bug
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square dancing in missoula
 
evan l pierce
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Y2, Spring (6)

A lovely feast night at basecamp. Spaghetti! Also, Paul added a bunch of well-drilling and well-related books to the library. These should help Jim and I figure out this whole well thing. Thanks Paul and Jocelyn!

Kai and I gathered lots more junkpoles. We took a load of unlimbed poles back to Ava on the back of Kai's truck. Not the most efficient, though it did allow us to limb them and drop the mulch right where we wanted it, and it was pretty cool to see Kai's truck transform into a debris shelter. As fun as it was, we'll probably limb them in place and be able to hold a lot more poles next time.
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feastly spaghetti feast
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well books
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earth-integrated truck
 
Posts: 1125
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chicken dog hugelkultur
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Thanks for the big update Evan, hope your second year is just as good or better than your first, looks forward to watching it progress
 
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Hi Evan. I can't send you money, 'patreon' or so, so I gave you my slice of pie and a flag to this topic
Thanks for showing us the life of an 'ant'.
 
evan l pierce
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Thanks Devon! And thank you for the pie, Inge, and everyone else who's given me pie! Maybe I can pay my rent for next year in pie...

Y2, Spring (7)

The department of ducks is regularly laying 4 eggs a day now. Jim bought a pump and casing and whatnot for shoving down the well hole. Kai and I finished the junkpole roof of the outdoor kitchen.
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4 duck eggs!
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Jim's well pump
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junkpole roof
 
pollinator
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Location: North Texas, Dallas area suburbs, US zone 8
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Thanks for coming back online, Evan. I was missing the regular newsfeed! Looks like you and your colleagues are making great progress.
 
evan l pierce
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Y2, Spring (8)

We got the well casing down the hole, with the help of Kai, Rob, Fred, and Sean. Thanks for the help, guys!
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how do you get a 40 ft long well casing down a hole?
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elbow grease, sturdy strings
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and teamwork
 
evan l pierce
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Y2, Spring (9)

A delicious feast at basecamp! And Fred even brought macadamia nuts from Hawaii! Thanks Fred! And thank you, Jocelyn and Paul, for yet another fine feed!

I'm looking forward to getting this outdoor kitchen finished soon and inviting everyone over for dinner one of these nice sunny afternoons.
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feast plus mac nuts
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outdoor kitchen still in progress
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Kai carefully carving out a counter board to fit
 
evan l pierce
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Y2, Spring (10)

Finally started building the retaining walls for Siesta. Feels good to be working on my house.
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Siesta northeast retaining wall started
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Siesta still in progress
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fungi on the hugel berms
 
evan l pierce
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Y2, Spring (11)

Planted some tomato seeds in pots in the greenhouse. Also put some water jugs in there and covered them with a dark-colored sheet to hopefully soak up some heat and store it.

Those walking onions Fred gave me last year are really going crazy!
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greenhouse with tomatoes planted and dark-colored water jugs
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a messy zone 1 on Ava
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walking onion walking to the moon
 
evan l pierce
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Y2, Spring (12)

Trillium is such a nice spring flower.
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white trillium
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turning into...
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pink trillium
 
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Thanks for capturing everything, Evan. Kai is my son, and I stalk your blog for updates, since he doesn't love technology so much... though I probably could have lived without the picture of his knee wound
 
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That outdoor kitchen is turning out pretty awesome! Is that the first outdoor kitchen structure at the lab?
 
evan l pierce
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You raised a good one, Amy! Sorry about the knee pic. Seems like he's healing up right quick though.

Thanks Daniel. I think it might be the first outdoor kitchen up here, but I'm sure it won't be the last.

Y2, Spring (13)

Sharla moved to England to take care of her grandmother. We'll sure miss her around here, but she's already sent some pictures!

She's planning to do a spot of permaculture gardening in her grandmother's back garden. I think she's already put some seeds in the ground in parts and has plans to add a little texture to some other parts. Go Sharla!

Also, apparently there's a bunch of egyptian geese and goslings just all over the place in London!
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Nan's back garden
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watchful goose
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egyptian goose protecting her goslings from pigeons
 
evan l pierce
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Y2, Spring (14)

A symphony of colors and growth!
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mushrooms are red
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violets are blue
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ants love apple blossoms and this one does too
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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evan l pierce wrote:... Sharla moved to England to take care of her grandmother. We'll sure miss her around here, but she's already sent some pictures!
She's planning to do a spot of permaculture gardening in her grandmother's back garden. I think she's already put some seeds in the ground in parts and has plans to add a little texture to some other parts. Go Sharla! ...


Looks like Nan's garden can really use some permaculture. Do your best Sharla!
 
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Nice picture . update more . .. please
 
evan l pierce
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Y2, Spring (15)

Did I mention that y'all can come be a gapper here?

Come be a gapper on Ava!

We've got a nice tent you can stay in. Or even a lean-to debris shelter if that's more your style.

And if you slice yourself open with a bowsaw or hatchet, we've got plenty of yarrow around to stop the bleeding.
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glampsite for gappers on Ava
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debris lean-to option
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medicinal yarrow
 
evan l pierce
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Y2, Spring (16)

Project Tree Collard sent us some tree collard cuttings! Apparently these things can grow up to 8ft tall and are perennial in warmer climes, (although they'll probably just be annuals here.)

We've got 'em in a pot in the greenhouse right now, where hopefully they're putting out some roots, but eventually they're going into some hugels, and with any luck we'll be feasting on delicious collard greens this fall.

Thanks Project Tree Collard!

Check out their website, projecttreecollard.org, where you can learn more about this awesome plant, and even order your own cuttings!
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tree collard cutting 1
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tree collard cutting 2
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tree collard cutting 3
 
evan l pierce
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Y2, Spring (17)

With the help of Rob and Fred, Rex was awakened from hibernation and set to work in ant village.

Jim's uphill patio now successfully drains water away and downhill, plus he's got lots of hugels to plant in just south of his house.

On Ava, we've expanded the pond at the top of Avalon, the "Ocean at the End of the Lane," and also piled up a bunch of dirt near Kailarado that we'll try to dry out and eventually bury Kai's house with it. Also, the road that ran along the north border, Pierce Parkway, is no more. In it's place is more than a dozen hugels!
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Jim's uphill patio
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ocean at the end of the lane, kai's dry dirt
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the hugels of norfjord
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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Your 'glamping' looks very inviting Evan! If it were possible to ride my bicycle in your direction, I'd like to camp there ...
Sorry, that's too far
 
evan l pierce
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Y2, Spring (18)

More spring growies!
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lily of yellowness
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kinickinick blooms
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larch cone
 
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Very glad you've let yourself off the 'daily reportage' hook... although it was a sweet 'daily' treat. But, this is wonderful!! And waiting makes it special... so MUCH in the package when it does arrive ;) Aren't duck eggs lovely? ox

Oh, and glad to hear about your tree collards... think I just bought the same plant, also. Will be fun to see how they fare in our different climates :) (I'm mild maritime Western Washington)
 
evan l pierce
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Thanks Nancy! Hopefully other folks following along aren't too disappointed by this change in protocol. I hope to keep putting out loads of great content, just on a more explicitly random and chronologically ambiguous schedule.

Y2, Spring (19)

I was excavating, digging out paths and piling the dirt into mounds, while Kai was gathering rotten logs and laying out patterns for me to follow. I noticed Kai had stopped, was cradling something in his hands, and grinning madly, so I shut down Rex, jumped out, and walked over.

Kai found this little guy living in a rotten log, and upon attempting to show him to me he climbed up and hid in the sleeve of Kai's coat!

Wow! What an incredible discovery! First we thought it might be a blue-tailed skink, but they're native to australia's christmas island, so that seemed unlikely. Now our best guess is that he's a juvenile "common five-lined skink," meaning he's gonna get potentially even bigger! After promising that we wouldn't eat him, we managed to coax him out near a pile of rocks where hopefully he'll have lots of places to hide and ants to eat. Go forth, little skink, and flourish!
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nothing up Kai's sleeves... except a skink?
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a skink? with a blue tail?
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a blue-tailed skink?
 
evan l pierce
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Y2, Spring (20)

We made some more progress on the outdoor kitchen, putting in a sink and covering the roof with limbs.

Ultimately, the goal will be to put a thin layer of topsoil up there and have a few growies in it, but for now we opted for the lighter weight debris instead until the poles dry out some more. The branches will quickly dry out and drop their needles, but until then they'll help to keep the structure more hidden, (those tarps will be trimmed and a drip edge cover added eventually,) and help to keep the tarps from photodegrading.
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outdoor kitchen sink
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kitchen debris roof started
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what kitchen? that's just a pile of debris
 
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Y2, Spring (21)

Kerry sent the ants some mycorrhizal inoculants in the hope that we would test them out and post about our results. Thanks Kerry! I hope you find our results interesting and useful.

With 6 of the new hugel beds we just built, we're running a somewhat controlled experiment.

Each bed was seeded with roughly the same mix of seeds, including cover crops and cool-season vegetables, and eventually each was covered with roughly the same amount of mulch. Of course, each bed has subtle differences in orientation, shade/sun, and exposure to wind, (unavoidable considering how intentionally and unintentionally diverse all our garden beds are,) but they're all in the same general area, and in general they're pretty similar in size and mostly run north-south, so it should hopefully be a decent test. Also, I think a few other beds got a mix of all the inoculants.

The first bed pictured didn't get any inoculant.

The second bed got the "Myco Grow For Vegetables" inoculant.

The third bed got the "Myco Grow Micronized Endo-Ecto Seed Mix" inoculant.
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control hugel 1
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myco inoculated hugel 2
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myco inoculated hugel 3
 
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Y2, Spring (22)

Mycorrhizal inoculant experiment continued.

The fourth bed got the "Extreme Gardening Azos" inoculant.

The fifth bed got the "Extreme Gardening Mykos" inoculant.

The sixth bed got the "Root Naturally Granular Endo Mycorrhizae" inoculant.

I'll try to update when things start sprouting.
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myco inoculated hugel 4
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myco inoculated hugel 5
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myco inoculated hugel 6
 
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Y2, Spring (23)

Since Rex was around and working, and there's no telling if or when this will be the case again, I figured I better get Siesta as close to finished as I could while still allowing me the space to build a greenhouse into the south berm.

I added a diagonal brace inside to hopefully resist the unbalanced forces, and then dug out the rest of the drainage ditches and buried the north side of Siesta. I also threw some dirt on the southwest side, and a fair bit on the roof, but left the southeast side unburied since I plan to build a greenhouse there. I made a few more hugels downhill of Siesta. Also I piled up a bunch of dirt that I'll try to keep dry and use to finish burying Siesta, maybe with Rex later but it's loose enough that I could do it by hand if I have to.
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north side of Siesta buried
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north side of Siesta buried downhill view
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Siesta Verde site
 
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Y2, Spring (24)

A wild storm blew in quickly from the southeast, (unusual since the weather tends to come from the southwest most of the time,) and right around dusk the sky was lit up with the most bizarre golden light. A rainbow formed and lightning crashed in the southeastern sky. The colors of everything seemed so vivid and surreal, Jim described it thusly: "It's like someone put an instagram filter over reality."

Kai and I scrambled to get tarps over everything just in time and then it started hailing and raining extremely hard and kept on raining through the night.

The next day it rained a bit more throughout the day and we got those potatoes planted. I lazily didn't even cut them before planting them, just stuck 'em in the ground whole.
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dusky rainbow storm
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Siesta and dry dirt covered
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taters about to be planted
 
evan l pierce
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Y2, Spring (25)

Found a morel on Ava! We fried it up and ate it.

Also found some other cool-looking mushroom. Didn't eat that one.

And the hops Kelly Ware gave us are doing awesome! This hops is in front of the greenhouse and will hopefully grow up to cover it and shade it in the summer.
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first morel discovered on Ava
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some other neat mushroom
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hopping up
 
evan l pierce
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Y2, Spring (26)

Tent caterpillars! Fortunately, these caterpillars made their own tents and didn't invade mine. Unfortunately, they made their tents up in some saskatoon branches and were threatening to eat a bunch of saskatoon leaves. Fortunately, I snipped off the branches they were tenting in and delivered them to the ducks.
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tent caterpillar
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lots of tiny tent caterpillars
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lots of slightly bigger tent caterpillars
 
evan l pierce
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Y2, Spring (27)

Jim installed a wood floor in his house! And around his stove he's doing a oil-sealed earthen floor. I think it looks great and I'm looking forward to doing my earthen floor this summer too!

Speaking of Jim, we agreed to a mutual perimeter fencing pact whereby we'll each fence in the borders of our plots, minus the border we share, and so have a deer-proof perimeter to garden inside of. We agreed to get our fences completed by May 20th. It's not clear what the penalty for failing to meet this deadline will be, (garotting by fence wire? impaling by fence pole?) but in any case I don't intend to find out. The ducks have been venturing further and further afield during their field trips lately so that's reason enough to hurry up and get this fence done.

Kai and I threw together the rest of the fence along the western border of Avalon, and since it had been a while, we also moved the duck paddock out of Anarcadeah and down into Avalon.
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Jim sealing his floor with linseed oil
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western border of Avalon fenced
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Varda, Eladan, Galadriel, and Glorfindel
 
evan l pierce
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Y2, Spring (28)

Lots of fence-building.

In honor of the five ducks who lost their lives this past winter, we're naming five of the gates along the border of Ava.

The northeasternmost gate, entering into Anarcadeah, will be Petunia's gate. The gate into Lewisylvania, which will be a kind of tunnel through the berm, will be Elrohir's gate.
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Kai at the beginning of Elrohir's gate
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eastern border of Anarcadeah fenced
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Petunia's gate started
 
evan l pierce
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Y2, Spring (29)

Elrohir's gate is coming along.
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Elrohir's gate arched
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retaining wall of Elrohir's gate
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Elrohir's gate bermed
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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evan l pierce wrote:...
Also found some other cool-looking mushroom. Didn't eat that one...


You're right not to eat that one. If you did probably you could not tell that anymore ... To me this looks like a very dangerous one! We have such ones too here in my region. The start looking like ordinary, edible, 'champignons', but then they grow larger and larger. They are Amanitas, the most poisonous mushrooms I know.
 
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