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podcast 415 - Fall events follow up

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Location: Kingston, Canada (USDA zone 5a)
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Credit: Penny McLoughlin

Paul and Jocelyn are at Warm Springs Creek in Idaho.

They are enjoying the pools of warm to hot water that have been formed by people stacking boulders around the springs.

They say that it has been a mad scramble over the last several weeks as they were getting ready for the Round Wood Timber Framing class that they held. Stripping and prepping the logs takes quite a bit of time. Then they had Build Week where they built a berm shed and finally the Natural Building week. And then Jocelyn reminds Paul that they also had the Rocket Oven Pizza Party before the Natural Building week. About 20 people came for the Pizza Party and additionally they had instructors and rocket builders attend as well.

Jocelyn mentions that they have more rockety things than anywhere else. Eleven rocket stoves, ovens or mass heaters on the premises and 1 rocket thing that wasn't working and got turned into a cook stove.

They want to send out a big "Thanks" to Ron Bigelow of "Permaculture Pickle", Ean & Tyler who were boots helping with the events and Larry & Dave who helped before or during the events.

Also, thanks to "Donkey" who came early and left late for the several weeks of events. He has incidentally closed his natural building school saying that it was just too exhausting to be doing all of the prep and work and clean up all on his own.

Paul and Jocelyn note that they are also exhausted after the several weeks of events. Paul was giving tours of all the rockety stuff with lots of history and background on each of the items and then also letting everyone try all the rockety items. The Cyclone stove in the Red Cabin has detailed instructions on how to run it in the cabin but still the person using it had trouble and needed individual instruction. The people in the Tipi had a similar problem with that rocket mass heater.

Jocelyn notes that you would think that it is not that much of a learning curve but she sees over and over that people need to experience the operation of the stoves in person in order to be able to run them on their own.

Paul notes that when Fred couldn't get the one in Allerton Abbey to work correctly, he said that no one was to light it until "Donkey" could repair it. That was the one that they ended up turning into a cook stove.

During the Natural Building week, they found that the dirt on Allerton Abbey was several feet too thick in places and needed to be removed to try and fix the draft problems that they were having with the structure. A small excavator was rented to move the extra dirt as it was far too much to shovel manually. Paul ended up running the excavator since no one else there had much experience with them and he ended up working at it every hour that he could to get it done.

Paul and Jocelyn already had the Idaho excursion scheduled so they had an excuse to "escape". There is no umbrella right now on Allerton Abbey but they have a few more days with no rain so they should have time to finish it when they get back.

They mention that the events of the last few weeks were designed to help them get finished several of the partially finished projects that have been unable to get completed in the last few years.

When Allerton Abbey was started 5 years ago, the wind would blow through it and the guy that lived there couldn't fix it. Paul tried to have a couple of other people fix it over the years but neither of them completed the job. Finally, they were able to use a thermal camera and building a smokey fire in a can in the building to highlight where the air was drafting to so they could fix it. As they were pealing off the dirt to accomplish this though, they found that the soil over the waterproof membrane was too thin and the dirt underneath was far to thick. Maybe as much as 9 feet in one area.

Paul thinks that he should have made a document to more accurately describe how it should have been constructed and therefore the fault was his that it was done incorrectly. Jocelyn argues that documents don't always helps and references the recent experience with the stove in the Red Cabin.

She also then describes how Paul is totally frustrated by people using extreme language (ie always or never) and also by being interrupted.

Paul and Jocelyn talk about how much was done by the "Boots" before the events as well.
  -One guy came out on his vacation to work as a boot for a week for the experience of it
  -They harvested a lot of the Sepp grain and tried a couple of ways of threshing it. The "squishy" method in the pillow case worked best.
  -They dry stacked a bunch more rock to shore up paths that were eroding or were very sketchy.
  -The scaffolding on the tall skinny berms by the Fisher Price House were also completed.

John Pilch, Uncle Mud and Ernie and Erica Wisner also were a big help during the Natural Build week.

Paul talks about needing to finish Allerton Abbey when they get back. Just him and Fred. Also they need to finish the berm shed but haven't been able to find any people to help with that so it will probably be just him and Fred again.

Jocelyn mentions that you sort of need community to build community but she is feeling that they are heading in an upward direction again.

Paul is hoping to hire a full time person to come and help soon.

Bringing so many people through the property the first few years required Paul and Jocelyn to work more at their computers to earn money for the events and do all the administration required for large events. Paul notes that the events have always run several thousand dollars in the red. Jocelyn feels that people didn't understand why she and Paul weren't more active in the projects that were happening.

Both of them give a big thanks to Fred and all that he has done.

Relevant Threads

five days of natural building (wofati and cob) and rocket cooktop oct 8-12, 2018
the first wofati - allerton abbey- version 0.7
permaculture bootcamp
Wheaton Labs
WOFATI (Woodland Oehler Freaky-Cheap Annual Thermalized Inertia)
Natural Building Project
Donkey Forum

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Woohoo! Thanks for the mention, fellow normal-sized person Paul!  8D
Coming out and seeing everything in person, and getting to try out the rocket oven and various rocket heaters was great! Now seeing the online pictures of the basecamp or lab tie things together for me.

While some might not have liked the little drizzles of rain, I liked it as I see rain maybe 3-4 days a year around here and literally walk out in the back yard and stand in it to feed my starving midwestern soul.

I'm hoping to come out again in the future, between visiting my own place to do work and hopefully time visits to when you have other workshops like the ATC or working on the wofatis and other projects. I highly recommend visitors stay in a structre on the lab at least a night or two, especially when they can fire up a heater, to get the full experience.

The comments on documentation are spot on, (I liked all the documentation seen around the FPH too!) in that many people will skip the instructions when they assume they know what to do or if they are distracted, and then they make mistakes that are specifically addressed.
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Location: Burton, Ohio
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Mud here,
I felt like there was an important communication breakthrough that occurred during this time period. One evening the folks Paul had assembled from far and wide to help with the Allerton roof rescue were sitting there after a lovely dinner taking turns explaining why the rescue couldn't or shouldn't be done or was too dangerous or not worth it, and what we could do instead. After much repeating himself Paul was able to get us (okay get me) finally to understand that we were not trying to make this building perfect or do something better instead, we were trying to get that particular building experiment to the point where it would do its one main job testing whether you could build--with a couple hundred dollars and materials native to THAT land--a structure you could over-winter in while doing all the other stuff you need to do to set up a Permaculture Homestead. Not a forever home, not perfect. Not even particularly good. Just good enough, for cheap, from the stuff that was there. Oh. Five years into its projected ten year lifespan for one comedy reason and then another this building had yet to be sealed enough to test, and this right here right now was our best chance to make this happen. And it did. No one fell. The roof didn't collapse. We even got the doors to shut properly. On to the next thing! PEP here we come.
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