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evan l pierce
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Thanks Gary. To be honest I still haven't really solved the wing/retaining wall problem, I just covered it in mulch so that it would look nice while I procrastinate on it some more.

By the way, Gary, here's some pictures from when we visited your place this autumn. Thanks again for the hospitality and for showing off your cool permaculture projects!
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a little patch of Gary's garden
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a mantis preying on a bee in Gary's garden
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Gary's bamboo stand
 
nancy sutton
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I ditto Matt's comment!  Amazing :)
 
lorance romero
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All hail the magnificent Evan!! Yes awesome! Will you be staying the winter at siesta?
 
Gary Huntress
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You're very welcome, Evan.  Anytime!  That pic of the mantis is amazing!  I'm so glad I'm bigger than he is.
 
evan l pierce
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Thanks lorance. Staying in a heated house is a slippery slope. Starting to feel all civilized. Before I know it I'll be thinking about putting in electricity and indoor plumbing.

I expect to spend quite a few more nights inside running the stove and keeping it warm, but I hope to get Siesta just a bit more finished and then open it up as a kind of bed-and-breakfast.

Right now my dad Steve is house-sitting for me while I'm away for a few days. I haven't had my fill of winter camping yet.

Here's a few more pictures from the last little trip I went on. We visited some of Ben's friends and family and saw some mighty cool permaculture gardens. We even stayed in a sweet yurt at this beautiful place called Quiet Creek Farm.

Speaking of Ben, if y'all haven't seen his thread where he's posting some of his jams, do yourself a favor and check it out: https://permies.com/t/60339/Montana-Mountain-Music#513106
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chestnuts!
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guineas at quiet creek farm
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yurt at quiet creek farm
 
Bill Erickson
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That is some cool looking stuff, Evan. Quiet Creek Farm looks like a sweet place to stay.
 
evan l pierce
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I spent a few days camped out at Standing Rock in solidarity with the No Dakota Access Pipe Line (NoDAPL) protests and the globally networked resistance movement of which it is only a particularly visible part. NoDAPL stands at the confluence of several globally relevant causes: protection of the water, soil, and habitat threatened by state-subsidized and liability-capped corporate resource extraction, opposition to the coercive eminent domain seizure of land from people justly inhabiting it, and an insistence that the treaties with and the sovereignty of indigenous people be upheld, to name just a few.

I caught a ride with my fellow ant Jesse, who brought along lots of firebricks and other rocket-mass-heater supplies to help winterize the camps while simultaneously demonstrating the efficiency and practicality of renewable energy alternatives to the oil economy. At the time of this writing, Jesse and Carol-Anne are still out there doing great work. I feel so fortunate and grateful to have such rad, inspiring, and courageous friends! Check out Jesse's Patreon where you can support his valiant efforts: https://www.patreon.com/jessegrimes

One of the projects that Jesse, Carol-Anne, myself, and many other awesome folks helped work on was a strawbale schoolhouse at Camp Sacred Stone. In the short time I was there I learned a thing or two about load-bearing strawbales, was able to lend a hand with many little tasks, and witnessed the roof go on, the windows and doors installed, and the rocket-mass-heater and interior plaster started. It was amazing to me the way all these volunteers worked together to make such a positive impact in the face of something so negative.
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Camp Sacred Stone
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Sacred Stone Community School freshly roofed
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Sacred Stone Community School and Permaculture Learning Center under construction
 
evan l pierce
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Over at Camp Oceti Sakowin, another schoolhouse was being constructed, this one in a bent roundwood style. Jesse built an 8-inch rocket mass heater on top of pallets inside the structure so that it could be moved if necessary.
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Roundwood School Building at Oceti Sakowin
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Jesse working on a rocket mass heater in the roundwood school
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first big snow at Camp Oceti Sakowin
 
evan l pierce
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Someone donated several potted trees to Camp Sacred Stone. They'll provide some windbreak, mulch, shade, and increased biodiversity. I got to help get these spruce, ash, maple, willow, and elm trees into the ground after helping to come up with a site plan for where to put them that met the needs of the short-term campers around the site, the owner and relevant inhabitants that would live with them longer-term, and the trees themselves. We ended up running a contour-line with an a-frame level and planting most of the trees in a wide arc across the north and west of the Sacred Stone Community School. I also planted a few handfuls of acorns around the camp. If even a single oak tree grows there that alone will have made it worth it for me to have made the journey.

I built an l-tube rocket cook stove out of cans, (a design that I've used successfully for years,) hopefully helping to reduce campers' dependence on propane cooking stoves just a little. And I experimented with a j-tube rocket cook stove in the same style. The j-tube worked great but ended up falling apart when it was being moved around, but I learned a lot and hopefully so did the other folks who helped with and witnessed the stove-building. I think if I use a refractory-cement-and-perlite mix or even just a perlite-clay mix instead of just perlite, this j-tube out of cans could be a really awesome wicked-cheap portable cook stove. I definitely plan to further pursue this line of experimentation.
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an acorn and a prayer for Sacred Stone
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2 rocket stoves built with less than a dollar in materials
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me cobbing the joints of the j-tube rocket stove
 
evan l pierce
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One of the nights I was at Standing Rock I witnessed police officers in riot gear assaulting peaceful protestors with rubber bullets, concussion grenades, pepper spray, tear gas, and a water cannon.
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riot police at standing rock
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peaceful protesters assaulted by police
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come see the violence inherent in the system
 
Julia Winter
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I'm so glad you went - I think it made a real difference.  I'm sure you've heard about the Army Corp of Engineers reconsidering the pipeline path by now. . .

I couldn't go, but I donated some medical supplies that went there a couple of weeks ago in a repurposed insulated school bus.
 
nancy sutton
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Oh, you guys and gals !!!  Talk about warming the cockles of a heart... starting a fire ;)   I've done my marching, protesting, etc. here at home for various anti-war, etc... but this is calling for sooo much more ... and getting so much more!   Lately, a convoy of veterans.  This is one of history's major inflection points, I think.  Hugs
 
Steve Taylor
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Wow Even!  What an amazing log you've created

Just finished reading and posted this link and a pic to my Instagram @permaculture_life

Love what you and all the Ants are doing. I'm about to start reading up on all their threads next, thanks for the links

I have a feeling you'll be winning the Ant Challenge!  Thanks again for all the info and funny posts, it was a pleasure catching up with your progress.

Also want to thank the Duke and everyone involved for putting together amazing things
 
evan l pierce
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I'm always filled with awe every time I return to the mountains after being away for a while; that first glimpse of the earth rising up in the distance, those wind-battered, snow-covered peaks a testament to our planet's headlong barreling through frigid space...

And coming back to the village, the re-realization of having a bit of space-time here; having a piece of mountain on which to live and garden, is awe-inspiring too. Hopefully sharing these pictures will help to spread a little of that inspiration.
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elrohir's gate snowy
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gigantor's gate snowy
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ducks, chicken, siesta in background
 
evan l pierce
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Kai developed a neat new way to build fence that's a lot like weaving a basket!
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petunia's gate snowy
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kai weaving fence
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fence weaving
 
evan l pierce
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Oh,
when the weather outside is frozen,
sitting by the fire is so zen...
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yonder snowy
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siesta snowy
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fire inside siesta
 
Tyler Ludens
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Beautiful!
 
Gary Huntress
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Glad to see you're not frozen into a Popsicle, Evan.  That Kai is a bush-crafting madman!  I love his ingenuity.  How are the winter shelters working out (Janet, Kai, Ben, you, Jesse, Jim)? 
 
evan l pierce
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Gary, the folks up here on the lab are staying warm and healthy. We've been kicking that cabin fever by visiting each other's cabins, bucking and splitting up firewood, and harvesting junkpoles for fencing.

For winter solstice, Paul and Jocelyn had us over for an amazing feast! And Jocelyn even provided a plethora of tasty and relatively healthy materials for a gingerbread wofati building party. Ben, Janet, Garret, and I each put our building skills to the test in the construction of edible wofatis.
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Ben's marshmallow igloo
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Janet's scale model of her house
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Garret's hoganesque gingerbread wofati
 
evan l pierce
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My gingerbread wofati started off promising but ended up falling apart. Cutting notches in pretzel sticks is way harder than cutting notches into wood.

The next day I was picking through the ruins of my gingerbread wofati and managed to scavenge enough materials to make a scale model of the ministry of quacks, aka the duck hollow, aka the ducks' winter shelter.

After days of munching on the increasingly stale rubble,  the leftovers were finally thrown to the ravenous ducks.
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pretzel post and beam
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partially collapsed gingerbread wofati with lollipop trees growing out of the roof
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gingerbread model of the miniquax
 
evan l pierce
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Have you ever heard the legend of the mermoose? The mythical half-moose half-fish beast of generosity and flatulence?

Of course not.

But Jocelyn heard tell of the legendary mermoose and crafted a pfefferneuse sculpture in its honor. Delicious.

Lately the mermoose has been leaving stacks of bucked firewood in front of folks' cabins. What a nice mermoose.
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Pfeffermermoose of Saint Jocelyn
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gift of the mermoose
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another legendary beast, the lightscavator
 
evan l pierce
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Josh and Ben's collaborative plot development efforts are yielding some beautiful results.
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Josh's hugel pyramid in the sunny snow
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bear den snowy
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Ben's badass hillbilly mansion in progress and snow
 
evan l pierce
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And I'm pretty damn happy to be collaborating with Kai on the development of Ava.
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avalon snowy
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snowy lil brush paddock fence and yonder
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snowy siesta with steam rising from chimney
 
Ed Hoffman
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Hello Evan,
I have been following the ant village logs since you all started posting. Although I do not envy the challenges all of you face, I am very interested to see how you overcome them.
Anyway, the reason I am contacting you is because you are the one who is most actively posting. I did see on Jim's log how he had a little set back with his wood stove.
To get to the point, I would like to offer him, Sean or even your Dad a free Portable rocket stove ( one free stove ), that one of them might like to try out.
It is an impressive working rocket stove, all metal on removable metal wheels. I would not recommend putting it in a permanent cob mass, but I am sure rock or brick around it would work great.
If you think one of the other Ants could and would put it to good use to help them get through the Winter let me know.
I will keep checking your log.
 
evan l pierce
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Ed, from conversations with the other ants that are here, we all appreciate the offer and I at least would not turn down the opportunity to play with another rocket stove,  but nobody expressed to me that they needed a new stove to get through this winter at least. Thank you thank you though, and if you do send a rocket stove someone at the lab would probably try it out and document it. What kind of metal is it made out of and what parts are made out of what? Pictures or links?

Permies, it's been a cold, snowy, busy winter and I've been neglecting to post here. I have been taking tons of pictures though. Maybe I'll get around to posting more some time.

For now check this out, (I think it's pretty neat):

An "auto-combusting" "fuel-less" wooden outdoor rocket cook stove: At least two holes augered to meet in something like an "L" or "V" shape in the core of a dry log.

One mid-winter mid-afternoon Kai and I decided to try out this idea we'd heard about. Kai brought over his badass hand-powered auger and we used it to auger into a big ~1' diameter log of dry, formerly dead-standing, ponderosa pine. We missed initially in our first attempt at augering and ended up augering three-ish ~1" holes that eventually met in the center of the log, (call one a secondary air intake.) After clearing out enough of the sawdust to create an air channel and then igniting the bit of sawdust remaining in the core, the log burned from the inside out with a fairly clean and smokefree flame rocketing out from the wood-insulated heat riser. The wood was such a good insulator that we were able to comfortably handle the outside of the stove with bare hands and adjust it in relation to the wind even as we boiled water on it. The heat output increased steadily and while we ate the food we had just cooked on the stove, the stove consumed itself, reaching the tipping point at which the growing holes in the log met, and became a campfire around which we sat and warmed ourselves, enjoying the glow of the fire through the long twilight after the sun set behind the western mountains and into the frozen starry night.
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wooden rocket stove ready for cooking
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automatic post-cooking campfire beginning
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Kai's badass hand auger
 
evan l pierce
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Kai Proenneke-Lawless has been at it again! Check out this amazing wooden gate he built without any metal fasteners or power tools! Not to mention that roundwood rail fence and gorgeous bird house!

When you support Ava Permaculture on Patreon, that money goes right into Kai's paypal account and helps to enable him to continue creating inspiring works of art like this! Thank you!
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Kai with his beautiful all-wood no-metal-anywhere gate, future fence materials, and birdhouse!
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detail of top part of hinge
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detail of bottom part of hinge
 
Janet Branson
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We are all looking forward to diversifying our duck population, Evan.
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evan l pierce
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Look at this beautiful fence! Have I mentioned lately that Kai is a badass? Here's the thread he started chronicling his heroic deeds: https://permies.com/t/62917/Kai-Belated-Posts

Oh yeah, also, it's spring now!

The rain and snowmelt from up in the mountains has swollen and extended the creek, and now there's a raging torrent, complete with waterfalls, flowing through ant village!

The huge chasm of an earthworks completed last fall in Avalon is now quite a nice big pond. The Dancing Lake lives!
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Kai's wicked teepee fence
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waterfall, ducks, dancing lake
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dancing lake panoramic
 
evan l pierce
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I think the arroyo suddenly coming to life was a surprise to just about everyone. I literally fell out of bed the first morning of the flood, to the sound of a waterfall!

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Stevantium from across the living creek
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waterfall from Jesse's bikepark into chris-mas pond Stevantium
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living creek below Jesse's house/bike-landing
 
evan l pierce
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That's a lot of water! It's so cool to see all the paths the water actually took as opposed to where I assumed/guessed it would go. Some places the creek backfilled a ways back up a secondary smaller draw and in other places it spread out or narrowed to a rapids. Walking up and down the now living creek offered countless surprises. One of the biggest surprises was seeing an actual pond in the pockmarked disturbance of a meadow we call Cat Pond.
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mermoose of the living creek
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S2's fence on Sean's lakefront plot
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living creek cascading across pascal rd into cat pond
 
Genevieve Higgs
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Wow! 

Was snowpack similar to last year? I don't remember seeing anything like that last tear so I guess all your earthworks are coming into play!

Do you think any water will stick around or will it soak in pretty fast?

I hope everybody's house's feet are dry?
 
Jesse Grimes
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Holy crap that's a lot of water!  Thank you for the pictures Evan.  I would love a bunch more or my plot if you have the chance.  I also hope my shed floor stayed above the water, i definitely wont be parking anything down there over winter again.  It looks like that berm between Steve and i is holding back the flow and backing it up the draw.  It definitely looks like a proper dam and spillway is in order, gotta catch all that spring run off! Luckily, I'm going to get some training in dam and pond building during the ELI course this year. 

It looks like your pond is full to the top!  So awesome!  Time to have some dance parties as it dries out.  Im real curious to see how fast it dries up, especially that pond below my house.
 
evan l pierce
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It seems to me like we got more snow this winter than last, and it seems like our fall was wetter, and so far, spring has been rainier too. It's hard to say how long it will stick around, though I expect a lot to soak out through the too-steep sides of my ponds. The ducks are hard at work but they can only do so much. We just got a little solar pump to lift water up from the full and overflowing Dancing Lake, the lowest pond on Ava, up to the higher ponds. With any luck all the ponds on Ava will be full by the time the creek stops flowing. Surely then at least perhaps some of the ponds won't completely dry up by late summer...

Everyone's houses seem to have been built above the flood zone, but unfortunately, Jesse, your shed floor did get a little wet. Kai heroically pole-vaulted over to it and got your power tools off the floor though. Hopefully there wasn't too much damage. The berms backing the water up have eroded somewhat and now the shed floor is above water again, last I looked. I'll be sure to take lots more pics of your plot for you, Jesse!

We threw some rocks across the place where the water was leaving Ava, both to use as a bridge and also as a kind of filter to slow down and catch some of the debris and floaty stuff.
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Jesse's slightly flooded shed
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Dancing Lake overflow
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gabion and rock bridge across Dancing Lake overflow
 
Sean Pratt
Lab Ant
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Location: Rensselaer New York
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i would have never guessed this would happen. its a real miracle ! wish i could be there to check it out for myself but pictures are great to !i hope that we can use pictures of where the water is now for future reference on where the creek will be if we do bring it back permanently. thanks so much for the pics man !
 
evan l pierce
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pollinator
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greening the desert
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Some more pictures of the living creek in ant village.
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Jesse's shed with floor now above water
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a deep bit of the living creek on Jesse's plot
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dam-ish berm and waterfall between Jesse's and Steve's
 
Julia Winter
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bee bike chicken food preservation hugelkultur urban
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Excellent to see - you are recharging the aquifers, even if it all soaks in.  Your baby trees will be able to access it, encouraging their tap roots to go deep.  The process of transformation continues. . .
 
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