Samantha Lewis

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since Apr 11, 2012
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Recent posts by Samantha Lewis

r ranson wrote:someone mention a picker?
It really helps if you can run the wool through that before stuffing the tick.  Otherwise it starts off lumpy and gets worse with use.  
You can also pick by hand.

I have a picker !

I am still learning the best ways to put material through it.  I breaks up the fibers and the dirt falls out.    vegetation still has to be picked out by hand.

I like the idea of making bats on a barrel carder and laying them out in a cross hatch pattern.  
Stitching them together with a bulky yarn and felting the whole piece a bit.  
Then putting the felt it in the cotton or linen mattress cover and stitch the whole thing with quilting.
1 week ago

Opalyn Rose wrote:

Chris McClellan wrote:Opalyn, what do think of a quilt stuffed with some local fiber?

I love it!  The challenge is to prevent the stuffing from bunching unevenly.  
- use old sheets as layers
-  use old sheets and stitch boxes to keep the fiber distributed
-  the fiber can be drum-carded into batts then laid out and stitched to a sheet or the backing layer

Hello Opalyn!  

I will bring wool and my picker

Do you have a drum carder you can bring?  
1 week ago
I will take the mule!   I can do something about the does not want to work.   Maybe he has pain, I can give him body work, balance his feet and his teeth.  Give him good nutrition, more treats and kind words.  

With a tractor...  unless it is basic maintenance...    I gonna have to call somebody.  
4 weeks ago

Sparr Risher wrote:Hi! I am an organizer at Estate of Mind, a coliving community in Massachusetts focused on creative colaboration. Between March 15 and April 1 of this year I will be driving across the country with at least a few other people. Our shared interests include coliving, cohousing, intentional communities, permaculture, makerspaces, and other related topics. We plan to stop and visit as many communities as we can along the way. Our route takes us near your location, and I'm intrigued (and a little overwhelmed) by the variety of options you offer(ed?) for people to visit and/or be part of the community. Would you be interested in having us visit? We could stop by for a few minutes or hours or overnight, at your discretion. We would love to have a tour of your property, meet your organizers and residents and other involved folks, share a meal with you, swap stories and ideas, etc. I don't think we'll be prepared to do the sort of work your boot camp entails, but hiring one of your residents to lead a tour could work for us. For an overnight stay, one or more of us might want to book one of your accommodations, but we'll also be equipped for tent and/or vehicle camping.

I would also welcome a conversation with anyone from your community who would like to join us for part of the trip. My friends and community contacts have planned to fill about half of the 12 seats on our bus, so we have plenty of room for other interested individuals or groups to come along.

Thank you for your time.

Hello Sparr!

Sounds like a really fun trip!

It would be great to have you all visit this spring.  
We do have a bunch of options for being here, trying to make it work for everybody's schedule and their needs.

It sounds like the sepper program would be perfect for your group!

Tuesday is our community night when we all get together.  We share a meal and talk about community business.

Boot camp:  The work here is pretty easy going and at the pace folks are comfortable with.   We encourage people to take breaks and have a great time.
When someone is here as a sepper they can jump into the boot camp projects if they want to.

If you rent Cooper Cabin your whole crew could stay there together.  It is big, has lots of bunks and is right near the sauna!

Come on out and play with us!
1 month ago
This is a special offer of the 4-movie "better wood heat" plus the 4-movie set "wood burning stoves 2.0" - all 8 videos as HD streaming (instant view).

HD instant view$10$30$30$40
tiny (SD) download$15$40$40$50
physical DVDs (US shipping)$20$45$45$65
physical DVDs (non-US shipping)$45$70$70$100

Here are some of the benefits of rocket mass heaters:

cheap to run. About a tenth the cost of natural gas, electric or conventional wood heat.
clean. They emit about a hundredth of the smoke of a conventional wood stove.
good for the environment. Less than 2% of CO2 emissions of natural gas or electric heat. Can reduce your carbon footprint as much as parking 7 cars.
sustainable. It uses a renewable fuel which is easy to find and store.
cheap to build. About $200 to $600.
quick to build. Often built in a weekend
luxuriant. Like the luxury of a heated floor but without all that standing.

Watch the intro video:

wood burning stoves 2.0

This was the first 4-DVD set created by Paul Wheaton and his merry band of rocket mass heater innovators. It is a great introduction and shares lots of good information about fire in general, and what can be done with rocket mass heaters.

DVD 1: fire science

This is where Ernie and Erica set stuff on fire in all sorts of wacky ways. This is the foundation for understanding how rocket stoves and rocket mass heaters work the way they do.

DVD 2: sneaky heat

The wood burning stove built in this DVD is the result of a collection of experiments that led to a rocket mass heater an order of magnitude better than any previous rocket mass heater. For the first time ever we have a shippable core.

DVD 3: boom squish

Named after a series of podcasts where we discuss the dangers and strategies of alternative hot water. Caleb Larson and Ernie work together to talk about how to do this right. Caleb is a professional alternative hot water installer and is very familiar with the explosive properties of steam, flash point and vapor lock.

DVD 4: hot rocket

We set out to prove that a few twigs can outperform a huge propane turkey cooker. Mission accomplished. This is with a J-tube style rocket stoves. Other rocket stoves feature an L-tube style the requires constant manual feeding. The J-tube style is self feeding. This DVD will also have information on some tiny home made cookstoves, and several different pocket rocket designs.

better wood heat

DVD 1: cob style

This is all about the ol' reliable cob style rocket mass heater. Watch how a couple spent a winter in a tipi with only a rocket mass heater for heat, and how comfortable they were. Even at 26 below! This DVD works as a stand-alone purchase, or can be purchased with the rest of the set.

DVD 2: pebble style

Watch the construction of three pebble style rocket mass heaters. This style of construction is easier to deconstruct and move than the traditional cob style heaters. They are also better for installing on wood floors as they are generally much lighter.

DVD 3: shippable core

This DVD shows an early prototype, and some how-tos for a variety of techniques for building one.

DVD 4: innovators event

This event has been captured on film, featuring the best of the best in the rocket mass heater arena. This video shows a variety of builds such as a rocket mass heater shaped in a circle with glass to show the burn; an outdoor rocket mass heater/cooker/smoker; A "batch box style" rocket mass heater with measured output cleaner than anything we have ever encountered; and an indoor rocket stove, griddle and water heater. Very cool stuff.


Please feel free to comment below. We love to hear your feedback!

For more information, see the official pages:  Better Wood Heat and Wood Burning Stoves 2.0

2 months ago

More information about the GMC can be found here:

Bring a friend!   Someone you want to learn and grow with.

Buy two tickets below!

2 months ago
Designing Your Perennial Farm
Mark Shepard, Manager of New Forest Farms and author of the book Restoration Agriculture, offers a critique of annual crop-based staple food production, while laying the ecological framework and reasons for designing a perennial staple food crops farm. You'll gain the basic skills to begin the transition from annuals to a permanent, perennial agriculture incorporating everything from nuts and berries to livestock and fruits and vegetables. The talk introduces the concept of ecosystem mimicry and keyline water management and will help you to chart a path forward to a truly ecologically designed farm.

Format: HD Streaming
Duration: 57 minutes

Mark Shepard is the CEO of Restoration Agriculture Development, the Forest Agriculture Nursery and runs New Forest Farms, a 110 acre perennial agricultural savanna, one of the first of its kind in the USA. He is the author of the award-winning Restoration Agriculture: Real-world Permaculture for Farmers and Water for ANY Farm.

Related Books

Restoration Agriculture by Mark Shepard
Water for Any Farm by Mark Shepard

Check out this short clip of Mark on YouTube:

This presentation is just one from the Permaculture Voices Presentations (click image below for more):

2 months ago
I have about 30 Finn sheep.
I gave all my extra wool to wheaton labs in montana

a good dusting with food grade diatomaceous earth (DE) and stuffed in the walls and ceiling of the red cabin.  

The cabin was fully built, but a bit drafty.  I think they just stuffed it in around the existing insulation and now it is super cozy.

The pump house at wheaton labs has a mycoinsulation roof.  I think the plan with the walls is to stuff burlap sacks with wool and staple them between the studs as the exterior wall boards are going up.

we did not wash any of this wool.  It is a bit dirty with bits of straw.  some is partly felted     dusting it with DE will keep moths and other insects from being a problem

3 months ago
What are you doing this holiday season?

Consider renting a cabin or allerton abbey at wheaton labs for your holiday vacation!

Come warm yourself with a rocket mass heater.

Bask in the abundance of life.

You can get a good dose of peace and quiet.

fresh air and sunshine.  

exercise and healthy food

When I was growing up, we went over the river and through the woods to my grandmother's house every holiday.  

We indulged in the finest foods and drank in the happiness of being together.

Spending holidays at Wheaton labs gives me that same feeling of family.    

Sitting around the table and everyone has contributed to the grandness of the day.

 It is really the sweetest thing.

Here's the calendar for this year.  If you want a cozy place to overwinter, it's a perfect time to ease into the bootcamp.

Half assed holiday schedule for the 2023-2024 winter season:

wed nov 1 - indoor gardening day

wed nov 8 - apple seed day

wed nov 15 - bun warmer day

thurs nov 23 - Thanksgiving Day

fri nov 24 - wood box day (half day)

- try to replace plastic bins with wooden crates and boxes
- maybe try to make a box that will almost hold water
- maybe even try to make some dovetail joints
- some boxes will be quick and some will be very nice
- unlike wooden spoon day - wood boxes will remain with the bootcamp

wed nov 29 - day of light - a half day of improving the lighting in and around our nest

- add mirrors
    o on walls
    o in window wells
    o lots of creativity
- add lights that are more efficient by lighting people more than the room
- add solar night lights outside - find artistic themes
- different sorts of prisms in the windows
- add indoor night lights
- make full room lights that can be turned on at the source that add HUGE light to the room
- light experiments
- possible candle lit dinner
- an evening campfire (bun warmer or pavilion)
- maple foods
    o maple meringue cookies
    o maple rolls
    o maple cookies
    o spaghetti with each person adding about a tablespoon of maple syrup (tip of the hat to Elf)
    o horchata sweetened with maple syrup
    o fresh bread served with whipped maple butter
- hot spiced cider

tues dec 5 - chair repair day

fri dec 8 - wooden spoon day - half day

- we all carve wood kitchen utensils
- maybe one cutting board
- make lots of soup that people eat with wooden spoons!
      o make bread bowls for soup
- ice cream to test the strength of wooden spoons

mon dec 11 --  christmas decorating day - a half day of

- setting up a tree and all the decorating
- popcorn
       o +maple syrup to make popcorn balls
- make a wreath
- convert a cubbie into a "nativity" featuring wheaton labs stuff
- christmas movie

thur dec 14  - christmas stocking day - a half day of

- making christmas stockings (for current and future boots)
- baking
- further cool decorations
- christmas movie

wed dec 20  - christmas baking day - a half day of baking

- and a christmas movie

sun dec 24  - christmas eve - half day of (i need ideas)

- I will go into missoula and get chinese take out for everybody
- egg nog
- fudge
- confections
- add an ornament to the tree
       o must be something that can be used for many years
       o says your name plus "christmas 2022"

mon dec 25 - christmass day - fancy foodening

thurs dec 28  - day of fire - a half day of improving fire stuff

- build indoor and outdoor firewood racks
- do all rocket spots have
       o a kindling cracker
       o a poker
       o an ash bucket
       o ample fire starting paper and a propane torch
       o a nearby fire extinguisher
       o good firebricks for the wood feed
- find quick and easy ways to upgrade rocket mass heaters
- make improvements to the bun warmer space
- evening with the bun warmer
      o plus a tiny camp fire in the middle (with our little camp fire contraption)
      o smores
      o hot dogs
      o hot drinks (tea, spiced cider, etc.)

mon jan 1   Putting Away Christmas + Movies Day

- black eyed peas, greens and corn bread
- spaghetti

hot springs day - mixed in somewhere.  Surprise half day

thurs jan 4 - proenneke day  (half day)

 - small roundwood projects all with hand tools
       o coat hooks (cut forked branch style)
       o coat hooks (dry pegs in green half-round of wood)
       o a kitchen chair (probably pretty big and blocky)
       o repair projects
       o sawbuck

wed jan 10  - national houseplants day (half day)

- overhaul all of the houseplants
- modify stuff to be houseplant pots
- coleus seeds
- plant edible stuff, maybe herbs
- add plant shelves and grow lights
- experiment with self watering stuff

fri jan 12 - gadget mending day  (half day)

tues jan 16 - quilt day
- collectively make one quilt for one thing
    o maybe a window quilt
    o maybe a curtain for something
    o maybe a bed quilt
- each person has their own square or two to be added to the quilt
- they can add messages with laundry markers
- each boot can add their name
- somewhere it says "bootcamp 2022"
- ravioli served so it looks like a quilt

fri jan 19   -sauna day. (half day)

tues jan 23   - fermentation day (half day)

- water keifer
- kim chi
- miso
- kraut
- sourdough
- keifer

fri jan 26 -  pina colada day (half day)

- blended drinks (with umbrellas), pizza and the house is 80 degrees
     o beach music
     o drink from pineapple cups
- improve the dock
     o add tropical somethings
- improve the library
- movie featuring pina coladas or beaches
     o shrek (plays the pina colada song)
     o pirates of the caribbean
     o lilo and stitch
     o fantasy island
     o swiss family robinson
     o guardians of the galaxy

mon jan 29 - fri feb 2 - garden master course

-Helen Atthowe will be here and the world will be bright and beautiful

tues feb 6 - cat house day

 - build a cat house
 - eat lasagna
 - maybe a movie featuring a cat

fri feb 9 art day

- signs and labels
- maybe tiny rock jacks to hold up outdoor signs
- food that would be served at an art gallery
          o foods impaled with toothpicks
          o foods served on a cracker
          o grapes

tues feb 13 - fukuoka day

- make seed balls
- upgrade the free shelf stuff
- sushi

fri feb 16 - pulley day

 - projects with pulleys
    o laundry racks
    o window quilts
    o food drying racks next to the ceiling that can be lowered
    o pulley-based ceiling storage
    o more things like Bob.
    o maybe some experiments with manual log skidding winches
    o maybe some gravity lights in the pantry

wed feb 21 - roundwood furniture day

 - making furniture out of roundwood, like the picnic table and the couch balcony.
    o chairs
    o stools
    o tables

wed feb 28 - repair cafe day


wed mar 6 - gate day

 - projects with gates
    o maintain existing gates
    o build new gates
    o make garden gates animal tight for spring
    o update allerton abbey gate to be more beautiful

wed mar 13 - garden twig day

 - making useful art out of twigs, like a cucumber, pea vine and clematis frame.
    o tomato cages
    o trellis

wed mar 20 - dog day

 - we work on making something for dogs at the dog star
     wofati dog house

If you want to dive in deeper consider joining the Wheaton Labs bootcamp for hands on Half Assed Holiday experience! :

3 months ago