Liz Hammond

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since Apr 06, 2014
The ocean and the forest have always been closely tied to my personal growth. I want to be part of the harmonious flow of human life intertwined with the ecosystems we are part of. Enhancing the life supporting capacity of the wold we share. I attained my bachelor of science with this in mind and am now ready to embark with my partner on a path of thriving stewardship in Western Washington near the gateway to the peninsula.
Western Washington Zone 8a
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Recent posts by Liz Hammond

Greg Mamishian wrote:

Cat Hargreaves wrote:...but it's been hard to find solid information about any of the locations we are researching.


.... We installed a standard septic system to get our C of O, and then once we got it we installed a black water recovery system. While it's illegal to recover and reuse your own sewage water, we are using the same aeration/filtration process the County uses when it recovers and recycles public sewer water for irrigating plants and trees on public road medians....

I'm curious about your much did it increase your cost to install the second 'unofficial' system? Does your official system process anything, like your greywater?  It seems a shame to have duplicative systems, but I definitely understand the need to keep the regulators content. Could you describe your second system in more detail?  What maintenance does it require?

It's always great to hear success stories!
1 year ago
Hi Timothy, Hi William,

Thanks for your stories and perspectives. I admire your dedication and service to your families. Timothy, it sounds like you are also grappling with a major choice between self-care and dedication to others. Maybe your siblings will step up if you step back? Is there any option to pursue your dream somewhat nearby, maybe as a lease? Though I also know of some land in Nova Scotia that could use some permie-TLC. :)
William, I'm curious how you cope when, as you stated your family struggles to comprehend what you need from them. Do you find ways to meet your permie-needs?

I've always lived far away from most family (only child, single parent), and one of my parents lives in a different country. I grew accustomed to a lot of alone-time and sporadic visits as the norm. All the adults in my upbringing had moved thousands of miles from home to begin their own lives, and we all have a strong sense of wanderlust. Since then, they've drifted as well. As I've grown closer to my siblings/cousins-in-law, the possibility of having a closer family unit has started to seem like a possibility. Though they are just getting to the phase in their lives where they talk of moving too. The idea of moving back, just to see them fly away would feel defeating.

Both my parents dreamed of building/having a home in the country. Twice they bought land, but it never quite panned out. In a way, I'm pursuing their dream, but I had to be far away to make it happen. I do feel strong sense of obligation (and guilt) to be there for my mom. Her health is pretty good, and she's very independent, though I know she feels lonely. I would like to be close enough to help with heavy lifting and to provide company a bit more often. I also remember that living in the same home (growing up and as an adult) resulted in consistent feelings of self-doubt and walking on eggshells. It didn't facilitate the quality of relationship we both want, and finding an affordable alternative living situation in the area seemed impossible. Nowadays my coping skills have improved, so I think it would be more feasible, though I expect to put my personality on the shelf more if we are around each other a lot. If I do move closer, it would be mean a major change in lifestyle. Then again I also see the likelihood that my dad will be in greater need of assistance, sooner. So I feel a pull that (geographically opposite) direction as well. I also wonder...rather worry about how well I can "be my best self" if I can't recharge in my comfort zone, which is my little cabin in the woods. I'm trying to find the strength to be confident and happy in places that used to give me great anxiety, but I just don't know. Say I relocate, am constantly out of my comfort zone, and turn into a grumpy shell of myself, how then can I provide the love and support that would be the main purpose of the move? Thanks for reading my existential ranting.

I would be happy to hear more peoples stories!

1 year ago
Does anyone else out there feel a seemingly endless pull to go back to their roots?

I left behind life in one of the most expensive/exciting urban areas in the world in pursuit of independence and a more affordable life. Ten years later I have my own 5-acre slice of paradise, almost-debt free, with steady job, and an almost-finished little cabin. I'm saving up for the "next big thing", which will probably be enhancements to the homestead, like a cabin addition for an indoor bathroom, sunroom, and bedroom, re-graveling the driveway, etc. I'm thinking of getting a construction loan to take care of everything on the list. However, a big part of "the dream" was to be debt-free...and now that I'm thinking of taking that plunge, I find myself reconsidering the possibility of getting an already-built house back where I grew up to be closer to my aging mother, inlaws, and old friends. Don't get me wrong, I love where I live. It's beautiful, quiet, surrounded by woods, no neighbors in sight, space for a food forest and the animals. I love the view out my window all the time, and on days I don't work I choose not to leave the property at all.

However, the past few years I've grown closer to my family-in-law, and my mother isn't getting any younger. I miss them. Sometimes I miss the diverse culture and huge variety of activity and innovation of my "hometown". There are tons of fun activities, great food, and my best friend lives there. A major part of why I don't live there was due to my lack of self confidence in my ability to "make it". That, and I didn't feel like I fit in back when I was growing up there (normal adolescent awkwardness probably). Now with a more established career, and a bit more confidence, I am reconsidering my life choices.

Part of me knows that staying where I am is the smart and right thing to do...I belong in the woods, it's affordable, less risk of fire and economic ruin, my job is secure (albeit pays a lot less than I could probably make elsewhere). I know I am very, very fortunate for all I have, and I really am deeply why do I keep looking at real estate 1000 miles away, near my roots? I suspect it's a "grass is always greener" situation, but I think about it all the time, and I can't seem to let it go.

Does anyone else feel this way? Has anyone found a way to "let go"? I'd love to hear your stories of leaving behind your old life (and family) in pursuit of something different.
1 year ago
This thread deserves more love! You captured much of the glory for rural living, but it deserves stating again and again.

The night sky is precious, with more stars than one person can ever comprehend.

I love the distance from my neighbors,  I care about them, and like checking in once in awhile. I do not miss intentionally ignoring the awkward intimacy of overly close proximity.

The peace of mind, with fresh air, sounds of wild birds, and the casual presence of deer and rabbits is worth more than my words can convey.

There are occasions I miss the convenience of food delivered to my home, or quick jaunts to the store , but I never really needed that crap and am better off when the most convenient meal is cooked be me.

I love life in the woods.
1 year ago
Two blunders come to mind, though I know there are more.

One time I was working on a large wood box, which had a hinged plywood lid, with layered scrap it's fairly heavy. I had propped open the lid with a scrap of 2x4 and was leaning into the box to adjust something inside. My counterpart bumped the wood out of place and it came down on me..hard. Squished my midsection and knocked the wind outta me. It wasn't too serious, just a couple bruised ribs and the (somewhat irrational) lingering fear of being cut in half whenever I service that box.

We were setting the pier foundation for our small cabin. We measured,  leveled,  measured, squared, measured again twice,  checked level and square, and measured 2 more times. Then we dug the 3'x3'x6" holes for the footings, rigged the form and the rebar in place with wire and repeated the whole measure level square process...for good measure ;) Then we poured the concrete. A couple days later, with concrete set with ties and posts in place, we measure one more time and realized that we had placed the piers exactly the width of our walls apart -on the corners of our walls are only half over the posts. Framing lumber had been purchased, and we couldn't afford the time and expense of revising the designs and making the walls longer. So we ended up replacing a few pieces so the beams are the appropriate length for the foundation, and now we have awkward nubbins sticking past each corner of the cabin to serve as daily reminders of our shame.
1 year ago
We had a small flock of two chickens and three ducks. Night before last a weasel got in and killed three, so now we are down to one of each. Our sweet duck has a neck strain, and both seem depressed. We're all pretty sad about it.

I am wondering what we can do to help her neck heal, and am concerned about their loneliness moving forward.  I know chickens can be harsh with pecking order, so its not necesarily easy to introduce adult birds. Are ducks generally  accepting of new birds? They are almost a year old.
2 years ago
Hi Permies!
I've been hoping my humanure compost would produce that great dark brown/black worm-casting quality. What I have is much lighter brown, and still sawdusty. This is about a year and a half since we stopped adding to it. The volume decreased by about two thirds in that time.
Inputs included Douglas-fir sawdust from our bucket system, some straw to cover bucket material, and all kitchen scraps for 2-3 person household. I also added fall leaves, and for awhile any red wigglers I came across in my yard puttering probably a dozen or so over a couple weeks.
I thought that the ammonia levels would be high enough to meet the nitrogen demand, but the sawdust just seems to dominate.

I've attached a photo of the "done" compost and a side by side of the "resting" and "done". Both piles are in direct sunlight, and used to be covered with a scrap glass window to create a "greenhouse effect".
What can I do differently to get that lovely "black
gold"? Does it need more diverse nitrogen sources? Any advice appreciated!

3 years ago
I wonder if it would work with supplemental support, such as a few stabilizing rocks under the tree root ball? Or with yearly additions of soil to replace the settling stuff settling? Our property has numerous slash piles from the previous owner's logging, and we are turning them all into hugelkultur, and were originally planning them as the base/center for each tree in our various guilds. Most of the soil on our property is gravelly loam, with high drainage and low organic content, so not very hospitable without supplemental compost. We just got a delivery of 10 cub. yards of organic compost, which we were going to use on our "hugels" to establish our trees (fruiting cherries, mulberries, ornamental cherries, willows, fig, etc). Now I wonder how we should modify our plans to prevent the trees from losing stability over the years.

Maybe by planting the trees near the bottom on the downslope side? We are hoping to take advantage of the water storage to avoid irrigation as much as possible in the summer.

We are in the temperate rainforest of the NW, so we get tons of rain in winter and spring, but not as much in summer. Last year we had a crazy drought with NO rain in April and May (or June- midAugust), which was highly unusual and frustrating since we had built our hugelkultur in March, and didnt get a single good soaking after the compost was added. Both the cherry trees we had planted died as a result. (we are still hauling/storing all water, hoping to get a well before summer, but no guarantees).

Should I move the ones I planted about a week ago? I don't want to disrupt them, but would rather not lose them again. The hugel is about 2.5-3 feet off the solid ground at the most, with the bottom of the cherry roots about 1-1.5 feet from the ground. I sure hope they can manage that...really don't want to transplant if it can be avoided.

Seems like perennial shrubs and trees belong around the base of hugelkultur?
4 years ago
I have both Solviva and her follow up book "Green Light at the End of the Tunnel". I have read nearly all of Solviva, and all of Green Light. The first book has about 40 pages of glossy color photos and drawings with notes, whereas Green Light has all glossy color pages throughout. Many of the photos and captions are exactly the same, but Green Light has more, especially depicting construction phases and designs.

I have been focused on the wastewater management sections, specifically the designs and effectiveness of brown and green biofilter systems. If you want to build your own, Green Light is much more helpful than Solviva. It is not quite written in a how-to format, but you can derive the information you need by reading (and rereading the sections) and taking notes of the critical pieces of information. She has diagrams of the different systems, with most details, many of the numbers are missing. You can find most of the numbers throughout the pages of text, and some will need to be adjusted for your site. Also, the flush composting system diagram shows sump pumps, and a gravity feed alternative is not pictured. One would have to do outside research to determine appropriate elevation head and slope for such systems.

On the one hand, I appreciate the commentary about her struggles with permitting. It could be useful moving forward in the pursuit of permits. However it is so intertwined throughout the chapters with the designs, I find that it distracts from the meat-and-potatoes that would help someone actually build these systems. I would find the content of each more helpful if it were fully separated in different chapters. I was also a little disappointed to find that a decent amount of text was copied from Solviva, so reading both books feels redundant. There are indeed more diagrams, charts of lab results and some new information scattered throughout Green light. Solviva was an easier read cover-to-cover and has more details about other topics. When trying to create my own site specific designs I keep both books open on the table for cross referencing. I highlighted and wrote notes in the margins of Solviva and paired that with the diagrams in Green light to get a more comprehensive picture.

Overall, I find that both books provide an overview of the many aspects of sustainability, with numbers and details interjected. Green Light provides more specific designs, but they fall a bit short of being directly applicable without scouring the text for details. The editing of Green Light could have been more thorough, to eliminate redundancies with Solviva, and some typos. Maybe the redundancy was intentional for emphasis? She does state that some text has been adapted from Solviva. One funny quark, the title on the spine of my copy is upside down, but that could have been a publisher error. Not a big deal but it does look odd on my bookshelf. Greenlight has some helpful use of text formatting and colors to emphasize key information, but I find myself flipping back and forth through pages to find what I want.

I am very pleased to own both books, and I reference them frequently. If you are looking to build one of her greenhouse or wastewater management designs, you could probably get by with Green Light and rely on other sources for any missing details. If you want an inspiration overview of how to live sustainably, Solviva is the way to go.

All that being said, I have enormous respect for all the work Anna Edey put into her designs, experiments, permitting attempts and documentation in the form of these books and her website. These are two of my favorite guides in my own permaculture homesteading.

I would love to hear about the successes and struggles of any applications of her designs, especially the flush-toilet biofiltration systems (brown and green filters).
4 years ago
Our driveway is 250 feet long, and it is not realistic to build a garage at the entrance. But maybe that would work for a different situation.
4 years ago