Devin Lavign

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since May 01, 2015
Devin likes ...
building chicken earthworks forest garden homestead hugelkultur rocket stoves solar trees wofati woodworking
uggg...I hate trying to describe myself.
I moved to 40 acres of raw land with an existing pond in the WA Okanogan Highlands 3 yrs ago. I have been busy observing and making trails.
I am planning to start building a house this year. Though I am probably going to hold off on planting anything until I finish building a house and just work on infrastructure.
I am looking forward to finally put into practice the ideas I have without having to compromise due to it being someone else's land.
Some history and background about me.
I have traveled and lived most of the continental US. So have a decent grasp of the different areas of the US. As a kid I preferred going into the woods to play over going to a park or friend's house. Still I will almost always pick nature if given the choice.
I worked trail maintenance in the Cascades and that was likely my most favorite job ever. I lived, worked, and played in the forests of the Pac NWet. I learned a massive respect for pack goats during this. As they hauled the majority of our gear up the trail every day. Amazing smart animals and I can't wait to get my own goats to enjoy.
I lived and worked at Arcosanti for 4 yrs in AZ. Including managing their 15 1/2 acres of edible and medicinal landscaping. A fun place to meet lots of wonderful people and pick up skills. I have spotted at least one other Arco alum here who I know. Who lived there previous to my time, but who I did meet and hang out with several times both at Arco and to go see him in Prescott.
Pac Northwest, east of the Cascades
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Recent posts by Devin Lavign

Interesting, well I did another less banner shaped crop, and this one now works.

Must be something about the scaling that makes too letter box shaped images not work. Which is funny since that is the shape I saw in my browser so figured I should make it that shape.
A little suggestion for this feature

It could be very helpful to know what sort of size pictures work best for these options.

My 1st attempt at the cover pic, all the best parts were cropped out leaving the worst of the pic.

I have since cropped a pic and tried again. Though still waiting to see if it will load into my profile pic. Just getting a blank cover area now.
So since I am here and actually have time and access to the internet due to visiting family. Good time to update the thread a bit.

So my sketchup plans got lost when my computer died on me. So I had to restart my designs. Now I likely lost some details but also ended up gaining others. My learning curve had made it so I knew a lot more of how to work the program, and I also knew how I wanted the design to look. I started with a 2d image of the plan. The image I had previously posted. I pasted into on a flat plan in the program and started building off that. This showed me with a little tweak here and there I could make the measurements a bit more "perfect". Rather than odd numbers, get nice simple numbers.

I also did some modifications to the rafter roof design. Simplifying the slopes and making it a much easier concept. But then I realized if I popped the center hex roof up, I could get some extra light and more important air flow in the space. In otherwords, what started out as a disaster turned into a Bob Rossian "happy accident" I think over all I gained a lot more from having to start over than I lost. The only big thing I lost was the plan for the central Walker stove design. A rocket fired wood stove.

So without further ado. Here are some pics to illustrate where I am about now. (there are some more mods I plan to do soon, it is a work in progress still)

So this is a general idea of what it will look like buried, this is the South side of the house and we are looking North

top view

Without the earth cover. Note the cisterns to each side, one for potable water the other for grey water, cistern size and make just representative. The rock "cliffs" on either side as well are not built to actual shape size of real ones, just there to give the idea

top view

with out the roof, you can see the beams now

without the beams, (sorry missed a few beam sections)

top view without the beams, you can now see inside and get a lot better idea of the layout. All furniture is just representative of future plans for rooms. There is a plan for a central built in a Walker stove in the center of the main hex. I lost the design when I lost my original sketchup and haven't rebuilt it yet

OK time to get rid of some clutter, so these pics are without the furniture and other decoration details. That way you can concentrate on the desgin

This is where I hope to get in the build this year. All the posts and beams set in place. If I can get here I will be very happy. Though I might have to settle for only a section of this finished. The window for building is not long up next to the Canadian border. Plus I have a lot of work just to get the site ready.

More to come soon, I still have a lot more stuff to show and discuss.
9 hours ago

Tyler Ludens wrote:The conversations I've noticed are among people with acreage, who are homesteading, ranching, farming.  They are the ones I see pushing Zone 5 away to some other place, not on their land. In many cases they are the ones most capable of rewilding many acres of land, but may have a philosophical issue with the concept.

I don't think suburbanites can be expected to have "true" Zone 5, but even the smallest yard can have a corner devoted to wildness.  Creating wild patches and corridors through human settlement is vitally important to the nurturing of ecosystems and the critters that depend on them.

"New research shows that small habitats can add up to a big difference."

I can say for my little slice of homesteading, I enjoy the wild and wont ever push it all back from my 40 acres. My place was raw land, only used for a little camping and hunting. Only "improvement" made by man was the road coming in, and a not level pad. Everything else was pretty wild. I have spent the last 3 yrs pushing back the wild here and there just to have access to different parts of the property. When I do this, I follow the natural game trails, giving the game a bit better path. I try not to over do it, and I am trying to look for areas to preserve and others to work. Trying to keep a nice balance of all running through out the property. There are still areas of my property where the brush and trees are so thick I still haven't after 3 yrs been able to get into the area to really check it out. But that is ok. Likely those are the areas I will end up leaving wild. Though I might at some point push my way in just to have a peak to know what is there.

I do have to say there are some wild areas, that really do need a bit of a helping hand from humans though. I have a lot of young trees all on top of eachother choking eachother out that really need thinning. Which I have been doing here and there as I can. I also have a lot of dead lower branches that need to be taken down, to open the forest for game and to lower the wild fire threat. Which again I have been doing here and there as I can. Both however are huge jobs. So it is a chip a little away here then come back or move to another area another time and do some more. Now it could be argued that these need doing because some human interfered at some time in the past, and the wild is not necessarily a complete wild but a misshapen restoration after human intervention. Which I can see as valid since at some point the area had been logged, though thankfully my property was left with quite a bit of the older growth trees. So I do have a wide variety of tree ages on the property. But the young ones need some help.

My point is there are times I feel nature can use a little helping hand, we seem to forget we humans are part of nature. Native tribes had been modifying and altering the forests, plains, deserts, of the world since the beginning. Not like the current system is. But in gentle ways that go with the rest of nature. Like the beaver making a damn in a river, or buffalo churning up the prairie, the pig creating the wallow. Humans have been a helping hand and should not completely remove themselves from this role. Though it is important to actually understand how to work with nature and not impose your self upon it. Which I think is the big issue, and why zone 5 was such a big deal back in the day. It was a place to observe what nature did for itself, so we could mimic it. It was the college level class on how to be one with the land. A knowledge system and skill we from western civ have lost so very much. But we humans existed 100's of thousands of yrs with nature as a part of it. We can do it again.
There are expanded food forest layers. Like this that goes to 9 including aquatic/wetland, and mycelial/fungal

I think the mycelial/fungal layer is the often forgotten but also one of the more critical. Your idea of using nonliving elements as additional layers indeed as you mentioned helps this mycelial/fungal layer dramatically.

Along with mycelial/fungal, another aspect forgotten is microbial life in the soil. This is another critical yet forgotten aspect of giving the plants what they really need to thrive and survive. In fact the fungi and microbial life tend to work together with the plants in a very wonderful way. Trading and swapping things they don't need for things they do.

Interesting due to this the mycelial/fungal and microbial layer are sort of the bridge between the two sets of layers.

As for aquatic/wetland I think we often forget this due to how difficult it is to do for the more production oriented food forest designs. However there are some great ways to farm wetlands and aquatic areas like chinampas or even the all famous rice paddy. Starting to find ways to include these sorts of water features in with the food forest designs might be highly beneficial. Just as your 7 nonliving layers, the aquatic/wetland layer could be highly useful in rounding out the food forest design system.
1 day ago

Carrie Nicole wrote:Xylitol is a poison full stop. It's extremely toxic even in tiny amounts to dogs, one piece of xylitol-sweetened gum will kill a dog. I categorize it with the other poisonous sweeteners like sucralose, nutrasweet, aspartame and whatever other fancy fake sweeteners are out there.

OK, thanks for this info, I had not known this about the substance since I have never actually had an interest in it before. I had only mentioned it as a possible because I was looking for possible sweeteners that could maybe be created from home for hummingbirds.

Yes home grown stevia is different than the commercial extracted products. It makes a great mild sweetener.
2 days ago

r ranson wrote:Their hunger gap is Christmas time so we usually start feeding them in mid-December.  We have four that understand what time of year our 'flower' opens and they also understand to tap on our window if it's frozen or empty.  It's spooky.

That is awesome they have learned how helpful humans like you are and communicate their needs to you. Thanks for sharing that, it made both my brother and I smile and laugh hearing it.
2 days ago

S Tonin wrote:Is there a reason you can't plant a variety of nectar-producing flowering plants?  That seems the most permie solution to me

You mean like providing food for hummingbirds in latitudes and elevations where flowers would not have bloomed yet, or have since died off? Or providing a better view for some who can't have flowers outside their window but want to see the hummingbirds? Or like I stated in my OP that I was posting this less because I needed the answer but because I noticed there was no direct answer on the internet yet?

But yes, I prefer the actual planting of flowers. That is a good idea and one I have indeed already thought of. Thought about enough to know they also have their draw backs. Like not being available as long as the the hummingbirds are actively searching for food. As well as not always possible to place in places to optimize hummingbird viewing. The use of feeders is most common for that exact purpose, to attrct the birds to optimal windows to view them from. Putting flowers is not always possible, due to sun exposure or other concerns.
2 days ago

Dustin Rhodes wrote:aluminum OHV truckbed ramp

This is what my uncle liked to use to load his dirtbikes into his truckbed, light, folds down, and easy to load engine driven equipment(rolling non-drive-powered heavy equipment up that ramp would be quite a chore).

Yep, I already have a folding ramp for my truck. The one I posted however is more than just a ramp, it is an extension. Giving you more room for equipment and/or items. Which is a big part of why I find it so cool.
2 days ago
Ok I had a crazy question and couldn't find any answer online, which sort of made me think it should be posted somewhere so why not here. In my quest I think I probably figured out the answer, but felt it worht posting so there is some resource for others searching to find. And of course would love to here from others about the topic.

So the general question is simple, could stevia and or xylitol make a decent hummingbird nectar?

I had the thought since these are awesome sweeteners, and stevia at least is an easy to grow at home sweetener. Xylitol I am less sure if it could be an easy at home creation, but has possibilities. So if these sweeteners could be used for hummingbird nectar that would be awesome. Instead of bringing in a sugar to make nectar you could make it at home

So off to research I went. Yet no mention of these, though plenty of other alternatives were addressed. I found this handy chart that really helped understand the pros and cons of different sweeteners.

found at

This and other info pretty much told me, while stevia and xylitol might be good for humans, they are very unlikely to provide the energy needed for hummingbirds. So to answer my own question, likely a bad choice for these wonderful little birds.

Any other thoughts or alternatives would be much appreciated.
2 days ago