Laura Sweany

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since Aug 08, 2009
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chicken food preservation forest garden hugelkultur tiny house urban
Onalaska, Lewis County, WA
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Recent posts by Laura Sweany

Now you can see the Pre-Event Tours page on our website:

We've scheduled the tours at both Burnt Ridge and Raintree nurseries so you could see BOTH on your way to the Convergence, and still get to Camp Singing Wind in time for Opening Circle at 1pm. Whether you are heading north or south on the I-5 corridor, or coming west on Hwy 7 or 12, access is great for either location. They are only about 30 minutes apart from each other.
5 months ago
Thanks for your feedback, Jocelyn -

We've got all links working. We appreciate your sharp eyes!

Not only is the full weekend a super fine deal, but the Sunday-only price of $20 for adults (plus $10 parking pass) would get you two workshop sessions, breakfast and lunch, AND the keynote with powerhouse educator Michael Becker! We've kept this day's price very low to encourage local teachers, administrators, and homeschooling families to attend. Kids are only $5 for the day, and we will have Kid's Programs during both workshop sessions - an amazing deal for EVERYONE in the family!
5 months ago
This just in: the Early Bird discount has been extended until WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 15TH! Can you believe it? 3 days of workshops, entertainment, food and networking at a sweet old-school camp for ONLY $110?!?! You can't afford NOT to go!
6 months ago
Yes, folks, it's that time again - time to get your tickets for the biggest permaculture showcase/party/camp out of the year!

This year's Convergence has all the food, frolic and workshops of previous years, PLUS the homey vibe of an old youth campground! Join us at Camp Singing Wind, in Toledo, WA, the last weekend in September (28-30th) for more excitement and networking than you can imagine! CSW is approximately 15 minutes off I-5, and right in between Seattle and Portland, so it's easy to get to.

Prices are the same as last year, and the Early Bird discount is good through this Friday, 8/10:

Check out our ever-growing list of presenters:  Perhaps you even want to submit a presentation yourself! There's a format for everyone to share through.

Need worktrade? No problem! Cassie wants to hear from you!

Particularly interested in education/homeschooling and can only attend 1 day? Sunday is the day for you, with extra cheap prices and a focus on education topics!

Want to bring the family this year? Only $300 for 2 adults and 2 kids! Full Childrens' program track all weekend! Camping and swimming and all the good stuff!

Have special food needs? As always, we will be serving Vegan, Gluten-free and Omnivore foods at each meal!

Lots of hands-on sessions, as well as lectures and panels!

Select indoor sleeping spaces available for elders and attendees with limited mobility. Check with our Registrar, the amazing Amber Peoples, if you need accommodation.

So bring your food donation, be prepared for your 2 hour volunteer commitment during the weekend, and be ready to swim in the warm waters of friendship, education and camaraderie! Get your tickets TODAY!
6 months ago
Travis, where do you envision putting the sand? Under the stove area?

My problem with sand is that I am wanting to transfer SOME heat to the floor bricks through contact with the stove itself - not just transfer it to the bricks through the ambient room heat. Most RMH units have sand under the stove as a thermal break, since it does not conduct heat well (as you said in your comment)

I could certainly see putting sand under the hottest areas of the stove, then perhaps firebrick laid without any sand or mortar for the bottom edge of the stove, and that would contact the regular red clay bricks, which are also laid without any mortar or sand - so the heat transfers easily from one brick to the next.

Now I wonder if the sand should also be used as the insulation material above the subfloor but below the bricks. Or would that wick away too much heat from the warm bricks?
6 months ago
Thanks, Chris!

Your observations certainly speak to the benefit of being able to heat the floor itself. I just wonder if the bricks under the stove will get hotter than the insulation or sub floor could stand...perhaps those should be firebrick, with the rest of the floor as regular clay brick...
6 months ago
My mom turned me on to this lovely song - she says it reminds her of me and my life.


She walked into her garden
Feet sink in rain drenched earth
Soil and seed its all she needs
She’ll feed her family from this dirt

I watch her from the window
Through flowers on the sill
She knows the planting timing
When to sow and when to till

She’s a woman, she’s a child
Her life reflects her hearts desire
She’s everything I could ever want to be
She’s a mother, a friend, she’s my sister Lee

She smiles at those she meets
In line waiting patiently
New chickens for the farm
And new feed to feed them on

I see her car coming up the road
We all welcome her home
Unload get the dinner going
Work’s never done and she’s never alone

She’s a woman, she’s a child
Her life reflects her hearts desire
She’s everything I could ever want to be
She’s a lover, a friend, she’s my sister Lee

She carries her child in her arms
Hair falls across her cheek
As the sun deepens its colors
She sings him to sleep

Night falls and her work is done
A smile curves her lips
To sleep in arms of lover she gives thanks
For the life she leads

She’s a woman, she’s a child
Her life reflects her hearts desire
She’s everything I could ever want to be
She’s a mother a friend she’s my sister Lee

She always does her best
At everything she attempts
She loves all her life
And tries to live it right
6 months ago
Thank you, Travis. Great help in your answers!

In our current enclosed single-wide, we have 12" natural clay tiles in the entry/dining/kitchen area, and we love them. Since neither of us can tolerate heat very well, we love how cool they stay in the summer. I was hoping to avoid grout, and hoping to keep the air exchange capacity up, by simply dry-laying the bricks over a thermal break, and then setting the mass heater directly on the bricks - to warm them up as needed in the cooler months.

And yes, nothing more shocking than the many, many pieces of things that break on a very hard floor - hopefully, area rugs might help...
6 months ago
I am planning construction of a 200 sq ft cottage, and I am fascinated by the idea of using bricks as the flooring.

We are building in the moist Pacific Northwest, and the site slopes down to the north; the southern end of the structure would be just above soil level but at 20' away the northern end will rest on piers approximately 2.5' above the soil. This should allow for good air flow under the structure. I've been told pier blocks buried just until the top of the concrete is almost covered is the best kind of foundation for my 10' x 20' footprint. Then we will run 4"x4" lumber in the metal channels embedded into the concrete blocks, and use metal Simpson ties to attach the 2"x4" wooden joists.

As much as I'd like to avoid plywood, I haven't been able to figure out another kind of sub floor material. I imagine I could use old wool carpet, or denim insulation, or a layer of wool, as a thermal break on top of the plywood, and then simply lay down bricks as tightly as I can manage, without sand in between. In my mind, this should work as mass to be heated by a Matt Walker-style tiny house cook stove and heater. The area where the stove will sit will be reinforced by more blocks under the joists to handle the brick load - but I wonder what spacing I should use on the rest of the joists to make sure they can handle the brick floor weight?

My hope is that I will have a "breathable" floor that will be cool to the feet in the summer, but can be warmed by the stove in the cooler months. The heat from the stove could also keep the bricks dry in our wet winters. I am hoping to use the ideas I will be trying in this little cottage as a test run for natural methods to build a larger structure in the next few years. The walls will be "palletable cobbins" - pallets stuffed with clay straw slip - and I'm still trying to decide if I want to use a natural plaster finish on the outside of the pallets, or figure out a way to attach cedar shingles - because I love the look of it - and we have a little cedar shingle miller in the neighborhood.

Can this idea work the way I imagine? Thanks in advance for all your great feedback!
6 months ago
Hi, Kyrt -

GAP status?

I believe GAP stands for General Agricultural Practices, and limits on outside visitors and limits to where visitors can go are part of our GAP plan to maintain our our Organic Certification through the state of Washington.
7 months ago