Aaron Tusmith

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since Jan 08, 2018
Aaron likes ...
greening the desert
Western Idaho
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Recent posts by Aaron Tusmith

I've got a funky cob wall going up and it is supplemented by aluminum cans here and there to aid in insulation. They poke out a bit in some spots on the exterior and I am concerned about the reaction between the whitewash and the exposed aluminum cans... I am mostly concerned about any health hazards resulting from lime coming in contact with aluminum. I could go over the exterior with more cob to cover them up but I guess I am asking if a lime whitewash will be detrimental to a cob wall containing aluminum cans... Thanks!
1 month ago
I am almost done framing my shed which will have a cob infill in between the studs and I want to do a lime whitewash but I'd rather it not be blaring white. Can anyone offer any tips for darkening a whitewash? ...without compensating its effectiveness as an exterior finish? Id like to make it closer to the native on site clay we have, any tips regarding whitewash in general would be appreciated too, thank you!
1 month ago
Hello from Boise County! It is encouraging to see a fellow Idahoan on here, everyone has to start somewhere I know the feeling. The grasshoppers were terrible this year, they even defoliated some of our black locust trees which I though was pretty wild. On our property we have a lot of Smooth Sumac trees that they did not touch at all, they probably grow in your area too, keep an eye out for some to transplant/gather seed/take cuttings. I am just starting out this year and learning every step of the way. Just as others have written I think the old/moldy hay idea is a good approach, lots of ag and cattle in your area so plenty of people to ask! Other than that I would just work at accumulating organic material on the property and getting whatever trees that will grow there to get established so they can shade your soil, good luck!
2 months ago
hey thanks, I did end up reading about the fermenting process which I thought was very interesting. Not to worry about the building being close to the spring, the spring is just the source of my clay, good tips though, thank you. So what about the staining? I am shooting for this to be a natural building -as much as possible. Would it be best of I were to treat the wood that will be in contact with the cob? The plan is conventional framing with cob infill between the studs using temporary forms.
2 months ago
I've finished the foundation and the lumber is coming but I've been doing some tests with some of the clays on the property here for a rammed-cob wall system for my cabin I'm building and the clay deposit near the spring gets kinda stinky when it's wet. It seems to be the best however, it is incredibly hard when dry, almost like concrete but it has a slightly boggy smell when it is wet. Anaerobic funk I assume but my question is if this odor is a sign of something that could lead to a structural disadvantage in construction. It is odorless when dry. Also, could I add something while mixing the cob to "disinfect" the cob and get rid of the smell? hydrogen peroxide maybe? has anyone ever built with kinda stinky clay and still had good results?
2 months ago
taking a step like this takes a lot of courage and it is a very admirable quality, would like to have someone just to talk about permaculture with!
2 months ago
Hi Jason, my advice would be to post a few more details about your cabin. This will give the other members of the forum a better frame of reference for giving advice. I see that you are in BC, but details like your climate, elevation, and orientation of your cabin to the sun, number of windows etc. all come into account when working out how to best heat any building. Also how is your cabin constructed? is it insulated? If your goal is to heat the building more efficiently then there are many other options to consider that are less complicated than the one you are proposing. However if you are determined to stick to your plan, I would start with providing more information about your building, good luck!
3 months ago
Great topic, I am curious how you handle maintaining compliance with health code in your restaurant. I have worked in restaurants for 13 years and all of the "food safety" requirements seem to revolve around plastic wrap, plastic gloves, and chemicals. Are there ways around this? I have not worked in any establishments that even consider their effect on the environment as far as waste or chemical usage so I would love to learn about any alternatives there are to the use of bleach, or any part of the dishwashing process (corrosive detergents etc.) The ready-to-eat-food thing bugs me the most. Gloves gloves gloves. The amount of plastic trash that results from the creation of one denver omelette is disturbing.
3 months ago


So I was outside working today and I see the dog wander off like he always does and I think nothing of it. A while later he returns and is holding his head a little funny and I can see there is something in his mouth. I walk over to him and he drops an egg out of his mouth just like the picture here. I walked it back to the house and I could feel it warm through my gloves. I took a laser temperature and it was 87 F at the time (about 4 hours ago). Took another reading just now and its at 78 F. There are a lot of wild turkeys around this area you can hear them all the time. My question now is what to do with the thing, there's no telling where exactly it came from and it was from someone else's property anyways so I cant really put it back. Any ideas on what to do with a potentially fertile wild turkey leg that falls in your lap?
5 months ago
Hey I lived in SO for 7 years, what a great place to be able to build. I would definitely look into permits and any legal stuff before spending any money. Coincidentally there are a lot of marijuana growers in that area and the larger stalks and branches are almost always discarded and they are very durable, (could be used in waddle & daub application). Other than that there is plenty of ag and farming in that area so there is plenty of opportunity for great raw materials. It might just be a matter of getting out there and asking folks if they have any byproducts of any kind that might be of some use. The the more you network the easier this type of work becomes.
             You will almost always need a source of clay and sand in natural building, I would start there. Get your soil tested or bring in a sample to the college in Ashland and see if they can help you out, they might do it for free. As far as cob being impractical for that area, don't count it out. Take an inventory of the workable materials you have on the property you're building on and branch out as needed. Natural buildings have two important components; Big shoes and a big hat (sturdy foundation and sturdy roof). Everything in between stays dry. Good luck!
6 months ago