S. Bard

pollinator
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since Feb 15, 2020
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Italian Alps, Zone 8
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Recent posts by S. Bard

Hi all,

I could do with a bit of  advice!

We’ve recently moved into our new house, that has as of last week had it’s kitchen and bathroom installed.
Our house Isn’t hooked up to the grid for Greywater, but has an IMHOF tank that needs emptying every now and then. The overflow of the tank drains into the creek that runs trough our garden. The water of our creek so far is pristine and teeming with healthy life. Obviously we want to keep it that way. So now that we’ve moved into our home, I’ve been looking into what cleaning products I can use both for our personal care as for cleaning dishes/ bathrooms/laundry etc.
I know soda and vinegar are good bases for ecological cleaning, but we have a limiting factor to take into account: both our kitchen top and shower are fitted with marble aggregate made by a local craftsman (it is a traditional technique here) He told us to avoid acidic or highly alkaline products on these surfaces as it eats away at the marble surface, but to use PH neutral cleaning products. So that completely rules out both soda and vinegar, lemon juice, homemade soap,...

It sounds logical at the same time that PH neutral products might be better for the life in our creek as well, as I can imagine that, eventhough vinegar and soda are natural products, I Wouldn’t want to be pouring it in the creek either. As a I understand it, the natural PH of water is 7, so neutral. So PH neutral products would appear to be both beneficial for the natural balance of the water, and the marble tops and flooring in the house. But when researching PH neutral cleaning products I come across so many conflicting opinions about it (some saying that the other ingredients found in ph-neutral soaps are even more detrimental, others saying it’s bad for your skin,...). I read that although soaps have the bio-degradable stamp on it, that doesn’t mean it isn’t harmful for the environment, and most importantly polluting the water. Several sites recommend using biodegradable soaps at least 200 feet away from waterways so it doesn’t contaminate it. And even then, when left in the soil it can take years to break down.
At the end of my research, the only truly non-harmful way I found to use soap was to use no soap at all...

My internet search left me frustrated and confused, reading so many conflicting information. So I turn to you wise folks in the hope to make some more sense of it:
What kind of products, if any, would you recommend for personal care and home care, that don’t pollute water (or minimally so), and that ideally can be used on sensitive natural surfaces like terracotta, marble and wood.

Thank you kindly!
1 month ago
Hi R,

It looks gorgeous, and very decently made. Congratulations on the start of your corset adventure!

Just a few suggestions to improve even more your already happy first experience:
Did the corset come with a modesty panel? If not I would advise getting or making one, especially since this corset is meant for active wear. A modesty panel is a small cloth (sometimes lightly boned) back panel that goes between the laces and your undergarment. Without one, if you are moving around a lot the laces can chafe whatever your wearing underneath, and even rub your skin quite uncomfortably.

Also, I’ve always read that it is good when lacing and especially when breaking in a corset to keep the back bones as parallel as possible. From your photos I can see you laced your waist tighter then your hips and bust (which is normal as your waist area is more comfortably compressed than your ribs and hips, that needs some more getting used to).  But lacing unevenly can cause the back bones to warp. A good fitting corset will have parallel running back bones all the way (so an even spaced gap between ribcage, waist and hips) I’m quite sure your corset is a good fitting one because from your photos it appears as if there is still a bit of room in the bottom of your corset to pull it tighter, but as you are breaking in and letting your body adjust to the corset you might not yet feel comfortable to do so. I would suggest with some urge in the meantime to loosen the area around your waist to straighten those backbones, and only go tighter once both you and your corset are ready to do so over the entire length of the corset. Even if this means that initially the area around the waist might feel a bit loose until you can manage to close the bust and hip area more, this will protect your corset from warping (sometimes permanently) the bones, creating uneven stress on the waist seams, and also potentially creating discomfort due to the bent back bones.

Good luck! Hope this helps!

2 months ago
Here’s a little update. I hope somebody sees this and has any insight in to how I could work with this.

Recently we’ve had half a meter of snow, and now several days of thaw and rain, hugely increasing the flow of water towards our basin.
The water in the basin has now reached the overflow mark, but the basin itself is obviously leaking as a sieve. The only reason the water is as high as it is is because of the huge amount of water coming in.
Thanks to the snow melting where water is flowing it was easy to see where the water was leaking from the basin. After clearing some sods of grass, I could see that the water was actually leaking from underneath the stone basin wall (and not from the concrete overflow pipe as I initially thought. Seeing this is a little bit disheartening, because this amount of water leaking must mean that an underground channel has formed, right? I’m guessing this isn’t something easily fixed with adding clay to seal the basin naturally, as ‘I’m guessing the walls of the basin are drystacked walls backfilled with earth and rocks. I have no idea how to even begin sealing this. Would pond lining be a bad idea? Are there any alternatives to seal this at least somewhat to maintain water level in the drier periods?

Below you can find some videos I made to show the flow, leaking and location of the basin.


The current flow we’re getting. Ignore the insulation foam floating around, it blew into the basin by wind, and we’ve been slowly trying to sieve it out bit by bit.


Close up from where the water from the basin seems out of the ground at a lower elevation beneath the basin. As you can see, the water comes from under the stone wall retaining the basin, not from under the cement drain pipe.


Video showing the location of the basin with the leak flowing into the creek below. The overflow of the basin also fills a nice little gravity fed fountain. This is the first time the water level has been high enough to trigger the water fountain, so I am thrilled about that! I hope to retain the water level at this night so the fountain is always running from now on.

Any ideas are welcome!

2 months ago

Caitlin Mac Shim wrote:Hiya! Interesting idea!
Couple of things I would consider...
Depending on your climate, your Ducks might get a little toasty up there. Where I live it would be way too hot and muggy up there with geese in the bottom half too. Ventilation will be important - could you make the roof a bit higher?
Also, in the current design, the ducks need to make it past the geese (in close quarters) to get to the laying boxes. Might not be a problem if the geese are nice and the ducks are brave, but could be stressful for a duck that likes to lay as much as an Indian Runner to run the laying box gauntlet every morning. So, I’d add a laying box at duck level, or at least provide some straw for then to lay in on their level.
If you don’t have your heart set on IRs, Muskoveys might be worth looking into. They roost, like a chicken, and like to be up high, so might work better with your double decker design as long as the geese have some form of protection from muskovey projectile poo lol. They are a bit different to a mallard derived duck breed though.

Or, if your heart is set on IRs, what about making the coup longer, rather than higher? So it’s no wider and can get through your paths, but has a second space (chamber?) for the ducks at ground level? Would be easier to manoeuvre On hilly terrain with a lower centre of gravity but would be harder to get around tight corners. Would allow for a bigger space with better roof height/ventilation though.

I’ll keep thinking on it!



Hi Caitlin, thanks for your response. You make a couple of very valid points to consider.
As for my climate, I live in the Northern Alps. Summer can get nice and warm, but nothing too extreme. The creek that runs trough our property, which is a little valley in itself, cools down the temperature to a pleasant athmosphere. We also have a lot of tree cover, so the coop would never have to be in full sun. Nevertheless you comment on the ventilation is a good one. I will see if I can raise the roof a bit more, but right now I'm actually considering making both sides of the coop with mesh paneling, that can be closed partially or fully depending on the needs of the season.

As for your comment on the nesting boxes, that's a really good point I hadn't considered. I'll be raising both ducks and geese together from the eggs, so I'm hoping they will imprint on one another and cosider each other as family, but still. Maybe it would be an idea to build a separating wall with a hole too small for the geese to go through on the side where the ramp to the upper level is, and have the nesting boxes on that side of the coop so the geese can't get to them. Our geese only lay about 30 eggs a year, and if I'm not mistaking, they prefer a nest consisting of some hay on the ground, rather than a nesting box, so I might just give them a bit more hay to lay in in the egg-laying season? The only consequence would be that adding the hay to the bottom level would kind of defeat the purpose of the mesh bottom, and make cleaning out the hay more difficult.

I do have my heart set on IR to be honest. Might get some muscovites in the future, but those would be for meat production, while these IR would be more intended for their eggs, slug control, and just as pets because I'm so fond of ducks and the IR ducks are a treat to each.

I don't think making the coop much longer would be feasible as we have to make some sharp bends to navigate our terrain.
3 months ago
I’ve been sketching out plans for our duck/guard-geese coop. I have a small lightweight cart that I plan to use as a base for the coop.
I chose a rather narrow cart (it’s about 70cm x 140cm or 27”x55”), because our hilly terrain and narrow terraces don’t allow for wide carts to pass. I need something light, narrow and manoeuvrable, so unfortunately many of the existing chickshaw and portable coop design would probably not work on my terrain due to them being to wide.
I want to be able to keep at least 4 ducks and 2 geese together, but given the small size of my cart, doing one level would not be big enough to house all of them.
So I figured, what if I build the coop in two levels, doubling the available space. Perhaps making the ramp small enough that only the ducks can move to the second level while the geese stay below? That way the ducks can get some space if the geese are grumpy.

But would ducks (I’m intending on keeping Indian Runners), want to move to that second level?
And what about cleaning? I originally intended to create a mesh bottom for the coop so the poop would fall through, but with a second level on top that doesn’t seem like a bright idea.
Maybe a mesh lower lever and then bedding on the second level that I change ever so often? How much headspace should I account for the bedding? Would 3-4” suffice?

Speaking of headspace, given that Indian runners walk upright, how much headspace should I provide on each level so they don’t hit their head? Same goes for the geese (I’d be keeping Sebastopol geese).

Does a double decker Portable coop Seem like a bad idea? Please do share your insights with me!
3 months ago
I’m from 1993, so technically just a bit too old to be considered Gen Z, but somehow I don’t feel very millennial either, haha.
Buying property is definitely the biggest problem I see among my peers. But I also see a bunch of young people using their knowledge and ease within the digital world to their advantage.
Europe has a lot of countries where rural properties in abandoned regions (in favour of the great move towards the cities in search for jobs) are up for grabs for very interesting prices. $25000 for a simple house (with some much needed work) and a few acres is no exception in these regions. But there’s little to no work for people who hope to be given work. There’s already a more interesting scene for self employed people willing to create work and set up a new market in a place where they have little competition. And even more ease for people who can work from home as long as there is internet.
My husband and I have been very fortunate to fall in the latter category, which allowed us to move from our home country to Italy (where property is cheaper and the nature is much more undisturbed in regards to our home country); and managed to acquire our first property here in a Italy last year for a mere fraction of the cost that we would have paid for a property like this back in our country. The fact that the property doesn’t have direct access to the main road made it undesirable to many Italians, but didn’t make a difference to us as we don’t have to leave the property often anyways.
We are so looking forward to starting our lives and a family on this new property (Moving in next February!).
The way I see it, young people who want to set up a digital work-from-home situation, and are willing to move countries and learn a new language, really can have their pick from some of the most beautiful properties (I’ve seen entire abandoned villages in the middle of the forest, old vineyards and even small abandoned castles listed for affordable prices), for a price that would allow them minimal need for a loan, allowing them to be financially independent sooner rather then later.

The only downside to our situation is that we do miss the friends and family we left behind in our home countries, so we always plan for one or two trips a year to go back and visit them.
Any plans we make for the farm we want to set up on this new property will have to accommodate the possibility of us leaving it for a week.
3 months ago
Just bumping this post in the hopes someone sees this who can help :-)

My main worry to begin with is how I could seal this pond without using plastic. The sides of the pond are drystacked rock backed by soil. I know you can use clay to seal a pond, but with the drystacked sides I don’t know how that would work. For now the basin holds some water, but it is clear that it is also loosing quite a bit, as there is a constant influx of water while the water level itself remains more or less the same.
3 months ago
As some of you may know, my husband and I have been for the past year, slowly restoring and rebuilding a historic watermill; where a decent part of the original mill structure (not the machinery) has stayed intact; although in need of maintenance.

Lately we have been eyeing the water wheel basin, and have been wondering about if and how we could transform it into a natural pond.
The basin is constructed against the stone fundament of the mill (our soon to be house). So the walls of the basin are old dry stacked walls (with lots of ferns and mosses growing on them).
The bottom of the basin is currently filled with sediment and debris from the build of the house (so chunks of plaster and cement that have fallen down, broken roofing tiles etc), so the holding capacity is currently rather low because of all of this stuff that needs to be shoveler out first. I don’t know yet if the bottom of the basin is just soil or if I’ll eventually hit a stone floor once I start shovelling.

The basin has two overflows; one the original aquaduct which led the water underneath the house (but we gave no idea where the water goes to (if anywhere at all) as we don’t have plans of the original mill structure); the other is a cement pipe that overflows back into the river. We would like to prevent the water from overflowing under the house (so we might wall off the aquaduct some more), and use the pipe as the overflow.

Currently the basin is being fed by springwater which the previous owner diverted to the wheel, which provides a year round flow of water, but significantly more in winter then in summer.
In the future we might connect the wheel back up with the river as it was originally; which would mean a much larger amount of water passing through.
The basin is about 5 feet (1,5 meters) by 16 feet (5m). We would hope to get a water level of about 2 feet deep.

The basin is on the north side of the house and takes little to no direct sunlight. In winter the waterlevel appears to be ok with the higher flow of springwater, but in summer it seems like the basin isn’t adequately sealed to hold all the water as it seems to be sinking in the ground more.

We would love to have a pond with a more or less stable waterlevel some waterplants (maybe grow some duckweed for our ducks) and maybe some frog or fish. The quality of both the rivierwater and the springwater seems impeccable based on the abundance of fauna living in it (a couple of which are used as indicators of water quality). The plants and fish would need to be able to live in relative shade and should be able to endure some cascading of water due to the water being thrown over the waterwheel. At least I suppose this would mean the water will be nicely oxygenated?

I might consider giving my small flock of 6 or so ducks and 2 geese occasional short supervised access to the pond if this could be beneficial to both the ducks and the pond life (fertiliser for the plants and fish?)

I have no experience whatsoever with building ponds. Does it seem viable to transform a waterwheel basin into a natural pond? And if so, how should I best go about sealing the pond naturally?
What plants and fish could live in these circumstances that could also help to create a natural balance in the pond? And would it be a good idea to give ducks and geese short occasional access?

I’d love to hear your ideas!
3 months ago
Can I buy this guide as a European? Or is it US only?
3 months ago
Hi R.

I used to make and wear lots of corsets. Don’t wear them much anymore due to injury to the ribs, but still very intrigued by them.

I don’t know how much experience you have with wearing a corset, but one thing I would advise is to keep two things in mind about the lower part of the corset: since you want this corset to be used for active wear (gardening and whatnot) you’ll need to be able to bend down a lot. In order to be somewhat comfortable bending down, I would suggest to take care that: 1. The highest part of the bottom line (so the sides) is lower then the highest point of your hip-bone. Otherwise the corset can creep upwards and will chafe along the edge of your hipbone after repeated motion ‘bending up and down repeatedly, like when you’d be weeding).
2. Make sure the lowest part of the corset (the central point), doesn’t go too low. Shorter is better; otherwise that pointy part is going to stab you in the front of your lady bits when bending/ crouching.

Personally If I would make an active wear corset for myself, I’d make an underbust ribbon corset. It uses very little material, is very flexible and breathable (especially if made from hemp or linen ribbon), and doesn’t squish your boobs when bending down. Now I am reasonably small breasted so I can get away with it without needing boned support; and realise not every woman has that luxury, so it does depend on your body.
3 months ago