Coydon Wallham

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since Mar 17, 2021
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Recent posts by Coydon Wallham

After talking more yesterday with the present lab experts, it seems much of the specific knowledge of the grey water project was lost with departing boots a few years back. I'm not sure what Fred or anyone else returning after winter might know, but my time in bootcamp here is done after this week. I'll put a few things up here so there is a chance some institutional knowledge will be available if someone does come looking for the info to complete the project.

I've been told much of the pipe to the drain tub in the greenhouse was already laid when the earth was piled on the greenhouse. Perhaps someone has seen reference to this over in the greenhouse thread or some video footage associated with it? I've backtracked a few threads but have only found evidence showing the tube coming out of the wall into the greenhouse.

I did see in person some black plastic tubing sticking out of the mound in the direction of the greenhouse from the back porch. Is it possible the system would work exposed to freezing temperatures if the waste water did not sit in the pipe and could be counted on to be flowing past the point of exposure to freezing temps? I think a tube connecting this to the back wall of the Abbey would be extremely awkward in the space. Any effort to lower it to the ground and raise it back up to the opening would likely induce the same sort of 'airlock' problem that was preventing the cistern overflow pipe from filling the pond up at the lab last year. At the very least it would trap fluid at the bottom of the exposed pipe and allow it to freeze there, prohibiting use in winter.

To make this work with the pipe inside the thermal mass of earthworks there, I'm gathering that the pipe would need to reroute sideways while maintaining the current level and be dug in behind the wing wall posts being replaced. This would involve removing the plastic barrier between the mound and the posts and digging in a sideways trench there as far as would be needed to avoid freezing. There would also need to be an access point made in the side wall of the abbey through what is now a completely finished and cobbed timber wall, at a point that would match up with the wing wall trench.

I'm not sure if that is a clear enough description without pictures, but I'll attempt to elaborate in the case that someone is thinking of making this work. I mention it now because, as much work as it looks like it will be, it will be at least 3X as much work to go back and do later if the wing wall is done without a channel laid in behind it first.

One further note, Jeff B mentioned he thinks the current installation of incoming water from the new system is routed in such a way that it is likely to freeze despite insulation around it. He mentioned digging down and bringing in the pipe up through the floor inside the Abbey instead of through the wall. I don't think this could be combined with the grey water exit, just noting the Abbey is in need of some attention to the plumbing plans back there...

Jennifer Richardson wrote:Thank you so much to whoever sent this amazing book selection for us boots—we have all been wrangling over who gets to read which ones first!

I was just listening to one of Paul's latest podcasts and he is talking with Michael Ott about last years PTJ, on ideas for a natural floor for the new yurt, and upcoming plans. I'm also planning something along these lines at my own place. The book on Earthen Floors looks like a wonderful resource. Sadly, I don't see it in the library or the FPH anywhere accessible anymore. If someone is considering sending a literary boost to the Lab, this seems to be a volume in high demand around here...
I've noticed four things:
1) The Wofati green house was proposed to supply a grey water outlet for the Abbey to allow year round disposal.
2) The water outlet at the Abbey goes out the back wall and into open space.
3) There is mounded earth between the Abbey and the green house that stays above the grade of the level of the water outlet.
4) The wing wall of the Abbey that lies between it and the green house is in the process of being reconstructed.

I have this crazy notion that maybe these elements can add up to something really cool. Just maybe.
As part of panelling the ceiling in the Library, those chandeliers have come under scrutiny. Turns out they had more of a dumpster fire vibe going on than an efficient lighting one. This is a note on work done and a suggestion to come back to the situation in the near future.

There are three main light fixtures on the ceiling of the room.

One is near the door to the Solarium and is operated from switches at that door as well as the North door to the patio. As such it ideally would function as a 'navigation' light, providing just enough light for visitors entering a dark room to see where they are going. The current fixture is a conventional 'chandelier' with 3 or 4 'prongs' with a menagerie of bulbs in them. Only one of the bulbs is working at this time. This 'Home Depot bargain-of-the-week' fixture has a slightly comedic aesthetic, but would likely be quickly and easily improved by replacement with a simple surface mount fixture (present in the shop) so as to not be in the way of people carrying things like ladders, easing the completion of the panelling. A single 'warm LED' bulb here would meet Paul's guidelines for entry lighting. An improved fixture in line with those in the FPH might be a good project for the near future.

There are two more elaborate chandeliers on either side of the dock. One has 3 light fixtures in a row, the other has 4, both with wooden partial enclosures. These are for activity lighting, to provide greater light when people are present doing activities more demanding of illumination. It was discovered that these fixtures were wired with what I know as 'speaker wire' using simple, exposed, twisted wire connections, leading to an extension cord type wire routed through the ceiling insulation all the way to the switch on the divider wall. This seemed a few steps beyond sketchy to place some wooden panelling over and hope for the best, so grounded 12/2 wire was used to add a switched outlet in the ceiling above the dock, and the chandeliers rewired with plugs to operate off of that outlet. The wiring of the individual fixtures for both chandeliers is still sketchy, and the wooden structures are not as functional OR beautiful as the ones in the FPH, so these could use more attention soon, but for now they are relatively safe and contained to allow completion of the panelling around them.

Mike Haasl wrote:One trick to shortening chairs, or getting all four legs to sit evenly on the floor, is as follows..

Set it on a flat surface.  If wobbling, hold it or weight it down in the way you want it to sit.  Using a spacer of a desired thickness, mark around each leg.  So with a 1" spacer you'd mark 1" off the flat surface and then be cutting 1" off each leg.  Or a bit less off the short leg if there is one.

I'm noticing that with roundwood furniture like this there is a great deal of 'eccentricity' to the joinery. Pounding and pulling everything into square has led to the legs sitting almost perfectly even on the ground. However any further messing with the framework can throw that off as might variable drying of the parts. My approach to level feet would be to wait until it has been used for a while and allowed to dry out more before attempting to surgically alter them.

Although, if a chair were on the too tall side to start with, cutting them even after all the parts were assembled might make more sense...
Reid organized the teams well. The basic measurements were all good in what was produced (just needed a bit of that second dimension added to the calculations). Execution of mortise and tenon drilling was not quite as spot on, with spontaneous angles showing up uninvited. A little ratchet strap 'correction', along with a quick chiropractic-ish maneuver, made the frame square up better than a computer scientist in a hot air balloon. With all four legs resting perfect on the ground and the seat slab fitting nice, this made a sweet throne fit for a Proenneke castle. Unfortunately the spatial demands of a community table in a double-wide are such that the edges of the construction need that bit of redaction...

Reid Robison wrote:here are a couple favorite quotes from One Straw Revolution:

"when it is understood that one loses joy and happiness in the effort to possess them, the essence of natural farming will be realized"

"nature is in constant transition, changing from moment to moment. people cannot grasp nature's true appearance. the face of nature is unknowable. trying to capture the unknowable in theories and formalized doctrines is like trying to catch the wind in a butterfly net."

definitely some words to grapple with. because the whole point of them is to see where they are pointing, and then let those words go. we cannot understand the unknowable through thinking.

this book is beyond farming. it's connecting Buddhist philosophy into farming. bringing the omniscient knowledge of nature into the way we live our lives.

Does Fukuoka talk about Buddhism directly anywhere? I'm not familiar with any Buddhist tracts specifically, but that second quote sounds like pure Daoism to me. Apart from Lao Tzu being as far from a farmer as is possible that is...
2 weeks ago
Thanks again Stephen for bringing Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind to the not-so-big screen for us to watch after dinner. This little anime impressed me even more than it did a decade ago when I first saw it. For anyone who has seen it and kinda liked it but felt overwhelmed by the plot, I'd encourage multiple viewings as the story was adapted from a longer manga version and crammed into just 2 hours. I'd hope that the layers of permaculture themes I see in it would eventually unfold for others like seeds maturing from a seed bomb.

I'll leave the overarching themes of working with nature rather than against it and using appropriate technology for viewers' discovery and interpretation. However, since it seems like such a fantastical world being presented I figure it could give it more weight to point out one specific part of the story's connection to actual environmental events. The poisoning symptoms experienced by some of the people of the valley in the movie were based on the real world Minamata Disease, as was the author's portrayal of insects and trees in the toxic jungle based on his observation of how some plants and animals were able to adapt and thrive in the deadly toxic environment created by wastewater pollution around the town of Minamata. I'm always disgusted to find out how poisonings like this are practically ubiquitous throughout industrial culture but they rarely reach the greater social conscience because they don't get the PR that nuclear incidents do...
3 weeks ago

Tom Allyn wrote:Was this issue ever addressed or did the original poster decide to accept that his structure would rot into the ground in a few years?

Someone mentioned concrete blocks. That would help some but the hut would would still shift around from frost heave.

When building a shed roof it's best to face the low end of the structure toward the dominant direction of incoming storms. This way the roof protects the most vulnerable wall. Long roof overhangs protect a structure. Any wood exposed to the weather in northern climes will soon rot.

The shed is built with pallets directly on levelled ground. My goal was to have dry storage space ASAP and to learn some basic building techniques. If it lasts 3 years it will have given me time to build some other things. I will transfer the stuff into them and throw the rotting wood from this building into a hugel or burn it in a rocket mass heater (it is all marked as heat treated). The screws can be pulled out and most reused. The roof panels can go on another building(s). The rafters should still be nice, long, smooth timbers for another project. With what I learned putting this up, my next building should go up in a fraction of the time. I think there is a fair chance it will still be serviceable in 5 years as the ground is very sandy.

I haven't been to the property in a couple months, but before I left, the building was standing solid. I have yet to fill most of the overhung space with cord wood, but the structure as is has remained dry inside during rains. Even blustering snow has barely made it under the eaves and past the pallets to the interior. The ground had frozen solid for the season while I was still there and I hadn't seen any signs of shifting from frost heave. I'm guessing frost heave is reduced if you have well drained ground?

The one big flaw I've found is that the drip line from the lower roof edge falls an inch onto the foundation pallets there. This causes roof run-off to splash onto the cord wood and saturate the pallet wood under it. I could have assembled the roof a few inches over and had the drip line completely off of the pallets if I had anticipated this. I do have some old, discarded gutters I can reshape and mount there to fix it when I have some time.

Prevailing winds are from the West here. The low end of the roof faces NW because there is a service road coming from that direction with dense trees directly to the West and South...

David Baillie wrote:

Daniel Kaplan wrote:My dad has an app on his phone that you can point at the sky and will tell you the path of the sun at different times of year. I wonder if that would let you analyze different spots around the yard quickly. Probably direct observations is better, though. Direct observation with a small system is probably better yet.

Hi Daniel, what app is your dad using? I'm always curious about these things.
Cheers,. David Baillie

I use one called Sun's Path. It is no cost but can be somewhat vague in output. I'm also using it on a low end phone so it might just be a limit of the sensor quality...
1 month ago