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Jen Siegrist

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since Dec 07, 2022
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hugelkultur fiber arts homestead
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Biography
Doing my best to live by example and helping anyone I can along the way. I need no riches to have a full and happy life. I have found, over a lifetime of continued learning and making my own way, that my heart is best served in the serving of others by any means I have. I'm a very much, hands on learner, despite being educated in business management, wildlife biology, horticulture, and accounting I chose the life of a restaurant worker/bartender/sommelier for roughly 35 years. The last few of those years, I began by transitioning from merely serving up farm to table creations to growing the ingredients for my chefs and now on to teaching others to do the same. I've managed to escape the restaurant industry entirely now and have transitioned my landscaping experience into a small permaculture design and maintenance business for a limited clientele in Cincinnati who have let me trick them in to growing food on their properties and deploy permaculture techniques for ornamental appeal. I have found utilizing what I've learned from those chefs and actually creating deliciousness with what they have grown on their properties, their enthusiasm grows. Keep growing!
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Recent posts by Jen Siegrist

OOH! and now I'm considering how to incorporate a hinged top on the bench anchored into the studs or brick wall for cleanout.  Maybe sealed with heat gasket on a ceramic fiber board and tiled top? Need to work that out too.  Little by little.
5 months ago
Okay... starting over.  One thing I have learned from the initial overthinking is that it's easy to accept a bad design because you can just take apart and reuse the materials (given you have time).  I only had it half built before I determined it was not making me happy but the real lesson there was: Don't try to build this in a panic!  

So I'm changing it up.  I've decided against tiling the wall behind the barrel, moved where the barrel will be, changed the system to a strat chamber, and I never could get that steel tube out of the cast perlite riser... but I'm going to give lining it with ceramic fiber blanket and see how well that goes with insulating the steel tube inside and out.  I'll replace that riser before next season anyway.  It's just that I need heat in this house (incidentally my on demand hot water heating is having issues too, so that's also cold).  This house will be the death of me.                                          

still a 6" throughout j-tube with 55 gallon drums (though I'm not sure how necessary after binging stove chat on repeat, thanks Matty!)

So where I'm going now is to address the poor insulation in this house (and the incredibly annoying, 3am rock n roll blasting, hot-rod wrenching neighbor who breaks my sleep) is to cob my interior walls.  I stumbled into some of Chris's videos and dove deep on that one.  The adjoining brick wall in this pic is, in fact not brick veneer, but a full brick wall inside of the original exterior wall.  I have the exit, still going out that wall, but have an interior "juice box" pipe planned to run to the far end of the strat bench at an angle to catch the cooled gases.  Am I correct in thinking that I can use the heat from the barrel, and to some degree, a portion of the angled pipe in the warmer "altitudes" of the chamber to facilitate draft?  I have the run on the chamber mapped out to 10' and 5' (L) and 36" wide with the interior pipe/exhaust draw from the far end at a 19" ascension span from cool bottom to warm exit.  Thoughts?

As it is finally warming back up outside, I'm able to get out and work a bit, allowing for the very slow curing time of the cob and fieldstone in courses.  I'm slow to progress but I think that's a good thing in this instance!  As to the cob, I've found that mixing it with wheat paste instead of water has made is chocolate mousse smooth and sticky but I'm only laying it on 1/8" thick at a time on the walls... Mud mentioned something about linseed oil (i believe it was) going rancid and it occurred to me the same could be true of the wheat paste if one weren't careful?  It does seem to make it just a touch stickier in the cob, but what do you think about that mixed in for the cob on the fieldstone of the bench?  Good idea/Bad idea/"What is wrong with you?"/no idea.

Still workin' it all out.  You'll know I'm nutz when I tell you that I have become accustomed to using Paul/Chris/Matt/Erica and Ernie/and frankly, Neil DeGrasse Tyson videos as my every day, all day soundscape.  I've been lulled to sleep, even, by their dulcet tones... (maybe that's just creepy?)

Jen





5 months ago
@Riona - Exactly! A way to help ease our minds for the work we've accomplished knowing that the new occupant (renter or buyer) would be of a mindset to appreciate and improve/continue the progress.  Also, they have an understanding of the garden being a very viable, healthy food source.  I go all over the place, and the first thing I observe is the land and what people are choosing to grow there.  I admit, I have judged property to rehab and flip, not by the condition of the house, but by the land it sits on and the soil.  I recognize I'm a little odd but that's the point!  

In Permies there is a gathering of the somewhat "odd" and we support each other.  We could have a way to "flip" or rent green properties so that we can still have them for/as income but insure the work put in to make them green is not then reversed by the next occupant.  Maybe more of us could commit the time to the coursework offered at the labs and elsewhere, if we could somewhat believe, the work was in good hands?  Maybe we could generate more interest and commitment to doing group outreach/travel workshops for people and places that can't afford it or don't yet know a better way to build is out there?  Maybe there are people who have done some workshops or have sincere interest but don't want to start from scratch and they just want someone else to have taken care of setting it up for them?  There are gradients of desire/commitment when it comes to greening the world.  For those who can't just jump out of the race, maybe they could take advantage of someone having done the work for them?  

Okay, I may be rambling a bit off topic, but think of the possibilities.  If we could help alleviate the pressure of how to not throw away your work but rather to pass it in safe keeping (not as inheritance) and still retain the income from it, we could free up the time commitment issues that slow many down from pursuing more.  The SKiP program seems like a wonderful thing for people who are all in and want property but I'm one who isn't ready to give away my life's work.  I'm only 51.  I already have a property.

Jen
5 months ago
I plant garlic, strawberries, yarrow, artichokes and either baptisia (noxious to deer) or lupines as nitrogen fixers. The garlic helps control pests. The yarrow is great for deep accumulator, the strawberries are rapid spread ground cover, and the artichokes don't compete for nutrients.

Jen
5 months ago
I plant garlic, strawberries, yarrow, artichokes and either baptisia (noxious to deer) or lupines as nitrogen fixers. The garlic helps control pests. The yarrow is great for deep accumulator, the strawberries are rapid spread ground cover, and the artichokes don't compete for nutrients.

Jen
5 months ago
So here's the thing: I love continuing education.  Not the bookish kind but rather the hands on, experimental, and mentored kind.  I'm new to the permies group but I've been building my own permaculture lifestyle bit by bit over the years.  I've built a small business with my gardening knowledge/experience and I've been building and editing my own food forest/nursery at my current property.  

My dilema? I really want to join up with the opportunities out at Wheaten Labs and get in on the action but, I've worked really hard on rehabbing this house and property to a more sustainable/healthy/natural standard; (and I'm not done yet) but if I sell to get outta Dodge, it will be no more. I have learned from experience, having flipped houses in the area, that buyers will destroy all the work I've put in.  Is there a listing service or rental service anyone has seen that caters to our kind?  If I ever get this rocket mass heater built it would make it difficult to trust an average renter and getting the insurance would be an issue too.  It's going to take some time to downsize my life beyond just the house but it has begun!  I have 2 estates worth of stuff to offload that my parents collected (hoarded) over the years.  I'm happy about the hoarding of tools but the not so useful stuff? Come ON!!!

I have no particular attachment to the area or the house but I DO care about my gardens.  This has not lent itself to the real estate market but it has really leaned in to providing food over the years.  I'm wondering if anyone has experience with say, renting their existing permaculture spaces to others or even "normies" as an opportunity to continue their exposure/learning of a better way?  Like, how plausible do you think it would be?  I could potentially re-home the garden occupants to my landscaping clients but it would be a lot.  This video is just half of the back yard gardens in the late summer.  



Any feedback would be much appreciated.  I'm always learning and scanning for ideas.
Jen
5 months ago
Have you taken the plunge yet?  I'm here to tell you that Yes, you can absolutely make a living maintaining and designing/tweaking other people's yards and help them convert to a permaculture landscape.  That's exactly what I do now going on 3 years full time.  I'm not going to lie and say it's an easy gig (especially when it's just you and the properties are large) but it can totally be a life changing event.  Now, I have a different background as far as gardening goes in that I have a lifetime of it and went to school for horticulture when I was just a child (at 16 I started college), but if you have the basics and the curiousity to learn you can do this.

I would say, from my own experience of these clients, that people are afraid of their own lack of skills.  They have happily turned their yards over to me to worry about and I have led them to permaculture solutions and taught them things as we've gone along.  Word has spread and I've had to turn away new clients for now, but that's because I have yet to find someone who's skills I can trust.  I have issues with the kids who are coming out of school with horticultural educations because it seems they don't teach them how to actually care for the plants or land.  Nothing beats the experience of a master gardener passing on knowledge tips and tricks.  There really is, in my mind, no end to the learning and development process for a gardener.

My own roster of people came from friends who were convinced that I could make it happen for them through hearing me talk about it all the time.  I've quite the reputation for being a proverbial tree hugger and sustainable architecture nut.  My current list of clients all came from having gone to work for a local landscaping company for a year.  My assignments (properties) came to trust me through work experience and when I left the company, they reached out to me to take them on as private clients.  I don't feel bad for the company as they would send people to do work they had no idea how to do, charged a fortune, and just seemed to be about profit.  I object to that train of thought, so I quit, and thank goodness I did.

I use my own property and food forest(baby) as my nursery to ensure field grown, acclimatized root stocks and sell those to my clients for install.  I also do winter sowing in milk jugs for spring plantings.  Perhaps you could get away with that in regards to propagation with a cat?  Sounds like you don't have the space for composting yet but the public loves the idea of supporting a local grower with young plants to put in their own yards or have installed.

Point is that yes, this is absolutely a viable option and if it's in your heart, you'll be much more sustained in pursuing it.  Isn't that what it's all about?  Pursuing a life well lived in harmony with the planet?!  

Jen
5 months ago
@ Ned Harr    I'll be here makin a mess in all sorts of ways whenever you're ready.  Pulling the clay out of my yard is helping me expand the pond I dug last year and connect whole sections of yard with swales and basins.  I've been watching some of Uncle Mud's stuff on cob/clay plasters and that's up next after this heater is up and running.

@ Uncle Mud!   I would be happy to host ya if you do come down thisaway for the folks at the Loveland Castle.  I can cook amazing meals and maybe pick your brain in person (and possibly be judged on my excecutions of things   I've been diving through your videos as well.  You can pick your sustainance from the food forest daily.  That castle could really use some upgrading.  I, myself, am working toward and EnerPhit retrofit in this current house (on a beer budget, of course).  The roof is already new from the tornado that came through here and the windows were all replaced last year.  Now for the heat & electric issues ($) to be remedied.  After that: The cob walls and earthen floors.

Jen
6 months ago
So hey again everyone, it's just a newbie in Ohio.  I have now gotten my mass "couch" built, the heat riser has dried and I'm finishing up the water glass treatment to be ready to install this evening.  If I can ask just one tiny question?

As with so many places in the country right now, it's bloody cold and windy outside.  My layout has the exhaust going through an outside wall and then going up alongside the house.  When its warm enough for things to dry and cure, I plan to do a poured in place chimney of aircrete that will then have some decorative finish on it (rocks most likely).  In the meantime, I think I've come up with a way to insulate the outside pipe against the cold and wind with materials I have and can disassemble later?  What do you think?

also, I haven't gotten the pipe out of the heat riser yet.  My thinking being let it be structural while I treat the outsides first?  I pretreated it with vegi oil spray and was able to move it after the first pour to reposition it.  I'm hoping it comes out fairly easily when I pour boiling water down it but I'm hesitant as that inner tunnel will not have been stabilized yet with waterglass so the aircrete may get crumbly...  Any alternate ideas to avoid this would be welcomed.  These are the last pieces of my puzzle!

Jen
6 months ago
OH! the barrel sits 10" away from the wall - before the tile goes up.  I made sure and read the ohio building codes regarding masonry And adobe heaters.

Thank you guys so much for jumping in.  I've been researching and gathering for the last month. Watching all the videos.  Purchased the plans from Ernie & Erica then did my own twist on it.

Jen
6 months ago