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The land is white, punctuated with brown and green from the red pines. Deer tracks, mice, squirrel and snowshoe hare prints perforate the snow cover, with some wolf, fox and coyote evidence appearing occasionally. Though the temperatures still make gloved fingers numb within minutes of exposure, the shadows shorten slightly each day. The spring thaw seems stalled but holds inevitable promise.

The campsteading endeavor in Wisconsin’s Chiquamagon-Nicolet National Forest is set to sprout from seeds left to overwinter last fall. The story of the gradual initial steps and stumbles to organize last year can be found here and here. I have encountered numerous interested parties both in this forum and through face to face contacts, but few have been interested in checking out the current Northern Wisconsin winter from a tent, global warming or not. I’m expecting the vernal equinox to present more of a draw.

New trip around the sun: time for a new thread. In this iteration I’ll be making regular updates to the first three posts in the thread to make things clearer for newcomers, or for people who want to check back on progress without reviewing the whole conversation. Not that I’m expecting a ton of posts, but please do add comments and ask any questions here. I'll respond in the thread or direct PM depending on the content. These three posts will mirror the layout of the camp: first a check-in point for guests; those willing to decontaminate from external toxins are invited to explore the lookout/operation center that defines a buffer from the surrounding gickworld; and/or a third space to partake in simple living, an area where humans gather and engage to take care of basic human stuff without the superfluous artifacts that pollute most social interactions.


I Gasthaus
Welcome to Camp Pine Soup. At this point it is a collection of tents and basic tools at the edge of an erratic national forest. I have a big pot of soup going, very nutritious and pleasant tasting. You’re welcome to join in, maybe bring a little garnish or even something to add more substance to the soup.

Why camp here? I often reflect that there’s something wrong with the world today, and wonder at the various ways we deny that or make ineffectual efforts to compensate for it. Are you fixing racism by renaming lakes, by telling people they should feel bad for using the N word? Are you addressing poverty by shifting some numbers from one spreadsheet column to another, attempting to manipulate the lives of people you never have never met and know no specifics about? Will you address environmental problems with some 'better' light bulbs, maybe a fancier car? None of these are bad things if done with care, but do you feel they are sufficient to meet your expectations? Pine Soup, done right, has the potential to transform those who partake from people who go through the motions of pointless tasks as part of a plan to arrive at comfortable failure, into humans capable of obtaining meaning and purpose, who have genuine potential to overcome the problems facing them. It can’t fix everything, but it can replenish nutrients in our souls that others have been working to deprive us of.

I’ve acquired 40 acres of former timber company land. It is primarily a Red Pine plantation with trees good for timber framing, dimensional lumber, and cord wood for burning and/or construction infill. There is a clearing near the road of a few acres waiting for hugelkultur, vegetable gardens, and food forests to be sculpted. One edge of the property has a small creek running along it, and a corner of the property has variously marshy land with a mixture of local trees growing on it. The land slopes from the creek and the road up to a mound in the center that turns into a undulating ridge running to the back of the property and federally owned national forest. The plantation trees have been regularly thinned and there is considerable understory growth of raspberries and hazelnuts. Whitetail deer are frequently in the area and a world class trout stream is within easy walking/portage distance. The soil I’ve sampled has proven to be relatively rich and promising for immediate planting.

I’m starting with a few yurts for accommodation, and will be experimenting with rocket mass heaters inside of them. I would like to have two or three done during the year and work to insulate them for the following winter. Time and labor permitting, other natural building projects will be explored as the project progresses. I have a storage shed made from pallets completed as the first structure. I’ll be building numerous simple shelters to start seasoning cordwood, along with something for solar panels and to house the supporting equipment for a modest power supply. I'd like to initiate a willow feeder system similar to what I've experienced at Wheaton Labs ASAP.

Food is naturally central to the endeavor. Within the camp, sourcing, preparation and consumption of it is a basic group function. A paleo-centric diet makes sense given the environment. Recognizing common ancestry and participating daily in its renewal is at the core of a robust community. The goal is self-sufficiency in supply, but the luxury of trade is appreciated if it does not compromise essential human values. At this point a great portion of the food supply will be purchased with the focus on local and ethically supported sources. The amount of time and energy devoted to perennial gardening and hunting/gathering this year will depend on the quantity and quality of those willing to contribute to the project.

If the things outlined in the village ‘mission statement’ below resonate, consider coming for a visit. As a general rule, consumer culture will be parked at the edge of the property, phones full of social media to be left in cars. What makes it past the check-in point will be basics to secure shelter, food and water in a reasonable manner and to help establish more self sufficient infrastructure. Clutter inside the head is expected, with the hope that it can be sifted into something to fertilize connections among others here. There is no charge to visit, just an expectation to help prepare meals and an interest in growing a healthy group culture.
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pioneer
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II Operations
2022 Schedule
March-May
build yurts
Willow candy collectors
cut and prep timber
build cordwood shelters/solar charging station
order and plant perennials
plant annuals
start hugelkultures

June-August
complete yurts
tend to annuals
traditional ways gathering
continue hugelkultures
donate blood to local mosquito population

September-Nov
September: forage festival
September: WI permaculture gathering
Manoomin (wild rice) harvest
more hugelkultures
insulate yurts
October: cranberry harvest
venison harvest

Dec+
?...
 
Coydon Wallham
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III Heart and Soul
Reserved...
 
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Yay, I'm so happy for you and the project! I can come for three day weekends, hopefully once a month, if that is helpful?

I too can't wait for the treacherous ice to either away.

I do not donate to mosquitos! Nay, I battle them for every once they steal!
 
pollinator
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Great to read this update on how things are coming along and your future plans. I'm up on the peninsula, just outside of Bayfield. If my seedlings behave nicely, I should have plant starts to share, if you're interested. If you don't have sugar maples (or red maples or boxelder) at your place, I'm sure there are sugar camps near you where you could help, learn, and maybe get sugar/syrup for a lower price. I started sugar maple seeds over the winter, and I would share those seedlings with you too if they pop. When you say traditional ways gathering, is that up at Bad River? It sounds like you are off to a very good start.
 
Coydon Wallham
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Novina West wrote:Yay, I'm so happy for you and the project! I can come for three day weekends, hopefully once a month, if that is helpful?


March 26-27 is open right now. In April things start to get busier and will likely involve coordinating with others, so let me know when you are thinking of in advance as much as you can to help coordinate...
 
Coydon Wallham
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Marisa Lee wrote:Great to read this update on how things are coming along and your future plans. I'm up on the peninsula, just outside of Bayfield. If my seedlings behave nicely, I should have plant starts to share, if you're interested. If you don't have sugar maples (or red maples or boxelder) at your place, I'm sure there are sugar camps near you where you could help, learn, and maybe get sugar/syrup for a lower price. I started sugar maple seeds over the winter, and I would share those seedlings with you too if they pop. When you say traditional ways gathering, is that up at Bad River? It sounds like you are off to a very good start.


There are some individual maples on the back of the property, but I didn't make specific note of them in fall so doubt I could locate them easily now, will have to wait for next year. I'll have to settle for the birches this year. I have a varied experience with mapling operations, was just discussing with Mike Haasl last night at the local homesteader club about the possibility for a lorena-style rocket stove for reduction.

Sugar maples are one of the first trees I intend to start out once I locate a couple spots with good potential for a bush, so those would be much appreciated. I don't have a good idea of how much time I'll have to plant veggies starts yet, the base plan involves the dozens and dozens of seed packets I'll be spreading to start a volunteer landrace for annuals. Planning locations for perennials and starting them needs to happen before intensive annual management becomes a priority. Let me know if you have a bribe level I can manage that would involve a workday visit...

Yes the traditional ways gathering was a highlight of the past summer, hope I can arrange to spend the whole week there this year. Once basic shelters are up here, it would be rewarding to work on further development of the basic camp area in line with those traditions.

Did you partake in any of the winter camp activities at Red Cliff? I was hoping to never have another zoom experience after the last two years, but hearing the elders talk of their early lives and relate ancestral stories was better than a shot of vitamin D.
 
Coydon Wallham
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So circumstantial evidence has me making an enemy of good by pursuing perfection with the part III 'mission statement' here. I've sat down numerous times and have not been able to put a cohesive piece together. This is more because of environmental conditions and demands on my time than inability to put something together at all. The point of that third post is to address the ideals of this project, so I'm not going to slap something half-assed into it's place, at least not without a long elaborate description of why anything in the written medium must be half-assed compared to what should spring organically from the lips of a group of people in immediate contact with one another.

So the half-assed stuff will get dumped down here as a quickish update. Starting from this spring, I've had a few weekends with people out to help. The facilities are not great to entertain, and the work being done does not show quick reward, so I seem to be in a catch-22 getting greater community activity going. I've had a combination of establishing a few essential systems that let me camp here as self-sufficiently as possible, while starting up some longer term systems that can grow on their own as much as possible. I finally decided to sit down and just put out this update.

I've had 6 full sized red pine trees taken down so far. 4 were processed into cordwood (before I learned how helpful debarking the whole log first is), one is debarked and another just getting delimbed. This thread has pictures of the makeshift shed thrown up over winter with some of the cordwood stacked along it for a wall, plus the new shed being built to alleviate storage problems.

One work weekend we strung up a large (cotton) canvas tarp to create an outdoor kitchen space, and constructed a rocket stove at the edge from vague memories of how rocket stoves look. I rebuilt it based on J-tube designs from Ernie & Erica's book. It works well enough to cook on with patience, but the dry stack is leaky and the tall end of the stove is facing the prevailing wind meaning it backs up pretty easily. I'd like to relocate/rebuild the whole arrangement, but it works well enough that it is a low priority.

I was able to auger out the sandpoint that got stuck last fall and pound it back in to a depth where good, clean water is coming up. I am running it through a Berkey filter before drinking until I have a time to have it tested or to risk some digestion... experimentation.

I hooked up the solar equipment I've been accumulating. It is all screwed to the barnwood boot rack I made and the panels are simply laid on the ground outside the garage tent in a sunny spot, but it works fine. It charges my laptops, phones, headlamps, reserve phone batteries, and cordless tool batteries, some LED string lights, a 40L powered cooler for the warmer weather, and a fan to help with the mosquitoes. The wifi router was a bit of a problem, going to Ethernet here soon to save power and cut down on EMF in the area.

I've gradually built up a ~12' long, 3' high Hugelkutur bed and planted it with a variety of seedlings and a landrace mixture of whatever seeds I came across this spring. The garlic bed from last fall mostly came up. I visited the Draw a few hours from here to pick up a few apple and pear trees and meet the cool folx up there. More locally I sourced some taters, onions, tomaters, asparagus, hazelnuts (non-beaked, got a ton of beaked all around already), and a grape vine. I'm saving all the apple seeds from fruit I eat and planting them all over. The Hugel is near the road but I've planted the grape and a handful of seedlings in sunny spots further back by the campsite. As I process the tops of the red pines that have been taken down, I'm sorting through the limbs and planning to use the various sizes as posts and wattle weave to construct a keyhole garden similar to Ravens, near the camp so there is a place to put kitchen scraps, plus a closer garden to tend to more diligently.

I've also started to pile up loose old downed wood along the road by the entrance to build a hugelberm for privacy in the garden space. Just another long-term goal tackled in "free" time...

I found a healthy ramp pocket about a mile away along the big river here. I've enjoyed them in a few stir fries and tried transplanting some closer to me by the creek. Cooincidentally, I just was given a Fakebook post by Sam Theyer who is doing a study on effectiveness of ramp transplanting maybe a 100 miles west of me. Sounds like it should work but will take a while for them to spread, provided I found an appropriate spot for them.

I didn't have time to set up anything for maple sap, but did get a few gallons of birch sap and drank it like a spring tonic. More recently I've found that many of the little deciduous saplings around me are maples. Going by online ID guides they look like mostly red, though a few hold promise to be sugar, so it seems my failure to procure transplants this year won't be a problem.

I've transplanted a few small fir trees to block sight lines to the road and started to dig a ditch along the entry road to help with muddy, low spots. In the process I found what looks like a few clumps of clay. Another job for some "free" time is the uncle mud soil test, to see if I'll have something I can work into cob once I get around to the RMHeaters for the yurts.

Speaking of which, I bought 2 professionally make tonos (roof rings) and have the wood from the 24' unsuccessful attempt last fall waiting to cut down to make 2 14' ones. I'm waiting to finish the roof for the shed above before starting with the frames. I'm hiring someone to help sew the covers next week, so will prioritize the frames once that is in motion. Work has slowed down significantly the last two weeks as the mosquito swarms have been at peak levels and I'm having trouble sustaining intense efforts on any discreet project through the inevitable attacks on every seam in my 'bee' suit or little netted retreat. I have no experience but it seems like a yurt/ger should be able to exclude flying insects as well as any cabin, so it would be a big boost to have that done.

Next week will involve a trip with some local permies to the organic capital of Wisconsin and a tour of Mark Sheppard's agroforestry stronghold, followed by a farm/health fest with Joel Salatin among the presenters. Soon after that I'll be attending the PTJ at Wheaton labs. I'd like to be putting in more steady development at the camp here, but the pace has been slow so I feel a change will give perspective, allow for new techniques and perhaps collaborators, we'll see how things go after returning in July.

Bottom line, there is plumbing, electricity, refrigeration, and endless opportunity. Anyone interested in coming by to check it out, maybe to help with some projects in exchange for organic meals and free rent, drop a line. I'm still tossing around ideas on how to move this to a robust community space, my mind is likely more pliable to outside input now than it will be once I have more infrastructure done. Conditions are rough right now with biting insects, but I saw my first dragon fly 3 days ago and 2 of the last 3 days have been tolerable outside the netting. A doe wandered up to camp and didn't seem at all bothered by me standing there in a bright red shirt grinding my coffee beans manually. I've been talking to some of the local swallows, they keep telling me to quit fussing with all this construction crap and come fly around a bit. So would be cool to have some others to work and explore with around here for sure...

Hmm, so much for the 'quickish' part of the update. If I had had more time, I would have written a shorter post...
 
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Max Kane’s?  I am heading out in a couple of hours! I am so glad you will be there!  I will be there with my SKIP books and i was going to see if there were folks there that were interested in them!
 I have a few more things to accomplish at a family compound, then i was going to ask about heading up there.  I must get my hunting license first!  And finish moving my ‘stuff’ to storage.
https://open.spotify.com/episode/0LiG3jkyCtccs8XohN3TH1?si=mMzc9rNbSF-Ufnne3UZgCg
 
pollinator
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Sweet. Keep it coming. The big project reports are my favorite part of permies. I hope that this thread gets some folks interested in checking out you camp there. Good luck!
 
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Replying to say I found this latest thread of yours. Glad to hear that you made it to the nursery at The Draw, and that you will visit Mark's farm. His place is an excellent study in planning the land use and focusing on earth works before starting to plant perennials.
 
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Love love love this update!!!  I'm very interested and please let me know if I can help or any updates!  Thanks!!  Lilia
 
Coydon Wallham
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I was told by a neighbor that preperations for winter around here start when the snow thaws in spring. And that's for people who aren't attempting crazy permaculture ecobatics (yes, that word was just made up). Online communication has just been too far down the priority list for the initial intentions to keep this well updated.

A 16' yurt will have the basics completed tomorrow. If I can find my glass cutter and it works on the shower door I salvaged, I will cut a cover for the center ring. I have no plan for the doors yet, will have to make something from extra canvas and/or adapt the doors I've salvaged. Next goal is to construct a floor from pallets, around a rocket mass heater.

Without the RMH, there will be a yurt warming later this week. I'm expecting about a half dozen permaculturists/homesteaders out from Thursday through Sunday. Besides testing out the space inside the yurt, there will be much processing of trees for lumber and cordwood to generate heat in individuals. Any extra time/energy will be devoted to other earthworks/food forest activities. Robust feasting on hearty food will of course provide sustenance during the gathering.

If you happen to be in the area and would consider joining in, post here or drop me a PM...
 
Coydon Wallham
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Might be time for an update here. I'll save the pathetic excuses for lack of communication for the next post.

After the last update, the ground froze before I finished the floor or RMH and it seemed the better choice at the time to travel to Montana and do the bootcamp thing at Wheaton Labs. Indeed it was a worthy experience and the three months I spent learning about RMHs and natural building methods first hand also gained me entrance to the PTJ later in '23.

I returned to WI for a bit of work and a lesson about weather and bugs. A few weekend visits from collaborators, then back to WL for the PTJ. Once back from the PTJ, conditions had become ideal around the camp. With the attack dragonflies on bug duty and mild weather, the biggest challenge here was getting motivated to get much work done rather than just enjoying what the northwoods offer under good conditions.

The first project for the summer was construction of a shack to mount solar panels on and house the battery and charging equipment in. Then the floor for the yurt/teepee was placed and the structure erected on it. Then, just as the cold was setting in for serious discussions about discomfort, the Bamm-Bamm style Rocket Mass Heater was completed. With the RMH and some quilts/blankets slapped up around the yupee, I've been able to bump temps up into the 50s on the coldest days, and keep it above freezing overnight on the coldest mornings. With the unseasonal thaw this last week, I've had to take off clothes to cook to limit sweating. The RMH has burned flawless, needs no priming and has not smoked back at all. Build details are in this thread, here's a pic of this stuff outside mid-construction mess:
Camp0_3.jpg
[Thumbnail for Camp0_3.jpg]
 
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