Found some prairie smoke growing near the tipi. Apparently some Plateau Indian tribes used it to treat tuberculosis. Hopefully i won't need to test that.
Peas have started blooming on the sun-scoop berm around the tipi!
While we were having dinner in the Wofati 0.7 i found an ichneumon wasp on the window. She was several inches long. She looks like she has a massive stinger, but she has a long ovipositor that she uses to drill into a tree and lay her eggs in larvae that are eating the cambium of the tree. Parasitizing the parasites. I'm guessing she is a Megarhyssa nortoni wasp. Apparently the adults of the species don't eat.
It would be nice to have a few mushroom and plant guides on the Lab. There are so many things growing here that i don't recognize. It would be awesome to learn what stuff was and learn more about its uses and how it fits into the local ecology.
Here is a mushroom book that says it covers westernmost Montana:
There's been some mice in wofati 0.7, so i made a non-lethal version of a mouse trap Paul suggested (no water for drowning). I caught three mice on the first night. They are now far from any of our structures and will hopefully make a new home somewhere else.
As i stated previously, we've been getting a bit of rain. Even the sand is molding!
Throughout the day i saw a few Western Sculptured Pine Borers (Chalcophora angulicollis). Of course, when i got my camera the only one i could find wasn't all that sculptured. But it did have a nice coppery iridescence on its legs. The females are attracted to a chemical release by injured and stressed pine (and fir) trees. They then release a pheromone that attracts the males. The first ones to attack a tree are stopped by pitch, but they have released pheromones to attract greater numbers of both sexes and attack as a group. After mating they stop releasing attractants so their offspring will have less competition. Their larva burrow under the bark for two years before maturing to adults, leaving a pattern on the wood that many have seen.
Here is some Lupine hard at work fixing nitrogen in the middle of a little used road at the lab. Then there is a crazy fungus that Evan showed me bursting out of one of the trees on his plot. I later found it is the pine-oak gall rust. It is a fungal disease caused by Cronartium quercuum, and requires both a pine and oak host to complete it's life cycle. I haven't seen any oaks around here, though. On such a young tree it will likely cause death, though older trees can survive with a little disfiguring. After visiting with Evan i found a bunch of orchids across the street from ant village. The Mountain Lady's Slipper (Cronartium quercuum).
In the spirit of "some video is better than no video", here is a video with some clips from the bee swarm. At first they are flying everywhere, then they are calmed down into a clump while they wait for the scouts. Sorry for the bad orientation of the video. I tried to adjust it in editing. Next time will be better.
Jocelyn was just telling me about salsify and then i found a good example of it in bloom. Found a growie with very hairy leaves, felt a little sticky, and a yellow and purple veined flower. I couldn't track down an ID on that one. The highlight of the day was when Evan and i were helping Michael work on the RMH in the teepee. We heard the buzz of tens of thousands of bees. The skiddable bee hut is near the teepee, so i figure the colony there was splitting. I followed them about 800 ft where they rested on the branch of a dead tree while their scouts went looking for a new home. At first they were very noisy, but soon quieted down. I'm trying to get the video sorted out so i can post that too.
One more photo, which I guess is garlic chives, but we always called onion grass. I also gave almost as much as is in all these photos to Evan for his ant plot. Not pictured were some comfrey, horse radish, and oregano.
I arrived at Wheaton Labs with some perennial plants thinned from my garden in Minnesota. These are plants that with no care would spread to take over the whole urban lot. I figured that made them good candidates for the fledgling food systems here at the lab, where there's a bit more space for them to expand.
They usually have good coverage of the latest research (in layman's terms) surrounding vegan diets. They post about the advantages AND disadvantages of removing animal products from your diet. They also have a lot of resources for your nutrition questions.
I think an important part of the design would be to place the freezer so that heavy tree cover could cast shade over the area or plant quick growing trees to cool the area after construction was complete.
Frozen food boxes and beer and coke boxes are made of paperboard with a polyethylene additive (wet-strength). The wet-strength is usually mixed in with the paper fibers during manufacture and while it presents a problem for pulping and recycling the boxes, i'm not sure how it would fare in the compost. The plastic will not end up in a thin sheet as you would get with milk/juice boxes. I'm not sure how you feel about countless tiny pieces of plastic in your garden (maybe too small to see?), but i'm not that excited about it.
Greg, I don't know what city you are in, but you might have luck finding someone that is already composting humanure. Most of us wouldn't mind additional deposits being made to our piles. You could check the much smaller, but more focused, Humnaure Forum, or maybe someone here on permies will host you.
I have a seasonal business (harvesting pecans) that would require me to leave the lab for December and January. I'm pretty sure that would disqualify me for the challenge, but what if i had a substitute ant living in the structure through that part of winter?
A friend and i are putting in a food forest on a couple of acres south of Sarasota. Any local permies on that side of FL that would like to meet up. We'd like to see your set-up. Most of my experience is in other climes.
It seems like the digital download option is much more popular than the HD streaming option. I wonder if those download people would bump their pledges up a bit for a more expensive HD download. Could that even be an option? Are worries of piracy or limited hosting capabilities keeping that from being offered?
From the kickstarter page i clicked on the share on facebook link. Then i noticed facebook crops the image associated with the link on my timeline. The top half of the word "rocket" is missing and it barely fits the bottom where is says "Less than one tenth the annual cost and CO2 of natural gas". I looked at Paul's facebook and it looked the same way. I'm using Firefox. Is anyone else seeing this same problem?
Several years ago I was helping a researcher at the University of Minnesota collect mycorrhizal fungi that grew in association with bur oak. He was tracking species distribution and density. He said there were over 200 species that associated with bur oak. He didn't say how many of those were edible, but with that many, there's bound to be a few good choices. Maybe i can try and track him down.
Klorinth: most of the mushrooms on that provincial list are saprophytic, so would not be good choices unless you were inoculating logs and not acorns.
"Have you tried rubbing?" That was a friend's response after i had bad chigger attacks a couple of years in a row after spending parts of the summer in the south. I guess the reason washing after you come in helps, is that it kills the chiggers that may be on your skin but not yet attached. Washing definitely helps, but there's only so much this can do if you are spending all day outside. By the time you get inside, many chiggers have already embedded their feeding tubes into you. He suggested i stop what i was doing every 30 minutes to an hour. Vigorously rub your hands over your skin. Focus on exposed areas of legs, lower torso, and especially under your waistband. That's were i was getting bites, but if you are getting them elsewhere, rub wherever that is. Chiggers are small and fragile and it doesn't take much to kill them. I didn't always remember to stop and do a rub down, so i still got a few bites, but the count was drastically lower that the previous two years. Has anyone else tried this? How did it work for you?
If you are a bona fide plant propagator (whatever that means) you can get an unspecified amount of open pollinated seed from the USDA's Plant Genetic Resources Unit in Geneva NY. They have over 2500 varieties there, so that should make for some different genetics. I spoke with the apple curator Dr. C.Thomas Chao on the phone. He said that if you email him with a request they would collect the seed in the fall and send it to you free of charge. You would need to specify which variety to collect from the Malus Catalog. Instructions and contact info are found in the catalog.
Large tracts of land are not needed for Maple syruping. A roommate and i have done it without owning even a single maple tree in urban St Paul, MN. We made a map noting which neighbors had good maple trees. When syruping time came around, we went about the neighborhood with a bit and brace, buckets, and spiles asking neighbors if we could tap their trees. Almost everyone was excited to let us tap their trees. Some even offered to buy syrup from us when we were done. When the the buckets started to fill we toured the neighborhood on bike and filled empty 5 gallon jugs with sap and loaded them into our trailer (we used the discarded plastic jugs that bakeries and restaurants get their cooking oil in. they have a threaded top and are very leakproof). We used an old kid carrier, so we could only fit about 23 gallons of sap (at 200lbs, an ok limit), so on the best days we had to make a couple of runs to get sap from all the taps. We found that the square plastic buckets worked best. They were easiest to transfer to the transport jugs as the corner concentrates the pouring sap. The lids of the square buckets also stayed in place best. The lids keep rain, snow and tree debris from falling in the bucket. If you have more time than money, these buckets are easy to get used, but need thorough cleaning. They can be found at bakeries (they get eggs or cake frosting in them), or delis (they get mayo in them).
Bill Erickson wrote:
I understand you need to plug the hole once the sap has finished its run to prevent critters and disease from getting in. But next season it is just pull the plug, tap your spile in and wait for the goodness to flow. If you aren't up to it this season, this summer and fall are good times to tap the trees, make some plugs and build your spiles for next spring.
If you want to get a good sap flow, the hole should be made at the beginning of the syruping season (late Feb to early March). Some of the massive operations have to tap so many trees they start drilling holes as early as January. Towards the end of the season as the weather warms fungi, bacteria, and yeasts interact with the sap inside to form a gummy substance that blocks further sap flow. So, if you tap too early you may miss some of the late flows. At the end of the season, the hole you've drilled for your spile should be left open after removing your spile. Nothing we could put in the hole can be guaranteed to be sterile and is more likely to be a source of disease. A healthy tree should close the hole within two years. The trees i've tapped in Minnesota healed within one growing season. When you drill your new hole make sure it is at least 6" laterally from a past hole and at least 4" vertically. Over the years you will work your way around the tree with holes. The most productive taps are on the south side of the tree above a big root or below a big branch. Because of this, you may not want to stray too far, but if we concentrate our holes in too small of an area our flow will be reduced trying to get sap through scar tissue and damaged xylem and the tree may have a hard time trying to heal our damage. If you are putting a hole directly above or below a past hole, it should not be within 2ft. By limiting the number of taps (see chart in link below) and moving them yearly a tree can stay healthy and be tapped for many generations. We use 5/16" stainless steel spiles (the smaller size helps the tree heal faster). They are easy to sterilize (boiling) before use, and easy to clean after use. If you are going to use homemade wood taps, i would not recommend that they be reused, as they can harbor diseases that could infect the tree.
I would also caution against making the syrup indoors. Unless you are doing a very small amount this could have disastrous results. The average gallon of maple syrup started out as 40 gallons of sap. That means you will have 39 gallons of water vapor in your house. Your drywall will soak this moisture out of the air and can get moldy. If you have wall paper, it can start to peel off.
Thekla, I'm in Tularosa. It is south central NM, about 3 hours south of Albuquerque. I'm usually only here for the pecan harvest (Dec - Jan), but when i arrive there are lots of pomegranates to collect from the neighbors.