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pollinator
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Location: south-central ME, USA - zone 5a/4b
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Not finding those winter photos, but here are a couple of videos:

The christmas day storm of 2017 (apx 15" fell from that one)


And yet another blizzard - pretty sure this was the january 4th storm where we got another 20". Warning - I think I swore in this one, so no sensitive child ears


I know I had some pictures of the ice storms from december and the other blizzards we got, but can't seem to find them tonight.

At some point, I'll be putting together a video of my backwoods, thrown together maple sap boiling setup...but not tonight. Video's only been sitting there screaming for attention since late march or early april, so it has at least a couple more months to sit and stew before I get to it
 
Tristan Vitali
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Ducklings, goslings and chicks, oh my!

10 Grimaud Hybrid Pekin ducklings, 3 French Toulouse goslings, and 25 Rollin S chicks. They had a very rough journey, arriving a day late and very weak (especially the chicks). Sad to report we've lost 6 chicks and 2 ducklings. One more duckling is still pretty weak, and is quite underweight, but has hung in there so far. Everyone else seems strong and active so far, and they've been happily guzzling water and gobbling up the starter feed.
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pollinator
Posts: 4715
Location: Zones 2-4 Wyoming and 4-5 Colorado
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Hay Tristan, thanks for the update! Looks like you have made a lot of progress. Good stuff!
 
Tristan Vitali
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Miles Flansburg wrote:Hay Tristan, thanks for the update! Looks like you have made a lot of progress. Good stuff!



Slow progress, but progress nonetheless :)  Thanks for following things in the thread - knowing people actually view it does inspire me to keep up with it as much as I can. Back before I got started with everything, it was always threads like this that had me thinking "maybe, just maybe, even I can do something like that". For anyone else out there that happens upon this one and is thinking the same thing, it's easier than it sounds but harder than it looks :D
 
Tristan Vitali
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More picture updates for tonight before I get caught up in everything else going on again. First off, here are the chooks doing their thing in their enormous (for such tiny things) house and run
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Tristan Vitali
pollinator
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Here's a couple of the aptly named Monster sitting on her nest from just over a week ago. She hatched 7, of which she lost one that night. She then promptly adopted the pekin ducklings and the goslings, abandoned her ducklings and hasn't bothered with them much since. The golden 300 layer that we let sit this year adopted them and abandoned her nest, but was so mean to everyone else, and noisy, we had to kick her out to the summer house. The 6 poor week-old ducklings are now being looked after by Surrogate (who's a week overdue already) and the "whitehead" while Monster spends all her time looking after her new favorites.

The third picture is of Surrogate today when we noticed a broken shell in her nest, as if she hatched a duckling finally. After searching around I did find it on the floor behind her nest, alive but barely. Seems she rejected the duckling and kicked it out of the nest after it hatched. I tried warming it up and putting it back in her nest, but she rejected it again a while later. That little one is in here for the night with a warm water bottle to see how it does. It might have paralysis on one side, or it might be a broken leg from being kicked out of the nest today - it can't stand up or move around without dragging itself and the one leg seems completely limp...but it's certainly a fiesty, lively and talkative little duckling now that it's warmed up and rested. It'll be sad if it does turn out to be a permanent issue as this little guy wants to survive.

The last one is Monster's ducklings - the lighting in the duck house is terrible, but you can at least see the lighter colored ones in there  They don't spend much time outside since nobody's watching out for them, but they've been out a few times already. Adorable little guys, too
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Tristan Vitali
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The (pekin) ducklings and (french toulouse) goslings from the previous posts have settled in nicely. Here's some pictures of their first day under blue skies. Need to split this into two posts as it wont go through with too many photos attached.
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Tristan Vitali
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Here's the rest of the gosling/duckling pictures
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Tristan Vitali
pollinator
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And here's an update on tomatoes directed seeded with bottle clotches - these are the black cherry tomatoes. As you can see, I haven't thinned them yet. I'll probably leave two plants per so they can be trellised out in opposite directions
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Tristan Vitali
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I did take more pictures today, but I'll have to leave it with this for tonight...strawberries  Also, there's a shot of the garlic putting on scapes, peonies in bloom, comfrey (there's three clumps, two of which have been harvested for mulch) and you might be able to spot some of the roma tomatoes mixed in with mint under the garlic or along the bottom of the hill with that single line of garlic.

Strawberries and garlic scapes...who could ask for more, right?
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pollinator
Posts: 261
Location: Vermont, annual average precipitation is 39.87 Inches
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This is a great thread!  Thank you so much for posting updates.  I have gotten a lot out of it, especially the pond work you have done.
 
Tristan Vitali
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It's been a couple / few years since I really put some time into this thread, so I hope people that were following haven't given up entirely. I certainly haven't! Lots of updates to make in the next little while regarding what amounts to finally getting some big progress on earthworks (plus all the related subsequent growies and systems). This is a big part of why the updates stopped for a few years, but the other part of that was just sheer laziness. Takes work to write a bunch of posts with photos and edit videos

So back in 2019, I had someone in with a big excavator to do what I was calling "the big dig", but perhaps I should have been calling it something else. After all, Boston's "big dig" turned into quite an expensive fiasco, and so did mine.

Despite some very concrete plans on what, where, how and on what budget, things quickly went sideways, leaving me with:
  • berms of topsoil in the wrong places
  • a half-built but significantly smaller than expected "cabin pad"
  • no driveway to access the "pad"
  • two dangerously deep "pond" pits where the perch pond should have been - I was surprised to not find deer and moose drowning in them!
  • a non-functional "blueberry pond"
  • no huglekulture beds
  • no piles of clay ready for the cobwood cabin build


  • Understandably, the person I hired was having some major issues with his machine, so that ate up some time. Problem is, he charged me for some of that time (not all), then cut things short without completing anything I brought him out for. Not understanding things, he offered to come in with a heavy bulldozer the next year to finish things, even though I kept trying to explain a bulldozer is not the machine needed for the excavation work I needed. We're not building a road, here!

    So, after going into a funk for a year and scratching my head / beating it against pads of grid paper until it hurt, I was able to rework some plans (such as the cabin design and blueberry pond beaches, etc) as well as put together some money to "just rent a dang backhoe" and "do it myself". This was a one month rental in summer 2020.



    Thousands of dollars later, I had a half-finished perch pond, a workable blueberry pond, a servicable cabin pad, three long (but less tall than hoped) huglekulture berms, around half the clay I need for the cobwood cabin build, a pasture pond and driveway access. The big surprise here was that these machines are INCREDIBLY easy to use once you get the controls down, and not scary to use at all.

    Like so many other things I've encountered since moving out to The Camp, this sort of work is something a person really does need to learn to do themselves. No one else can see the image in your mind. If you want to bring your earthworks plans to a reality, you HAVE TO DO IT YOURSELF! I'm sure hiring someone with permaculture experience would make a big difference if you really don't want to be running the machine, but nothing will ever beat doing the job yourself.

    And oh the money I could have saved just doing it myself from the start!

    Live and learn
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    Tristan Vitali
    pollinator
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    So first thing's first, let's run down the history and design of what we call The Blueberry Pond. Remember, this property was a "stump land" purchase - a wood lot that had been harvested, full of stumps and ruts with lots of erosion and access via a packed clay driveway. There was a surface water seep and perpetually wet area that was obviously used originally for machinery storage and log staging.
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    Tristan Vitali
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    This area, even during droughty summers, would have a couple small puddles with rusty, slimy water breeding mosquitoes. It screamed "make me a pond!", and so that was the plan. This is the original plan from the first post with this water body "arrowed" via windoze paint  Though some things have changed with years of observing and interacting with this property, many of the "big picture" points are still much the same. It's truly incredible how, by using permaculture's toolkit, I was able to draw up rough plans that STILL apply after almost 10 years of playing with designs, installing earthworks, etc.
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    Tristan Vitali
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    Upon original excavation back in 2017 (only $200 to the local earthworks and propane guy - boy do I wish I was able to hire him again for the 2019 job!), we found that this area was the source for the driveway clay and was used as a slash dump. The people who did the logging here had dug roughly 15 foot deep strips of subsoil from this area, then filled them with slash and topsoil from their operations. Lots of waterlogged, unrotted fir logs with needles still attached came out of the ground as the guy operated the excavator. Logs and topsoil went to the west side while clay went to the east side.

    I'm not sure if the buried slash was what actually led to the surface water springs (aka "seeps") in this area. It seems we have a slightly pressurized water table about 6 feet down, even though the clay subsoil is pretty homogeneous down to at least about 30 feet. Not sure the dynamics of all that, but there will be more related to this later on.
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    Tristan Vitali
    pollinator
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    This initial excavation gave us our first bit of pond to work with. Water storage for summer months, a place for a cool dip during the heatwaves, a place to put some highly productive aquatic plants...but it was only half complete. Here are a few of the photos from 2018, plus a google aireal shot showing the footprint and clay pile.
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    Tristan Vitali
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    After the "big dig" part 1, the pond was expanded by a little, but not much was done with it during the time my excavation guy was on site. In fact, it became basically just an eyesore.
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    Tristan Vitali
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    My plans after the year of misery living with the aftermath of "the big dig":
  • increase the width of the northern end of the pond to reduce the "narrow feel" a bit
  • create a shallow end where I can put gravel for bluegill breeding
  • create a small beach area
  • terrace the steep sides around this new section to provide additional growing space (kratergarten style)


  • And so it began: The Big Dig, Part Deux!
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    Tristan Vitali
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    More progress
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    Tristan Vitali
    pollinator
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    And more
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    Tristan Vitali
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    And the mostly "finished" product?

    GORGEOUS!



    Of course, there's still much work to do, and things still to tweak, but I'm loving it! And so are the garter snakes, frogs and heat loving plants!

    At this point, the plan is to cover the beach and shallows with old sheet plastic, then cover it with a few inches of gravel. The "shelves" will also get a layer of gravel. This area is expected to achieve approximately a 1.5 to 2 zone bump in lowest winter temperatures due to the prevailing wind dumping a nice thick layer of snow drift over the northern and eastern side.

    Here are the current plans for the "hardy mediterranean" inspired growies:
  • english lavendar
  • rosemary ("ARP" zone 5 hardy variety)
  • chicago hardy fig
  • passionflower
  • banana yucca
  • hardy banana (Musa basjoo)
  • hardy prickly pear
  • hens and chicks
  • breadseed poppy
  • culinary anise, cumin and sage
  • golden purslane


  • Also planned are some have-been-difficult-to-establish-in-our-overly-wet-and-heavy-clay-soil plants:
  • echinacea purpurea
  • oswego tea
  • butterfly weed
  • st johnswort
  • new jersey tea
  • astralagus
  • catnip
  • black seed
  • stevia


  • Next post coming soon(ish) - hard to find the time to put these posts together with everything going on, but with ducklings, goslings, chicks and turkey poults arriving in the mail these couple weeks, it seems a good time to spend a bit on these. Fingers crossed I can get the next series of posts up before month's end!
     
    master pollinator
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    You've been busy!
     
    master steward
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    I have to admit I haven't read through all your posts, just the more recent ones. You must be proud of what you have achieved.
    I once hired a little sit on digger to dig some foundation trenches (I got the easy job, the guys were wheeling the spoil away by hand!) it was great fun. We now have a little 2.4 tracked digger which I've not been able to play with use as yet. My husband said it was the law on Skye that you had to own a digger(!)
    What sort of temperature gain do you think the earthworks have given you? I'm thinking of digging a pond myself (been thinking of it for about 14 years, but it might happen sometime soon) and I may change the design to make more of the sun aspect. I'm going to be digging into rock probably, since I generally only have a foot or so of soil, but I would like to have a pond that is deep enough to have a swim. If I can get a solar gaining/ wind stopping berm at the north end, it could make the whole thing much more pleasant on a sunny day. I'll probably have to buy in bentonite clay to line it, since there is next to none locally.
    Thanks for the update on the thread. I'll go back and see how you started now!
     
    Tristan Vitali
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    Nancy Reading wrote:I have to admit I haven't read through all your posts, just the more recent ones. You must be proud of what you have achieved.
    I once hired a little sit on digger to dig some foundation trenches (I got the easy job, the guys were wheeling the spoil away by hand!) it was great fun. We now have a little 2.4 tracked digger which I've not been able to play with use as yet. My husband said it was the law on Skye that you had to own a digger(!)
    What sort of temperature gain do you think the earthworks have given you? I'm thinking of digging a pond myself (been thinking of it for about 14 years, but it might happen sometime soon) and I may change the design to make more of the sun aspect. I'm going to be digging into rock probably, since I generally only have a foot or so of soil, but I would like to have a pond that is deep enough to have a swim. If I can get a solar gaining/ wind stopping berm at the north end, it could make the whole thing much more pleasant on a sunny day. I'll probably have to buy in bentonite clay to line it, since there is next to none locally.
    Thanks for the update on the thread. I'll go back and see how you started now!



    I can't give any exact figures as I haven't actually measured them with a thermometer, but I'd give it an estimate a 7 to 12 degree fahrenheit (call it about 5 degrees celsius) bump in full sun. On a cloudy day, that number drops a bit, but the thermal mass and added humidity from the water also has a big effect - it's still significantly warmer down on the "beach" area under heavy clouds. Night-time temperatures are significantly warmer as well, which helps with a lot of the more tender annuals like melons and peppers.

    The snow in that area melted out about 2 weeks earlier, even though it acted as a snow catch and snow depth was about twice what it was on flat ground. Last fall, frost was at least a week, maybe two, later than other areas of the property. It took a cold and very windy night to hit the plants down there

    So it's significant  Adding the gravel on the shelves and beach will likely increase the summer temperature gain significantly, and if that ends up being dark colored, even more so.

    It would definitely be worth your while to use a pond dig as an excuse to experiment with solar gain and thermal mass.

    And thank you for your kind comments  It's a big, ongoing project on multiple acres, so its exhausting at times, mentally and physically
     
    Tristan Vitali
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    Next up on the list is the cobwood cabin redesign and the "pad" for it. Didn't quite make it before the end of the month, but I tried!

    Before moving onto the property, I had identified the one "high spot". The property, sitting at approximately 500 feet elevation, consists of a gentle south-east facing slope. There's about 20 feet of elevation change total from the northwest to the southeast of the property. Lots of little dips, hills, mounds and bumps interrupt this, of course - it's not like you could take laser level up there and point it down the slope. It's rough terrain, and combined with the skid trails full of deep ruts, there was already a hydrology on-site to deal with.

    This "high spot" sits on a slight ridge about 510 feet, along the west side of the property roughly two-thirds down the slope. The site sits directly above the "blueberry pond" area, is offset a bit to the north and west from the "perch pond" area, overlooks the lower and flatter "pasture area", and, incredibly, was just a little ways beyond the extent of the existing "driveway"! This was the obvious choice for the "cabin site".
    pad-position.jpg
    [Thumbnail for pad-position.jpg]
    cabin-pad-2015.JPG
    the pad in 2015, pre-clearing
    the pad in 2015, pre-clearing
    cabin-pad-2016.JPG
    spring 2016 - cleared with trellis up for growing peas and beans
    spring 2016 - cleared with trellis up for growing peas and beans
     
    Tristan Vitali
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    Early on, I had the classic log cabin in mind. A log cabin with a big, beautiful green roof.

    With research and some experience on-site, the log cabin part of the idea went in the burn bin pretty quickly:
  • little effective insulative value
  • the rot and insect issues without toxic gick
  • the need for HUGE NUMBERS of mature trees, which we simply don't have
  • potential wall stability issues when adding lots of windows
  • hard to plaster walls due to log expansion and shrinkage with fluctuating humidity levels
  • difficult to handle weights with large logs as just one 5'6, 140lb guy working alone
  • the list goes on!


  • Green roofs, though, are not only appropriate technology for a northern climate (think Scandanavia), but give the added benefits of camoflauge from above, additional growing space (for appropriate plants) and nearly unsurpassed wildfire protection. This was and still is a big part of my ideal cabin design. The thought of scything the roof gives me an indescribable feeling of joy I'm not yet willing to give up on


    credit: Digging in the Driftless


     
    Tristan Vitali
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    So the first question was what we actually have on site. As it turned out, we have heavy clay subsoil, so-called "junk trees", and surface water. In fact, that's about all we had here when we arrived. Oh, and blackberry. Lots of blackberry.

    Our clay subsoil has proven itself to be pretty much pre-made cob as it comes out of the ground - one of those "just add fiber" subsoils many natural builders dream about. A little sand is nice where cracking cab be a major issue, and there are certainly a lot of boulders, rocks and pebbles, but I've built rocket mass heater benches and cobwood walls, as well as done thick earthen plasters with nothing but the subsoil, as-is, direct from the ground...with a little hair, fur, hay or straw added where appropriate.

    The junk trees consist of mainly:
  • small to medium size fir
  • red maple (complete with varying levels of heart rot)
  • aspen (locally called "popple") and white and yellow birch of various ages
  • juvenile ash (nothing beyond 6" dbh)
  • lots of young eastern hemlocks and white pines
  • some very young tamarack (larch)


  • Also mixed in are a decent enough number of larger hemlocks, sugar maples, beech and mature pines. Much of these were obviously left as "seed trees", and the several pines left by the loggers have poor shape and/or trunk damage.

    Looking at the various natural building styles and techniques, I quickly came across cordwood (and it's sexier sister, cobwood). The fir, pine and hemlock make excellent "cordwood construction" material, being less prone to twisting with moisture fluctuation. Aspens aren't too bad either, especially after being split.

    The "stackwall construction" style build, where the roof is directly supported by the cordwood walls, is a difficult proposition in a location with lots of annual rainfall and freezing cold winters. Having a roof built BEFORE building the walls sounded like a much better idea. Additionally, our annual snowload can be pretty significant, and we often will get the classic nor'easter storms dumping an inch or more of rain on top of a three foot snowpack, so we'd need a light weight and steeply peaked roof.

    With my heart already set on a green roof, this wasn't gonna fly.

    So that means we needed to use the "cordwood infill" technique combined with some sort of heavy framing...
     
    Tristan Vitali
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    ...in comes roundwood timber framing!

    Since roundwood is so much stronger than dimensional lumber, we can easily support a large and deep green roof plus the seasonal snowloads. Also, using roundwood timber framing, we can avoid buying in timbers by using the relatively few mature trees on-site much more efficiently. The offcuts, ends and thicker branches from these trees even end up being used as cordwood materials.

    Simple joins and no-nonsense design, keeping beam runs as short as possible and not worrying about aesthetics as much as buildability and strength, means I can actually do most everything by hand in a fairly short time.

    Important since I'm a loner AND live out in the middle of pretty much nowhere

    The cordwood construction offers the ability to put in a nearly limitless thickness of insulation (which is a major concern in such a cold winter climate) while maintaining many of the benefits of cob construction:
  • clean, breathable material with the ability to regulate humidity
  • excellent fire resistance
  • safe and easy to work with during both construction and maintenance
  • local (mostly on-site) sourcing
  • excellent thermal mass profile
  • this list goes on as well


  • In my book, these three are a match made in heaven: roundwood timber framing, cobwood walls and a green roof!

    Throw in rubble foundations along with a foundation layer of gravel earthbags (old feed bags are the current plan) and we have a pretty good materials and techniques framework. Much of this is near zero cost, sourced directly on-site, and allows for an excellent thermal profile when we put in the noodling time to design the structure smartly.

    So the experimentation started. Here are a few older pictures again of the "shed wrap" around our camper using "lighter" framing, cordwood / cobwood infill and a green roof.
    cordwood-1.JPG
    [Thumbnail for cordwood-1.JPG]
    cordwood-2.JPG
    [Thumbnail for cordwood-2.JPG]
    cordwood-walls-1.JPG
    [Thumbnail for cordwood-walls-1.JPG]
     
    Tristan Vitali
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    Using passive solar design, maximizing livability in the coldest part of the year and comfort levels above looks or standard ideas on "home design", I came up with a weird "winged" sun-scoop with wrap around porches / attached "shed" to create an envelope, a built-in sunroom and integrated rocket mass heaters. It was a nice design and was highly efficient with use of materials. It was the result of years of tinkering with ideas, checking results of other various builds and trying to tie everything out there into some sort of cohesive "natural building for northern new england" big TOE

    But 2019 happened. The "big dig" left me with not enough "pad" for my sprawling design. It felt like a punch in the gut when I realized, while I wasn't looking, the excavation somehow "ate up" about 12 feet of my pad when the guy lost track of where I marked everything out for him with ropes and tires. Instead, I had a 30 foot deep, straight-down hole where the driveway was supposed to meet the cabin pad, a huge berm of topsoil along the west side of the pad, eating up another 6 to 10 feet of space I counted on using, and the pad wasn't even close to being above grade before he wrapped up his work early (understandably due to his machine literally falling apart as he worked).

    Disaster!

    Another couple of big lessons learned here:
    1) Never tell the operator of a huge excavator that he can put *some* topsoil somewhere you don't want *all* the topsoil!
    2) Don't turn your back for more than a few seconds while someone you hired is digging with anything larger than a shovel - things can go sideways FAST.

    Further, I was left with no drainage ditches around the north and west sides where we get spring snow melt runoff coming down the western-most skid-trail (and lots of it!). This would result in basically a raging creek running right through the middle of my cabin site every April.

    cabin-design-overall.JPG
    old cabin design
    old cabin design
    10.JPG
    the 30 foot deep pit where driveway should have been
    the 30 foot deep pit where driveway should have been
    11.JPG
    measured out driveway width from edge of pit
    measured out driveway width from edge of pit
    22.JPG
    another view of "the pit"
    another view of "the pit"
     
    Tristan Vitali
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    So it was time for a new design. Round two. Or really, it was more like rounds 2,000-something through 4,000 or so...we permies love to over-analyze, draw up plans and then scrap them to try something new, over and over until we can't think of anything better, can't poke holes in the idea and are pretty darn sure there's none of those "type 1 errors".

    There were some new criteria added to this round of design, beyond just the smaller footprint. For one, to increase efficiency while building up the pad to an acceptable height, it would be great to excavate some of the clay that was moved during round one of "the big dig". I always planned to take advantage of the "sun-scoop" created by the cabin in order to protect some of the more tender perennials like peaches and/or quince. A big square pad of solid clay didn't need to be what I build on - it can be any shape that fits the actual footprint of the structure.

    Another factor was to maximize interior space now that the design required a smaller footprint. Throwing out some of the tried and true passive solar techniques like an envelope while bringing in some of the more edge-case scenarios (trombe walls and earth tubes) would be an option. A full sun-scoop might not be the best use of the area available now, and using thicker insulation in the walls along the coldest and most wind prone areas might be necessary.

    So here's the new design that, although it's not as "cool looking", should make for a decent passive solar build on the space available. Call it a two-thirds sun scoop  The majority of the sun hitting the "pad" comes from the southeast during morning hours, with more shade in the afternoon due to larger evergreens along and beyond the western property boundary. With addition on a solid fence or wall, or perhaps a small structure (tool shed? firewood storage?), on the east side of the pad to create a wind block, the "courtyard effect" will still be in play to help prevent cold damage to the more tender perennials.

    The "L" shape of the structure along the north and west sides of the pad allowed me to dig out the remaining clay in a square to the southeast so I could quickly and efficiently build up above grade. It also gave me a great place to easily move the majority of that topsoil berm to where it would give me deep, semi-rich soil for future fruit tree plantings.

    While at it, earth tubes could go in, leading up from the blueberry pond beach area, so I could better utilize the warmer temperatures that will be produced with the sun baking on the gravel beach. The hope is to pull this hotter air through during the summer to "charge" the mass using a solar chimney, then retrieve some of this stored heat during the winter while running the rocket mass heaters.

    There are 4 earth tubes total - 2 that run through the topsoil section from the beach to the kitchen area inside an interior trombe wall, then 1 leading from the blueberry pond beach up to the south-west bedroom and 1 leading from the perch pond up to the north-east bedroom.
    new-design-overview.png
    quick and dirty gimp of the new design
    quick and dirty gimp of the new design
    east-end-comm-area.png
    east end of the common area - kitchen, mudroom, pantry and main hallway
    east end of the common area - kitchen, mudroom, pantry and main hallway
    office-hallway.png
    office and west hallway
    office and west hallway
    east-bedroom.png
    east bedroom
    east bedroom
     
    Tristan Vitali
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    So with the experience running the machine "fixing" the blueberry pond under my belt, I began the "fixing" the "cabin pad".
    pad-from-driveway-1.JPG
    [Thumbnail for pad-from-driveway-1.JPG]
    pad-from-driveway-2.JPG
    [Thumbnail for pad-from-driveway-2.JPG]
     
    Tristan Vitali
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    In went the drainage ditches to shunt the spring snowmelt away and into the ponds.
    northern-drainage-ditch-1.JPG
    [Thumbnail for northern-drainage-ditch-1.JPG]
    northern-drainage-ditch-2.JPG
    [Thumbnail for northern-drainage-ditch-2.JPG]
    western-drainage-ditch-5.JPG
    [Thumbnail for western-drainage-ditch-5.JPG]
     
    Tristan Vitali
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    To take advantage of all that beautiful top soil, and to keep it alive / improving in the meantime, in went some gardens. This year is a short variety of blue sweet corn, a couple varieties of bush dry beans, potatoes, watermelon, trombochino squash, sugar snap peas, calendula, fava beans, and some onion sets...soon to be followed up with our landrace carrot seed mix.

    Also "handled" during the "fix" was repair and reinforcement of the driveway, which had a near vertical drop-off into the 30 foot deep pit. I layered in plastic chicken wire / deer fencing with soil, rocks, logs, sticks and willow, then covered this over with a few layers of packed clay and topped it off with large rocks along the edge (to help keep vehicles from going over). Eventually, I'd like to put in aronia and maybe some bush type crabapples to help border that drop-off a bit better.

    All I can do is *hope* what I've done there will be enough to hold it together for the long term - if not, that'll be a headache to deal with someday.

    The pad itself, though, has done a wonderful job of staying dry. Very happy with it so far...we'll find out how well it does overall when I finally get around to building!

    Here's a quick video overview of the cabin pad a little earlier this year



    Next round will be the hugles, where a portion of that topsoil berm was also utilized, becoming one of our main food production areas in the last two years. Then the (incomplete) perch and pasture ponds
     
    Sure, he can talk to fish, but don't ask him what they say. You're better off reading a tiny ad:
    Soil-First Gardening Extended Edition by Anna Hess
    https://permies.com/t/211958/Soil-Gardening-Extended-Edition-Anna
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