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Orin Raichart

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since Nov 25, 2018
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Recent posts by Orin Raichart

Inge Leonora-den Ouden wrote:Orin, I have a question.
You are in Ant Village now. I used to follow the Ants before, who were busy building some nice little houses there. But all of them left and didn't return. How many Ants are there living in Ant Village now? What happened to the houses the others made?

There are three Deep Roots people on Upper Wheaton Labs right now. Paul is really encouraging Boots to transition to the Deep Roots program rather than the Ant Village Program; I believe he is trying new methods since the first Ant Village experiment resulted in many Ants leaving. In the USA, living in community isn't easy for those of us not born into the Amish or Hutterrite traditions. Since I am interested in creating a functioning example of shelter, water, fire and food before I experiment, I've chosen the Ant Village program where in I have time....when I want to contribute to the community, I can. The Deep Roots people have much less time to create their own shelter, water, fire and food systems. Because I feel the Ant Village program makes the most sense for me an others like me, I invite new Boots to seriously consider the Ant Program. I've failed in this endeavor; I am the only Ant besides Jaqi. Clayton has chosen the Deep Roots program, and is working on the Lemon Tree site as his acre should he complete two years in the Boot Camp.

So that makes six people actively engaged in Upper Wheaton Labs currently.

As to the houses other Ants made, the first lot is rented and managed by a woman whom I've never seen nor met since she does this remotely. Clayton almost chose Lot 2 upon which Evan and Kai built and lived. Both of these buildings exist but were never really completed...except for maybe Kai's.  I say never finished because, when I consider a shelter I ask: where is the kitchen?, where is the rocket stove?, where is the shower?, where is the humanure repository? where is the bed? So Kai has a bed, has a kitchen stove but no sink, no rocket stove, no shitter,  and no shower. Kai did do something I really liked: he collected water off his natural roof! -he was the only one with who attempted this. Evan used to have a rocket stove and Walker stove but he took it with him, but no sink, and his shower/shitter wasn't finished. I think, don't know, Evan's bed was the bench of his rocket stove. I like the fact that Evan's place is the best thermal performer in the summer (keeps it cooler than all the other buildings). Lot 3 and 5 have nothing left worth discussing. Lot 5, Jesse's acre has a shelter which Jaqi chose. And there is lot 6, now named On Narrow Pond, which I've claimed. There are two buildings which have major issues requiring that I rebuild them or tear them down. There is also Hill Billy Mansion which was built with banned building materials; I've agreed to demolish Hll Billy Mansion for any allowed building materials I can reclaim AND to take the banned materials to the dump.

I feel that Ant Village has a chance of success once one person actually creates the scared four: shelter, water, fire, and food. Without a full example of the scared four on the land, I feel few with realize what an opportunity this really is.

Ben Skiba wrote:....I like the rock cistern idea pretty sweet getting a Nabataean feel to it.Narrow ponds reminds me of EarthSea books.....

I knew the only way I personally could bring water to my acre is to store it from rain; rocking in clay walls seemed the natural answer. Since the Upper Labs are a glacial rain forest in the winter (complete with misting freezing rains), and a high desert in the summer, narrow ponds, whose depth are greater than their diameter, seemed like the answer for hot weather evaporation in the summer and collection during the winter.  

Ben Skiba wrote:Keep it up brother lookin good.You got any pictures of old structures?how has bearcave aged?

The logs and small poles used for the walls/ceiling were not barked and as a result now are full of white fungi which are rapidly breaking the poles down.  Additionally, many of the poles and logs were not long enough to meet at the center or the roof line; this means at some point in the future, when the tarps degrade (which they will due to not having dirt or brush cover at the top 3rd of the roof), the roof will have holes in it in many places.

The clay sides are now caving in near the cut in seats and cut roots due to water.

My solution to this is to remove all the brush, remove the tarps, cut new poles of the correct length. remove the bark, and replace the too short and too rotten poles.

Since I will basically re-design and replace most of the building (I suspect only the clay floor and mid thigh clay walls will remain), I'll rename the new building the Dwarf's Redoubt. I use this name because the site has no solar gain unless I remove many trees.... I might redo it in rock entirely to prevent the clay from caving in. It won't be my living space; I have ideas and plans but I'll wait to see how the place evolves.

I don't share pictures of what I do on Narrow Pond to the general public; those who provide material support get that kind of information.

I see you are near or on Dine land. I love the southwest in a way not easily explained. I hope your own scared four are well established or on the way to being so!
Thank you Greg, it was a bit of work :)
Ant Post 006

Finished my rock cistern today!  Yep, you got it...those pics are for those who sent support for On Narrow Pond.  Here are some nice pics for the rest of you.

Myron Platte wrote:I live in Russia, and I want to do this when we become citizens. This is about settling the land with homesteads, not industrial farming.

So you must become a citizen before claiming the land online?   ...guess I should read the article!
1 week ago

Creighton Samuels wrote:The different programs are interesting, but I can't say that I understand which one would fit best.

After reading your post from beginning to end, the answer isn't clear to me either because we don't know what she wants.

Creighton Samuels wrote:My daughter is 20, and was a freshman at a local university this past winter.  

What was her major and minors?  Why did she pick them?  ...I suspect these would be better answered by her.

Creighton Samuels wrote:
She's the outdoorsy type, and has worked summers as a "counselor" (really just a dorm mom) at a summer camp in the mountains of North Carolina.  She would be there now if not for Covid19 shutting down that summer camp.  She already has a cert in Wilderness Rescue and First Aid, including fast-water rescue; a two year stint at a federal park would make her eligible to become a certified forest "ranger"; but she didn't choose that path; so she's definitely the "outdoorsy" type and is a far cry from a city girl.

Now we know she won't have to take a half day off because she lost a nail :] and she won't experience as much soreness as some couch potatoes who have  been here

Creighton Samuels wrote:
I'm curious though, what those who have been through the programs at Wheaton Labs, might think of what my dauther might want.  

The best answer to what she might want probably needs to come from her mouth to our ears first. We're glad you're considering Wheaton Labs. But we like successful Permies  Boots, Ants, and Deep Roots people. But motivation will come from her; we need her words, her intentions and heart motivations.

Does she know what permaculture is?
Does she know who Bill Mollison is?
Has she read the Permaculture Design Manual?
Does she know who Sepp Holzer is?
Does she know who Geoffery Lawton is?

If the answer is no to all of these questions then the next set of questions might be:

Does she know our climate is changing?
Does she know what the most effective method of living might mitigate that change?
Even if the climate wasn't changing, is she interested in off grid life?
Is she interested in houses that can shelter, provide water, heat and cool itself without the grid?
Is she interested in finding out the most efficient method to grow food that doesn't have persistent/non-persistant herbicides and pesticides on it?
Does she know how to create water on dry desert lands? Would she like to know?
Has she ever rented in a house with more than two roommates? would she like to know how to do that successfully?
Does she know the difference between USDA organic food and California Organic food or Texas Organic Food?  Does she care to know?

If the answer to all of these questions are "no", then I suspect this isn't the place for her.

Creighton Samuels wrote:
If I were to pay her way to Wheaton Labs, plus room & board and any tuition fees; what program should she pursue (if indeed, she chooses to learn useful skills this fall & winter)?  (I can't fathom that room, board and tuition could possiblely cost more than her university tuition, which is *not* going to be cheaper even if every class goes online)

In my opinion, the Permies Boot Camp is for those who have an idea of what they want to learn and what they want to experiment with on an acre of land on the weekend. Winter isn't easy because it is cold and we don't stop all work. If she comes right now, she'll get in on Natural Building as we do the solar passive greywater green house. She'll get in on how we are addressing our food systems.

After a month, she'll get an arce to tinker on. Clayton is about her age and he could respond to how well he likes it. He had his education interrupted also. This would mean she'd be tinkering on an acre by August. In four months, which would be around November, she'd have the Ant Village option. But that late in the year, I would strongly advise against it unless she knows exactly what she wants to do during November, December, January, and February. I think she'd be best served if she waited for the spring, being April 15th, to exercise the Ant Village Option.

If she stays for two years in the Boot Camp, she gets her acre's rent paid for life.  Maybe she goes back to college if it isn't all online then.

During the winter months, she'd need to press forward by actively expressing interest in specific areas of interest, take notes, and use some of the podcasts to start her investigations of the body of knowledge of permaculture. Josiah knows a great deal about growing food, Fred knows a great deall about many things, Jen knows how to grow food and lifestock, and Clayton knows a great deal more than he did before...maybe you should purple moosage him?

As for costs, you're in luck. It depends on her and her quality of good work not her pocket book.

Creighton Samuels wrote:
The acre of land is interesting, but she doesn't [b]need[/b] it.  We already live on 14 acres of mostly wooded.....  (Momma doesn't like her ever presence, either....

Could be she does really need it if you put  these two statements side by side.... unless you all decide to kick off early

Creighton Samuels wrote:
Or are there not enough programs during the fall and winter to make this worthwhile?

Since the costs isn't there if she chooses the Permies Boot Camp, you're off the hook.

However, Paul would need to work a special deal for her if she chooses the Ant Program so late in the year....if Paul okayed it, I could guide her through building her own acre up to a working model she could live in by snowfall but she'd need to come before August 1st and she'd really have to want it (cause that's a lot of work and she's going to do a lion's share of it). The cost might be prohibitive because there is a dollar amount I'd want and Paul is going to want monies for renting the tractor, excavator, truck and trailer. If she showed up in a durable truck that can tow a good sized trailer, the tractor and excavator would still  be needed.

I'd need six grand to guide her every day Monday through Friday to completion of a shelter which would heat her , cool her, provide water, and provide energy for her to cook with before snow flies this year. You can purple moosage Clayton about my ability in being helpful to him. You can also check out this blog: my own creations  From 7pm to 8pm she could join all of us learning FreeCAD. She could work out a deal with Josiah or Jen or Fred in areas that I am weak in....and of course there is Paul who can answer questions.

Then there is the firebrick and or rocket mass heater core she will need to purchase, the glass for her through the wall solar oven, the stainless steel wings for the through the wall solar oven, the fasteners she'd need in building, the battery operated drill, driver and chainsaw she'd need. The linseed oil she'd need if she went that direction...the seeds and seedlings she'd need to get started if she so chose to. An ax, a three pound hammer, wood chisels, driver bits...all these start to add up quickly but aren't in the same league for costs as a university is.

It would be an experience of a lifetime for her, that is for certain, but only if she is interested in permaculture!

Show her these links for the Permies Boot Camp:

Ant Village is a completely different animal! Definitely raw land and raw living!

Good luck in your decision!
2 weeks ago
Ant Post 005

Life in Ant Village.... there's more going on here than meets the eye...this a very small compost pile from an organic source  -free (sort of...transportation costs not included)!

...a ground squirrel is getting fat on those little pieces which didn't get compost tea put on them.....very fat -don't think the rubber boa snake can get its mouth around him yet.

...and here's Ben's cooking stove which I will rebuild. Why? Notice the flames jetting out around the pan?  Before I put the pan on, the flame is only 2/3rd's up the vertical part of the L, after the pan is over the opening, the flame jets upward  -BUT IS STILL BLACK WITH SOOT.  This means the pan tries to form the J of a true rocket stove but fails to burn cleanly. The first 90 in the J is equal to the entire L, the second 90 in the J is superior to the pan over the opening because the J tube doesn't leak around a pan, it has to burn around a solid 90. The L stove burns more wood than a rocket cook stove with a J instead of the L....Here are the things I'll do when I rebuild it:
-I'll raise the whole cook stove J tube so the top of the J tube is at solar plexus height;
-this will mean the feed tube will be at about crotch height ( I won't have to crouch to feed the fire);
-I'll reduce the aperture down to five to six inches, this will reduce the amount of wood the current stove will use in addition to burning less wood than the L tube because it is a J tube which burns more efficiently.

My mid-day potato won't be burnt either like the L tube's mid-day potato is right now....I can close up both the top and the bottom of a J tube and the heat in the J tube alone will cook a potato where as the L tube looses too much heat because the vertical part of the L is so much larger than the short part of the L where the potato currently has to be cooked....more heat is lost up the very high L and the potato is much closer to incoming very cool air. For this reason, I have no choice but to put the potato in while there is still a little flame left on the wood ....even then a larger potato will not cook all the way through in the L tube like it would in a rocket stove J tube.
2 weeks ago
Hi Martha,

Glad you're going to make it out here!  If you don't see me before you go, no worries, if you make it through the winter, I'll see you then..... that you get to see the green house go up and be a part of that.

There are bees here on the Lab, both wild and domestic.

Two jobs is hectic, here you'll only have one  -but I hope you choose a lot in Ant Village and work on it during a day off after you've been in the Boot Camp one month.... I always suggest to those coming to the Boot Camp to be active during the weekend even though most people just want to rest as much as possible

-I believe if one is active just four hours up on the Lab on a Saturday or Sunday, when you are stronger and have more endurance, after about eight weeks for most, then one can easily start working as much as they want on their Ant Village lot.

Whereas, those who just rest on the weekend, train themselves to physically crash on Saturday or Sunday and cannot re-train themselves to do their own work (in your case bees maybe?) when they finally do have enough endurance and strength. They end up leaving Wheaton Labs without having accomplished anything during their stay here on their own Ant Village lot. Those who had planned on staying at Wheaton Labs feel they simply aren't up to the tasks needed.

Be that as it may, Clayton, without any experience when he arrived, is now beginning to build his own Wofati. He did work with me on weekends until after a month, he picked his own lot. Initially, he was exhausted and slept well until he found himself stronger and able to work to his own satisfaction. Today, Josiah, Jennifer and I gave him a hand moving his logs into position around his wofati. There have been other Boots who, after the first hour they worked with me, I never asked them back. Some chose to not work at all up on the Lab during the weekends.

With regards to myself, I chose a lot and renamed it to On Narrow Pond immediately after the 30th day. After four months, I had nine honey locust trees, 13 sun chokes, a few brave corn, squash, and tomato plants growing On Narrow Pond. I also had dug a 6' deep cistern and had begun to rock it in (most of the rock had been also collected during weekends during my stay in Boot Camp). Since I chose the Ant Village path rather than the Deep Roots path, I left the Boot Camp after the fourth month and began eating and sleeping On Narrow Pond.

So feel free to ask Clayton if you can work  with him on a Saturday or Sunday on his own acre (Josiah, Jennifer, and Fred might be willing to trade work with you after you've show your abilities in the Boot Camp). Clayton might want to see how you do in the Boot Camp too before he is willing to trade hour for hour, but it won't hurt to ask. Of course, if I am still here and you arrive on a weekend, you'll be working with me :)

As of the time of this writing, I owe Clayton 8 hours and 15 minutes of work.  He'll get some time back from me tomorrow when we replace some rotten beams for his soon to be Wofati.  Fred owes me four hours.

Also, currently Josiah, Jennifer, Clayton and me have been teaching ourselves FreeCAD on Tuesday and Thursday nights from 7pm to 8pm.  Feel free to join this group even though your body is probably going to be asking for bed; you'll end up with a design tool skill you didn't show up with beyond the natural building and growies  you'll get to learn about during the 40 hrs of Boot Camp project time. In case you don't have a laptop, there's a laptop here named Treetrunks which you might be able to use or Gunter depending on what Jen is using for FreeCAD that night.

Josiah has also been holding Permies Documentary Movie Night on some Friday nights; if you want more learning to happen while you're at Wheaton Labs, ask Josiah on Thursday what he is showing on Friday night!

In closing, Permies Boot Camp is what you make it. Everyone comes with different motivations but I believe it is the values which matter the most. Could it be the closer their values align with those Paul Wheaton has described in his podcasts the happier each person is here?  I don't know, because my general values match Paul's in many ways in the permaculture realms of natural building, energy, growies,  and yes, even his views on community.  
2 weeks ago