Light Clay Day!

lightclay101

What is “Light Clay” construction?

Come to our building party and find out! You’ll see how we built a wood framed structure which we will be insulating with a mixture of a clay slurry and wood chips. We mix the slip and chips together in a big machine that looks like Dr. Seuss must have invented it and place the muddy mixture into the walls, creating a vapor permeable insulation layer ready to receive clay plasters. The end result is a healthy, modern home for conscious people to live in! Continue reading

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growing good memories

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This blog has certainly gone through an evolution from progress reports on our families transition to rural life, to being an outlet for the community projects and events I am so passionate about creating and promoting. Today I sit in a warm insulated space (for the first time in years) and look out on to our little mountain side farm and take in all of the blood sweat and tears that have got us where we are today…

Our Kootenay adventure started with a lovely piece of land and a gross moldy trailer. We started with gardens and chickens, built woodhenge, and a new road, two yurts, then a lovely outdoor shower house. We added hugelbeds and food forest systems, amazing onsite fertility programs, then came the rabbits and the bees. A cob rocket oven and a cob bench with outdoor kitchen space in the garden even a new green house. Perennial food abounds and now we are surrounded with community fresh water and love.

We couldn’t have done all that we have without the help, and love and support of our families and friends…. and our Interns. ‘Oh our interns…

Two years ago I took the advise of my friend and permaculture teacher Rob, he suggested I forgo the WWOOf’ers I was thinking about adding into the fold and look for folks who share our permaculture ethics and could really embrace and explore the techniques we are playing with here. So in 2011 I offered Permaculture Internships for the 2012 season, and for the past 21 months we have had continuous interns living with us.

Today is the first day Since Feb of 2012 that we are without interns, namely without Jordan. Jordan came here back in April of 2012 bright eyes and eager to live in the mountains and build on the solid permaculture education foundation he had. His 6 week commitment soon passed and we all decided that the energies we had as a team were worth holding on to.  All of our interns came and went for the season and Jordan was integral to their orientation and settling in.  Actually he was integral to just about everything around here, our fertility program was ramped up 10 fold as soon as we teamed up on the pitch forks! Jordan has a great ability to retain just about everything he reads (I am more of a skimmer) so having him drop facts and stats on a whim was always amazing. Jojo made all the crazy permie dreams totally doable, especially when he introduced us to his white board system of tasks and goals.  Every time I dreamed up another event or community project or planting guild idea, Jordan was there to back me up, or take on the challenge  himself and ace it. Not only is he a kind and amazing person we were thrilled to have here, he had also become my personal spell check / proof reader… you all can probably see by now how important that role is to me, as I’m a copy editors worst nightmare!  At the end of the harvest last year we took on a big project, out biggest ever and he was eager to stay through the winter and we were thrilled to have him, he was after all part of our little family by then. Together we starting creating our internship program for the coming season and soon realized, although we were overwhelmed with amazing applications and emails, we were going to build on the family we had made with Jordan. We invited his CSA team from years early to join ours and took on the lofty task of housing 3 full time – 3 season interns.

It was still snowy when Dave arrived from Victoria, and he was keen to chop wood, haul trees, wild craft and hone some carpentry skills. Jordan and Dave were living in the “Murt” together and built a really great loft space. Dave brought us music, and a good dose of laughter. Dr Kombuchy start brewing kombucha for all of us and caring for all the little critters and wee seedlings. We started our (2nd attempt) and breeding rabbits; we had a buck and 3 does and Dave took on that process entirely; from salvaging scraps of everything to assemble their new bunny palace, through the the daily care. Dave was a vegetarian when he arrived, however he was moving toward eating meat from small, local, organic and loving producers which was totally inline with the way we eat… he was in for a big surprise however when our little piggie, Bacon (raised by our friend) was ready for market shortly after Dave’s arrival. Poor guy sat nearby and watched me use every grueling nasty bit of that pig in preparation for Pig-in-a-day. Wow that was a tough 3 days for everyone; Dyl and Jojo did the killing and the skinning and scraping, and face peeling, and I boiled the heads and prepared the organs then created a workshop for 20+ folks to come and learn from our friend Ben the Butcher how to break that beast down.

By the time Isis arrived in the spring there were still remnants of pig… I think she found a hoof buried in the food forest on her first day in the soil! And of course she enjoyed the smoked bacon we were serving. Isis came along to the farm right around the time that Jordan brought home Balou, son of Odin (our golden guard dog) and soon the 3 of them; jordan Isis and Balou were all sleeping outside in the wood shed and Dave had the yurt to himself. Isis was a magic addition to our growing team. Her days were often spent tending to the garden, weeding and planting, and most importantly observing! She is a stellar observer.  Isis and I decided before her arrival that this was the time to finally take on bee keeping.. something we both so wanted to do, so together with the help of some serious queen bee guardians; Elise and Christina, we had the confidence to welcome and care for our new holistically managed bee colony. What a joy. Isis also came to be my number 1 dishwasher (feeding 6 meant for lots of dishes), and wild crafting and harvesting goto. I soon came to know that tone in her voice “…and the cucumbers” this meant I had many a basketful she was hoping to bring in and have me process in short order “the squash, the tomatoes, the grapes, the cabbage (the blue ribbon cabbage that is)…” the list goes on and on. We had our most productive and abundant year ever and this I blame heavily on Isis and her garden fairy magic.

As harvest wound down and the wood supply stacked up it was time for Dave to move on, back to the coast again with a soul-craft stop over. Dave is working with “Farmer Mike” (who I look forward to meeting someday) doing urban farming in Victoria. Maybe Dave’s most important legacy he left in the Kootenays was our daughters new interest and skills in music namely the ukulele and the songs they rocked together at open mike! Dave we raise a cup of turmeric tea to you, and wish you nothing but the best. love + gratitude to you.

Isis and Jordan are back home in the rambling foothills of Alberta now ready for a new page in their adventure together. With a heated home (novel idea) and lots of land to craft and observe, manage and care for. Our community’s loss is Black Diamond’s gain. Those two will do great things together. Jordan, Isis we love you both so much, and can’t wait to see how your future evolves. We wouldn’t be here without everything you have done to help us achieve our dreams. Thank You!

cob creation

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What a great workshop weekend! We accomplished so much in such a short period of time! I have so much gratitude for everyone who shared, taught, stomped, hauled, and sculpted this cob masterpiece.

There are a million images in this slide show of various stages of the process, all in random order. I shot some of these, Kelly Brown shot some and others were contributed by Jen who was a participant! Thanks ladies for snapping pics for us.

The scale of the oven will be improved and made to be less mushroom shaped, with the addition of a cob/cord wood decorative base build up. The bench and oven will now get burnished to a smooth shiny finish, and some time soon we will install the ceder board bench tops. Early next week, we’ll dig out the sand mold interior to the stove, and do a test fire!

More updates and images soon!

epic rocket cob oven workshop

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This next workshop is going be be AMAZING:

JUNE 1 + 2 (weekend) here in Winlaw at tricycle acres :

2 days, 2 rocket stoves, 1 cob oven, 1  cob bench and a ton of foot stomping cob dancing!

First off, are you wondering what is a rocket stove?
A super efficient cooking stove fed with small diameter wood fuel that is burned in a simple high-temperature combustion chamber with an insulated vertical chimney to ensures complete combustion prior to the flames reaching the cooking surface. In short: Less Wood,Less Smoke, More Heat! We have always wanted to build a rocket stove, and when Bryce one of our instructors suggested we look into rocket ovens, we were over the moon! Same stunning cob oven we have been longing for, but with faster heating, less scorching and more happy living trees for the same wood fire oven dinning experience… YES PLEASE!

In this 2 day hands on workshop you will learn from three of our valleys own cob experts; Peggy Frith, Bryce Ehrecke, & Kelly Brown! They will share with us the artful cob dance and the joy of natural building techniques. Over the weekend we will be busy building: a traditional Quebec Style Earthen Oven (with a rocket twist) & a large cob bench with glass bottle details & 2 small rockets stoves.

A couple weeks after the workshop (when the oven is all dry) we will host a pizza party so that everyone can enjoy some rocket oven baked pie while relaxing on the cob bench in our abundant permaculture garden!

Cost is $80 for both days of instruction. Please bring a lunch and be ready to get MUDDY!

All of the great photos in this slideshow come from Kelly Brown our newest local cob teacher and fabulous photographer! Thanks Kelly for the great pictures to get us all in the mood for getting dirty next month.

REGISTER NOW, there is only room for a handful of folks for this epic rocket cob weekend!

Slocan Valley Farm Opportunity #4 – Cedar Creek Farm

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How does Heaven on Earth sound? we have a 10 acre organic farm in the heart of the Slocan Valley, Interior BC Canada. In addition to a market garden, we raise poultry (meat birds,layers, ducks, & turkeys), pigs, dairy goats & sheep. WWOOFER duties will be mostly focused on the 1/2 acre market garden. We have camping spots and a second house on the farm. Our ideal WWOOFER is self-motivated and nature loving. We expect workers to work 5 days a week, approx 5 hrs a day weather and project permitting. There is a full kitchen and bathroom available for use. Lunch will be provided on days you are working. Food will be provided for dinner. Sometimes dinner will be prepared and other times it will be up to the wwoofers to cook for themselves. You will need to prepare and provide your own breakfast and are responsible for all of your own dishes as well as contributing to general kitchen clean-up The mountains and waters of our region provide inspiration and recreation for your enjoyment. From fishing, canoeing, whitewater kayaking or just chillin at the beach, the lakes and river of our area are known to provide 1st class outdoor adventures. The mountains can be your playground as well, with hiking, rock climbing, hunting and mountain biking all easily accessible. If you want to learn about self-reliance and sustainability in the mountains, contact us for more info.

Spring projects:
Fence repairs, greenhouse bed prep and planting, seed starting, transplanting, garden planting, barn mucking, compost making, general spring clean-up, harvest over wintered carrots, clean and trim animal hoofs, raising chickens and turkeys, milking goats.

Early summer:
Compost tea brewing, weeding, transplanting, harvest and replant salad greens, fencing & cross-fencing, wild crafting/foraging, chicken tractor repair and use, turkey house construction, begin going to farmers market, milking goats.

Late summer:
Harvest, canning, drying, preserving, milking goats, farmers market, root cellaring, seed collecting, firewood/chainsaw skills, butchering chickens, turkeys, pigs & sheep, winterizing garden beds.

~PLEASE REPLY TO US BELOW AT TRICYCLE ACRES OR EMAIL vpg@rbrand.ca IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN THIS FARM OPPORTUNITY~

Slocan Valley Farm Opportunity #2 – Earth Crafters Gardens

Owned by Fonda and Allan Pusey

Entering our 4th year of gardening in Paradise, we are looking for eager helpers to share our knowledge with, learn from, experiment with ideas, and try something new.

Features:

We are a multi-generational family of 5 living on 9 acres of agricultural land on the Slocan River. We share our garden space with another family of 4; growing, harvesting and learning together. It is important to us that our wwoofers, interns and guests are child friendly as our children are a big focus of our life.

We believe in sustainable living, biodynamics, life-long learning, and principles of permaculture fit right in. All of our chickens and ducks are heritage breeds, providing tasty nutrient dense eggs. Most of our seeds are also heritage or heirloom varieties and we believe in growing a diverse selection of food rather than something that “travels well” or is “good for market”. We use all natural manures and composts, no chemicals are used on the farm, and we use and encourage only natural products in our home as well, being very aware that everything is returned to the land and water system that we love so dearly. Our water comes from a gravity fed supply from Pedro Creek and is the beautiful, clean, mountain water unique to this area.

We plant our beds in spirals, circles and other unique designs from sacred geometry with the belief that plants grow better in organic design, and bees pollinate in spiral patterns, creating harmony for all. We have been experimenting with different ways to plant, care for, “weed” and harvest our vegetables and fruits with ideas from permaculture, the Stella Natura biodynamic calendar, and from the Ringing Cedars books.

We live by a Self-designing philosophy of life and work, exploring and learning together, following our passions, co-inspiring and sharing. We encourage our guests to share their ideas for projects and ways of gardening so that we all may learn from each other.

Our meals are primarily vegetarian and organic with whole foods, and local foraged fare. We can easily accommodate vegan and gluten free requirements though some members of our family do eat wheat so we are not a gluten-free kitchen (yet). We encourage and appreciate wwoofers and guests to help with food preparation and clean-up.

Our property borders the highway with the Rails to Trails buffering us from the highway traffic. This allows easy access to local venues, festivals, and restaurants. We encourage our wwoofers and guests to explore the beauty of the area and to attend local pot-lucks, festivals and permaculture group projects and meetings with us.

We share a love of music in our home where you will always hear music playing in some form. You may even have the opportunity (or several) to enjoy some live “jamming” in our cabin, and join in if you are comfortable doing so.

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Projects we intend to work on in the coming year:
build a chicken tractor
plant more apple trees
re-forestation of upper pasture
outdoor kitchen
outdoor shower/ wash space
build a treehouse for the kids
prepare for beekeeping
relocate seedlings and suckers
build a yurt
create a more dynamic space in the greenhouse; incorporating levels, watering systems, fans, and heat retention
expand raspberry, blackberry and blueberry patches
shape and prune trees and shrubs
create natural fencing in the pasture
house and cabin renovations

Typical duties/ projects by season:

Early Spring:
woodworking / carpentry for projects such as chicken tractors
firewood chopping, hauling and stacking
seed starting / garden planning / transplanting/ creating and shaping new garden beds
weed management
attending meetings with Valley Permaculture Guild –learning and implementing great ideas from other local farms
animal care, feeding chickens and ducks/ washing eggs
Winlaw Water festival in early May

Early Summer:
soil building / weed management
garden planting / transplanting
woodworking / carpentry projects (fixing fences, building outdoor shower/ wash house)
wild crafting
foraging / harvesting early berries and greens
art-ifying: adding artistic elements to our growing spaces
attending meetings with Valley Permaculture Guild –learning and implementing great ideas from other local farms
tool maintenance
animal care, feeding chickens and ducks/ washing eggs
Summer Solstice community gathering in June

Late Summer / Fall
harvesting / seed collecting
planting and transplanting overwintering plants
weed management
fermenting/ canning / dehydrating / preserving/ shelling/ jamming
foraging
art-ifying: adding artistic elements to our growing spaces
woodworking / carpentry (finishing projects, renovations to existing living spaces)
firewood / chainsaw skills, chopping, hauling and stacking to prepare for fall and winter
prepping pond/ greenhouse/ garden beds for winter rest
tool maintenance
animal care, feeding chickens and ducks/ washing eggs
Unity festival in August, Sinixt Barter Fair in September

~PLEASE REPLY TO US BELOW AT TRICYCLE ACRES OR EMAIL vpg@rbrand.ca IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN THIS FARM OPPORTUNITY~