Slocan Valley Farm Opportunity #1 – The Red Snowshoe

A little bit about us and life at The Red Snowshoe

We (Renata + Dino) moved from Vancouver to the beautiful Slocan Valley 4 years ago and although the learning curve was rather steep at first it is now at a much gentler slope!

We have a unique Bed n Breakfast www.theredsnowshoe.com in Slocan Park – I invite you to check out our website and blog to get a picture of whom we are, where we live and what we do.

We are interested in hosting ‘woofers’ this year. If you would like to get some hands-on experience and aren’t afraid of hard work then you might be the right fit for us! We expect 5 hours of work per day – 5 days per week. We provide lunch and dinner and ingredients for breakfast so you can fix something yourselves in the morning. The vast majority of our food is organic and/or locally grown. All meat in the house is ethically raised and vegetarians can easily be accommodated. We follow permaculture principles (the ones we know of so far – remember we’re still learning too!) and grow our food organically.

We have the ‘White Tail’ tent available when not booked (doesn’t get busy until June). When it’s not available we have a comfortable guest room in the house.

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Some projects planned for 2013:

  • adding more raised beds to the vegetable garden
  • soil building
  • gardening, gardening, gardening (did I mention gardening)
  • building a new deck
  • fencing
  • starting beekeeping
  • building (finishing barn extension exterior)

Other ongoing things to learn and do:

  • learn about dairy goats – we have Nubian goats and will be having more kids this spring
  • cheese making
  • learn about the chickens (layers) their housing requirements etc.
  • other things of a rural nature that we had no idea about until we moved here!!!

Leisure Time

  • we’re a half hour from Nelson and 15 minutes from Winlaw
  • 4.5 km to the Rail Trail for walks/bike rides
  • 5 minute walk to a swimming hole
  • Renata does fiber arts so if you want to have a go at spinning, felting etc while you’re here you are welcome to!

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

More Slocan Valley Farm Opportunities 2013!

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First Off THANKS for all the great applicants for Internships at out Farm this season… We have not got back to anyone yet, but promise we will soon! Keep your applications coming because we are extending our opportunities both here and at some fabulously diverse surrounding farms. We have a number of friends also interested in hosting Permies who want to learn about farming and implement various techniques on their farms sites. Over the next weeks we will be posting summaries about opportunities nearby and details about the various farms around, from organic market gardens, to all breeds of animal raising and processing, alternative building and many unique niches in between. Best of all they are all right here in the Paradise that is Slocan Valley, in the Kootenay Mountains of BC Canada.

tricycle acres permaculture internship opportunities 2013

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We had such a fabulous internship experience last year that we are happy to announce we are expanding and developing our 2013 program!  We are currently accepting applications for 3-6 week internships for the April-October 2013 season. This is your chance to get your hands dirty implementing permaculture principles in paradise!

We are going into our fourth season of growing food and building here in the Kootenays, and are looking for eager and hardworking interns to help us implement more permaculture techniques, test theories and explore new integrated systems. Essentially we want WWOOFers who want to dig in to permaculture hands on! We have 1/3 of an acre of organic primary gardens, which employ many interesting techniques; guilds, sheet mulch, companion planting, herb spiral, hugelkultur, etc… along with a newly guilded fruit system, the foundation of a food forest, many established fruit trees and vineyards, 2+ year round creeks, and over 6 acres of mossy diverse mushroomy forest.

Here is a video glimpse of our stunning mountainside smallholding, made as part of Verge Permaculture Grad Series:

Our projects this year have been broken down by season (see below) and we have a pretty clear-as-dirt idea of  what we’ll be doing in these time blocks, and encourage applicants to consider activities and timing when applying.

Early Spring:

  • pig-aerator / pork butchery
  • woodworking / carpentry / pole building
  • greywater cell / willow bed implementation
  • firewood / chainsaw skills + chopping, hauling + stacking
  • seed starting / garden planning / transplanting / soil blocking
  • planting expanded perennial food system
  • Valley Permaculture Guild – permablitzing, tour ,learn and implement at other local farms

Early Summer:

  • soil building / compost tea brewing based on Soil Food Web research
  • garden planting / transplanting /guild building
  • woodworking / carpentry / pole building
  • wild crafting
  • foraging / harvesting early berries
  • pond system / rabbit tractors
  • rotational animal fencing systems
  • Valley Permaculture Guild – permablitzing * tour, learn and implement at other local farms

Late Summer / Fall

  • harvest , harvest, harvest! / seed collecting
  • canning / drying / preserving
  • mushroom foraging
  • root cellaring / cellar building
  • woodworking / carpentry / pole building
  • firewood / chainsaw skills + chopping, hauling + stacking
  • Valley Permaculture Guild – permablitzing* tour, learn and implement at other local farms

We currently have 26 laying heritage hens, as well as 2 working dogs who keep the beasties away (bearscoyotes & cougars to name a few). We have a pig who is currently living off site, but will be joining us here in the early spring for some rooting work and then as a key participant in a pig-in-a-day butchery class. We plan to expand our animal systems again this year, including rabbits (round two), as well as ducks and a pond system.

As a tricycle acre intern you will enjoy mainly vegetarian from scratch home cooking but the occasional ethical omnivore meal makes it’s way to the table (unless of course you don’t eat meat then we can easily accommodate this). The  focus of most every meal here is eating seasonal organic and local whole foods. Your host is passionate about food and blogs regularly at eatingwithSOLE .You’ll drink and wash in living mountain fresh creek water from the source, and enjoy a magical forest full of wildlife, wild edibles and medicinal plants, right in the heart of the Kootenays most diverse and wonderful community, with it’s ample art, music, learning living events, Rivers and lakes, beaches and mountains to explore.

Your hosts have a wealth of knowledge to share: Shauna is a Certified Permaculture Designer, and Dylan is a Master Carpenter with skills in fabricating just about anything out of just about anything. Shauna was a successful bakery owner in her city life and is passionate about cooking, baking, canning and food preservation, gardening and fiber arts. Together we have a good amount of alternative building experiences including: undertaking an earthship internship, building with straw bale and cobb, composting toilets, waddle and daubyurt buildinglog building, and of course our favorite building material… GARBAGE! We are a young small family eager and open to constant learning and exploring of new ideas. We also have an extensive permaculture / building / growing / cooking / primitive skills / fiber arts library which can be accessed during your stay. We also have an extra canoe and bicycles interns can use on hot and sunny days off.

In 2012 we hosted 8 interns throughout the season and enjoyed the ups and downs of growing food and building in rain and sunshine, and have more than memories to show for it. Accompanying us throughout the 2013 season will be our farm hand Jordan who came to us as an intern last April and hasn’t left! He brings a solid and broad foundation of both permaculture theory and hands-on implementation experience. Jordan is a Certified Permaculture Designer and has extensive knowledge in soil building and composting, building and site layout, and alternative agricultural and has experience with a wide array of permaculture principles and techniques. He is now heading up our internship program and has become an integral part of the Tricycle Acres team.

Applicants should have reasonable amount of permaculture knowledge, and should be physically able to dig, shovel, lift and haul heavy piles of materials (largely organic inputs). Applicants should also be prepared for near off grid living; no TV, limited internet, limited access to power, be comfortable using a composting toilet outhouse, and a dreamy outdoor shower house. We expect interns to not create or bring unnecessary wastes onto our site. We expect any intern to follow the permaculture ethics, and understand that those are our guiding principles. Interns would work 5 days a week, approx 5 hours a day weather and project permitting. Lunch, dinner and accommodations are provided, but interns will need to prepare and provide their own breakfast and are responsible for all of their own dishes, as well as contributing with cleaning and dishwashing in the kitchen (to keep your cook happy).

Interested in applying? Download the pdf Application Info Sheet to check out the process below…  our deadline is >>> EXTENDED<<< April 1st!

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foraging food + de-construction

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Something happened this week, about mid week… we noticed the saskatoon berries were ripe and the tree that formerly lived with the chooks was FLUSH with purple juicy berries… ever since then it has been a rolling stone of harvesting food… mosquito mint bog abundance led way to cat tail collection, cherry tree pillaging and strawberry swaps with neighbors. But let me step back just a little…

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mess beautiful mess

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I keep taking pictures and want to share all of the exciting accomplishments we have made around here, but everytime I pull out my camera to compose a picture I think… ‘ew look at thay ugly pile of poo, or those tarps look so messy, or why are all of those materials piled up like that in the way? Maybe it’s the artist designer in my who is always put off by the chaos in a image composition… yet I have no trouble living with the straw piled high in front of my waddle and daub shed and strewn with an ugly blue tarp! I have to admit I don’t share as many images as I would like to because I think the farm looks messy when captured in a single frame… but when your here, living and moving, growing and building the mess is all relevant to the successes we are having!

So messy piles and half finished undertakings aside we have so much to share, where to begin?

The entire “old” garden space got planted, new rock stairways improved access to the Yarn yurt and the new expansion of the garden (to the hugel and giant sheet mulch, and future key holes), we started a swift execution of an outdoor shower that was quickly quelled, and promptly replaced by a stunning pole framed shed roof shower house structure, which decks off from the yarn yurt and houses a new cedar board and baton shower and composting toilet house with stunning open views of the moutains across the valley and the top of Perrys Ridge. The new structure also boasts a lower level garden sink and outdoor kitchen area. OMG it is looking fabulous! with huge overhangs, and beautiful joinery. I was happy with the make shaft early version.. but this my friends is unreal. There is talk of milling a giant cedar slab countertop for the garden sink with part of a massive cedar trunk gifted to us.

We have had some big days in the last week planing cedar boards, pulling new dead standing poles from the back 40 for garden fencing, hauling shit, and building sheet mulch beds, and another HUGE compost pile (decked out in a fancy compostex cover rather than the trouble some tipi’d tarps). The other day I spent most of the day sitting in aged horse shit weeding it for the base of the barley bed. Poor Phil had the unfortunate task of hauling nasty chicken shit straw up to the new compost pile site.While Jordan got his chainsaw skills tuned back in, as he hauled the newly required 14 fence posts for the big expansion. Dyl and his dad plained miles of boards and the reward was warm shower for all Friday morning! What a delight! The space is totally functional yet not at all finished. It’s time for some designer attention. I have some idea to adorn the space with rusty bits and bobs repurposed. YEAH FOR HOT SHOWERS!

But I digress, I skipped the long weekend… Both of Dylan’s folks ended up joining us for what was a drizzly and cold weekend, but we still manged to get many tasks done and feed an army of 8 for days (whew that was a little tiresome but my culinary skills are honing in). It was as always so wonderful to have family out here! It was a real shock for Helen to see what we have done since her visit last summer (new road, 2 yurts, waterlines, and expanded gardens to name a few!)  Jordan slipped back to Alberta for a few days but brought his friend Isis back with him, and I was thrilled to have some amazing estrogen in the dirt with me. Isis and I managed to plant out all the rest of the beds and she did a number on the weeds, cleaning pathways and flower beds, she even improved the esthetics of the man-yurt and painted a lovely mural on the door!

Dyl and I were getting a little burned out and called for an all out NO WORK weekend! For maybe the first time ever! We spent Saturday with Dave driving to Kaslo and touring through Sandon,  it was wonderful to take a much needed day off… as we haven’t done that in months.

Today we heading up valley to help our friend raise the roof of their Conics shelter for their outdoor kitchen. What a wild structure! low cost, no waste, strong and resistant to all sorts of extreme weather. It was so cool seeing it go from a pancake of plywood tiles to a curved self supporting structure of beauty! With very few hitches!

Ah living the good life.

hugelkultur is here!

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I know I have mentioned a few times already that we are hugel-ing a part of the new garden expansion… well the other day we finally got the bed underway!

The hugelkultur bed (mound culture as it translates from German) was pretty simple to assemble:

We started by staking out a contour line, and as we are building it on a hill side, we pounded some pole steaks into the ground to catch the load of the first and largest punky tree trunks, then we neatly stacked more and more woody materials (which we have been hoarding in hugel stacks for months) generally building the stack from biggest pieces to smallest as we went up. The overall shape is a long pie wedge that acts as the boarder from the road way to the new terraces.

The following day we utilized our new gravity spring fed water line and really saturated the mound, which made for a nice refreshing sprinkler cool down as we worked on a small excavation about 12 feet away in the beating heat. Having a hugel dump site directly behind a earthen excavation was peachy! All of the roots and twigs and duff we pulled out easily made there way to the mound.

What a lovely way to use us massive amounts of wood bits and bobs; branches punky stumps, rotten birch branches, roots, twigs, leaves, pine needles, old straw well packed in chicken manure, the contents of many pee buckets, leafy duff, pine shavings, and sandy soil from an excavation… what does this all amount to? A self watering nutrient rich raised bed, that may even ward off the kouch grass for a time!

Check out Paul Wheatons Great hugelkultur Page full of diagrams and pictures of more examples of hugels in action!

Our hugelbed will will planted out with squash and chickpeas, all of which will be heavily mulched of course. As we work on building good soil it will be exciting to watch it grow!

On the topic of mulch; For the last couple years I have used a great amount of straw to mulch all of my beds, but struggle with the fact that it is not even close to local out here, it’s expensive and has been pretty seedy in the past. So what is our local counterpart to straw? Well it’s wood chips my friends! Lucky for us we have a friend who owns a small (this is a relative term) mill just down the road and he is swimming in wood chips and shavings, he gives us the word once he has run pine or fir and we head down the road 5 minutes for truckloads. I like the look of the wood chips in the garden, and on the occasion of a chicken assault on the garden the birds seem less drawn to the wood chips than they are to straw! Best of all it’s free!

We will add more pictures as we get the bed planted and it starts to grow and we get underway the next garden bed projects: sheet mulch key hole beds!

On the topic of sheet mulch: Way way back 3 spring times agao, when all we had here was a waving hillside of kouch grass I eked out one 80 foot long bed using a lasagne or sheet multch technique. I built that bed right ontop of thriving fresh kouch grass, and still to this day it is one of my favorite and most nutrient rich beds in the garden. The grass is managable and not so vigorous and I feel like this is a really viable option for working with weedy long routed grass challenges! There are some things I have learned about that bed and my material selections I am set to improve this go round.

*** I am so stoked to have so much great news to report, having all the extra muscle and brain power around here is fabulous, we are making HUGE steps forward in all manor of food and human systems. Jordan erected a great shower house next to the yarn yurt and we finally got to use the bamboo walls Dayna gifted us last year for the task, The shower has a sturdy peeled pole bench and a pallet deck floor. We will have a double sink next to it for all manor of garden / toiletry / and kitchen camp uses both will be heated with a hot water on demand unit designed for outdoor camps. The open air view from the shower is wonderful and I can’t wait to jump in an enjoy a sunny outdoor shower!

Phil and Jordan hauled no end of big @ss boulders around today, improving access after days of bobcat disruption! We now have a raging water line across the garden and to the yarn yurt, and that was no small feat. Dyl had to learn how to drive a bobcat backhoe to get 140 feet of new water line in place, and that task was an all hands on deck pick axe-shovelling-racking fiasco! I kept singing “laying pipe all day long” and acknowledged that never before have I had 3 men “…working so hard to satisfy this woman”!

Yeah for water, and bobcats, and bamboo showers, and perky plants who loved the vermi-compost tea treatments!!!

may daze

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Oh what a week we have had here!

Our new intern Jordan arrived last week just as Phil departed for a time, we are soaking up the the new and unstoppable energy and crossing many items of the ever building To Do list! Things are looking tidy around here and Dylan is bucking up stacks of trees and Jordan doesn’t ever put the axe down… which means the firewood stacks are growing to a promising size!

I moved my nightshade starts into their new temporary home in the sweet cold fame Jordan built and we have salad greens popping up everywhere! The garden has been all encompassing of my time these days and  Jordan and I have been spending endless hours digging and double digging the new massive potato patch, edged on one side by shelling peas set to climb up the fence and on the other is a cabbage and onions mound edged with a whimsical olive oil tin  kale / chard container boarder. We put 20+ lbs of potatoes in the ground today, 4 varieties, and are trying and interesting approach to planting… Firstly we set each start in the ground with a comfry leaf (to ward off scabs) placed 12″ apart in rows of triangles to maximize plants per space, then we gently covered them with dirt and will be building up layer after layer of straw mulch on top. The idea is that the potatoes grow in the straw rather than the ground, yielding clean and easily harvested  potatoes, hundreds and hundreds of them! Here is a good example of a straw potato patch success storey. Next we tackle the purple barley field and the corn crop.

This week we  travelled to a south slocan farm to meet our newest animal additions… a mating pair of rabbits. Just working on the design for hutch housing and dropping collection to easily feed the worms. The idea has spiralled into a bigger far more function stacked system, but while we have the skilled hands we might as well throw in a passive solar green house and compost tea brewing facility right!?!  We have orderd a few more chicks to keep our little solo babe company and have finally got our hands on the two breeds we have been after for some time; Marans which lay chocolate brown coloured eggs and Silkies which have a big white poof of feathers on their heads and look an awful lot like fragil rock creatures.

Our strawberries are flowering (which is so exciting because they will turn into the first strawberries ever from our land) and out guilded fruit trees from last year all look healthy and are popping with green, as is everything around us!

We managed to get our new hillside seeded out and planted with hundreds of basket willow starts to attempt to stabile the lot after our road work last year. Much more willow basket weaving is certain to be in my future.

We all managed to get the final strapping of the yurt roof done, it’s tied down, insulated and almost decoratively covered (with white tarp). Last night we celebrated with a fooz tourney, as the long stored foos ball table now has a home in the man-yurt. It is all most move in ready, with a well working door and a new temporary (albeit ugly) roof cap, that is a repurposed fiberglas massive satelight dish. We have sweet vintage metal cabinets to use in the new yurt ( or the Murt; man-yurt as we have been lovingly referring to it as) and the makings of a nice little kitchenette, complete with a bar fridge and a sudo- sink.

This next week the boys will finally tackle the unfinished 3/10th’s of  tin roof on woodhenge! This will mean dry storage and re-stacking of lumber in racking!

We built and have been monitoring a whopping HOT compost pile… Ahh nothing like the smell of steamy cooking compost to get you up in the morning! Actually the pile got a little too hot, and took some effort to cool it down, but it will be lovely and ready shortly. Jordan took an in depth soil studies class with Doug Weatherbee last year and there is another round of this class I am really interested in attending this month in Alberta hosted by Verge. I love the study of soil and making it and it would be dreamy to get out to this workshop.

Speaking of interesting things happening in Alberta, The Western Canada Permaculture Convergence is happening this August (24-26) and it is certain to be an amazing event! Many of our friends are involved in making it a success and it will be a fabulously inspiring weekend of learning and sharing and networking!

I have been working on this post for a number of days, and since starting it Phil has re joined our team here, and I was happy he made it back in time for all of us to take in the May Day – Water Celebration. Winlaw’s annual festival in celebration of our stunning water in this special place. The event is a long day of music and dancing and reuniting with friends as we all shake of the winter and celebrate the spring, complete with a drum lead parade from “downtown” to the river for a blessing. The whole community joined in singing “down to the river to pray” and it was a breathtaking and fabulous! What a special place  to be.