There has always been a bigger vision on how the land was to be utilized and the existing infrastructure was only needed to be repurposed to value add their uses. Take the shearing shed. It was always intended to be a bunk house. Now it is a sharing shed with 12 single beds. The beds were made from timber on site and constructed so they will be bunks beds. They are solid and will take a great deal of weight before compromised. We striped out all the unnecessary partitions and equipment, lined the ceiling and walls and laid vinyl for easy cleaning.
The training centre, the area where most of the existing infrastructure is, needed a toilet and shower system so with the help of Emma and Anthony Smith we are constructing a three bath and three compost toilet block counter levering over an existing embankment. All the timber used was milled on Tiger Hill early last year from an allotment of 73 cubic metres in the round. To get through the course we will set up the baths with Asian style bathing from a bucket and ladle. Later we will add shower heads. There is only so much time to make it ready for guests to utilize. We are making a rocket mass water heater for the hot water for bathing, and Phillip Jewel has reengineered Tim Barkers original design to work for us. The walls of the bath house are filled half way with bottle windows made on site from sand, saw dust and cement and will add a artistic flare to the building as well as light. Thanks Anthony and Emma for your efforts to provide us with five dozen empty wine bottles. I know what a sacrifice it was to empty them all! The compost toilet is basic in its design. A 240ltr wheeling bin is the chamber and an upside down 240ltr wheeling bin is the seat. The upside down bin is bolted to the floor beams. More on this upon completion. Mostly everything on the structure is recycled in some way including bath tubs and wash basins.
The embankment the bath house overhangs was always intended to have a rock retaining wall and I have been stockpiling rocks from the paddocks there for some time now. I hired a small excavator for a couple of days and started to stack the rock around and underneath the bath house to hold garden beds. A few large flat rocks were found amongst the pile and a stair case was constructed for access to and from the classroom area.
We put down 700m of 62mm Blue line poly irrigation to gravity feed water from a gully dam that I have a water easement to and it supplies the bath house, Chalet, training centre, gardens and house tank. It will also be used to top up the dam we intend to construct during the course. There will be about 30m of head pressure to the bath house and Chalet and about 60m of head pressure to the house tank. We only have to complete the connections and plumb up the rocket stove and it is ready to go. We are leaving some time to fix little glitches in the system but we are confident it will work perfectly.
We put down 150m2 of raised garden beds that are heavily mulched with green manure. The green manure is just about ready to mulch and a host of seedlings are ready for transplanting. Eventually there will be another 200m2 added to complete the kitchen garden. It has taken me a while to address the elephant in the room in the way of Possums attacking any gardens and I finally committed to mobile electric chicken fencing. It has kept Possums out since it was erected and even though we need to open it daily, it is a small effort for a big gain. My attempt to make Bone Sauce was a creative effort to address Possums but the fence is 100% reliable. Sorry about that Zepp but we did try.
I have been very fortunate to have Antoine, a French volunteer, come to help the past couple months. Without his efforts we would still be struggling to complete our plan. Antoine has brought his pizza oven building skills along and we are building an oven from cobb using onsite clay and bottles with a 900mm cooking surface and should be able to maintain 600 beg cel. Francesca, from Italy and Yoshimi from Japan has been invaluable as well with the garden and keeping the ferments and cultures alive. Their strength is amazing and they are not shy to give everything a go. We are brewing our own Kambucha tea and Kaffier grains as well as keeping a 50 year old sour dough culture alive for our own bread. Yogurt is made every few days as it is cheaper to make 3 kg of yogurt rather than buying 2kg from the shop. $3 for 3kg verse $10 for 2kg. It is a no brainer. We keep a mother culture to use for the next batch. Francesca is the queen of culture and her yogurt is always perfect.
Our Holzmiete compost toilet has finally been complete and I gave Antoine the honour of making the first deposit. The solar chimney was plumbed in and a vent drilled and then screened in the front for air flow. The top part of the solar chimney is a galvanised pipe that is painted black to heat the air within and draw air from within the wheelie bin. This is intended to take what little odour is present, away. So far so good. A piece of timber was recessed into the top of the 80ltr wheelie bin so it is flush (level) with the top lip of the bin. A hole was cut using a toilet seat as a template and support rails attached to the side of the bin inside. The wheelie bin lid is the toilet seat lid. We are using saw dust gathered from our previous milling venture as covering material and we will mix up the covering material to include lawn clippings, leaves and straw as well as compost from time to time. This will help introduce micro fauna into the compost toilet. Eventually worms will be added and when full, the bin will be put out under a tree to fully rot down before using. Another bin awaits its replacement. The bin is attached to the rear wall of the toilet and ratchet strapped to the wall to hold firm. I’m 105kg and it does not move under my weight. Finally a small stem was made at the bin to make the toilet height 15 inches to the seat height. It’s perfect.
In the next few weeks we will be adding a lounging/meals area at the rear of the house, close to the outdoor kitchen that is currently being worked, near the pizza oven. Anthony will make a large and expansive bush lean-to to cover the area.
I have also been in discussion with Geoff Lawton and he has graciously offered to do a cameo appearance. The date is still to be confirmed. He may also bring another very distinguished guest with him… watch this space! Nick Huggins from Permaculture Business World and fellow team member at Permaculture Sustainable Consultants has been generous with his time and is coming for three days to deliver a lecture on Permaculture Consulting in an Earth working context. This will be an added extra for the students and a great opportunity to finish the course on a high note.
Bookings are still open for Option 1 – Intro to Earthworks led by David Spicer on the 20th and 21st of February 2015. We will be doing a small swale system in the top of the property during the Intro as well as basic fundamental of earthworks for water harvest and storage.
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