[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z9NOxtjxpoc] This is a YOUTUBE video on the bench wall process beginning to end
straw bale project at Joes slide show on Flickr
The yard is full of gravel so we are using that for footers and the soil has a lot of clay so we are using that for cob.
The Straw bales are spiked with rebar down in to the gravel footer, then sewn together with bailing wire to bond the whole structure together. All the gaps and seams are packed with chips of straw or loose straw.
Core form of straw bales is anchored and sewn together ready for cob.
First Layer of filler cob applied where the bench meets the wall
Well I’ve been here a month now. Things are going well, kind of getting use to the close neighbors, noise, heat etc. Been a long time since I’ve lived this close to the city but, the setting here kind of takes the edge off it.
When I first got here we were harvesting Paloverde and Ironwood seeds, working at getting them to sprout. and working on the barn getting it ready for fall classes
Barbara Rose will be giving a series of classes here this fall. Native Foods, Herbs and Earth Crafts
That’s what this place is all about, teaching folks about permaculture, native foods, and natural building techniques. We harvest what grows here and compost everything we can. It’s a lifestyle not a concept and the compromises are relatively few considering where and when we are.
Mostly I’ve been harvesting and processing prickly pear fruit
There is a wide variety of harvest able native plants on the property, I got here too late for saguaro fruit harvesting, so prickly pear is on the schedule.
This is and interesting process which involves harvesting the best of the Tunas, yeah that’s what they’re called, and smashing them in preparation for freezing which breaks the fruit down so it can be pressed through a colander as it thaws then strained again through a fine screen colander before being refrozen for future use as juice. It’s a fairly involved process and filled with Glochids, the little thorns you don’t see between the big thorns your trying to avoid, the removal of which gives you something to do when your not picking, mashing, freezing, pressing, straining, and refreezing. The juice is worth all the effort and even the thorns.
The trail was laid out by past volunteers here and I’m developing it to function as a rainwater harvesting erosion control element. It’s an incredible area filled with saguaros Iron wood, Palo Verde, and an amazing diversity of plant life. This area has been heavily used agriculturally for about as long as people have been in this part of the world. The signs of both contemporary, historic, and pre – pinky the round eye, habitation and utilization, are every where. Barbara and the folks here have done a lot over the last couple of decades to repair the damage done by the hundred years or so of clear cutting and grazing that took place here, and the plant life and general health of the water shed and soils show it.
I hope to help in continuing this work through assisting in the development of a trail system that works as a berm, to slow the water further, and facilitate the infiltration of water, in to the soil, while decreasing the soil degradation, that occurs during heavy run off.
I have found time to explore Tucson by way of it’s bike lanes and bike trails which are numerous and mostly serviceable. It’s been great to get back on the bike after being car or truck bound for so long. More on this in a later post.
I’ve also had time to wander about the property observing and enjoying the flowering plants some of which seem a bit confused as to what season it is.
Click the pic for more flowers on my flickr site.
The flowers of the desert never cease to amaze. If you haven’t been there you may think of the desert as being sterile and barren. It is so full of color and bird song most of the year you may need to go to the city to rest your senses. Every where I look there is something unique and inspiring going on. For plants to become this vibrant and productive in what seems such an arid and hostile environment humbles my greatest efforts.
And of course I bow down in humility and awe before the giants, the “big ones on campus” so to speak the saguaro.
I hope to say something meaningful about them in the future, but for now just look at the pics.