Paul and Jocelyn continue their discussion about what has been happening at the labs this winter. The temperatures dropped and it required that a Rocket Mass Heater (RMH) be installed inside the wofati. The temps were very cold inside and outside the WOFATI and there’s a draft problem. When the wind blows, it can go between the logs. Now the gaps between the logs are mostly plugged. When the RMH is run, there are still a couple of setbacks. Paul does not want to throw anyone under the bus and so he will not share these setbacks because some things are just too sensitive. Going back to drafts, this should be considered a design flaw. The batch box RMH works well for about three minutes. There is a cold plug within the pipes and routing this out the wall would probably fix it. Several theories were proposed and Paul feels that the vertical exhaust is full of cold air and cold air wants to go down. This explains why pressure builds and it goes backwards as a result. If the WOFATI is warmer on the inside then it should flow properly so plugging the drafts should fix this. Where the RMH was installed and the exhaust goes through the floor, may also be contributing to the problem. The WOFATI was a split level design (against Paul’s request) so they are making the best of it. The RMH is on the lower level. There is an odd thing that is similar to a p-trap. Paul thinks the manifold may be a problem but we will have to wait and see. There is a big thread on the forum a Permies.com on this.
WOFATI 0.8 is discussed next. Paul likes to take ash built up in the RMH for the Wofati out daily. Removing ash before a burn is a good practice. Sometimes though, the ash can be drawn into the system. There was some water leaking from the exhaust too. A T was installed to help drain the water, but without a hole the water can not get out. Tim and Christie like their RMH now.
Snow and ice management. When the snow falls it’s important to get it off the steps and porch so it’s safer to walk on. Using sand and polenta on the icy parts works well. Turkeys come and eat the polenta and then claw at the ice. Paul thought using tree branches might help reduce slipping.
Paul discusses the potato village. Gappers need food and there are expenses with gappers. Lots of “Ooops” moments have occurred. One of the electric vehicles was damaged. Tape measures get lost. Gloves get left laying around. Safety glasses. Drill bits, etc. Lots of “Ooopses”. Paul now wants people to bring certain tools when they come for seminars. Tools are getting broken. From now on people attending workshops will need to bring their own tools. The potato village is the root layer or first layer and this is where new people need to start. Paul asks how much work does a gapper do?
Paul came up with three different levels for gappers. Junior gapper, assistant gapper and supervisor. Skill levels and knowledge are very varied amongst the people who visit and stay at the farm. There are some who come and bring drama and their work ethic is lacking a little. Paul discusses options on how to fix these problems. One idea is that beginning people will only work on projects that need hand tools. Another idea is that people then can work their way up to certain levels to work with power tools. The next level up would be the mushroom village,. There would be degrees of skills required to reach the next level and people would be grouped accordingly.
Glamping in the teepee was discussed. Paul visited later one day after the RMH had burned and it was still warm and cozy in the teepee. There is currently a rain stop over the sticks at the top of the teepee, but it’s very shredded and ugly. Water dripping in the teepee is an issue and some people have some ideas on how this problem can be fixed. There is a foyer inside the teepee. Paul thinks this could be built outside. Some debate goes on about the size of each teepee.
PV2 is discussed. Lots of big names are expected. Paul Stamets, Maddie Harland, Ernie and Erica, Diana Leaf Christian, Stefan from permaculture orchard along with many others from PV1. Everyone should be signed up for the dailyish email. Lots of free stuff is being given away.
Paul reviews community living after 1.5 years. Paul likes it so far, but there is room for improvement. Jocelyn agrees. Systems need to evolve like any system. Cleaning and how well it is done can be an issue. General household duties need to be worked out. People need space away from the group so there is now a small living room in the bedroom where they can go and everyone knows not to enter that space. Jocelyn was trying to make things more positive. Movie nights or game night are fun but when focused on “Work work work”, sometimes criticism seems to bubble out. Jocelyn wants to make things are more fun and positive to minimize the criticism.
Kitchen commander was doing great and lots of problems went away. Discussions about cups and who was leaving dishes out all went away. She did a great job of making three meals a day six days a week. Kaitlyn did a great job cooking and cleaning up and she spoiled the house because she did her job so well.
Chef Seth is returning in February and in the spring. Seth will be at PV2 too. Paul feels the community is on a good path but there are a few small things that need optimization. Paul is discovering that he does need some private space. Future plans will be for a larger house to accommodate 20 people. Jocelyn has realized that she is not into construction and it is just not her thing.
Next Paul and Jocelyn talk about some criticism they got on micro managing and on the other hand someone else said Paul is not managing enough. Paul’s style is to give people lots of latitude and he hopes they have learned enough that he has things pretty well thought out. He wants things done his way when he is paying for it. Paul works on his computer to generate the money that pays for everything. Paul’s suggestion is that instead of arguing and debating, if the workers focus on the task things will get done quicker and more efficiently. The focus on one task was to get heat for Tim and Christie and so the team worked at break neck speed. The team is meeting monthly to go over priorities and which projects and tasks get done in the next month but the list is ever changing as priorities shift.
Paul feels that his standards makes things a little more difficult. Using only the lumber on the site takes dedication and determination and there is a learning curve. Once the construction is done the food production projects will come next. Jocelyn is excited about the foodies projects coming in the near future.
There is rumor of some retreats coming this year. Paul thinks that once the infrastructure is in place more people will want to visit during the winter rather than the summer. Paul hopes that soon the project will be able to continue without all his financial support. Paul has big plans for other things and he hopes to move on to them once the lab is a little further along.
Winter travel is something Paul remembers as a kid and he is amazed at how much time people take to plan driving. If people just drive slower and build 30% more time into their schedule they will be fine. Jocelyn explains how she had a recent trip where she needed chains to get through one of three passes heading out to Seattle. Weather predictions are not all that dependable and it bothers Paul how people don’t plan accordingly.
Weston got the sawmill working and built more shelves for the rolling shelves. Tristan the two year old was very expressive and Kaitlyn and Weston did a great job with Tristan. The house is not really toddler proof and the parents did a good job watching the toddler. Jesse asks lots of questions and he came up with an interesting scenario. “If money is no object where would you go?”. Jocelyn picked the Mediterranean, Paul picked the Caribbean Islands. Paul would not mind going to Hawaii because he loves pineapple. Jocelyn would like to visit Tajikistan.
Future events were discussed next. In October there will be an Innovators event. There is also a new kickstarter coming. Hopefully by the end of January. The new kickstarter will include the building of ten RMHs. The first 4 DVD set on RMHs included two RMH builds. Right now Cassie does a weekly video blog and Sam has some video on YouTube. Expect more videos coming soon. Paul hopes the kickstarter does well because previous DVDs have done well.
Credit: Kevin Murphy
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