2020 WINTERNSHIP at Strawbale Studio

2020 WINTERNSHIP at Strawbale Studio 822 616 Strawbale Studio

The Wintership was a wonderful & rich time for the Wintern and also the participants who attended the weekend Workshops:

  • Jan 11 & 12, 2020  Thatching & Reed Collection       Weekend Workshop
  • Jan 18 & 19, 2020  Round Pole Basics of Framing     Weekend Workshop
  • Jan 25 & 26, 2020  Fire: Rocket Stove & Earth Oven Weekend Workshop
  • Feb 1 & 2,    2020  Earth Plaster & Sculpting             Weekend Workshop

During the week days, Winterns experienced a number of sustainable living skills and prepared for the weekend workshops.
We cooked and ate together, worked and crafted together, co-creating a little community for the month.
On the weekends our numbers increased as participants came to join us for the Intensive Weekends., with some folks staying overnight.
We got to make new friends and share our learning and space. A nice balance.

Below is a description of ALL OUR ACTIVITIES and a PHOTO ALBUM of the Wintership!
You can scroll down & see what we did week by week!  (p.4)

2020 WINTERNSHIP at the Strawbale Studio                                                                             p1  Course Description 


This four-week Course will include   


THATCHING workshop: demo + hands-on, reed collection) Tools & Skills: ratchet tool, thatching needles, pins, stainless steel wire, manila cord, vertical & horizontal leggat. Construct a simple frame, attach reed, tap up. 


REED collection using hand sickles to harvest, tie in bundles, transport & make a new reed tipi on N Meadow for storage.


ROUND POLE Workshop ~ Framing Basics  Harvest trees, debark, notch, make wooden pins, drill and notch joints.  Tool use: Hatchet, Ax, saw, Draw Shave, Chisel. Use a Shaving Horse, make wooden pins. Skills: Sawing, Screws, Measuring, Sharpen Tools.  (Intern Project:  W wing loft railing & lashed ladder).


FIRE Workshop  ~ basics of Rocket Stove & Earth Oven  ~ design principles, hands-on Rocket Stove brick mockup, cob, earth mortar, insulation layer materials. Hands-on Earth Oven model, make cob.  fire up &use stoves. Fire up Pizza oven & make pizza. (See x-Compost Furnace)


EARTH PLASTER & Sculpting workshop.  Help select & design the area that will plaster during workshop. Learn how to find, mix & apply earth plaster to interior walls.  Explore sculpting with Earth.  Skills: make Adhesion Coat,  use a variety of trowels, hawk, several finishing techniques.  Video: Natural Paints and Plaster with Chris Magwood. Earth Floor video with Sukita.    

CLASS SESSIONS on Natural Building Design & Principles 1-2x /week ~ 2 hour class on each subject:  Foundation. Framing, Wall Systems overview, Strawbale: Design Class & some hands-on experiences: practice retying bales & Earth Plaster layers on mini or full bale.  Site Assessment & Solar. Option: Make a design for a future project on site or your choice. Tour of buildings as they related to the subject.  Pattern Language & designing by the clock from Hand-Sculpted House.  Strawbale Construction based on Chapter 3 of the Earth Plaster Book.



Natural Buildings on site ~  Strawbale Studio, Kids Cottage, Hobbit Sauna, Retreat Cabin,

Heat Devices ~ Rocket Stove Heated Bench, Rumford Fireplace Outdoor Rocket Stove Cooker. Hay Box Cooker, Compost Furnace, Hobbit Sauna ! Solar Cooker (use in warm weather only)

Natural  & Local Foods ~ Fermenting Sauerkraut and injira sourdough wraps. Opt:  make hickory nut milk, acorn meal.

Composting ~ 4 types.        Warm Weather Internships:  Foraging, Shitake Log Fruiting & Harvest.

Enrichment ~ NVC (Non-Violent Communication) / Compassionate Communication / Reflective Listening.  Visit East River Farm.  Guest Teacher:  Jared Bogdonov-Hannah or Matthew McCoul on nutrient cycles on-site (biochar, wood ash, 3 types Compost, biomass, other) & integrating permaculture principles into our day/study.

Day-off options: Do your own thing.  Perhaps …. Read, or Whittle & spoon carve. Study / design / model-making. Small round pole model. Finish Worktrade hours. Local Fieldtrip: 7 ponds Nature Center, Bald Mountain Recreation area, Detroit, etc. Bonfire, hang out in Strawbale Studio, sauna.  The Willows: 4500sq ft Strawbale Outdoor Educaiton Center, Chatsfield School, Lapeer, MI. Resturants:  White Horse Inn. Dryden.  Victorias, Oxford.  Sagebrush Cantena, Lake Orion.  20 Front Street.  Kombucha & music venue.


Browse the Resource Library 

Extensive books selection on Strawbale, Cob, Thatching, Herbs & Foraging, and much more. Earth Plaster / Magwood. Videos on sustainability & natural building ~ such as Ben Law – Round Pole Framing. Strawbale Solution, Mud, Hands – A House. Alone in the Wilderness. Building Codes for a Small Planet. Simondale  Low Impact Home for Living in the Future. Cold Day: SBS slideshow Round Pole Movie trailer.

                                                                                                                                                                                            p2 Orientation  SCHEDULE
SCHEDULED EVENTS with the public .
January 8, 2020               PERMACULTURE MEETUP at Upland Hills School – bring goods to share / sell. Mud art or SBS seasoning. January 10, 2020                  FULL MOON Potluck  Friday 5p Tour. 6:30p POTLUCK / Bonfire   End 10P- quiet 10:30p
January 11 & 12, 2020        THATCHING Basics Wksp Sat 10-5p / Reed Collect Sun 10-5p
Jan18 & 19, 2020                 ROUND POLE Framing Wksp ~ The basics.  Sat & Sun. 10 – 5p
Jan. 25 & 26, 2020               FIRE Wksp ~ Rocket Stove + Earth Oven   Sat. & Sun. 10-5p
Feb 1 & 2, 2020                    EARTH PLASTER & Sculpting Workshop   Sat. & Sun. 10-5p


  • Intern sign in & Waiver.  Safety.  Skills wanted, offering.
  • Tracking Activities / Design Notebook.  Personal Goals.
  • Clear the Path.  Food to use / to buy / cooking/cleanup list.
  • Indoor / Outdoor / Worktrade activity list
  • Worktrader sheet & areas of focus.
  • Days off, Meetings
  • Personal Projects.
  • Schedule for the Course ~ what will be covered each week.


Daily Schedule (proposed)

Yoga 7:30 a

Breakfast prep at 8:00a- Breakfast 8:30a .

Morning check in’s at 9:00a . (Day + 2)

Morning Activity  9:30 – 12:30 p

Lunch break. On your own.

Afternoon Activity Class Session 2 – 5:30  (Supper prep 530p)

Supper 630p

Track activities/check off.

Evening – Open or Scheduled Activities & “Sharing Our Stories” 30 min +

Quiet time: 10p


Seva, service.  8 – 9:30.  Breakfast 9:30 – 10:00 Cleanup 10:30 Morning Check in.  11 – 12:30 Morning activity.


Weekly Schedule

Weekly Meeting (Week + 2)

Weekly Worktrader List

Weekly house responsibility

Schedule 2 days off per week (includes meal cleanup, and worktrade if not done yet that week).

Thursdays – Movie Night / Sharing experiences, slides, travels .

Worktrade Schedule:  Three 3 hour blocks per week. (9:30 – 12:30 or 2:30 – 5p).

or 1 day a week +.  Intern can do independent projects during that time.  DB do desking.


    • Internship: $950 per month (or early-bird discount of $850 prepaid 1 month in advance) includes room & board plus all training and workshops at the Strawbale Studio land with Deanne Bednar and invited guest teachers during the time of your stay.
  • ½ pay WorkTrade $475 per month (or early-bird discount of $425 prepaid 1 mo. in advance) For those who choose to help support the Strawbale Studio Infrastructure in exchange for a reduced rate, several Worktrade positions are available. 10 hr/wk would be applied toward a given area such as Outreach/ Office, Building & Grounds, Gardening or Cooking/Household. The rest of the time you would join in the learning and activities of the Internship Program. Includes room, board and all materials.
  • Deanne will have Desking Hours or TBD.  Time with Wintern, will be at least 4 hours per day  / 5 days a week




                                                                                                                                                            P 3 –  Roles


Cooking & Household maintenance is shared by all and recorded on a chart. Not worktrade.

Guidelines,  Beauty & Order.  What are our needs?


  • Cooking:
    • 1 or more people scheduled.  Clean up after by those that don’t cook.  2-3 people.
    • Make a schedule together for cooking & cleanup each week, adjusting as needed.
    • Preferably use on hand, in season.  Be creative.


  • Clean up :
    • Cleanup team stays with it until it is done
    • Or check it out with the other folks and agree that everyones needs are met.


  1. Put Away. Dried dishes, food, dishes to sink from table & counters
  2.  Clean (counters, table, dishes)
  3.  Sweep. ☺ (work it in 1 or 2 times a day)


  • Household Roles – by week
  • Sweeping – kitchen, halls, bathrooms, east & west wing main room.  
    • Composting – Worm Compost, Outdoor Compost bucket, CT  (all, as needed. Check daily.)
    • Recycling & Landfill to curb across street on Sunday.  Bring in containers on Monday between 1&5p.  1x/week
      Landfill from bathrooms, kitchen.  Replace used plastic grocery bags.  If not every week, to courtyard for next week.
    • Specialty:  Kitchen cupboard doors cleaned, Kitchen/ Hall  Floor washed 1x per week


WORKTRADE  monthly, or rotate. 


    • Reed: Harvest & store in tipi. Getaway Reed Tipi.  Sort bundle ties. (Goal for workshop 100 bales)
  • Grounds:  Firewood ~ forage, saw, split, stock structures.  Strawbale mulch, bittersweet. Prune shrubs.
    • Teachers Assistant:  Help pre-plan, support Deanne during workshop / track timing. Report after workshop.
  • Construction & Repair: Construct a Chopping Stand (Mark do a sketch). Build New Shaving Horse.  Boots? Tools.
  • Blogger:   Track all activities as an outline.  Do a blog with photos.  (instead of supper prep/cleanup?)
  • Office:  Data entry – Participant list, outreach. (Main data sheet, edit suggestions for internships, other.)
  • Workshop support :  Setup ~ materials, classroom, parking, heating Red Shed, Cooking, greeters, organize space after.
  • Tool Sweep:  oversees cleanup daily on work projects.


                                                                                                                                                                                        p4  Schedule CHART


Week 2018 FOCUS Weekly ACTIVITIES (small group, arrived late in week 1. This is what we did during the month)

Main goal: Building Skills & Confidence that you can “figure things out” in the future.

Week 1 Jan 6 DESIGN & THATCHING Orientation to : schedule, expectations, buildings, land (bring back wood), materials, household, meals, worktrade. Composting systems.  Student goals & skills.  Theme.  Full Moon Potluck outline.
Natural Building:  Reed Field visit, open path.  Construct Lashed A-frame. Thatching workshop – lecture, hands-on application & reed collection.
Classes:  Compost systems. (not done:  NVC. Natural Materials Continuum)   (Foundations lecture, tour)   Moved to next week.Sustainable Living Skills:   Knot tying/lashing. Injira sourdough Wrap. (Wood splitting & safety lesson with ax, hatchet & sledge hammer & wedge. not done. Folks knew it)  (Kraut, Kombucha – not done).Whittling.  Soak beans & grains, Insulative cooking (hay box) (practice making & firing pizza in earth oven – not done before workshop)

Worktrade :  Harvest downed-wood.  Prep wksp: strings for bundles, Tipi down & moved to front meadow.  T.A. Helper for Mark.  Team Meeting for wksp roles & coordinating:  ½ wktrade / ½ household & skill learning.  Record activities/time. DB. Computer in repair.

Jan 6 arrival.
Jan 7 Yoga. Nate / db not alan.Jan 8 6p Permaculture Meetup
          Michael E, things to sell.
          6:30 Pickup Mark

9:30 Steven (thatch cls)

Jan 10, Fri. POTLUCK  5p-10:30p
Jan 10  – Shelby Harris arrives.
Jan 11 & 12  Sat-Sun 9:30 – 5P Thatching Workshop


Jan 12 – recycle out Sun. no.
Jan 13 –  cans in Mon 1p

(Morning Yoga  Optional  – not done during the month.

Week 2 Jan 13 FRAMING & WALL SYSTEMS Natural Building:   Trees: Harvest /debark / cut to size. Plan Cozy Tree House Loft Railing. (Additional  thatching on outside frame or create a CT structure – not chosen)

Class ~ ( Site & Design – not chosen, permaculture background)   Foundations,  (Wall Systems  & Framing options – moved to next week).  Round Pole   2-day workshop.

Sustainable Living Skills:   Kombucha,  Sour Dough Wraps, Wood & spoon-carving basics. Sprouting,  Tool sharpening.  (Split-log bench for sauna, (Forage  & greenhouse salad – didn’t do) ).  Process Worm Compost.
Worktrade. Finish pole & workshop readiness.   Nate fixed shaving horse.  TA. Wood splitting esp for RS. tool sharpening.  Wksp Coordination meeting.  Cycle the worm composter. (Reed Collection – not done) Recycle paper.  DB order ceramic blanket, Ben Law book.  Mid-course Correction done next week.

Jan 13  mon Day Off (cans in-no) 
Jan 14 Hamsa Yoga. Db/MarkVisit East River Farm – eggs.

Jan 16  7:30p Movie/share

Jan 18 & 19  9:30a- 5p

Round Pole Wksp 

Shelby leaves to support her household.



*Hamsa YOGA  optional. An evening or day off? Hamsayoga.com to  schedule- to “sign up online.”

Enrichment Fermenting – yoghurt, sunflower seeds.  keyboard, snging.   Snowboard – Nate, Mt Holly.  Meet up with Nick from Rochester Healing Center. Walk at Bald Mountain.

Week 3 Jan 20 HEAT & INSULATION * Mid-Course Correction:  what’s going well, could be improved.

Natural Building: Make Models.  using cob and wood.

Classes : Framing & Wall systems – two classes. (Design Charettes – not chosen),   Fire workshop: Rocket Stove & Earth Oven.

Sustainable Living Skills:   Insulative Cooking. Outdoor Rocket Cooker. (Kelly Cooker – not done)

Worktrade Reed, Wood Ash, Lane, Cut and split wood for rocket stove.  Assist in planning workshop.  T.A.

Jan 20 Mon. Day off  +  Midcourse Correction

Jan 21  Tues Yoga Alan. d/m

Jan 24 Thur Share/Video


Jan 25 & 26  sat/sun 9:30 – 5p

Fire Workshop Workshop 

Enrichment: Rock Climbing – Nate. Mt. Clemens.  Mark, stay in town,  Walk, Polly Ann Trail to Leonard.  Mark.

Week 4  Jan 27 EARTH PLASTER & COB Natural Building:  Round Pole Project: Cozy Loft  ~ Notched Round Pole Railing Nate.  (straw mattress – no).(Rocket Stove Design for Main House – no).  Make cob models, Prep for Plaster Class. Choose site & scope. 

Classes  Code:  skype with Chris McC. Subsoil into House when weather permits. Process fibers / adhesion coat for earth plaster. Help teach class.

Sustainable Living Skills: ( Eat our sauerkraut. Acorn meal – didn’t choose). Worktrade Reed Collection.  Wood split.  Prep for Workshop. TA

Jan 27 Day Off.

Jan 28  Hamsa Yoga Mark & Deanne & Nick, Rochester Healing Center. Knows Danielle, Natalie, others.

Feb 1 & 2 Earth Plaster & Sculpting Wksp 9:30 – 5p


Sharing/ Video Evening Didn’t do. 

Enrichment:  D & D with Matt and Devin.  

Week 5 Feb 3-6 MODEL-Making Natural Building:  3 step Earth Plaster process on a mini-Strawbale.  Design a small house – (share during a Charette – didn’t choose).. Complete Projects.& all Burning Questions.

Skills: Hands-on with John Yurima  – sawing table slabs at his farm.

Video : Chris Magwood  ~ Earth Plaster

Sustainable Living Skills: Cording.

Worktrade: Finished Loft Railing – Nate.  Cleanup Earth Plaster Workshop – All.

Feb 3   ½ Day Of.
Feb 4  Tues Earth Oven Pizza & Completion Ceremony.Feb 6 Wed Pack & Fare-Thee-Well !

Enrichment:  D & D with Mat and neighbors Devin & Melanie. Sauna Rocket Stove, crafting: sewing & whittling.  Sing along trail with candles.


Because of small class size, part of the curriculum & work trade was not able to be done in the time we had.  Together we chose what things to keep.  Reed collection – 20 bundles (instead of proposed 100 bundles) – Tipi not moved from Cedar Cabin area. 

Future: Split-long benches for sauna.  A Practice Lashing Ladder.                                                                                                                                                                                        

                                                                                                                                                                              P5  Welcome Letter


Welcome to the upcoming Winternship !  I am looking forward to us being together, learning and sharing !


Here is some information to help you plan what to bring, and a few questions re food diet and travel plans.
And check out the 2020 Winternship AGENDA Details attached !


1) What is your prefered diet?  Allergies?  Please describe.
FYI, there is a cat & dog and dust that live in the house.  If you are allergic we need to talk about that. 🙂

2) Date & time of arrival (and keep me posted if there are changes) :

3) Pickup Needed?  What location, flight or bus number. Include specifics for clarity ☺
4) How to reach you while traveling:  phone #? Do you text?  Other.


Arrival Times:  You can arrive Monday January 6  or Tuesday morning. Orientation is planned for 1p Tues Jan 7. Those who arrive early can settle in and help out a bit with worktrade hours, or take some down-time after your travels !

Arrival Plans: Contact Deanne with your expected time and mode of arrival.  Let me know if you need a pickup and we will try to coordinate that. If your plans change let me know by phone message, email or text.

Address:  2691 Noble Rd. Oxford, MI 48370  You can drive up to the house, unload, then repark in the north meadow (1st on the right when you come down the drive).

Phone: cell 248 496 4088  I text 🙂 I also use google voice 248 236 5432 if you see that #.   strawbale.programs@gmail.com

Food:   A basically local & organic vegetarian fair will be provided (veggies, rice, beans, soup).  Fermented foods will be made while you are here such as sauerkraut and sourdough wraps.  Yum.  I am getting hungry typing this. Optional: Bring special food if you want.   You can label it and keep it for yourself, or share.


Winter Wear:  We will be harvesting Phragmite reed grass about 4 hours at a time, 1 or 2 days a week, to gather the reed needed for our demonstrations and this year’s projects.  So be ready to keep warm.

Layers of warmth   Wool is awesome if you have it ! Wool sweaters.   Bring snowpants, or insulated pants or coveralls, or long johns. if you have them….or some layers like 2 pair of sweat pants. For your feet warm sox, warm and waterproof boots if you can.  Snowmobile boots are quite warm. Loose & insulated boots keep feet warm.   It may rain, so rain gear is good.  I have some things here, but if you can, bring your own. We won’t reed collect in the rain, but we might be outside, getting from one building to another.  (You might notice I am fond of wool)

Supplies; Bring Flashlight and a water bottle. Notebook if you can.

Bedding & Toiletries:  Bring bedding & towels if you can. If not, I can provide them, no problem.  There are sheets and pillows, blankets, etc here if you want to use them.  At the end, it is appreciated if you wash and return sheets and towels you use.


Optional: bring musical instruments, sketches or designs for any upcoming projects, earth subsoil from your land to test.  Camera.   Yoga mat. Special food you want for yourself.


Please do not bring drugs or alcohol. I feel protective of Strawbale Studio. It is a very safe space to be, and good to know we can really enjoy reality “as is”.


TOOLS       No tools are needed, but it would be useful for you to bring tools for the Round Pole framing workshop: 1/2″ to 1″ wood chisel, hatchet, drill & bits, snap line, measuring tape, draw knife, saw.  A gas chain saw would be awesome in general.  We have electric chainsaws.  You could bring your in a 5 gal bucket, each tool labeled with your name.  If you don’t have them, or a bucket, that’s ok.


Most of all, bring your 

        Joy of Learning, good listening & sharing skills, and kind heart.  


Further reading:  Here are some things that might interest you… 2014 Winternship Blog by Kirsten Pope,Wintern. 2015 Winternship Blog by Nana Ferdnance . Internship page for general things to expect.  The Hand-Sculpted House book is a good resource.


Thanks for responding to the questions, and see you soon !