May 2022 Internship!

May 2022 Internship! 2560 1920 Strawbale Studio

May was a rich month-long internship with LP,  Sienna, Grant, Aubri & Sydney!
It was such a full time …. of Natural Building / Sustainable Living Classes & Hands-on,  Work trade, Activities, and a variety of Enrichments. 

LP arrived in mid April as a Wwoofer, helping out in many ways:  clearing and beautifying the area surrounding the house, helping bring a number of household techie things to resolution, giving support on website improvements, and more!

Sienna connected with Strawbale Studio about the May Internship, and brought in with her Grant~ her partner,  Aubri~ her sister, and Sydney, a long-time friend of Grants’. So, adding in LP, this group of 5 amazing humans became a team, a tribe for the month.  They shared projects, work, food, and much fun and laughter!

Gratitude to each for their bright spirits, eager learning & help, and for the many, many contributions to my life and Strawbale Studio that they made during this rich time together !


This Google Album shares images of our time together.  More photos and descriptions to come.

Below is Chronology of many of the May 2022 Internship experiences at Strawbale Studio!


Intern arrival! Settle in, figure out rooms, tiny tour. Enrich


  • Orientation Packet, and Strawbale Studio Folder of handouts. Receive & go over.

  • Schedule for daily cooking & cleaning.

  • Tour of house and walk the land,.

  • Tour of Strawbale Studio buildings.

    • Strawbale Studio:

      • exploration of earth plaster, foundation, general.

      • Mass & Insulation, fire combustion qualities.

      • Compost Furnace basics.

      • Fire placement in hot dry climates, in cold climates.

      • SBS exterior bench. Shallow foundation.

    • Hobbidition:

      • Lava Rock, pumice qualities.

      • Design of Stump-Table.

    • Red Shed,

      • see Rocket Mass Heater.

      • Earth Oven models,

      • Thatch frame.

    • My Cabin.

      • Rumford Stove principles. Staying warm at night.

    • Kids Cottage,

      • bottle wall,

      • Earth floor.

Overview of Building Process.


  • Earth Plaster and Cob Class & Hands-on

    • Test soil by hand & shake test. & make a Test Pookie. Explore dried Test Pookies

    • Harvest subsoil: dig a pit in the Mid Meadow.

    • Mix Cob: Screen, mix, add straw. Qualities of straw. Cob Toss.

    • Make Cob bricks.

    • Finish Plaster: mix, apply to a dried Cob Brick, burnished and sponge finish.

  • Strawbale Class, check cob bricks and Earth plaster brick.

    • DB demo push & body coat on a small strawbale.

    • Hands-on Strawbale on the Skill Building:

      • Stack in running bond, pin,

      • Trim and flatten bale surfaces.

      • Mix Straw/Clay, and stuff spaces between bales.

      • Strawbale Plaster Layers. Make & apply

        • Push coat, Body coat, Finish Coat. Shadow line. Use of hand and Trowel to apply plasters, and trowels & disc to polish. Shape the bottom shadow line.

  • Intro Classes

    • Materials Continuum, FIOT “Figure it out Together”, “Need, Have, Strategies.”

    • NVC CLASS: Feelings, needs, Observation, judgements, empathy, layering of needs, matching intensity. How would it be for you? Small do-able requests.


  • Clear East of Keva, zone one.

  • Piles of twigs tied up by Aubri.

  • Locate and extracting subsoil from the Mid Meadow.

  • Buy eggs

  • Worktrade list: Sienna, LP & Deanne

  • Shop for NB supplies +

  • Wash all windows and screens on main house.

  • Paint E. Courtyard Sheds and door. LP & Audri


  • Dancing before meetings. Meal: scrambled eggs, beans & rice, salad, avocado.

  • Supper, noodles with cheese, mushroom+ Shop for food..

  • Sourdough Injera wrap. Grind flour, add starter, mix, cook, additives.

  • Lunch, sourdough wraps, eggs, beans & rice,

  • Supper, sweet and sour stirfry with rice!

  • Cook whole oat groats with group using Insulative Cooking, Hay Box.

  • Conversation on NVC/ work/ Soviet Union at picnic table.

  • Singing in kitchen, Grant and Syd. Yoga, acrobatics in Elemental Theater +.

  • Les East River, Eggs, Meat, shared cost.

  • Make pulled chicken, breaded, fried. Rice,

  • Day lilly leaves and fiddlehead sauted in butter with Garlic.


  • Solar oven / Rocket Stove + Metal Oven to bake Sienna’s cake.

  • Sienna birthday party, bonfire, music. Wreath of vines.

  • Sid climbs the vine.


  • Shane & Levi on-site. Conversations, meals together,



  • Foundations Class “Symbolically we are building a Foundation, and that was the “first step”,”

    • Slideshow of Retreat Cabin foundation and building

    • Foundation model with cob bricks. Explore running bond, etc.

    • Mortared Wall Project: Stone Steps

    • Gather stones, dig shallow foundations at Kids’ Cottage & South Porch of Main House.

    • Drain rock: gather and wash.

    • Mix up Cement Mortar in a mixing boat.

    • Lay up rock steps at the Kids Cottage and on the south side of Main House over 4 days.

    • The “Bee Team” was evolved of those comfortable with the Bees. The “A” team mortared the Kitchen Steps of the main house.

  • Round Pole Class

    • Make Lap joints on carrots.

  • Workshop: The Joy of Foraging Plants & Mushroom Serephina, Beth, Milania, Chrisoph.


  • Cardboard Tractor Supply – Paint Store.

  • Planted Potatoes at Upland Hills Farm.

  • Clear the North side of the Red Shed.

    • Move wood, cut with chainsaw & stack in Wood Shelter. Rotting wood to a pile.

    • Cut down vines, dead trees, sweep wood walk, rake path, make a fire pit with rocks.


  • Shiitake mushroom! Soak inoculated logs, tend, harvest mushroom, cook and eat!

  • Day off: Intern go “out and about” together, swimming.

  • Whittling Class! Carving skills applied to a small project: spreader knife.

  • Jungle Gym Adult Playground with Slack Line, and the Rings.

  • Dancing in the Strawbale Studio

  • Dandelion Tincture, digestive bitter made by Sienna.

  • Salsa Dancing in Rochester with Shane & Levi

  • Momma Robin’s nest, Middle Earth porch. She sits on eggs . They hatch!




  • Round Pole continued: Choosing a project: Fairy Frame.

    • Harvesting Maple Poles: Locate and learn to fell a tree safely.

      • Co-lead with Grant. Chain saw basics. fell with a chainsaw,

    • Carry tree trunk back using Pole & Rope Carrier and 4 people.

    • Assess poles and cut to size, making a story stick, select part of pole to cut. Hand-saw lengths using a bucking horse. Debark with a draw shave.

    • Notching the Fair Frame Bent in Red Shed

      • Debark the tree with a draw shave,, Read the log & make reference lines using a chalk line.

  • Design Classes: house & site. Snuggled in on a rainy day with coffee.

    • Pattern Language, Designing with the sun, Function not rooms. Round space,

    • Going through & Being In. Public to private.

    • Site considerations / observations including Weather, climate, Soil, water, sound, sight, smell, code, access + other Observations

  • Foraged Meal with Kelly, intern & 5 guests, Hope and Gretchen, Melissa, Fay, Gina. Shane & Levi.

    • Learning about plants and mushroom on the land.

    • Earth Oven:

      • How to fire & cook in.

    • Making our own pizza, then baking it in the earth oven


  • Mid-Course Correction:

Decide, Plan what’s most important to all.

  • FULL MOON ZOOM ! Co-host, Jack Chase. Sooz, Selena (Alabama to Oxford soon, Miriam, Clare, RE Hogan, Angela.)

  • Check black currents, Shiitake, Check Finish Plaster on The Skill Building. Smooth in small micro-cracks.

  • Google photo album for the month set up by Sienna.

  • Instagram Blog by LP


  • Brush pile moved, Current Plants found.

  • Hot water – Grant. Prep materials Syd.

  • Paint Main House – Family Day west & south side. East Trelise of Courtyard.

  • Help with Joy of Foraging Workshop.

  • Plant seeds, basil, greens, lavendar, peas.

  • Google photo album for the month set up by Sienna.

  • Instagram Blog made by LP.


  • Several Saunas in the Hobbit Sauna

  • Super & evening with Shane & Levi. Dandelion fritters. Spanikopita wiith Nettles. Totally foraged wild green salad with shiitake vinegar dressing. Shane & Levi. Saw fawn in woods while harvesting trees.

  • Steam – sienna. LP camp. Hot water – Grant. Prep materials Syd.

  • NVC LP’s work issue re making edits. She crafts a letter & runs it by me.

  • Ox Eye Daisy. ID & taste. Mullein 3rd year stalk & seeds.

  • Check Shiitake Mushroom logs.

  • Sydney harvests & cooks Dryad’s Saddle.

  • Pizza from Leonard Market.

  • Lashing Class: Clove Hitch & Japanese Square Knot to Aubri & Sienna.

  • Day Off: To town, personal projects.

  • Earth Oven Pizza, bonfire after, SomeMores.

  • Laurens cheese! Shane & Levi Oyster Mushroom soup. Awesome LP salad! At picnic table.

  • Sharing” : Grant on how he got into Permaculture. Big Talk after supper, philosophy, religion, the Tao.


  • Gene Vilenni Measure for west window Screens, DB GL put in temp screens on south.

  • Miriam Marcus. Sweet Grass – shared with her.

  • 5 Foraging Participants.



  • Round Pole continued:

    • Types of braces. Making wooden pins.

    • Round pole brace & pins.

  • Cording Class & hands-on

  • Lashed Ladder Class & hands-on

  • Thatching Class & hands-on practice on the Wee Frame

    • Leggett, wooden pins and needle, .04 stainless steel wire.

    • Attaching rows, tamping up

  • Rocket Stove Workshop with Maria & Dacia.

  • Bio-Char Activity & Pizza supper with Maria, Dacia, Shane & Levi.

  • Earthen Floor Class

    • Make Clay Slip

    • Mix with Purlite to create an insulation layer beneath the base cob floor.

    • Level and Tamp Layers.

    • Use Height Boards and a Screed Board to make even layers.

    • Mix “Poured Adobe” for base level with straw, rocks and clay-sand subsoil.

      • Do a Cob Toss.

      • Lay down height boards in the opposite direction.

      • Remove and fill with ‘cob’ poured adobe.

      • Bring to a level, rough surface.

  • Living Roof Class & Hanging out on the Hobbit Sauna Roof

  • LP’s NY cabin design, group gives ideas.

  • Round Pole Fairy Frame bolts & pins DONE!

  • Redo 3rd row of tThatching Frame Sydney and Deanne


  • Finish Painting Main House, S. Side, materials away!

  • Stone porch drain area & beauty on E side.

  • Seeds are growing,

  • Groceries bought,

  • Stones moved from S porch to Kiva.

  • Water Fall pump in: leaves removed, Pump in, refill pond.

  • Groceries: list, purchase, put away, receipt clarity.

  • Water Filter cleaned! LP


  • Scorpion Fly.”Panorpa”. Gray Toad. (BT Spray, Airplane fly-over)

  • Grant & Sydney to Flint Farmers Market & Petersons music recording studio.

  • Tamale-making & eating with Shane & Levi, Peterson & Brittany.

  • Closing Ceremony with candles & music. Ah


    • Maria & Dacia overnight Fri & Sat. in the Strawbale Studio, attend Rocket Stove/Biochar.

    • Michael & Elizabeth.

    • Peterson & Britany

    • Shane & Levi live on-site