May 2014 Springternship

May 2014 “Springternship” Report

Interns Ruthie Lane, Justin Holmes and Worktrader Chelsea Emery


1) Construction on a Stone & Cob Bench attached to the Strawbale Studio. Hands-on Skills included making a cob model and designing the project, digging and filling a stone trench, laying up a stone knee wall (mixing & using cement, practical & aesthetic principles of laying up a wall), mixing & applying Cob (base cob to shape bench and base finished plaster to create a drainage slope & prepare for the finish plaster ).

2) Construction of a Round Pole Hops Trellis attached to the main house. Hands-on Skills included designing & making a model of the project, tree-cutting techniques, felling a tree with a saw, using a draw knife to remove the bark, learning to “read a log”, use a chalk line to make reference lines, use a saw & drill, sharpen and use a chisel, make lap joint notches & understand the saddle notch. Information included principles, purposes of each pole, vocabulary, some types of notches and their uses.

3) Planting the Living Roof of the Hobbit Sauna  Digging up appropriate Plants on site (fern, moss, wild strawberry, scented geranium, violets, sedum), planting on roof, watering.

4) Strawbale Studio Gardens  Hands-on Skills: Clearing, planning the beds, making soil, planting seedlings, direct seeding, mulching and watering beds.

5) Design & Model of the Sauna addition.  Making a rudimentary model from Cob, understanding drainage, drywells.


CLASSES          The following classes were given for the interns:

Designing for Functions & Solar Design
Drainage, Foundations & Stone Laying
Framing for Cob and Strawbale Wall Systems
Round Pole
Composting Systems on site (worm, outdoors, humanure, sheet mulch)

WORKSHOPS    Interns prepared for & assisted in workshops with outside participants:

May 17, 2014   Foraged Brunch
May 17, 2014   Living Roof Workshop
May 24, 2014   Fire & Rocket Stove Workshop



Use of the Haybox Cooker, Solar Oven, Rocket Stove Outdoor Cooker.
Foraging for (and eating !) many greens, some roots, fern fiddleheads.
Amazing mushroom experiences: foraging huge Dryad’s Saddle &  Morel Mushrooms, and Soaking & fruiting our inoculated Shitake logs.
Fermenting and frying sourdough flat bread (gluten and gluten-free), and making yoghurt
Harvesting & drying plants in the Electric Dehydrator.
Exploring many ways to prepare Sun Roots (Jerusalem Artichoke).
Research into Garden Rotation Systems and Companion Planting.
Wonderful Meals:  lots of food preparation was shared and learned.



Hosted and attended the Oakland Co. Permaculture Meetup,
The Full Moon Potluck – including home-made music in the Strawbale Studio
First Friday Activities – a gardening, foraging and cooking adventure.
Interns attended a Tour of the LeFevre Homestead Farm, down the road, and went to Hamsa Yoga Class.
Chelsea attended a Non-Violent Communication Gathering with a focus on Climate Change.
Interns also attended a number of local activities on their own time off, and explored the Strawbale Studio library.  We shared some of our favorite videos & music with each other, and conversations were very, very rich and varied.


Chelsea’s mom and dad (who brought his homemade beer), Ruthie’s dad & mom (who sent lots of good food our way & played music with us) –  Zack, her significant other. Michael Mallon. Overnight guests & helpers: Tyler (repaired the solar clothes dryer, took down limbs obstructing the lane), Jim Bates (designed a class on Forest Management and set up LED light unit for SBS, gave chair massages), Bryan Metts (helped with planting the Living Roof) and Ruthie’s sister Abbie, who helped her get home materials for building an earth oven at her family home in Rochester, MI, and Michael Estermann. The Hoyt’s dropped in, especially Sarah.

Personal Goals were set which included studying permaculture, being in healthy relationship with food, and making a publicity video of the Foraged Brunch. Worktrade assistance included inputting participant data, updating herbal documents, publicizing workshops, caring for the seedlings, working in the garden & repair & maintenance.

Enbridge Pipeline Construction
During the month, there was activity on the pipeline which we watched and filmed:  a new pipeline bringing crude oil from the Alberta Oil Shales to the East Coast – was replacing the old pipeline from the 1960’s in a 300 mile path from mid Michigan to Port Huron, crossing the Strawbale Studio land.  The trees had already been taken down and the land cleared. During May we saw the land leveled (top soil in one pile, sub soil in another), protective plank roads put through the wetlands, the pipes brought in sections, bent to the curve of the land, and soldered together.  Now in early June the pipes will soon be buried (safely for a long time).