I arrived at Earthwise Valley right after the group had returned from an epic trip. This is a week long adventure somewhere, and there are two planned during the summer volunteer season. The group had gone kayaking at Lake Waikaremoana where two of the volunteers celebrated their birthday. As a result, the week after was mostly projects and fewer rest days.
The first couple days were spent at the house, where we started to build the foundation for a spa bath. The house where we are staying was just purchased in November, while the land was purchased last year. As a result, not much is set up yet, so this year is more about getting things set up than sustainable practices, it seems. Dave, Rich, and I started laying out the frame for the spa bath, which was attached to an existing covered gazebo like porch.
This was my first acquaintance with the augur, a heavy metal tool used to dig post holes. The outer posts were about the width of phone poles, but only about 6 feet long. The augur twists on the ground while digging down, as long as there aren't any roots or rocks in the way, which there usually are eventually. The area on the back side of the spa bath was rather boggy, and while it was easy enough to walk on while there were ferns, once we trampled them enough it turned into a bit of a mud pit. This was easy enough to dig down, but proved difficult to fill back up and stabilize. But pounding tons of rocks into the sides of the hole came to the rescue, and we eventually got the posts nice and solid. The inner frame was easier, as we used smaller posts and rammed them down with a metal cylinder which pushed the post into the ground inch by inch.
Once the posts were all lined up, we started cutting notches for the boards, brought out the level and built the two sides of the frame. This actually took about a day and a half, with a third day to get the inner joists cut and nailed in place. Almost all the materials used were recycled from existing stockpiles Jon (who runs Earthwise) had on the land, some from previous projects and others purchased from other folks.
Aside from the spa bath, the other activities at the house were pretty simple. We cut up a few big piles of firewood for future use. Some of the girls also looked around the property for small saplings which were growing in bad locations to transplant on the land once the weather gets a little wetter.
Speaking of which, the first week was rather overcast. Hannah, who comes from Yorkshire England referred to the light mist / drizzle we kept receiving as mizzeling, and I'd have to agree it was an appropriate name for what we got. I'll make a post about the valley in just a little bit.