July 29, 2010

Beautiful Bows Created with Peter Yencken!

Alderleaf was honored to host experienced bowyer, Peter Yencken from Australia, for a special bow making weekend workshop this July. Four lucky students had the opportunity to be coached by Peter in building beautiful hickory bows. Everyone came away with great bows, arrows, and practical techniques for intuitive archery. Thanks Peter!

Aquatic Permaculture Plants Added to Ponds

Implementation of permaculture projects is moving along well this summer. We've introduced a variety native and cultivated edible, medicinal, and utilitarian aquatic plants into the new ponds - including wapato, perennial wild rice, aronia, arrowhead, cattail, bulrush, and much more. We've also added a water collection swale and berm to funnel water to oxygenate the pond. Next spring we hope to have enough plant life and oxygen to be able to introduce fish for a complete aquaculture system!

Pictured above is one of our new wapato plants. Wapato has a tasty edible tuber that was a staple food for indigenous people of the northwest. The Japanese have also cultivated a close relative as a food plant. It also provides important wildlife habitat.

Pictured here is a perennial wild rice plant that we added to the new ponds. This plant is native to the western Great Lakes region and the grains can be harvested as an extra tasty and nutritious variety of rice - considered gourmet by many. Native Americans of the midwest harvested it in large quantities from canoes. Permaculturists in North American have been experimenting with cultivating this unique aquatic plant.

Pictured above is the new swale, berm, and pipe - which will help to oxygenate the water once the rains return in the fall (an important need for having fish). A solar pump will be utilized to oxygenate the pond during our summer dry season.

The purpose of the ponds is to provide additional habitat diversity; store water; attract more wildlife; provide more food, medicine, and materials for people; create additional microclimates; and to raise fish to eat. We're also utilizing a small pond to cultivate duckweed and azolla for chicken feed and natural fertilizer in our compost piles. Vibrant ponds and diverse aquaculture systems are often important components to a holistic permaculture approach to sustainability.

July 16, 2010

Ancient Stone Point Discovered at Alderleaf

During a sunny July day, Alderleaf resident Phil Johnston made an exciting discovery on the property. He found an oddly shaped stone, that he soon realized was a stone point. The stone piece is exactly 4 inches long.

This “Cascade Point” was found in McCoy Creek near the eastern edge of the Alderleaf property in July 2010. It is likely from the Olcott Complex, a grouping of stone artifacts found in the Snohomish, Snoqualmie, and Skykomish drainages that date from 4,500 to 9,000 years ago! It is made from basalt, which is a type of igneous rock found here in western Washington. The size of the piece indicates that it was possibly used as an atlatl dart tip.

Take a close look at the straight edge of this stone point. This appears to be the work of a skilled flintknapper. This stone point may have been lost during hunting. It may have even been used several times to provide food for the people who once hunted here, before it was lost!

This incredible find adds a little bit of knowledge and history to the story of Alderleaf and the surrounding lands. Just imagine what it must have been like to be hunting a deer or an elk with a stone-tipped atlatl along the McCoy Creek drainage thousands of years ago!

On a related note, we offer a Stone Tools Workshop at Alderleaf, where we make similar implements including stones knives, arrowheads and more!

July 1, 2010

New Residents at Alderleaf - Milking Sheep!

As part of Alderleaf's permaculture plan (our efforts to become more sustainable and self reliant), we've acquired two milking sheep at Alderleaf Farm! Mom is a Friesian dairy breed and the lamb is a cross with a Black Welsh Mountain breed.

They're exciting animals to have at the farm because they not only provide milk, but also wool for clothing (and felting projects), lots of manure (fertilizer for the gardens) and more lambs. They require less space and resources than larger animals like cows. They also help tend the pasture and lawns (reducing the need to mow), while fertilizing the land!

We feel they're a great addition to the farm and hope you get a chance to meet them the next time you visit!