Summers are getting hotter and that trend is pretty much assured for the rest of our lifetime and beyond. Living in the desert means shade can be the difference between life and death for most animals, us included. At 1800’ we get a break at night when the temps often dip 30-40 degrees below daytime temps. Use the windows to moderate thermal gain & loss by opening and closing them at exactly the right times and the house stays cool.

 

Washington State Climatologists:  http://www.climate.washington.edu/outlook.html

Washington State Climate Groups: http://cses.washington.edu/cig/pnwc/pnwc.shtml

Climate Change in WA State: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_change_in_Washington

EPA Washington State: http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/impacts-adaptation/northwest.html

Cliff Mass CC Blog: http://cliffmass.blogspot.com/

** of special note see blog: reversing William Shatner’s Idea about moving water from NW to California. Instead WA needs to do the following…

USFW: http://www.fws.gov/pacific/climatechange/changepnw.html

Learning to use available resources is key to preparing for a prosperous decent from the Industrial Revolution Age. Luckily for us, the former tenants on the property left behind numerous telephone poles, relics of the defunct former motocross track.

The advantage of dry desert climate is the telephone poles are lighter, having had the moisture baked out of them, and weigh in around 300# and that makes it easier to drag over to the location we need them to be.

Then with straps and one of us on each side we lift and drag and set them over the 3’ hole that will be their final resting place. Will picks up what will be the top end and hoists it up and forward while I pull the straps and secure the pole into position. Will makes sure the final angle is correct and then the cement gets poured.

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Eventually the top part of the hole is expanded after the initial concrete sets, is framed out, and more concrete is poured to create extra support.

Once the poles are ready they will be outfitted with sail boat rigging and this rigging will be able to hold a large tensile structure in place even in fairly strong wind (not a haboob though). The back rigging is tied to set points in the house wall. The whole thing hangs over the deck and makes a huge difference for humans, cats, birds, frogs, plants, all of whom congregate around the deck.

 

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One of the things we hit while digging is Caliche – typically found in locations around the Columbia Basin. Caliche is formed at the point in the soil Horizon where evaporation = precipitation and is commonly known as Calcium Carbonate. This feature can be 3” thick or 30’ thick and usually required a jack hammer if you’re intending on planting a tree. It does act as an evaporation barrier for the deeper soil to hold water but the reverse is it also inhibits root growth from whatever tree you’re trying to plant. In this case it’s a telephone pole we’re trying to seat deep enough to hold the tensile structure.

Calcium carbonate in this form isn’t a good thing. It’s not like you’ve hit a wealth of calcium for your plants because it actually (due to its very alkaline nature) inhibits uptake of critical micronutrients because the pH is so skewed.

So we tried something we’ve read about quite often to see how it might work. We poured store grade vinegar into the hole (diluted form) and watched to see what would happen. True to what we’ve read the liquid started to bubble – audible from a distance of 5’. After letting it sit a weight bar and shovel was all it took to dislodge the rest of the Caliche from the hole.

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Acid meets Base

After 20 minutes the rest of the Caliche was easy to remove.

Here’s the shade in action.

 

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It went up right on time. The temperature is close to 100o at 3pm on June 7th and guaranteed to hit 100 in the next couple of hours as the sun continues to swing NW here on the  47th Latitude. This is an early heat event for this time of year.  I guess one of the things I really appreciate about the study of permaculture is the ability to pay attention and learn.

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Climate and weather professionals have been discussing the summer trends for the North West right after NOAA called it an El Nino year back in March. They were able to provide enough information and proof in time for the Washington State agencies to be proactive about reduced Snow Pack. They filled the reservoirs early with the normal amounts of winter precipitation (in the form of rain not snow). They were also able to alert us all to the fact that this summer would be a test run for the summer of 2070.

 

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That means for us, in the Eastern part of the State that although precip levels will pretty much remain the same or increase slightly during the winter; we are headed for a Mediterranean climate. That is one in which the predominant portion of precip is delivered in the winter months. The increase in summer temps accompanied with seasonal drought could put heavy stress on trees, shrubs, and animals when it comes to evapotranspiration and seeking shade respectively.

It’s this thought about the animals that got me thinking about yields and specifically the permaculture principle of “obtain a yield”.

Framing this principle in human centric terms (as is often done) means planting enough to produce food for yourself while you’re working hard to implement the beginnings of your property design. It’s the carrot in front of the horse idea, a reward of sorts, and motivation to supposedly keep you from getting discouraged.

Huh

The principal of obtaining a yield is a discussion for another time. For now I’m interested in expanding the plantings and specifically including shade for animals.

Not domestic animals. Deer. White tail and Mule deer frequently visit this oasis in the middle of biological hell. They come looking for food, shade and water. They return most likely because they find these resources on a property devoid of dogs and loud men.

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There is a location on the property that is perfect to design a system that could provide deer with those essentials over the summer season. The old motocross track had a trestle built with telephone poles and rail road ties. Covered with dirt the weeds grew on the parts exposed to the sun. Underneath this trestle is a plant bare fully shaded area where I have often seen deer resting.

That project is the subject of another post.