- Sudden Gardens
- Eco-Troubadour Programs
- Compost Education
- The Green Spirit Band
Winter is wood stove season at our house. Almost forty years ago a GrandMa Bear Fisher wood stove took over heating my house. It was a heavy welded-steel unit lined with fire brick. When fully stoked up with my favorite (well-dried osage orange) firewood, that baby could really pump out the heat. One of my great pleasures in life is backing up to a good wood stove and warming myself after a long work session outdoors in the cold. A second great pleasure is not hearing my furnace running, something a good wood stove can provide in spades. That Fisher stove moved with me to five different residences over the years until finally finding a permanent home in New Mexico. Today's house warmer is a 70's vintage Earth Stove insert in my suburban fireplace.
It was modified to fit into the fireplace and some bricks were removed for the flue to work properly. In addition the four noisy propeller fans have been removed and replaced by a special housing and a dual squirrel cage fan that moves more air and is much quieter.
I also "lined" my clay-tiled flue with an eight inch stove pipe to reduce the excessive draw the 12 inch tile produced. With these modifications the old Earth Stove has kept our 1300 square foot living area warm all night without the furnace running even with lows in the single digits. As a bonus I sift out the charcoal from the ashes (after they cool) and put that into my garden. I have too much ash to put on my garden and there are some concerns with applying wood ash continually so mine go to the landfill.
The Osage Orange fire wood comes from my family farm where the first settlers planted it in rows for fencing decades before barbed wire. They would slash the trees to encourage sprouts that were woven (yes, with those vicious thorns) according to the traditional English guild of hedging. We're practicing sustainable harvesting as our two households seem to make no difference in the stands of trees after my nearly forty years of cutting. We've been cutting 3 to 8 inch limbs and trees because the larger trees are grown together and very hard to split. Osage Orange sprouts vigorously (making it great for a living fence and) ensuring that our coppicing yields lots of the smaller limbs we prefer. They also make the best fence posts in the country.
This pergola was built with large Osage Orange posts. It will be there a long time.
Though Osage orange will grow in a broad swath of the Midwest and East, biologists tell us that its range is shrinking. The leaves are a favorite of cattle, the wood is dense, slow growing and hot burning and I’ve grown to love the bark and shape of the trees, even with the thorns.
These days I don't hunt much but I love the afternoon sessions out in the fresh air cutting and loading firewood from the family farm. They say that burning wood warms you at least twice and I love them both.
There’s an unmistakable feeling in the air.
Composting, waste reduction and conservation in general are back in a big ways. Saving money energy and resources was never out of style, but today it’s even more important to the bottom line. At the same time, higher prices for newly extracted energy and resources is making “found” energy, resources and even fertilizer in the form of Compost, much more desireable. Even better, these “found’ resources are available locally and require much less transportation cost. This was in clear focus at the recent U.S. Composting Council Convention in Austin last month.
Stan (on the left) with Jim McNelly of NaturTech Compost Systems and Robert Olivier of CompostMania.
I presented a pre-conference workshop titled, Best Practices in Compost Education to 19 active learners. Throughout the conference, the news of amazing synergies, increasing support for and recognition of the value of “The NEW Green Future” was evident.
So because the climate for conservation is improving, as educators, it’s time to step it up to meet this need. At Tall Oak Productions, we’re very excited to be offering our best programs and products ever this year.
Due to several requests, we’ve completely redesigned our compost assembly to use a video projector with cool new images, videos and lyrics to the songs on the big screen. The new assembly also includes “The People Pile”, a skit where a class decomposes on stage. It’s like Reader’s Theatre in which a narrator (a student) tells the story of a clever, curious kid (a student) who creates a compost pile out of (student) ingredients.
Our busy Fall tour of Kansas schools produced some feedback that we’re incorporating to better serve our clients.We’re revising our secondary program to be more interactive with the students. We’re also changing the way we deliver our advance materials to schools to insure the materials reach the “right” teacher. This extra step improves our effectiveness by increasing the preparation for and participation level in the assemblies.
As I enter my 20th year as an assembly presenter, I’m still in love with the fabulous feeling that comes after a great assembly.. I felt it early on and it only gets stronger as I hone my craft. My passion for this work grows every year and quotes like the one below confirm that this approach works.
From Julie Coon Johnson county solid waste specialist:
I recently gave a presentation on environmental issues to a group of adults. When I walked out into the hallway, I had a woman approach me who looked to be in her mid-twenties. She asked me if I had ever heard of Stan Slaughter. She went on to say that it was because of Stan that she knew that she wanted to be an advocate for the environment. She told me she could even remember his songs that she learned when she was younger because they were so memorable. I guess she wanted to prove it to me because she started singing one of his songs to me there in the hallway! After all those years she can still recall the songs about the human connection to our water, air and resources. That kind of influence is remarkable!
Solid Waste Specialist
Johnson County Environmental Department
Travel is always great and over the New Year we went to Northern Scotland. We witnessed a phenomenal woman leading a group. Her work set me to thinking about my work. I'm facilitating a fun learning environment for a large group of children. A good guitar player, yes. A knowledgeable teacher, of course, but really the work is to provide a "container" where art, science and education mix together and become truly memorable.
See you next time
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