Ant v Wasp


In our 120-square-foot kitchen, near the east-facing window, just around the sill, rages an epic battle.

Foolishly, we insulated our tiny kitchen house with pink foam board. If you ever want to build a DIY ant farm, use this stuff under the plexiglass. Ants, particularly wood ants, love it. It is pretty, carvable, easy to haul, easy to clean. (Okay, I do imagine that beauty is important to ants on some level.)

Each spring, the ants start showing themselves by way of scouts, busily searching, communicating with others and poking around with a clear purpose. Then others, that seem to be on vacation, wandering and resting lazily along the walls and windows, or following their own pheromone trail around and around a flower pot. Just when they become a little much, they decline and almost disappear. A little while later, the male wasps show up.

You wouldn’t know by glancing at them that they were wasps, but upon closer examination, you would see the slender neck and distinctive face, antennae and legs of a wasp. They are tiny and black with pale blue abdominal stripes.

They swarm around the window, waiting for the young females to hatch, just like the parasitic wasp, Ichneumonidae, only these are much, much smaller. The only time I saw one land was on the window, with a trapped female on the other side of the glass.

The female, like the Ichneumonidae, has a long ovipositor. She uses it to deposit eggs in the ants’ nest.

When the females hatch and mate, they fly away. And the ants come back. We find this fascinating. We watch the cycles with wonder. On the outside, amazing creatures come and go, creep and fly, guard and fail; while inside the walls, unimaginable horror and carnage is taking place.

It causes ripples of internal conflict between the baser pity for the ant/disdain for the wasp and the higher all-immersing awe of Nature and her curlicue shaped laws.










A Tour

Welcome to our yurt at Spider Springs! It is 16 feet in diameter. A perfect size to keep warm and light up easily. We sectioned off the circle into “rooms” that flow into each other. More accurately, they smoosh together.

We have changed it since these pictures were taken. We raised the bed on a 3-foot platform and use the space under it for storage. The rocket stove, now in January, is surrounded by stacked wood for drying. And we moved the shelves near the “closet” under the bed and turned the clothes more against the wall so we could move the chairs closer to the wood stove. We’ll get some updates up as soon as we get a new camera.

yurt door

Come in…


Our rocket stove (The Pocket Rocket)


The kitchen/bedroom


The bedroom

living room

The living room


The closet and exit

That’s our little home. Outside is an outdoor kitchen, which was awesome in the summer! But when the serious Northwest rains and wind came, it was much less awesome. We tend to open the dome all the way and use a small table top Coleman inside for almost all our cooking.

nathan in the outdoor kitchen

We are working on a bigger one closer to the cob site with north and east facing walls, the cob oven, a wood stove and a dining area. Spring, spring, come quickly! We’ve got so much to do!