Most visited this week:
How many batteries do I need for my solar panels?
Fighting tomato blight with pennies
How to help chicks during hatching
Plug and play grid tie inverter
Building a bee waterer
A year ago this week:
ATV hitch height adjustment
Low-cost presents for homesteaders
Experimental summer cover crops
Ethanol free scam
Walden Effect Facebook page
"Guess what this is?" I
said to Mark yesterday morning as he walked past. My voice was
full of the excitement of finding a new source of organic matter to
mulch with, so he hit the nail on the head with his first try. "Humanure," my long-suffering husband answered, a distinct lack of enthusiasm coloring his voice.
closed off the first bin of our composting toilet last November, and I
wrote that I planned to wait a year...or maybe two...before breaking
into the stash. However, my standards always start slipping when I clean out the deep bedding in the chicken coops
and still need more high-carbon materials to mulch the
perennials. I figured, as long as no chunks of poo were visible in
last year's humanure bin, I could use it beneath plants that wouldn't
be producing until this time next year. Really, that gives the
material almost 24 months between excretion and eating, right?
I opened up the composting toilet bin, I was surprised to see that the
contents really just looked like slightly aged sawdust. There were
some chunks of toilet paper around the edges, where the contents were
too dry for decomposition, but all other signs of human waste were
gone. I set aside most of the residual toilet paper as we went
along and used the four wheelbarrows of organic matter that remained
beneath our high-density apples, our hardy kiwis, and our black
Mental issues aside, Mark
and I have some thoughts for improving our composting-toilet before
changing back over to the now-emptied bin this fall, but I'm pretty
happy with version 1.0 as-is. Human "waste" has become an asset to
the farm rather than a hindrance --- just what I was looking for!
We used up that big box
I stole last week.
In addition to watching a bush katydid top my grapevine,
I've been enjoying a closeup view of life on the tomato plant right
outside our front window. Two weeks ago, a hornworm caterpillar
showed up, and I left it alone, knowing that the leaf muncher would soon
be munched in turn. Hornworms are never a problem on our farm
because parasitoid wasps kill them in short order, and this caterpillar
was no exception.
We decided to spend some of Anna's
new book deal money on truck tires.
of you may experience buyer's remorse. I don't buy much, so I
rarely feel that pang, but I do experience what I've come to call
writer's remorse. What am I talking about? Imagine you
polish a book to within an inch of its life, send it off to your publisher...and then a reader shares these astonishing pictures of beneficial insects from his yard.
The big excitement for today
was a wheel alignment in Weber city.
When I strung up a simple piece of baling twine to guide our young grape vine to its trellis,
Mark rolled his eyes. Did I have to relentlessly reuse found
material?, I could see him thinking. What if the twine rotted out
before the grape hit the wire?
Despite a week that felt
more like September than July, our bees have been working astonishingly
hard. Every time I pass by both hives, workers are flying in and
out like crazy. In fact, the colonies have been so busy, they
didn't even mind me weeding nearly on their doorstep last week, a sure
sign a nectar flow is under way.
The last few times I've
taken photos up underneath our hives, I haven't seen much new
activity. In fact, if anything, it seemed like the mother hive had
eaten through some of their stores last time I checked, and the top
photo in this post shows that they haven't made much headway since last month.
But on Sunday evening, I struggled to take a photo under the daughter
hive and eventually realized the problem was that the bees had drawn
comb nearly to the screened bottom board, and that the camera simply
couldn't focus so close to the lens. Looks like the feedings I've
been giving that hive have paid off. Time to add another box and
proclaim our split a glowing success. Maybe now I can take them off the dole...again?
I've always thought lizards are more adorable than most puppies.
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