The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Cubic yards

Mulching with composted wood chipsWith the driveway finally dry enough to drive over, Mark spent most of his time this week hauling in load after load of soil amendments.  In the process, I've been learning to visualize a much larger unit of measurement than I'm used to --- a cubic yard.  Obviously, a cubic yard is a volume that's three feet on each side, equal to 27 cubic feet.  That's equivalent to about 40 five gallon buckets, or half of Joey's pickup truck bed.

By my estimate, we netted two cubic yards of wood chips during our chipper rental weekend, for a cost of about $33 per cubic yard (not counting our time and gas.)  Ten pounds of King Stropharia spawn used up a full cubic yard of those fresh chips, with the other cubic yard set aside for later.

On his way home, Mark bought two cubic yards of well composted wood mulch, for a cost of $24 per cubic yard.  The mulch covered the ground around a dozen blueberries, eight grapes, and about seventy linear feet of blackberries and raspberries.  The seemingly huge amount of mulch was perhaps a third of what I use on my woody perennials each year (and maybe a tenth of what I could easily put to use if I had an unlimited supply.)

Hauling manure in the golf cartWhen I sent Mark over to the neighbors' to shovel up some of their horse manure, I decided to translate the five gallon buckets into cubic yards for comparison.  He filled up the truck with twenty buckets of well composted manure, which is about half a cubic yard.  That scantily covered twenty garden beds.  In fact, I put the manure into the garden nearly as fast as Mark could haul it in to me, and figure I will need at least 5 cubic yards of compost/manure to feed the vegetable garden this year (and could use twice that much or more without overfertilizing.)

I'm not quite sure where I'm going with this thought, except to say that I really like soil amendments, and I could use many, many cubic yards of them.  I guess I just like to keep track so that we can work up to providing all of the mulch and compost our farm needs.

This post has been brought to you by the letter "C", the number "3", and our homemade chicken waterer.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Sounds like you need a composting toilet (or should I say outhouse?), if you haven't got one already.
Comment by Roland_Smith Sat Mar 13 10:24:39 2010
We're currently pit composting our human waste around our fruit trees. Two people make a surprisingly small amount of waste, so I figure that's a better idea than building a big composting system. (Plus, Mark is opposed, and now and then I let him win. :-) )
Comment by anna Sat Mar 13 17:51:40 2010

Good plan about letting Mark win from time-to-time. I think they need that to keep motivated. :)

I like your Walden Effect sign.

Comment by HeatherW Sat Mar 13 19:13:26 2010
I'm glad you agree. Honestly, he'd probably be the one who would have to do the work if we had a composting toilet, so it's only fair. :-)
Comment by anna Sat Mar 13 19:40:48 2010

To me the difference seems like either carrying around buckets of raw sewage to the pit or taking buckets of compost from the toilet and carry them into the garden.

Methinks I'd prefer the latter, because it seems like a much less crappy job (pardon the pun). :-)

Comment by Roland_Smith Sun Mar 14 06:15:00 2010
You would be totally right if we had indoors plumbing and were carrying the raw sewage to the pit. But we aren't. We just dig a pit and put a big chair thing over it so that we poop right in the hole. :-)
Comment by anna Sun Mar 14 09:32:09 2010
Sounds rough in inclement weather!
Comment by Roland_Smith Sun Mar 14 10:05:35 2010
Mark's thinking of building a little tent over it for guests, but honestly we really don't notice it. We'd rather use the bathroom while looking at trees than while looking at walls. Just think of how much bird watching we sneak in. :-)
Comment by anna Sun Mar 14 10:19:12 2010

Wouldn't it be nice to have a place where you can hang your roll of toilet paper? And a cover to keep flies out in the summer? It also helps prevent rain from flushing out undecomposed waste into the ground water!

If the pit is full, you can dig the next one and wheel the outhouse over it.

Comment by Roland_Smith Sun Mar 14 10:49:09 2010
That's actually exactly what Mark's planning for this year. Something simple and easy to move from hole to hole. It's near the bottom of our farm goals for the year, though --- our current setup is working remarkably well.
Comment by anna Sun Mar 14 11:04:58 2010
In India they used to use portable outhouses which had handles on two sides so two people could move them across the field.
Comment by Errol Sun Mar 14 12:47:19 2010
There does seem to be a lot less terror about human waste in Asia....
Comment by anna Sun Mar 14 17:13:42 2010

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