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

Second load of food scraps

Golf cartWhen Mark's not home, I often do stupid things.  The trouble is that I'm not very patient and I don't like to admit that anything's beyond my abilities --- in other words, waiting for Mark to get home and help me with a task is often too tough.  That's how I ended up with bags of food scraps floating down the creek and me jumping into the freezing water after them.

It all started when the ground froze good and solid and Mark headed to the big city to pick up a truckload of pallets.  I'd been aching for a day like this to Woodshedhaul in the rest of our firewood since the woodshed was nearly empty and we had a full cord sitting out at the parking area, so I jumped in the golf cart and started hauling.  On the third trip, though, something was clearly wrong --- an area around the back wheels started squealing like crazy and the cart began to lose power at intervals.  Yikes!  I stabled our intrepid golf cart and moved onto the next thing on my agenda --- heading into town to mail chicken waterers and pick up the week's food scraps.  Based on the small amount of scraps we'd gotten last week, I figured I could easily wheel the scraps home with our fancy new wheelbarrow.

Muddy wheelbarrow wheelAt the school, I discovered that the kids have started learning the system better, which means that food scraps end up in our bin instead of in the trash.  As a result, we got nearly twice as much food scrap volume as last time --- exciting!  At this point, if I was smart, I would have noticed that the driveway was starting to thaw out and would have chosen to split the scraps into two loads, or might have vetoed the wheelbarrow expedition entirely and waited until Mark came back and the driveway froze again to drive the compostables home.  But, being who I am, I instead loaded the wheelbarrow to the brim and went merrily on my way.

Cafeteria wasteIt's downhill for the first quarter of the journey, and that was easy, but then I came to the ford.  I hadn't thought this expedition through, so I was just wearing my work boots, which means I had to hop on blocks on the side of the ford to get across the creek.  Did you know that wheelbarrows don't hop on blocks?  The overloaded wheelbarrow and I did some weird contortions, trying to get across the creek together without my feet getting wet, and then she tiiiiiiiiipppppped.....

I didn't fall in the creek --- that's about the only thing I did right.  I just let the wheelbarrow tip over and snagged the one bag still within reach, wheeling the empty wheelbarrow to the top of the ford.  But I had to get even wetter to capture the other bags as they floated merrily away down the creek (not polluting the water, luckily --- they were sealed.)  A few minutes later, I had a very cold, wet foot, but the food scraps were rescued and back in the wheelbarrow.

Browns in a compost binI thought I was home free, but the top inch of driveway had turned into mud that coated the overloaded wheelbarrow's wheel and made it nearly impossible to push.  Just as I gave up, Lucy got engrossed in digging a rodent out of the woods, which is good since I otherwise couldn't have left the food scraps unattended around her.  I hurried home, begged the golf cart to give me one more trip, and drove down to rescue my wheelbarrow and food scraps.  We made it home at last and I weighed and covered up the food scraps in their temporary compost bin before heading inside to dry my shoe.  I know I'll regret this episode later when the boot is still damp inside, but for now, I'm just happy that I got the job done, even if I put in five times as much energy as I needed to.

Mark's motto is "Work smart, not hard."  My motto, apparently, is "Jump in the creek when it's below freezing outside!  It's fun!"

Our chicken waterer keeps water clean for days on end.

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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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Comment by maggie Thu Feb 10 09:01:57 2011
Anna, If you can pull that off without fuming and swearing, then you are a better woman than I! Just like you, I hate to wait for help and my quick and dirty solutions sometimes flop disastrously. Kudos to you for being able to fess up to your unintended adventures.
Comment by Karen Thu Feb 10 09:58:41 2011

Maggie --- thanks!

Karen --- Well, the sad truth is that I think maladventures like this are fun. Poor Mark is the one who wants to swear when I tell him about them. :-)

I'm very glad to hear I'm not the only one who would rather do it the hard way than wait for help...

Comment by anna Fri Feb 11 07:40:38 2011

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