Thursday, March 26, 2015

Finally warm enough for this!

Ben and I had a lovely time today. I hauled him out of his stall, put him on the crossties, pulled his blanket off, and went at him with curry comb, brush, and Furminator shedding tool. It’s been so long since I groomed the poor boy, his bridle path was grown out a good three inches. He was so ecstatic at being curried and brushed he didn’t even mug me for cookies, or object too much as I dragged the rake-comb through his tangled mane and forelock. Didn’t even try to deal with his tail; didn't have the strength, patience, and all afternoon.

I put him out in a paddock naked while I dug out the wet area in his stall and picked the worst of the manure. Nobody got turned out today (forecast of rain by late morning? Hilly went home sick? Dunno) and only one other boarder was there. She finished her stall and brought her horse in from an adjoining paddock before I was done, so I had to listen to Ben bellow piteously about being abandoned, but he was a good boy and didn't bounce around when I finally did rescue him. He’d only rolled on one freshly groomed side, and in snow, not the manure packed on top of it, so the refilthifying wasn't too bad.

I left him bare (and one-sided damp) in his stall. If he gets his midweight blanket put back on tonight, great; if not, he’s got enough fur despite today’s shedding adventure, not to mention a healthy layer of blubber, to keep him comfortable.

I'm sure he can't wait to roll in fresh spring mud.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Same Compost, Different Day

Into my second week on the composting program, and how do I like it so far?

Very, very much. I'd already been getting the cat litter into composting via the barn's manure collector container, but seeing it accumulate in my own little 12.5-gallon bin brought home just how much even one week's worth is -- most of the bin, in fact. Add another couple of food scrap bags' worth from the kitchen and the thing was stuffed full for its first pickup. Granted, I'd been dumping some outdated stuff in the scraps, which bulked that up somewhat, but this week's collector bag is almost full enough to go to the bin and I'll need to start a second one with three days to go before putting the bin out again.

Smell? No problem. The bin's in the garage and there's no odors escaping except when I lift the lid to dump the day's gleanings in. The kitchen scrap bag also doesn't smell, except for a slight whiff, not all that bad, when I lift the lid on the bag-holding container.

Replacement bags for the starters the folks at Public Works gave me? Those Bag To Earth kraft paper bags, alas, can't be found at any US retailer, but there are several suppliers of BPI-certified "plastic" bags. I now have a sleek plastic container on my kitchen shelf from Full Circle that works great and looks elegantly simple (in the grey and white, not that virulent green). I tried a 13-gallon bag in my bin but it wasn't wide enough at the top to hook over the rim, so I've Amazon-ordered a small box each of half a dozen different brands of 30/33-gallon trash/lawn and leaf BPI bags to see which I prefer. Yes, they'll be oversized, but at least I'll be able to drape the tops over the rim rather than having to reach down inside to unfold a smaller bag each time I want to dump something. Could leave the bin unlined, of course, but then I'd have to wash it out after each week's collection.

The folks running the town's program have sent me helpful emails with lots of good information, including yesterday's blast email to everyone about what can go into supermarket plastic bag collection bins -- not just grocery bags, but also bread bags, food/snack storage bags, shrinkwrap, produce bags, deflated packing air pillows, paper towel/toilet paper wrappings, dry cleaning bags -- it's just amazing how much can come out of the trash stream! Even before composting I had my trash disposal down to one bag every other week; I'm thinking now once every three weeks looks doable, with only my recycles going out every week.

And here's a tip: Those annoying packing peanuts? Hold one under running water; if it dissolves, it's compostable and can go into your compost bin.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Compost Happens

Compost happens! It's a happening thing! Right here in Chez Graf!

I recycle, of course, all the usual stuff in the weekly green bin collection. Have been for many years, and the trash burden is down to one bag every other week, usually. But still it wasn’t enough. All those food scraps – salad trimmings down the garbage disposal, banana peels and coffee grounds in the trash along with used paper napkins – it seems like such a waste. Also there’s the cat litter. It’s all natural, corn or wheat or walnut shell based and compostable. I’ve been disposing of it in the manure trailer at the barn, but that has its own drawbacks, not least having to transport it there in my car in the hot season.

So I checked out my town’s composting program, found it good, and signed up. For a fee of $1.30 week ($68/year, prorated for when you join the program) you get a free 12-gallon collecting bin with a locking lid, a comprehensive information sheet, a couple of sample liner bags for the bin and some sample food scrap bags for the kitchen counter. The program takes a lot of stuff beyond food scraps, too:

The sample bags are a brand called Bag To Earth. That company makes a variety of composting bags, and if the samples I got are any indication, they do a terrific job. The tall skinny bag pictured is the bin liner I got.

I’ve been doing the composting collection for a couple of days now and my only question is, why did I wait so long to sign up? The scrap bag is already almost full, but that’s partly because I’ve tossed in a bunch of stuff I’d been meaning to do something about but let slide. The locking lid really does seal in the odors for the collecting bin, which in any case lives in my garage rather in the house. The kitchen scrap bag, a heavy kraft paper with a waxy paper liner that does not leak liquids, also keeps odors confined despite being sealed by no more than folding over and chip-clipping. I’ve already ordered a scrap container and BPI-certified liner bags (a different, easily available brand) for when the sample kitchen bags run out.

But. The one problem I have is liner bags for the bin. The samples fit the tall skinny bin perfectly. They’re also kraft paper and have the same fluid-resistant lining as the kitchen bags. But they’re made in Ontario, Canada, and so far are not available in my neck of the woods, in fact I don’t think any retailer in the United States is carrying them yet.

The friendly folks at Public Works suggested newspapers for lining the bin, but I don’t buy the newspaper any more; or paper grocery bags, which I do use for recycling anyway, but they don’t rise high enough in the bin. I picked up a pack of tall leaf collection kraft bags from the local hardware store, but while tall enough they’re too wide.

I’m going to email Bag To Earth and beg them to open up a source in the United States. And then there’s this friend I have in Canada, in Ontario, in fact....

Yo, Tina?

Sunday, March 8, 2015


It's been a horrible last month-plus of winter. Just awful. Haven't felt like writing here at all. Finally, there's some slow-melting relief in sight.

To hell with slow -- throw another bucket of water on that wicked winter witch!