Sunday, November 20, 2011

Break Down in Aisle 5

It is commonly accepted advice to not go to the grocery store when you are hungry. Well a few days ago, I realized that one should also not go to the grocery store when you are tired either. What products found their way into my cart in my sleepy induced hazed?

  • Laundry detergent
  • Laundry detergent booster (I didn't even know that this type of product existed, but somehow I ended up buying it.)
  • Dryer sheets
  • Dish washer detergent (I even went so crazy as to buy the ones in those little packs so you don't have to measure the solution.)
  • Kitchen cleaner

Jeff didn't seem to know what to think when he saw what was in our cart, but I think he had enough sense to realize if I was buying this stuff it was probably not in his best interests to question it.

I was shocked when I got to check out and my bill was about $30 more than usual! Yikes, all this convenience is expensive!

So was it worth it? I will admit my clothes did smell nicer, and I do think they are cleaner. Using dryer sheets instead of dryer balls, I didn't see much of a difference. The dish washer detergent is nice to not have to spend the time measuring the solution but no quality difference. And the kitchen cleaner is no different that my vinegar lemon mixture. In conclusion, I think I may stick with the laundry detergent but the rest of the stuff is just overpriced versions of what I can make at home. It really only takes me a few minutes to make my homemade versions so I don't think the cost of the convenience is worth it. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Compost Mishaps

So I may have gotten ahead of myself on the composting front. The worm bins are going so well that I thought I should take it to the next level; bokashi. This is a Japanese anaerobic method of composting that basically pickles the food and then you put the pickled scraps through a regular composting process. Why go throw the extra hassle? With bokashi you can put in dairy, meat, and bones which you can't do in a worm or regular compost pile! So after a few weeks of research, I took what I like best from several sites and came up with this...

1. Buy a plastic, sealable bin making sure that it will fit in a trash bag just in case this experiment goes horrible wrong. Some web sites sell bokashi buckets that have a spigot on the bottom to catch the "tea" to use as fertilizer. I skipped this to save money, and since I have worm "tea" I don't think I need anymore fertilizer.
2. Most folks purchase pre-made bokashi bran. This bran is inoculated in effective microorganisms (EM) (good bacteria). They then layer the bran on the bottom of the sealable container put food scraps over that and then another layer of bran with a weight of some sort over that so as to keep air out. You continue layering until the bin is filled. You can then let the entire bucket ferment for a few weeks and take the pickled food and put it in you your worm bin, regular compost, or dig it into the ground. Being a DIYer, I found some web sites that talked about people who used newspaper which is much cheaper than bran. I also decided against buying EM solution. I went to the home brew store and bought lactobacillus.
3. To get the bacteria started, I put it with molasses and warm water kept it in a warm spot over night and then put it in my bin with shredded newspaper. As a test, I took a few handfuls and put that in the small plastic baggie. The plan was to allow everything to ferment for two or three weeks, dry out the newspaper and begin a bokashi bin.
4. I had mixed success. The newspaper molded instead of fermenting, and I now have a giant bin of funk! However the newspaper in the baggie is perfect. The only mold color is white which is okay and the mixtures smells sweet and sour just like it should. I have come to the conclusion that the problem with the bin was it had too much exposure to air.

In my next attempt, I want to make this even more of a DIY project. I plan on making my own EM solution from a old Thai farmer recipe. (Check out this site for the info.) Yes I recognize the fact that I probably shouldn't be trying to do more of this myself considering it didn't go so well the first time but it is just ingrained in my personality to always strive for more self sufficiency. Now the question is how to get a get the bin of mold out in the trash without Jeff noticing...

The starter yeast with molasses and oats.
Newspaper shreddings- pre crazy mold!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Cider Mania!

And I thought tomato mania was bad...

Today Jeff and I set out to grind and press apples into cider to eventually make hard cider. For his birthday, I bought Jeff what I was told was an antique apple grinder from the local flea market. Last year we had a bucket and two by four that we beat the apples with. This year we thought we had it all set with our new grinder and ever so confident in ourselves, we out and bought 7 bushels of apples. Can you see what happened here? Yes, the new fancy pants grinder didn't grind a thing. Sure, it beat up the apples but barely any of them actually went into the grinder; they just bounced around on top of the scary looking metal teeth. Sadly Jeff had to go back to beating the apples with lumber again. Regardless we wound up with 4 gallons of cider and a bushel and  a half of apples still to go. 

Friday, November 4, 2011

Chickens Are Your Patriotic Duty

So ironic that at one point in time the government viewed keeping backyard chickens as a war time patriotic duty...

The government might have changed their stance on the subject, but I think they had it right the first time.