Posts Tagged ‘compost bins’


We live on the prairie so wood is hard to come by. Not so for pallets though- it seems there are always a surplus of pallets being thrown away. We collect them wherever we go. We even have a friendly store owner who saves them out back for us.

Of the many uses we’ve found for our pallets: perfect firewood for the rocket mass heater, a temporary front landing for our new home (perfect for scraping off muddy boots), compost bins, bins for sand, and sturdy platforms for our lime and cement bags (to protect them from moisture). We’re also planning on using a few in the construction of a new dog house and recently came across a great idea for “pallet gardening” on Grow Food, Not Lawns facebook page.
Gotta love it when free stuff turns out to be so darn useful!

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If you haven’t already read “The Humanure Handbook” I really highly recommend that you do. It is a simple, clean, and efficient solution to sanitation, responsible water management, and compost production improving your soil condition and your ability to produce food.

Here’s Joe Jenkins, the author, explaining the system to a group in Haiti…

I totally understand people’s hesitancy to try this but having used this system for about nine months now, I can personally guarantee- there is no odour, no mess, and no real work involved beyond emptying containers. Add to which we’re not using perfectly good water to poop in, electricity to pump said water, we’re not contaminating anything, and we’re producing wonderful compost that can be used at a later date in our gardens.

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Another weekend, another power outage, and another reminder of how happy I’ll be to be off-grid. It’s amazing when you think about it- how dependent we are on power, and really just a handful of companies. Honestly, I can do without lights for periods of time. We have lots of candles and a couple of kerosene lanterns for emergencies. It’s losing heat in the dead of winter that concerns me, and the inability to cook.

The new house will compartmentalize things a lot better. We won’t use electricity to heat our home, or to cook. What we don’t get from solar gain, we’ll supplement with super efficient rocket mass heaters and the house will only very slowly lose heat because of the thermal mass of the heavy walls, floor and roof (and the exterior insulation). And we won’t use electricity to cook. We’re leaning towards the Lorena stove right now, though there are a few (similar) models we’re considering.

I was ridiculously happy about our ‘humanure’ toilet this weekend. It’s a relief not to have to worry about spacing bathroom breaks to (hopefully) match the duration of a power outage. I’m honestly surprised at how “on” I am about this system. I remember telling Shane when we started out, “don’t even think that you’re going to convince me to switch to a composting toilet. Ew.” It was my one hold-out. As it turned out, it was me who convinced him to switch after researching the system and it’s worked out beautifully for us.

Despite being without power for much of the weekend, we did manage to get some work done. We made roughly a couple of hundred papercrete bricks. We went with a 7:2:1 mix (paper: sand: cement). Really high on the paper to increase the insulation value. Having the bricks pre-made will save us come summer when time will be tight. We have to have the papercrete up and dry before we can apply the lime plaster, and it (the lime) needs a long drying period free of freezing. Having bricks to use will allow us to apply papercrete mortar and a comparatively thin top plaster so considerably less drying time.

Ah- and our generators arrive on Wednesday! A few days too late to help with this particular ice storm, but I can safely predict more power failures in our future so I’ll be happy to have the back-up available. We have two coming (remarkable deal from Aurora Generators): a 3000 W Gas generator and a 6000 W Portable diesel generator. I’m really excited- I think as much to have one less decision to make as for the generators themselves.

Well, having attempted to take the truck out to haul paper only to get stuck and end up wet and bloody (and somewhat disgruntled) dislodging it I’m off on foot to try this again. It’s not a long walk, really it isn’t, it’s just freezing outside and the bags are almost bigger than I am and, well, I’m feeling a bit of a puss today. Ah well, such is life on the prairie. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

'humanure toilet'


Compost bins


papercrete bricks


papercrete bricks

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