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Friday, April 25, 2008

Go Yard

New lawn mowerI was going to post this last night, but got tied up on a proposal for work. Weekend Cinema will come tomorrow. I hope to have a new FAR Future episode ready next week.

As I mentioned in the previous post, we did a lot of shopping last weekend to burn up the last of the tax refund. Our major purchase was a Cub Cadet lawn mower. Mrs. Fetched wanted self-propelled and a bagger. I wanted a Honda engine and a decent (i.e. not Wal-Mart) build quality. This fit the bill, and was pretty much in line with what we were seeing for similar mowers.

One of the nicer features is that you can control the drive speed by squeezing a lever, so we can easily vary the speed to match the part of the lawn we’re working on. Straight ahead? Let 'er rip! Stumps or landscaping? Ease it back. The swivel wheels up front allow tighter turns as well, and can be locked (although in our yard, turns are plenty so they’ll likely remain swinging).

ComposterOf course, with a bag that fills up two or three times, you need a place to empty it. I’ve been wanting to get a composting bin for a while, but I never saw any places that carried them locally and I balked at the $120 prices online. I’d contemplated just buying a big garbage can and cutting some holes in it, but Mrs. Fetched wanted to go to WalMart… and guess who is the only place in the free-range insane asylum that has composters? I sighed and coughed up $44 for the coffers in Bentonville.

I put it together that evening and plunked it down on top of the compost heap I’d had going for a while now. The next day, I pretty much filled it up with grass clippings. Two days later, it was only half full. It’s magic! I told The Boy that if he has any worms left over from fishing, to throw them in — they’ll help digest the fodder and make more worms. It’s just the right height to comfortably pee into (given the situation with the septic tank, the fewer flushes the better, and the composter can always use a little extra nitrogen).

Split seamOf course, the motto “if it’s WalMart, it must be junk” applies here too. This seam first popped loose when I was working the
composter into place. It popped open again on its own later. I’ve given up wasting my time trying to put it together for now; eventually, I’ll grab some flashing and a pop riveter and go for a more permanent fix.

I think I’ll try building another composter out of a big garbage can and see if I can get Mrs. Fetched’s mom to warm up to the idea. She loves her gardening, and free soil enrichments would make her happy.


  1. hmmm, let me guess, was it made in China? Not sure I'd want to be using it as a toilet though, don't you have to dig in there to spread the compost around at a latter date?

  2. China, of course!

    Those handle-looking things along the bottom are hatches. You pull them off and rake out the compost from the bottom. By that time, the pee has long broken down and what comes out isn't any more "nasty" than a bag of garden soil.

  3. Hay Far. The mower looks like it's more than up to the job. As to composters, I use a large open plastic bucket with a drainage hole that I drilled. It's been outside for a couple of years and has held up fairly well.

  4. Neato mower FAR. You'll have to give us a review after you use it ... :)

  5. Hey Far! Gee, maybe I'm going about my compost pile the wrong way. I've got about 2 cu.yds. of old flower garden dirt and been adding scrapes to it. I did notice after it rained the pile did shrink down. Ha! The bears haven't showed up yet to help me mix it!

    Thanks, yooper

  6. Hey all!

    Boran, I've noticed that the pile has been heating up like it's supposed to now that I have it in a covered (but vented) container.

    O, it works pretty well so far except for the common "new gadget" bugs like fasteners coming loose. Lost a rear wheel this morning & had to find the pieces to put it back on, then had a few moments figuring out how to get it good & tight.

    Yooper, it sounds like you've got a good one going — I have an open one like that, but it didn't ever get very hot & it took a couple of years for it to break down. I'm starting to think that they need to be enclosed somehow, and covered, to really get going. The enclosure might be nothing more than a chicken-wire cage.

  7. Ahem, a big wag o'the finger to getting that from the Great Satan of Retailing! Our compost pile is a 3 walled plot about 3 cinderblocks high and open at the front where we can dump stuff and then turn it every so often. That's it. And I hope those cinder blocks were made in the US at least. (They came from Lowe's)

    Not so sure I'd be peeing in there though... I've always thought that human/carnivorous animal waste was a no no for compost. We do add dried horse manure about once a year (from Fernymoss' folks' horse) which does wonders for it...

  8. Yes, IVG, I was not pleased about where I bought it. If there was anywhere else locally that carried them, I definitely would have bought it there (and probably gotten a better one).

    As I understand it, urine is nearly sterile and provides lots of nitrogen. The first article I read about composting, decades ago, said that peeing on your compost was good for it. Maybe, like carbs, fat, and cholesterol, there have been refinements to opinion since then?

  9. Well I'll leave it up to you ultimately, FAR. But when I read about peeing in the compost, I couldn't help but think of Flaubert's Bouvard and P├ęcuchet, his last (unfinished) comic masterpiece about two incredible dunderheads who set out to learn everything they can learn and practice it in their life. There's a chapter about composting that is absolutely hilarious. With disastrous results, of course!

    You can find the entire e-book free at this site: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/25014/25014-h/25014-h.htm

    I think this would suit your sense of humor nicely, as Flaubert was a wicked master of satire and irony. I highly recommend the whole book, but at least read Chapter II, "Agricultural Experiments" for a good laugh. Can't testify to this particular translation, but if you like it and want a really good one, the Penguin edition is a fine one.


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