Sweet, Sweet Compost: The Hydrated Lime Trick

Here’s an old trick that might help you: if you sprinkle hydrated lime on top of your compost heap, pets and wildlife won’t dig it up, flies won’t land there, and there will be no smell.

Not that compost heaps are supposed to smell if you do it right, but our compost heap has broiler-processing waste in it — such as blood, feathers, and offal — which are mighty tempting to your average raccoon. Trowel on some hydrated lime, and voila! Problem solved. read more...

Rural High-Speed Internet

My satellite TV signal is going south on me, so I’ve ordered a new antenna. The old one is an ancient Hughes “DirecPC” antenna, which got me thinking about rural high-speed Internet.

When I first returned to Oregon, I used dial-up. It was painfully slow and consumed a phone line. I quickly switched to DirecPC (now HughesNet), which was a huge improvement. No comparison. I got satellite TV at the same time, using the same antenna for both.

Satellite Internet works in places that have no phone service, which is useful for people who are way out yonder. This doesn’t apply to me, though. read more...

Keeping Track of the Blog: Email or RSS?

Several people have asked me if they can get email notifications for new blog entries, so I’m trying a third-party notification service called “Bot-a-Blog”.

Just click the “BOT ABLOG” button near the lower right-hand edge of the page and sign up for an account. (Let me know how you like it.)

Another, probably better alternative, is get your feet wet with RSS, as follows:

1. Go to http://www.igoogle.com and follow their “Create a home page in 30 seconds” instructions. read more...

Water Conservation With a Vengeance

Since I live in the country, my water comes from a well. Let me tell you about my well. It’s 140 feet deep and delivers a quart of water per minute. That’s right — one quart. The rule of thumb is that a well isn’t adequate for a home unless it can deliver five gallons a minute, or twenty times more than what we have.

Here in Oregon’s Coast Range, we have the irony that it rains like crazy half the year (60-90 inches in my neighborhood), but the aquifers are very poor. The dry summers and the lack of water mean that agriculture is difficult — we only get one cutting of hay a year, for example. It’s not uncommon to have no rain at all in July and August. read more...

Keeping Cool at the Farmer’s Market

I had a brainstorm a couple of years ago about the problem of keeping fresh eggs and frozen broilers cool at the farmers’ market: salt-water ice. A saturated solution of salt water freezes (or melts) at zero degrees Fahrenheit. Not only is this cold enough to keep frozen broilers frozen, but it’s cold enough that water condenses as frost, not water, on the sides of salt-water ice containers, and frost doesn’t drip onto the egg cartons.

(One the ice inside the container melts, the ice on the outside will melt, too, but it works like a charm until then.) read more...