6 Mar 2011, 2:10am
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have i mentioned that it’s outta control beautiful here?

* there’s a big beautiful redwood tree behind the kitchen. i climbed it the other day. i stood on top of a cooler at the base for a few minutes with my hands on the lowest branch and then i jumped up and got my belly and then one knee over the branch. i didn’t climb very high, but next time i’ll climb higher, and the time after that i’ll climb higher still.

* there are several shelves in the pantry stacked with mason jars full of preserves of all sorts… jams and sauces and chutneys. they were made months ago by folks who are no longer here to enjoy them. in our time here, we’ll eat them and we’ll make more, for the people who are here after us.

* yesterday was poop day! we use composting toilets here, rather than waste precious water (i mean right now all our tanks are overflowing and there is plenty falling from the sky, but just wait until late summer) and human resources (installing and maintaining that kind of plumbing) to send our waste to treatment plants where it’ll be added to various chemicals and eventually pumped into the ocean.

the toilets are emptied into ~50 gallon bins, and when enough of those fill up—and the previous round’s pile has done it’s thing for long enough—they all get trucked (or, more accurately, tractored) down to the piles that have been built for them… poop day! this happens about every three months. there are currently 16 full-time residents here, and lots of folks come through rdi for workshops, classes, etc.—lots o’ poop. yesterday we emptied 19 bins. we shoveled out a pile that had been goin’ for six months or so and no longer at all resembled human waste matter, and replaced it with our new pile. the older compost will be left in a big heap to “cure” for a while longer.

the piles are bordered by stacked straw bales for insulation and containment, and straw is sometimes added in layers to the pile itself if the carbon–nitrogen ratio is off. (the waste already contains toilet paper and wood shavings or saw dust, which toilet users add by the handful after they’ve done their duty. happy little bacteria get to work immediately, and the toilets are non-stinky.) the size and c-n ratio make the pile get hot. california regulations say that ~130 degrees for 3 days is enough to kill pathogens, so we’ve got a thermometer in there and we’re monitoring it to make sure we get that.

rdi has only been using this particular humanure method (which is joseph jenkins’, of the humanure handbook—he uses this method for waste management at large festivals and events!) for less than a year, so the resulting compost hasn’t been used on anything yet. though it will theoretically be safe to use just like you’d use any compost (i.e. on annual vegetables, etc), i think folks here do feel a wee bit weirded out by the idea of it. it will probably be used on perennials and trees. and the humanure composting process will have turned our waste into a resource.

* harvested, weeded, prepped a bed today. was planted in tatsoi, a sorta-spicy asian green; will be planted in strawberries! later in the day we all stood around a counter outside stripping the best leaves off the tatsoi; we filled two enormous mixing bowls. we’ll be eating it for a few days.

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