When Life Gives You Bananas

Ever since I’ve built my DIY compost bin, I’ve been a bit of a produce scrap monster.  Other than collecting it at home, and at the office, I also now have a co-worker bring me HER scraps (I didn’t ask, honest!!)…in return, I’m going to give her a bag of compost when it’s good and ready!  But being winter, everything is just freezing pretty much as soon as I throw it onto the compost pile.

Canadian winters – at least the last few years – can be quite unpredictable.  Gotta love global warming.  One day, it can be a blizzard, or an ice storm and -25 Celsius…two days later it can be 5 degrees and melting.  The last few days have been really mild – although they did include a pretty horrible attack from the ice queen – and now most lawns are completely melted.  My front yard is mostly still all snow, but my back yard has large spots of grass.  So when I got home tonight, I seized the moment!

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When I tossed all of my donated scraps in the compost after work, I noticed a large area at the top of the yard where the snow was completely melted, and copious amounts of still un-raked, beautiful nitrogen-rich maple leaves were just laying there, begging to be collected!  So I hunted out my rake and piled those suckers on top of the frozen scrap heap! These leaves have been sitting there so long, they’re already well into the decomposing stage, and I’m hoping will continue their process, providing heat to the rest of the material and give it a little boost in the right direction!

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I also got a bit of a treasure in today’s bag of scraps – bananas!!  Seven frozen and thawed, mushy bits of perfection!  Needless to say, those did NOT make it to the compost pile…but rather, ended up directly in my oven in the form of Coconut-Banana Cakes/Loaves (I only have 1 loaf pan, so the other one became a cake lol)!  YUM!  I even healthed-up (Edie-ism!!!) the recipe I found – replaced the sugar with honey (in lesser amounts) and substituted the all-purpose flour for whole wheat.  Couldn’t help myself…had a piece straight out of the oven!  I do believe I’ll bring her one tomorrow, a little present for her generous donations to my compost!

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It’s In The Bin – Part Deux!

A touch of pride, and some achy feet and stiff muscles.  Okay, more than just a touch of pride.  I’m pretty much beaming to have not only dreamed up the idea, but then executed it and completed the project in the time frame I told myself I would.  Is this the beginning of a new, non-procrastinator lifestyle?  Could it be??  It’s definitely the beginning of producing less waste and sending less to the landfill!

When I decided I wanted to build a pallet compost bin, my biggest obstacle was not having any pallets!  And from following this couple** from the time they bought their land, I want to do this homesteading thing with as little money as possible.  So how to get my materials, without breaking the bank?  Social media is a wonderful thing.

I posted on one of the local Tell & Sell pages I’m part of on Facebook, and within 12 hours I had a bunch of people messaging me.  Some were pretty much offering me piles of rubbish, just so they could get it off their hands.  Thanks, but no thanks.  And so I opted to choose the offers from those I know and trust.  And within just a few days, I had 8 perfectly good wooden pallets delivered to my home, free of charge!  Thank goodness for amazing friends, and my daughter’s boyfriend’s mother!  I’m beginning to see that having connections in this lifestyle is a huge advantage!  I’m going to have to find a way to repay the favor to both of them!

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Mother Nature was on my side today, allowing me a whole afternoon of dry, mild weather…of which I took full advantage of!  Started with a quick trip to our local junk store.  I call it that because it’s not your typical thrift store – it’s literally a glorified indoor junk sale.  You’ve got to dig and hunt for what you’re looking for, and often come out with dirty hands and craving a shower.  But it’s also a treasure trove if you know what you’re looking for!  And I did!  I found everything I needed for about $2.50.  Amazing!  Brackets, hinges, and some chicken wire.

The next step was to find the perfect spot in the yard to build it.  My backyard is quite slanted in most places, and the place where I wanted to build it was on too much of a slope.  The other side of the yard is more level, but also has more trees.  This exercise also brought home the fact that his yard has been grossly neglected for many years, and it’s grand time someone did something about it.  Just look at this mess!

I found the spot I needed, and as luck was shining on me today – it was JUST big enough, but barely!  Clean it up a little and voila!

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So my plan from the start, was to build this by myself.  If I’m going to be a woman living on a homestead – eventually not an urban one – I need to be able to do things on my own.  Hubby may not always be in a position to help, and I need to learn to use all of the tools required to build and repair things.  So this was my first (of many) project.

Tucker did a great job as site foreman, examining the merchandise for safety!!  First lesson learned today, pallets are flippin’ heavy!!  After dragging them from the front of the house, up the “hill” to the backyard, I’d already had a hell of a workout.  I’ve concluded that being a homesteader eliminates any need for gym memberships!  My rubber legs after 8 trips up the yard with a pallet behind me are all the evidence I need on that!

As I was getting ready to start, one of our neighbors came and introduced himself.  Gus.  Gus seems like a very nice man.  A very set in his ways nice man.  After a quick introduction and idle chit chat, he went back to the house and I started arranging my pallets.  A moment later, he was back asking me to make sure nothing is leaning on the fence.  No Gus, it won’t be leaning on your fence.  What am I building?  A compost bin, I’m trying to live a greener life!  No Gus, I’m not going to put it all the way over there, because my flower garden is going to go there.  No Gus, it won’t smell, don’t worry.  Buy Gus!  (Insert heavy sigh and internal eye roll.  Nice guy Gus, really.)

Not wanting any conflict with any of our neighbors, I made sure to put some chicken wire in the back of the bin to stop any compost from spilling out and possibly ending up on his side of the fence.  A great feat on its own since he’s already got about a foot to a foot and a half

worth of leaves and natural compost built up behind a stack of covered lumber I’m sure has been there for years (as you can see behind my bin in the image below).  There you go Gus, chicken wire for you.

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Now, as much as I hate to admit defeat, I’m not a stupid woman.  Admitting when you need help can not only save you a lot of unnecessary wasted time, it can also be a tool to help you learn.  And I admit, the doors had me stumped.  As much as I wanted hubby to just show me how to use the skill saw, I know that for now it was much better to let him help me instead of just teach me.  I value my fingers, and every other part of me.  He’s a contractor by trade and a whiz with all of these power tools that skill intimidate me to no end (also I mastered the impact drill today, and I’m very proud of myself!)

So with hubby to the rescue, we made quick work of the doors.  He also used some 2×4’s he had on hand to give my bins a little more support.  The mostly level, but not quite flat ground made it so that my bins were a little unsteady, and in order for the doors to swing properly, we needed to make sure they stayed square and sturdy.  He cut, I drilled!  Hinges screwed on, doors hung, and done!

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I managed to clean up a few of the leaves around the bins before darkness started setting in, and just as we were putting the tools away, the rain started.  Talk about perfect timing!  Now I’ve got my bins, built mostly by yours truly, and my very first project is complete!  I’m one happy little homesteader!!!  What’s next??

 

 

(** “this couple” is Jesse and Alyssa of Pure Living For Life.  These two are absolutely my inspiration, my muse, my homesteading idol!  Click the link above and follow them, you won’t be sorry!!!)