Wednesday, 18 January 2012

16 Jan Monday: Scything and hot compost

 We had a two hour work morning...first a visit to the tool shop.
Rex and his tools
We got lessons in using a scythe today. Rex said it was “a dance,” so I suspected I might be in trouble…or just need more than one lesson.  He showed us to shift our weight from one foot to another, side to side, the swing our arms from hip to hip.  Once we were holding the scythe, we were instructed to keep the scythe resting on the ground, and to pull it from right to left, ending with our right hand near our left hip.

As it turned out, I was more of a bunter than a home run hitter.  Unless I was both mindful and lucky, my follow-through lacked the might cutting power that the final portion of the scythe-stroke had, in Rex’s hands.

I trust I will get another chance to practice.  Molly already has it down.

Molly demonstrates fine scything technique

At the break, we had to go to the neighbors to feed the chooks (chickens) and sheep:
Me tossing bread treats to the sheep

one of New Zealand's finest, up close and personal

We had a 4 hour work session in the afternoon for hot compost building...We had to rake up grass that Rex was mowing with his beloved riding mower for one of the layers.

Jo was feeling a little better, having rested and having had a Reiki session with Jacques, but she mainly supervised—under strict orders from Rex.

This was a “hot compost” building process –in layers like lasagne.  The main principles:
1.     The pile must be a minimum of 1 meter x 1 meter x 1 meter, so we start it a little bigger.
2.     The side must stay straight, so each layer must hide the layer underneath it—guard against sloping in as a pyramid shape.
3.     Layers need to be moist. Carbon layers must be watered.
4.     Carbon and nitrogen layers must alternate.
We layered hay, weeds with roots, grass, pig manure or horse manure or food compost, ash, and rye in as regular pattern as we could manage by consensus.

What fun!  We were encouraged to name our pile…and having brainstormed through Winnie the Pooh (for obvious reasons)... we pretty much settled on Winnie the Pisa.  “Winnie” is actually short for Winnipeg, from which Jacques hails.  And it is more or less gender neutral. And "Pisa" because our beloved cube listed a bit in spite of our efforts to help it (or "zer") maintain good posture.

hay layer

grass layer

weed and root layer

manure and food waste layer

watering the dry layers

maure layer

could this be another pig poop and food waster layer?  Don't stand downwind...

thistle layer: use gloves!

Winnie is getting bigger

me with Winnie

Jo bringing us more weeds

the pile getting bigger

...and bigger

Jacque, Molly, Teri and Winnie the Pisa...who Molly reminds us is gender neutral.

a blanket for Winnie

Building that pile  was hard work—I was quite ditzy and thirsty and spent by 6:15 when we covered her up with an old carpet and weighted her down with some big hunks of wood. 

I tried my hand at another haiku:

Building hot compost
Nutrient layers become:
Winnie the Pisa

For a real treat, check out Jacques’ Splice slideshow, which he made on his iPhone:

Today’s lesson was about nutrient dense food, but our dinner was brilliantly dense with color and sweet taste:

my half-eaten bowl of beet soup--too delicious for words

Jo with salad
Oops, I did it again...uploaded a wonky photo of our daily lesson...

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