Sunday, November 15, 2009

Bucket Vision

I have become one of them. The vermimad. The composting compulsives. Those folks who whimper when they see **perfectly good organics** being tossed away. Not just the old "people are starving, don't throw away that food" mindset, but its logical (oh so extreme) extreme: viewing all not-in-current-use organics as potential nutrients for future foods. Or maybe just food for the soil.

Which would be bad enough, but it gets worse. Like the apocryphal man with a hammer, to whom every problem is a nail, I had a tunnel-vision reaction to a problem for which there really isn't One Perfect Solution For All.

Shame on me!

See, I was asked last week if it'd be possible to feed bokashi to BSFL. And I could not for the life of me imagine why anyone would want to. Waste all that lovely ferment? Guess it's better it be fed to grubs than be landfilled, but... Yep, a fanatic. Bucket-mad, that's me.

There is at least one perfectly reasonable situation wherein one might elect to feed bokashi to BSFL: where bokashi is used to divert organics from the trash-stream without increasing the frequency of trash pick-ups (whether by the municipality or some alternate entity), and no appropriate composting facility has been established to receive that ferment. BSFL don't require a whole lot of infrastructure nor space.

They might also be a way around some restrictive regulations, depending on the area--as feeding larvae could legitimately be seen as raising bait or animal feed rather than running a composting or waste disposal facility.

And bokashi + grubs could answer the Green Seal for restaurant question in urban areas, too! The requirement there is that suitable organics be sent to "a farm," but as distance between city and farmland increases, that becomes less practical--food can rot prior to or during transport, becoming unviable even as animal feed. Mixed-material bokashi is not, so far as I know, considered an acceptable animal feed. But BSFL are. Use bokashi to stabilize the food waste until pickup, then feed it to the larvae at a nearby urban location, and transport only the mature grubs to feed the farm animals.

So, once I got my sight out of the bucket, it didn't take too much for me to admit there are some situations, some times, where it might make sense to feed bokashi to BSFL. But, man, it bothers me. Somewhere in the back of my head, there's this mourning keen for all that fermented matter just waiting to be mixed with dried leaves. Or layered with landfill to rehabilitate the dirt into soil. Or spread out on the grass on the site of a future lasagna garden, topped with newspaper and a tarp and weighted down*.. Or...

Excuse me, I need to go found a twelve-bucket program. Step one: admitting there is a problem.


*Haven't done this yet, people being unreasonably fond of their lawns and unwilling to let me kill them even in a good cause. Sigh. Some day!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Mutant armadillo maggots

"Say, what's in that bird feeder?"


Chilly nights, so I've pulled Repulsive's ramp-to-adulthood for the season. While the latest angled tube was not a perfect solution, this year's version had one feature I shall definitely reprise: the hands-free catchment jar. 'Cause I'm all about not having to handle the BSFL.

A soda bottle and a threaded plastic elbow joint made a perfect terminus for mature larvae, with a few pinpricks around the bottle's shoulders allow for sufficient airflow to keep them from immediately suffocating, and the dry wheat bran I sometimes remembered to include to slow them down a bit.

Still haven't found a chicken farm in need of any calcigrubs.

Leaving mature grubs in a closed system seems to upset the still-feeding ones--not to mention, it can become extremely unpleasant when they die in droves and more or less liquefy--so Repulsive's ramp is necessary for much of the year whether or not I do anything with the late-instar iterations. Leaving the bottle off the end of the tube isn't happening; setting them all free would only invite the possums and raccoons to an all-night buffet. So now and then I have a bottle half filled with grubs. I could, I suppose, bring that bottle to the landfolks' place and give their pet chickens a treat, but if the goal is just to feed birds, I have those closer to home. A whole flock of wood doves, a few mockingbirds, cardinals and assorted songbirds I couldn't tell apart with a guide...

Campfire Girls, Boy Scouts, 4H-ers and all the rest know how to make a bird feeder out of a soda bottle and a bit of wire, a plate and this and that. Or one could simply buy a feeder kit like the one pictured above (no affiliation, but it's a whole lot prettier than mine!).

Next year, I might think about camoflaging the bottle so as to hide the contents from my view. Certainly I should have thought about that before hanging one on someone else's property, though I did have permission to do so. Hadn't really thought what it might look like to the neighbors.

"Wow. Birds really like that new feeder there. Um, uh. Where'd you get that weird feed? It looks like it's...MOVING!"

Now there's a marketing strategy: Armadillo grubs. Local-grown living bird feed.

Actually, here in Austin, that might just work.