Sunday, June 21, 2009

Look at dem JUGS!!!

Okay, calm down, this is a family network.

Here in the great state of Texas we have officially hit summer. The summer high pressure zone (yes, I'm a weather geek) has parked itself over our great state for the foreseeable future. What does that mean? It means blazing heat for at least the next few months. Which also means temps in the bazillions. This week, starting monday, it will be triple digit fun and excitement!! Weeee!!! Ugh...

And along with that fun comes drought. Throat parching, ground cracking, plant dying, crunchy brown lawn, withering, life sapping heat.

Where simple tasks such as picking-up-those-cutting-sheers-I-left-on-the-lawn-near-the-garden-for-only-a-moment, turns into a 15 minutes swear-fest while I run my hand under cold water to sooth the new blisters. Not that I would ever be THAT careless...really, I wouldn't...WHAT-ever.

Any and all you northerners all worry about climate change while you complain about too much rain or how you can't stay ahead of cutting your lawn, blah, blah, blah.
Well La-De-freakin'-Da! We got a freakin' seat front and center!! Mid to lat June 100 degree temps???? Heck, as little as 15 years ago when I moved here, the 100+ temps wouldn't hit till early August. Well, that's the breaks. When we poop in our own bed, what are we to expect? Daisies?

But alas I digress. Back to the Jugs...


Okay, what the heck is that? Well, aside from the garden ghost, those are two milk jugs connected with 1/4 surgical tubing and a quick release connector. I picked up both from the good people at Home Depot. A little hot glue and a little while later I have basically a mini version of my rain barrels. Why? See that back tube on the left?
That's the weep condensation line from our A/C unit.

I saw it as a colossal waste of water. How much waste? Since I set up this little dealy, I am collecting on the average of 8 gallons of water a day!

Now one might say, "well, that doesn't sound like a whole lot". To which I reply, "Chew".

Here is the math: 8 gallons x 7 days = 56. That's one full rain barrel a week. Still scoffing?

And in an emergency, with a basic water filter, you have very drinkable water. That water coming out of that line is pure distilled H2O. It's like having a dehumidifier turned water maker right in your own home. Not like those don't already exist...

But this is the morons version of that.

It's really easy to cobble this together and if you live South of the Mason-Dixon
this is something I highly suggest doing.

Till next time: Green is Good!!!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Okay, sadly, I found out, it's not all about me.

Just an update to my massive audience of about 3, in the future, I will be posting links to articles and stuff I find interesting. I surf a lot of various "green" sites (god, I hate that term) and from time to time, I will be linking to other types of info for your perusing pleasure.

Topics will include: how to make soap from yucca plants, how to can fruit and veggies, how to make rope, making fire the old fashion way (without a lighter), seed bombs and what to do with those old 100 CD plastic containers (what the heck are those, you ask?) well tune in to find out!
That's me, mr. cliffhanger.

There are some great sites out there that I get inspiration from and I just want to help promote these sites and to give me, hopefully, more traffic. Huh, I guess it really is all about me. No surprise really.

To start off, here is a good site that has absolutely nothing to do with, but I still find informative and just fun to check out.

Have fun!!

And remember...

Green is Good!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Worm poop is good.

Okay, I here is my most ambitious project to date. I had to call up some skills I hadn't used in a very long time. Plus some others, I had to make up along the way. 

Composting, what is it? It's hiring slave labor to create rich earth. The labor is provided by worms. They eat our scraps and poop out gold! Um...brown, ah gold. 

Here is the finished project: 

finished barrel

Okay, what is involved in this little piece of urban insanity? If you never have welded before or have never used a cutting torch. I suggest you do a little reading up on it and if you can, get a friend who does know how to show you the basics. It will save you time, money and maybe your life. Always wear your welding goggles. I can't stress that enough. Your eyes are important and you don't want to fry them out of your head. 

Make sure you have these handy as well:

fire safety

Yes, there is water in that bucket. If you live in a very dry area like I do, you want to make sure you don't become the talk of the neighborhood by starting a forest fire. 

That's said, let's get to it!

First the boring stuff. Making the crib or base. 

I had some scrap 2x4's laying around from old projects.

scrap 2x4's

My wife always asks me, "do we need this stuff? It's taking up space!" And I always respond, "yes, I do and it will save us a little money as well". At first she looked at me like I was crazy, well she always does that, but this time, was different. No not really, it was the same crazy look. 

So I cut my pieces to length. They are the length of the barrel plus 1 foot. Giving my 6" of additional space on each side. Why so much? I wanted a wider base, because when the composter is full, it will be very heavy and I wanted to spread the damage out as much as possible. 

My next task was to cut in the notches. 

c/u of tongue cut

Since the barrel is of an odd length, plus the additional 1 foot. I had to do a little math to have the notches evenly spaced. 

c/u of tonge and groove

tongue and groove

This is all assembled:

assembled base

Next, I wanted to bolt it together to make sure it didn't fall apart. 

I got my center points at each cross section, made a mark and drilled with a 1" wide butterfly bit. 

prepping holes

This was done on both sides. I then drilled a 1/4" hole for the bolt. 

Here's one completed cross section:

 hole with bolt

I did this at each cross section. You need a lot of patience and time. 

Next I put in the rails on which the little rubber wheels will sit.

attaching rails

As you can see I used 3" deck mate screws. Also the bolts are galvanized. This is going to be out doors, remember? 

With the rails in place, the wheels come next. 

c/u of wheel

Rubber caster wheels, made in the good old US of A. Got them from Northerntool for $2.95 a piece. Probably the most expensive part of this project. Well, maybe not. 

You can see by the black cross mark. that is my setting for the wheel. 

complete w/ wheels

Here are all the wheels in place. 

Time to take it for a test spin. 

test run

It's amazing when assembling something like this that I just pulled out of the top of my head and it works the first time! 

I highly suggest being really anal about the setting of the wheels. I was lucky, plus I gave myself a little wiggle room for adjustment. All the wheels hit the barrel exactly. 

Here's a close up of the wheels in action:

wheel c/u 2

Okay, the base is completed. Now onto the part that has FIRE. heh heh heh. 

The barrel.


This is a food grade barrel that I picked up from a local farmers market. This guy was selling them for god knows what, but claimed they were good for rain barrels. Right, whatever. But for $20 bucks, he was the man! 

But first there was a little problem. 

canola oil

Canola oil. Still about a gallon left in the barrel. (note the garden ghost).

So I quickly rigged up a container with a funnel and poured it in. 

emptying canola oil

I know, it's not pretty but it worked.  I wiped out the remains with paper towels and the barrel was now ready. 

Sadly, I don't have any photos of me welding, since I was by myself doing this, but I got some really keen road warrior type welding goggles that compliments my bald head, thank you very much! 

At this point I would suggest having a couple of bandana's handy. One for your head and one as a bank robber type face mask. Things tend to spark and fly. 

Here is my gear:

welding stuff

This little rig cost me 50 bucks. A minor investment but something I will be using many more times in the future. 

Along with this deal, I suggest, some heavy leather gloves and a rod holder. We are talking a very very very hot flame.

Also, have more welding rods handy nearby than you think you will need and definitely more oxygen as you will burn through it faster than the fuel.  

So with flame lit I got down to work. Here's a close up of the first cut:

cut close up

Okay, I know, it looks like a blind monkey cut this, but give me a break, I haven't cut or welded in about 27 years since my dad gave me the basics. 

Here's the opening:

cut opening

Next I had to make the hatch. I took the piece I just cut out and added some steel "wings" and this little dealy:

latch wire

what the heck is that??

It's this:

latch 1

Okay, I ask again, what the heck is that? 

Well, yes, it's a bad photo, but I tacked it on to one of the "wings" and it will become the latch for the composter. Here's the finished product:

latch with pins

You can see I put two of those swiggly things on the latch and on the barrel itself and ran cotter pins through them. 

Here is a picture of those "wings" I keep mentioning:

hatch w/o hinge

(note the ghost toes)

I needed to hinge this cover on:


Drilled some holes. Short bolts with a bunch of lock nuts later and I have a working hinge. 

Here is the final project with the working hatch on the rollers, all painted and ready for use. 

finished barrel

I later added 6 handled placed at thirds around the barrel to aid in spinning it. 

What would I do different in the future? come up with a better latch design. Although this one works find, if the cotter pins aren't latched properly, there are serious consequences. 

Final cost: 50 for the welding, 20 for the barrel, 30 for the wheels and another 30 for bolts, hinge, extra oxygen and goggles. 

For a total of, roughly, 130 bucks. Not cheap, but certainly cheaper and much longer lasting than comparable volume composters out there. The cheapest I found at this 55 gallon range was 230. So I was 100 bucks ahead. 

Difficulty: about an 7. You need basic wood skills and medium welding skills. 

The only moving part is the wheels and the hatch. Everything is easily repairable. 

Next up on my train of green insanity. A basic drip watering system from rain barrels. 

Remember: Green is good!