Matthew Nistico

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since Nov 20, 2010
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Recent posts by Matthew Nistico

Terry Bacon wrote:Bigfoots are hiding the cure for baldness. They know that if humanity had this knowledge, the bald would go extinct resulting in the loss of the one group of humans that can stand against the big-shampoo-empire.

Bigfoots have never trusted shampoo or conditioner.

Now that is interesting.  I stopped using anything but water in the shower years ago, which has worked very well for me.

Never realized that this was evidence of my hidden sasquatch nature.

BTW, double thumbs up for your bigfoot rap!

Kārlis Taurenis wrote:You can also use toilet paper! I'll try it next week, it looks very easy! Check this:

That is extraordinary!  I wish he had shown more of the mixing process.  The results are undeniable - just look at how smoothly that plaster trowels on!  I omitted any fiber reinforcement on my exterior finish coat.  For my interior I will surely try this method.
3 days ago
I think you are on to something.  The say the way to a man's heart is through his stomach.  But the way to my soul is through chocolate!
Terry, you continue to entertain!  And to enlighten... "trifudgea"?  Wow, is that really a word?

It is indeed a sad situation in which you find yourself, alone and mateless among the little-feet.

Unfortunately, I am far from your neck of the woods, and unable to relocate myself.  If you think you would ever consider moving to follow your bigfoot then please, by all means send me a quick PM.  I would be delighted to tell you a bit about myself and see if I qualify in your eyes as a big- or little-foot : )

Otherwise, my most sincere best wishes for success in your hunt for your elusive hairy-footed-man!
Terry, your post cracks me up!  I had no idea Sasquatch had such progressive opinions on the inadequacies of our current financial system.

It is good to know that somewhere out there is a woman who value men like us.  And a woman with such a sense of humor, too!  I hit most of your criteria, so I think I might include myself in your bigfoot category.  Not sure.  I don't know if I poop fiercely enough for you.  Although I do just so happen to be experimenting with a composting toilet system right now for the first time, LOL!  Does that count?

Seriously, even while my lifestyle is far too crunchy and "out there" for most women to even consider, your ideal image of the rugged mountain man is a lot to live up to.  I do occasionally see a doctor (and a dentist), even though I don't necessarily follow all of their advice.

But you left one critical piece of basic info out of your post.  Where are you?  Canada is a big country!  Or are you willing to relocate anywhere?  Inquiring minds want to know.

Best wishes and lots of luck finding your bigfoot!

Christopher Weeks wrote:I wonder if the normal 5-gallon bucket lids are too air-tight and how they might be altered to let them sigh as Paul describes of the cans he uses.

To be clear, you can buy the lids for regular 5-gal buckets from LOWES or Home Depot with or without gaskets.  Still, I can see even the lids without gaskets fitting more snuggly than the lids on those big plastic trashcans Paul uses.
1 week ago

Christopher Weeks wrote:I wonder if the normal 5-gallon bucket lids are too air-tight and how they might be altered to let them sigh as Paul describes of the cans he uses.

I've wondered the same.  Don't know.  Anyone have any experience with this?

I've also considered hedging my bet by drilling a ring of holes around the circumference of the buckets towards the tops, just under the lids, in order to ensure air exchange.  They would have to be very small holes, so that flies cannot crawl in.
1 week ago

paul wheaton wrote:The lid is snug enough to keep insects out.  During the two years, the can "breathes".  As the temperatures go up and down each day, they gases inside expand and escape, and 12 hours later, fresh air enters.  So the material in the can slowly dries out.

I think that five gallon buckets will need to be moved/processed far more often.  The math says that a five gallon bucket will need to be processed 7 times more often than a 35 gallon can.  But I think that with a 35 gallon can, there will be more in-place composting, so it might be closer to 15 to 20 times.

The pipe has a jagged edge on the bottom.  So watery stuff will come to under the pipe and get a chance to dry out.

More sawdust leads to more drying and more preservation.

Thank you, Paul, for your prompt attention to my questions!  That confirms fairly well my understanding of your system.  I think I am ready to give it a go with something very similar to what you're doing already.

After reading your response, I also did a lot of reading on "drying toilets" as opposed to "composting toilets."

Regarding the use of 5-gal buckets, your point is well taken.  But I have no choice, so I will have to make the best of it and see how they work out.  I garden from a wheelchair and I live alone, so there are no outhouses or stairs or platforms of any kind in my design that might accommodate a larger collection vessel.  I can lift and move a full 5-gal bucket (barely).  I cannot lift or move a full 35-gal bucket.

Unfortunately, this means that storage space will become a prime issue.  I am guestimating that it might take me 2 weeks to fill a bucket, plus or minus, and depending on whether I use 5- or 6-gal buckets (6-gal buckets are more $$ and heavier once full, but they have a wider mouth, offering obvious advantages when making deposits!).  If I'm right, then I'll need approximately 52 buckets in a 24-month rotation.  That's a large footprint to fit into my small property!

It's all an experiment for me, so we will see how it goes.  I might start a thread to post my progress.
1 week ago

paul wheaton wrote:A new video about the willow feeder system

Hello, I'm hoping this post catches Paul's attention, or anyone else at Wheaton Labs familiar with the operation and design of the Willow Feeder system as it currently operates.

I am wondering, did you ever produce the video scripted at the start of this thread?  I did a Google search but couldn't find anything similar.  I think it would be a good one!

I am attempting to set up a residential humanure system based on 5- or 6-gallon buckets in rotation.  My proposed system would embrace many of the principles featured in your Willow Feeder system: a) urine separation, b) pathogen destruction via 24-month aging (as opposed to reliance on thermophilic composting), c) return of nutrients to the soil, and d) avoiding the need to transfer or shovel or wash out or in any other way handle raw humanure.  Rather, I intend to close my filled vessels and not handle the contents until fully aged.  I have read Jenkin's handbook cover to cover.  While it is delightful and informative, I prefer these aspects of the Willow Feeder approach over his open-composting approach.

However, I fear that I don't fully understand your approach.  I have read all of the threads and watched all of the videos I can find on Poop Beasts, Willow Feeders, and humanure in general.  I've also listened to all of the relevant podcasts (though I'll admit that some of those were years ago and I should probably re-listen).  The problem is that a lot of the info I'm finding is dated at this point, whereas I know this is an experiment in progress at Wheaton Labs that has already passed through several iterations.  So I was exhilarated to find this thread focused on the most recent version of the system!

I had previously understood (misunderstood?) that the filled collection bins aging in the Willow Feeder Warehouse essentially contained a moldering compost process, i.e. a slow, low-temperature composting action.  But you indicate above that the intention is NOT to compost.  The bin contents remain relatively dry, containing only sawdust and poop, no urine or added water - and thus more or less biologically inactive...? - until such time passes that the pathogen count asymptoticly approaches zero.  Then the material is fed to your willows, as per the new video above.

I think I get that.  But in that case, my questions are...

1) In the video, the 24-month aged material they are spreading around the willows looks a lot like humus!  It doesn't look very much like the sawdust-plus-mummified-turds-and-TP that I might have expected.  How does this humus occur if the contents of the bins aren't composting?  Or am I misinterpreting the texture and contents of the finished materials seen in the video?

2) By keeping the bins sealed up during the entire aging process, don't the contents go anaerobic?  I imagine that the lids have no gaskets, and thus don't produce a hermetic seal, but still it wouldn't seem like they allow much air flow in and out of the bins.  How are the contents not reduced to slimy, anaerobic yuckiness?  Or are they, and then they proceed past that stage to something better?  Or, if the contents aren't truly composting, is the entire concept of aerobic vs anaerobic inapplicable?

3) If the Willow Feeder approach isn't relying on composting, then there should be no need to achieve a "critical mass" of materials within each bin, such as is necessary for achieving thermophilic compost.  Thus, I can see no reason your approach wouldn't successfully scale down from the plastic garbage bins you use to my 5- or 6-gallon buckets.  Am I missing anything important in this assumption?

4) Can someone please elaborate on the purpose of the PVC pipe inserted into each bin?  It would seem to be for aeration, yet I note that it would only move air from the top of the bin's contents to the bottom and back; it does not exchange air from inside the bin with outside air.  If composting isn't happening, what good does aeration do?

5) Do the PVC pipes extend all the way to the bottom of the bin and touch plastic, or are they sitting atop the sawdust bed?  I can't tell for sure from these photos.  Also, it looks like the pipe is solid, not perforated along its length, except perhaps for notches at the very bottom...?

6) I notice that the most recent Willow Feeder instructions have increased the recommended application of saw dust per load from 0.5 cups to 1 or 2 cups.  Why was this change made, and how is the newer method working out?

I will greatly appreciate any feedback!
1 week ago

Matt Todd wrote:My current compost scheme is to not compost. Sorta.

Food waste:
Anything that can go to chickens turns into eggs.
Anything that cannot go to chickens goes in what I call the "refuse bin." Essentially a cage that sits near the woods where I put all the biological nasties, including moldy foods and cat waste (I use pine pellets rather than litter.) That keeps the chickens and wildlife out while letting bugs and soil contact do the breakdown work.

Yard waste:
Currently all yard stuff is going into piles near the garden for soil building. AKA "composting in place." When I have the right materials, I'll put them in play. For example, yesterday I had grass clippings, woodchips, and chicken poo that I spread between plants. That way I'm blocking weeds, feeding plants, and building soil all at once. The chicken poo was pretty fresh, which is a no-no, but I used sparingly and mixed with the other materials.

The stuff above is my current strategy. A similar strategy was earlier this year when I accumulated material and made two huglekulturs with the additional input of wood.

A past strategy was an active compost cage where I layered grass, leaves, and chicken poo. But that was too much work for me, turning it and keeping it moist for little reward. Plus a tree ate it, which is a lesson in itself. . The cage from this misadventure became my refuse cage.

So needless to say, there's a LOT of different ways to compost. The best way for you is whatever you feel is the least effort and easiest rewards.

I highly endorse Matt's post.  And I award an apple!  In most situations, I don't really believe in composting.  Unless you have a particular love of shoveling piles around, that is.  In that case, go for it!  Otherwise, I prefer to mulch with all of my compostable materials.  Let them become topsoil as nature intended and via natural processes - a continual addition of raw organic bulk from the top down, a continual creation of hummus via worms and fungi and whatnot from the bottom down - as opposed to my own labor.

The only downsides of this approach that I will admit are:
1) Composting via mulch takes longer.  But in most homesteading scenarios, who cares?
2) If you are tending to an ornamental garden bed where aesthetics are a key concern, then having already-finished compost you can spread beneath a layer of decorative mulch may be preferable.  But frankly, if that is you, you probably aren't reading this forum to begin with.
3) If you are tending to potted plants, then finished compost is an important convenience.
1 week ago