Part of our start up process is to try a bunch of different things and seeing what works and what doesn’t. Latlely, we’ve had a couple of opportunities to see what doesn’t work. Here are a few of the more memorable experiences:
1) The fruit bin episode– one of our customers collects old wooden fruit bins as part of their process. Wooden bins can be a source of carbon for composting and so we gave it a whirl with 98 fruit bins. They came in on a double flat bed trailor and at first we diligently tried to unload them with a forklift. After 20 minutes and 10 bins unloaded, we realized we weren’t being very efficient and decided to push them off of the flatbed truck. As soon as we pushed them off the truck the bins broke into pieces. Once in pieces on the ground, we then tried to move them around with a front loader, which yielded even smaller pieces. In the end, we left them where they were, since every time we touched them they got worse. Lesson: fruit bins shouldn’t be handled except when grinding.
2) Location, location, location…We built the composting toilet in Tyler’s barn and moved it to the site a couple of days later. At first we thought placing it by the tank would be a good location due to wind protection from the prevailing west wind. After a couple of days “an Easterly” kicked up and knocked the toilet on it’s side. Luckily, the toilet hadn’t been used yet. Lesson: we moved the toilet to a new wind-proof, tip-proof location.
3) The pump fiasco- This is my favorite. We use a small, Honda trash pump to pump our lechate pond water back on to stage one composting piles. One day we were having a ton of trouble priming the trash pump so we decided to take the prime cap off and pour water straight into the top. After a few seconds of pouring, the pump primed, and shot lechate water all over us. We were soaked. Lesson: we have since bought a one-way valve for self priming.