We had a latecomer show up to my compost workshop at the Coquitlam Inspiration Garden last Saturday. He spoke proudly about his rotator. He had missed the part where I had trashed most rotating bins. I had explained to the group that it was better for the compost bin to be on the ground so that the decomposers could come and go freely. With rotators they are elevated off the ground. I’d also pointed out that the beveling systems weren’t generally good in rotators, so the mixing wasn’t adequate and the end result was usually wet, sloppy and stringy.
As we finished up, one of the participants pointed at the rotator man and said, “He looks like….” The name was right on the tip of his tongue. “Fin Donnelly?” I asked. “That’s it!” he said. “Yeah, exactly like him!” I said. That’s because it was Fin, my friend, colleague and federal New Democrat Member of Parliament who lives right near the garden. We’d agreed he would pop by towards the end of my workshop. Afterwards, we went over to his place for a cold drink on the deck and to check out his rotator.
After Milo greeted me menacingly, Fin’s wife Linda, the gardener in the family, took me to the compost area. Turns out they have one of the small rotators from Lee Valley Tools. They are very cute and compact, but they get very heavy when full and are hard to turn. I once pushed one off its axis and nearly took out a fence. Small children and Pomeranian-Chihuahuas should be warned. This bin was very well managed thanks to Linda making sure the materials were well chopped before putting them in and that there was enough brown (carbon) added. The other bin, an Earth Machine, wasn’t in use, it’s best on the ground otherwise the leachate leaks all over the deck.
Then I spotted a big bowl of something under the patio table. “What’s that?” I asked. “Mewwwrrrr,” Linda said. Fin and I looked at each other quizzically. “Oh, man-ew-er,” I enunciated. “Isn’t that what I said?” asked Linda. “Not quite,” said Fin. Then Linda launched into why she had that bowl of mewwrrr soaking there. “It was all chunky, so I had to add water and let it break down a little.”
It is not unusual for me to have conversations about manure and other chunky waste products. It is also common for those conversations to further degrade. So it was no surprise when Linda began to tell me a story about a trip to Mexico when she had a bout of Montezuma’s revenge. Something she calls “cahll-ezse.” Another French sounding word, sort of like college with a soft “g.” As if it were a pleasant walk through an alpine meadow. When I ask about the origin of the word, she shrugs and said she overheard it somewhere.
Meanwhile Fin was over in a corner digging out a giant zucchini. “Grew that baby with the compost that came out of my rotator,” proclaimed my favourite politician proudly. Seemed fitting for our afternoon to close with me crying, “Bullshit!”