Sunday, August 11, 2013

Cow Power is Now Power - No Sh*t

Last night I attended a full-house World Premiere screening of Cow Power - a new documentary film about the  unique sustainable energy program in Vermont that turns cow manure into renewable energy resulting in saving farms and the environment.  Methane from the manure gets captured in a "digester" to run generators on the farm. Those generators support the farm's power needs plus make plenty of extra electric power that gets sold to Green Mountain Power for distribution to customers.

Less air pollution, less odor from farming, happy cows ... what more could you want? Well, there are even more benefits from using this system.

The liquid nutrients from the cow manure processed through the digester get used on crops to sustain the farm, and because they're liquids they go directly into the soil in a controlled application. Less problems with manure spreading over fields, so far less runoff and odor, more goodness for the land and our waterways, better crop production. Happy ending #2, right? Yes, but wait, there's even more goodness ...

The rest of the waste from this cow manure processing action gets dried out and turned into nice, fluffy bedding for the cows. They have a soft place to lie down, at far lower cost than buying tons of shavings or straw for the barn floors. And there's so much of that final byproduct stuff that the extra goes into making soil enrichment products for gardeners, sold from the farms or through various distributors (I buy Moo Doo, Moo Grow and Foster Brothers manure made with this stuff for my flower and veggie beds). Now that's an efficient use of cow poop.Vermont currently has 12 digesters online with more coming into production this year. They're huge investments for farmers, and for now require large farms to be cost effective. One way Vermonters-citizens and businesses-help to offset that capital outlay and make it more affordable is through a voluntary self-tax on electric power bills.

It's a closed loop system - cows eat hay and grains, and they make milk (good food) and poop (methane, fertilizer and bulky waste - unless it's turned into Cow Power). This hour-long movie is a first for Allison Gillette, director/producer and recent Emerson graduate.

Here's a trailer from the film:

Cow Power Trailer from Cow Power on Vimeo.

If you can't get to a local screening, Cow Power will be available for computer or streaming devices on August 13. Search “Cow Power: The Film” to view on Amazon Instant, Google Play, YouTube, VUDU, ILoveDocs, or iTunes.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Painting Gives You Time for Contemplation

When faced with a task I know will take many hours and as much patience, I have a tendency to procrastinate. Two years ago we added a big porch to the Vermont house. The 6x6 support posts and structural framework are built from  pressure treated lumber.

The rest of the porch is native wood: cedar railings, flooring and porch spindles with a pine beadboard (railroad siding) ceiling. The floor and ceiling and railing tops were all treated with lovely Australian oil before they were attached. That left the wet and weepy woods to the elements until they were aged enough/dry enough to take a coat of paint.

Well, folks, that time arrived this time last year and I started the process of filling all the knots and cracks in the now-dry pressure treated lumber. I got that nearly done by fall and then ignored the job for another winter.

This week our weather and my schedule meshed well enough for me to begin the sanding and priming. Here's how the project's progressed so far.

I'm glad I let the lumber dry avoided this task so long because even after 2 years of weathering the cedar wood is bleeding a bit through the BIN 1-2-3 primer (Zinsser 2004 "Bulls-eye" Primer Sealer and Stain Killer 1-2-3) . The spindles will need a second coat before I apply the finish coat of white latex house paint.

I'll be tackling two more sections this week if the weather cooperates, working a couple hours per session. That's more than enough time to spend on painting all those spindles with a brush. Any longer than that and my contemplation turns to aggravation; I start to get tired and a bit messy.