|Must get every last drop of soap before recycling that container. Actually I would soak the bottle in my hot soapy water, but this was the only thing I could find that was ready for a new bottle to illustrate my point. Normally this would be ketchup.|
I still hear my sister (10 years my senior, passed away many years ago). She's in my head every time I scrape a pan after the meal and am tempted to just toss the remaining 1/3 cup of casserole into the garbage. She says to me inside my head, "What are you doing? There are three bites in there!". Then I sigh, dig for a match set of the elusive small sized tupperware container and lid to put the 3 bites in the fridge for later. And she is correct, there are moments during the day you want something good, but not a lot, and those 3 bite portions are perfect.
Anyways, I wanted to show you a few examples of how this early training has been put to use with farm waste.
First up is scrap wool. There are a few categories of scrap wool.
Belly wool - when the shearer begins to clip the sheep, he shears the belly first and tosses it off to the side on the barn floor. It is dirty, short and packed with VM* (*vegetative matter including but not limited to hay, poo, a bit of hoof clipping, random flotsam and jetsam). Fortunately, it doesn't make up much as a proportion of the entire fleece, so there isn't very much of it per fleece. Day of shearing it is all pooled in a separate bag, this immediately becomes mulch.
|Belly wool makes a lovely calico mulch around my sage plant|
Short poopy skirtings - so you've bagged up and labelled the fleece on shearing day. Then later on make time to go through carefully to evaluate, weigh, take records and skirt. The first skirt around the fleece I pull off the short poopy bits - these are also mulch. The properties of wool make for very good mulch - it holds water, insulates, smothers weeds and whatever is left in autumn is easy to rake up during garden cleanup. If it has poop pellets in it, there is your time release fertilizer.
|Fleece on the skirting table|
My next circle around is the side skirtings and britch that aren't under the coat, so I won't sell as part of the raw fleece. This gets sent to the mill for processing into combed top, roving, yarn or quilt batting. The criteria for this sort are as follows:
Short bits less than 1" - quilt batting (don't have any right now to show)
1- 2.5" - combed top (don't have any right now to show)
1- 2.5" - roving
3+ - millspun yarn
|Roving from our fawn rams processed at a mill|
|Millspun 2 ply yarn using britch skirtings|
I wash and hand flick the neck wool - its really dirty and really fine, I think the amount of mill processing it would take to get it clean would ruin the quality, so its all done by hand and carded into batts
|Batt made from pooled neck wool|
I have done a ton of experimenting with the waste from flick carding.
|This is a blob of wool that is waste from flick carding - ie short bits, tip, second cuts - undesirable for spinning|
I have carded it into batts and spun it, so far hated this, but just saw a cool video on art yarn with thread wound around a textured single, so am going to try that with Sif's flicked waste that I carded into batts on my drum carder.
Not sure why but she had a lot of matted tip, but it is spread consistently throughout so going to play around with this.
I used it to stuff pillow forms made out of T-Shirts that my boys outgrew, so I cut off the sleeves, hand whip stitched the open parts and stuffed the wool in.
|Never got around to knitting a pillow cover for this one. One of these days I will...|
The sleeves I use as bandannas....
|One of my mannequins modeling my fancy bandannas made from sleeve of Andrew's discarded T-Shirt. I have a pair of these!|
Its a sickness I know. But the pillow forms, they are kind of lumpy and stiff, so not sure if that is something I'm going to continue with, but they smell amazing!
Of course I make dryer balls with the flick carding waste.
I have actually begun going back to some of my very early processed batting and turning that into balls, only because it is just too coarse to meet my standards of wool that I offer spinners today. Its remarkable to look at some of our early wool compared with what we produce today. It was pretty coarse and not very crimpy.
|Current offering of our wool on left. What we offered in the beginning on the right.|
That pretty much covers the wool. But there are a couple other items that generate potential waste that I have been thinking about.
Here is my knitted binder twine market bag!
I think it is hilarious and outrageous, but I'm gonna tell you, this bag is BUILT! I can load this thing up to 50 lbs plus and it just mocks me, like, "Really? You think that is a heavy load? Give me a break!"
I am trying to force myself to sit down and write the pattern, but that is not one of my strengths. Love to figure stuff out, hate to document it. So I take the binder twine from our square hay bales, cut the bale open at the knotted spot, and then cut off the knots, which do go into waste.
Binder twine used to be an organic material, called sisal, but now it is plastic unfortunately.
Then I tie the ends together and wind into a ball. Then I'll knit the bag, give it a nice soak in some soapy water, dry and use! There are a lot of knots is the only thing, but the bag has a lot of utility, and in farm communities, it draws a lot of attention. Many like minded repurposers appreciate the idea of finding a use for all that binder twine that would normally end up in landfill.
Grain bags are another raw material that have many uses. I have seen billfolds, skirts and aprons made from the grain bags.
I don't sew, but I have an industrious like minded friend who collects my used bags, as well as from other farms and her vet office, sews up these spiffy market bags and sells them at festivals. They are fun because grain suppliers are starting to print very decorative graphics on the bags of the animals and their environs, so you have some very farmy country design potential.
|My neatly folded used grain and mineral bags.|
|For ordering info - send me an email and I can connect you with the maker. She has different sizes, handle lengths and all sorts of animal feed bag graphics - birds, bunnies, kittens, etc.|
I am mulling over a design in my head for a sit upon, to use when I go out on the pasture and don't want to drag a chair, but need something to sit on when the ground is wet. Thinking maybe use washed scrap wool as padding, simple blanket stitch on two sides...need to think about this a little more.
Another item I repurpose is a little more obscure and isn't waste from the farm. Although sometimes the stresses from the farm contribute to the need to purchase this item. So in the initial stages of the Covid-19 lockdown, we ordered our wine from a delivery service, and it came packed in horrible large styrofoam blocks. Now, I guess it didn't occur to me that the bottles would require careful packaging, and I regret we did this, but now I have a couple 6 or 8 of these foam insert things that I am determined to find a use for rather than place in landfill. And happily I did. I use them to separate out my wool when I am making self striping yarns and gradient yarns. Haha!!
|5 color self striping yarn, wool neatly tucked in 5 compartments where there used to be wine.|
|You can see I made a note for weight for each color in total and for individual stripe. I never have to do this calculation again!|
|Two containers with equal amounts of each shade in each section. Each container makes a ply. I take out all wool from container section, and lay it out darker to lighter within each section and spin locks in order. Perfection!|
So this will explain if you closely examine my self striping or gradient yarns why there might be little circles of styrafoam in the wool. Just pick 'em out.
So those are some of my attempts to lessen my carbon footprint repurposing waste generated from the farm. I will put a full disclosure statement here that I am by no means virtuously spending time repurposing all my waste, I make my fair contribution to landfill unfortunately. But I do spend a good amount of time thinking about what I could do with stuff that gets thrown in the trash. I can't help myself, its how I was raised.