We've been talking about composting for years. Ever since we lived in Maine and were lucky enough to work at a restaurant with both a garden and a gardener to take care of it. We composted in that kitchen and were delighted to see the kitchen scraps go to good use. We were also slightly horrified to see the sheer quantity of scraps we generated but that's the nature of the beast. Now we know ourselves well enough to know that the reason composting worked there was because it was easy. We threw the scraps in a white trash can and Mary collected them every day and added them to her compost heap. Partway through the season she had her husband build a second, three tiered composter in order to keep up with us.
When we moved to Colorado the threat of bears, coyotes and other predators meant that we weren't allowed to even contemplate a composter behind the hotel. When we moved back to NYC, close neighbors and the possibility of attracting rodents were enough to deter us. Now that we've got our own home with a fenced-in yard we began talking compost again. We were practical enough to realize that it would still have to be easy and after much research and angst we decided on a Nature Mill electric composter. It got good reviews online and looked relatively simple to operate and maintain. One of the things that attracted me was the idea that they had good customer service. So I put my money where my mouth was and made the investment. (Composters ain't cheap.)
Once the composter arrived Alex took over. I suppose it falls in the range of gadgets and toys. He was thrilled to be composting again and enthused about the cleanliness and ease of this particular invention. Things were moving along nicely and I happily wrote a blog post extolling the virtues of the Nature Mill. Then before I had time to edit and post it, disaster struck in the form of an entire console of blinking lights. We checked the manual, which detailed what to do for individual flashing lights but did not seem to cover our seemingly dire stuation. Alex reset the machine. Nothing changed. And then the work day began and he had to walk away. Later on he tried to call the company, using the phone number we found on the website to no avail, no one ever answered the phone.
By the next morning the machine was flashing and leaking all over the floor. He moved it outside and plugged it in on the patio (theoretically this is an indoor/outdoor machine) under an overhang. After combing through the website we found more information telling us that if all the lights were flashing we needed to unplug the machine for 48 hours and then plug it back in. Theoretically all of the scraps in the machine would be fine for such a short period in a non-temperature controlled environment. 48 hours later we plugged it back in and once again all of the lights started flashing. Now Alex was seriously frustrated. He finally got an email the next morning explaining that they had no idea what was wrong but we could send the machine back (at their expense) and if they couldn't figure it out and fix it they would send a new one. This sounds like a good thing but we had two issues. One, being averse to clutter and operating on the assumption we wouldn't need it for anything Alex had thrown away the original box. We were going to have to go out and buy a box to ship it in. And two, the machine would have to be emptied and cleaned before shipping, a singularly unappealing task because the fermenting food scraps and hot, damp weather had combined to produce a stinky, disgusting mess.
That's where we are now. The idea of chucking the whole machine in the trash is frankly appealing but more wasteful than either of us is comfortable with. So one of us will have to don rubber gloves (Alex) and do the deed. We're hoping the machine can be fixed or replaced but truthfully, our zeal for composting has suffered a major setback. I suppose it just goes to show that if something seems to good to be true maybe it is.
*We actually wrote this post a while ago. The machine has since been cleaned and was shipped back to the company over a week ago. Although UPS confirmed that it was delivered, we have yet to hear anything about whether it's fixable, going to be replaced or refunded.
**And now they're saying four weeks is the normal time period for repairs, never mind that we only had it working for about a week. We'll see what happens next.