The arrangement is mutually beneficial. With Randy and Lynn’s four horses (not to mention a handful of sheep) dropping copious amounts of stinky stuff out of their backsides each day, managing that much waste can become overwhelming for any animal owner. But we covet the stuff and make every attempt to procure as much manure as possible. The funny thing is, Byron actually enjoys this whole process and is quite proud of the black gold he’s made by composting the manure!
Books have been written on how to compost – in addition to more how-to articles than blades of grass in an acre of well-managed pasture. While it’s easy to get overwhelmed when you get too scientific about the composting process, it’s a fact that manure, or anything organic, will break down over time. We’ve found a ratio of two greens-to-one brown works just fine. So as not to bore anyone with a list of what constitutes greens and browns – just do a Google search and you can find all the lists you could ever want to peruse – we typically mix two parts horse manure (a green) with one part shredded leaves (a brown). By keeping this mixture damp (read: initially watering it, then letting it get rained on whenever the skies open up) and turning it occasionally (read: taking a pitchfork to the heap), we help ensure conditions are ideal for a hot pile that effectively kills weed seeds, etc. Here are some photos of how we go about composting:
|While Randy and Lynn sometimes have a load of manure from the horses’ stalls ready for pickup, Byron collects a majority of the manure he brings home directly from the pasture.|
|Akea and Charlie love to volunteer to help Byron collect manure. This, of course, means they get to pet the horses and feed them carrots. Akea LOVES horses!|
|Byron transfers the manure from Randy and Lynn’s wagon to a couple of old trashcans for the trip to our farm. Each can is quite heavy when full – especially if the manure is fresh.|
|We use a pitchfork to unload a majority of the manure from each can …|
|…until the can is light enough to pick up and dump.|
|Once the manure is spread evenly…|
|…we add leaves….|
|…and water, before repeating the process. Byron typically collects six to eight trashcans full of manure at a time; the layering really helps get the compost pile hot.|
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