Thursday, February 23, 2012

Our Neighbors Give Us Crap

…literally!  Since last spring, Byron has been making trips back and forth from a neighbor’s farm to collect horse manure to bring home and compost.  As Randy and Lynn’s driveway is only six-tenths of a mile from ours, it’s quite convenient to make a trip – or two or three – to pick up loads (pun intended). 

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.

That chicken would love to frolic in the hot compost pile on this cold day – as much for the warmth as for the tasty worms helping aid the decomposition process.   Note the ice blocks on top of the pile and the steam rising where the pitchfork was used to expose the inner part of the pile.
I'm linking up with Rural Thursday!  Click here to visit.

Rural Thursday Blog Hop


  1. LOL! My friends give me crap too! Think is I always take it off of them.

    I invite you over to my gardening blog!

  2. Now that's quite a walk-through of a process. I enjoyed the simple lesson.

  3. On a smaller scale..I used to compost yard leaves/waste in black trash bags..pack it in the bag already moist..or spray it with a hose, close the bag up, store it behind the garden shed..a month gold! Now in a condo and just a wanna be gardner..but heading back to the land on 26 acres in Tn. SOON!

    1. Sheila, I have heard of that method before...thanks for reminding me! Congrats on your coming move!

  4. Much easier than heading out in the pasture and scooping up random piles, which is what I've been doing. Sigh. ;-)

  5. well that was an interesting post about crap! honestly, i had no idea how it is done, thanks!

  6. I bet your soil is fantastic! All that work will pay off in a fabulous garden this spring. :)