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Anyone with some clever ideas for mud control?

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  • Anyone with some clever ideas for mud control?

    I have two issues with mud that I'm trying to deal with on my farm.

    The first is my compost boxes. I have four 3 sided concrete block compost boxes approximately 12' X 12'. I turn and aerate the boxes with my front end loader. I'm trying to avoid putting concrete on the floor of the boxes due to cost but it's becoming a muddy mess during rainy season and every time I empty the boxes, I end up taking up a little more earth. Does anyone have any suggestions on what I could use that could stand up to being scraped and driven on by a tractor? I had tried stones but they ended up getting mixed up in the compost.

    My next question is has anyone tried using carpet (not cow carpet but used residential carpet) for mud control? While I was researching cow carpet I came across a horse forum that was discussing using residential carpet instead. Apparently you remove 6-8" of dirt, put down the carpet, put a layer of larger stone down and then add stone dust to the top. The area around my overhangs tends to get a bit muddy so I'm thinking of trying this option.

    Thanks for the help!
    Last edited by mkevent; Mar. 31, 2011, 12:47 PM.

  • #2
    3//4 or 7/8 sheets of exterior plywood?

    Carpet would eventually rot but would let water through ....should work for several years I would think. Have considered something similar for walkways in my garden area and in front of pens as soil here is alkali clay that turns to pottery slip when it gets wet...disturb it and it dries like concrete.
    Colored Cowhorse Ranch
    Northern NV


    • #3
      I suppose you could put down asphalt instead of concrete. We have big slabs of limestone here and it is possible to construct something by grading down to the stone (it's rather level) or laying it as flagstone. We excavated and found a "pavement" and a burn ring with some cement in the gaps behind the house last year. Alternatively you could make a mark on the side of your bin and never grade below that, still going to have muck though.

      I've heard about the residential carpet and used it around the yard without a surface material. Some of them the backs are jute, which will rot, our carpet got pretty mildewy and gross and squelchy but it did do the job of mud prevention for a couple of years. If you have a whole housefull or access to a lot of it for free I'd give it a try but remember it's going to be all funny shaped and harder to use.

      The advantage to geotextile is that it won't rot and permits the water to drain through easily and IMHO if it starts to show it looks less unattractive than hunks of carpet.
      Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
      Incredible Invisible


      • #4
        you can pave the bottom of the composter boxes. Compost happens, even earth worms can find their way in!

        All commercial farms I know off have concrete underneath.


        • #5
          Not sure it'll be any cheaper if you have to buy it new/ship it...but how about rubber mats or better, rubber roll out sheets?

          Or how about clay, sand and oil? Packed and allowed to dry it ends up like rock. Not sure with organic on top though.
          You jump in the saddle,
          Hold onto the bridle!
          Jump in the line!


          • Original Poster

            Thank you everyone for the replies! It's so great being able to run through some ideas with other horsepeople and possibly avoid mistakes before going through with a project. Can't tell you how many times I wish I knew about Coth in the past 25 years!

            Any time I try to talk with DH about this I have about 5 seconds to get the info across before he gets that dead look in his eyes. He still has that silly notion that eventually I'll stop finding expensive projects for the farm. In my defense, I'm not trying to find expensive projects, they just find me!

            I'm not sure plywood would work in my case because I had wood compost boxes before this and the wood got really disgusting. It may work as a temporary fix during rainy season and then I could remove it for the dry season but to be honest, I'd love to be able to fix it and forget it.

            I can't excavate to rock surface because we just have layers and layers of sandy type soil. It's great when we have to put fencing in, though!

            Thanks to all who pointed out rotting carpet-for some reason (lack of firing neurons, possibly), I hadn't thought of the carpet rotting because it was going to be in the ground (duh). Obviously it would still rot and then I'd have to rip out layers of stone before replacing the rotted carpet. Cow carpet is looking like a much better choice given that fact.

            I had also considered the idea of mats. I have them under the overhangs and love them. My worry is that I'd end up scraping them up with the tractor whenever I'm emptying the compost boxes. Is it possible to somehow secure them together so there wouldn't be any seams?

            My husband is really objecting to the cost of concrete or asphalt, even though they are the best solution. I'm wondering if we mixed the concrete ourselves (if this is even possible) if it would be less expensive.

            I guess I truly do spend my days worrying about $h!t!!!!!


            • #7
              you can mix concrete yourself. but do yourself a favor and rent a mixer. Or after the 2nd or 3rd batch your arms fall off.

              You can use ready mixed stuff, but it's probably cheaper to get the cement and sand.
              Making concrete isn't rocket science, just pretty hard work. (that's why a lot of people rather pay somebody to do it, after all, how valuable is your time)


              • #8
                Originally posted by mkevent View Post
                I had also considered the idea of mats. I have them under the overhangs and love them. My worry is that I'd end up scraping them up with the tractor whenever I'm emptying the compost boxes. Is it possible to somehow secure them together so there wouldn't be any seams?
                Linear Rubber ( http://rubbermats.com/ ) will make mats to the size you specify. For my 12X12 stalls, I used two mats in each stall. For my aisle, which is 10x24, I also have 2 mats, each 10x12. Linear Rubber should be able to make you 12x12 mats so that a single mat would go in each bin.

                My aisle mats are Very Heavy, so size is a factor to consider .... make sure you can move around any large sizes you might order. But that weight also keeps the mats in place.

                We like these mats so much that we did the tractor shed and the sawdust storage area with mats as well. Both areas have held up well to large trucks and tractors moving in / out in all kinds of weather. In all cases, we installed the mats over a good stone dust base and made sure it was level.

                For cleaning out your compost bins, you would need to be careful not to catch the edge of a mat; you would most likely have to remove the last inch or two by hand (if you wanted to truly empty the bin), but the mats would provide a firm base and with a bit of a slope, would also drain.

                "Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit."
                - Desiderata, (c) Max Ehrman, 1926


                • Original Poster

                  Thanks for all the help. Since I've been busy doing research, I thought I'd share my findings so far.

                  Cow carpet-usfabrics sells 15'x300'w for $525. Shipping to my farm is an additional $135. I thought that sounded not too expensive if it would truly fix the mud situation in the paddocks and possibly in front of the compost boxes. One roll would definitely give me more than enough to work with.

                  I'm waiting for a quote from Linear products. I can get 4x6 mats locally that are seconds for $26 each. I would prefer one large mat rather than many smaller mats but finances will definitely be a factor.

                  I had also read about Marston mats, which are portable metal mats the military uses to make temporary airplane landing sites and roads. It seemed like an interesting idea, but way too $$. Each mat is 10'long but only 15"wide when linked together. At $44 for each mat, it would take 10 mats to cover a 12x12 area or $440 plus shipping. It looks like shipping would be close to $900. Oh well, so much for thinking "outside the box" (pun intended).


                  • Original Poster

                    I thought I would update this in case anyone is interested.

                    I did some internet searching on nonwoven geotextiles and found some possible alternatives to cow carpet. There is a local rental store that stocks 3.5 oz(cow carpet is 7 oz) nonwoven geotextile for $275 per roll. I had spoken with the manufacturer and it was suggested to use 2 layers of the lighter weight material. An entire roll would work to cover the areas I was interested in and I could possibly pick the roll up myself thereby saving shipping costs.

                    Basically, I would scrape all the mud away down to the hard surface, add a layer of geotextile, a layer of stone, another layer of geotextile and finally a top layer of whatever material I wish.

                    This would end up being more economical. I still have to convince DH that it would be worth doing. I'm hoping to use possibly crushed concrete as the stone layer-I would be recycling and hopefully saving money at the same time if the concrete chunks aren't too large.

                    Just thought I'd pass along my findings.


                    • #11
                      We had mud issues in our pastures in some areas... lots of natural springs around here, etc. We had drain lines installed throughout... now even this time of year, in a "bad mud year" ... the ground in my pastures is pretty solid in most places, even with horses turnout out there. There are a couple patches that get muddy but they are very small.

                      Also had a drain put around our indoor to take care of the rainfall/snowmelt off the roof and it's done a great job... before that the moisture would seep into the indoor in the footing and while it wasn't wet, it could freeze hard. No problems since installing the drainage.

                      We just used perforated pipe and some gravel, and then covered over with the pre-existing dirt.
                      2016 RRP Makeover Competitor www.EnviousBid.com


                      • #12
                        mkevent, thanks for doing all the homework for me. I have the same mud issues, at the lower corner where of course the gate is, and where they stand. I will check out getting the geo text. stuff.

                        I have concrete under my compost pile. We just had it laid there when they built the barn. Planks of treated exterior plywood might work for a few years, and you can easily replace them if they rot or break.
                        There is no snooze button on a cat that wants breakfast.


                        • #13
                          Thanks for sharing this info. I have the same problem at my place - solid clay soil and very poor drainage. Right now I have just under an acre fenced for two horses - eventually it will be a sacrifice paddock for up to 5. I don't think I'd try to excavate the entire thing, but the near third or so that's highest, near where I feed, near the run-in, etc. - I'd love to do this. Anyone done just part of a paddock and thought it was worthwhile?


                          • Original Poster

                            Updating with more info (I'm such a nerd!)

                            Apparently recycled concrete and recycled asphalt can be inexpensive alternatives to stone. I'm going to list some of the pros and cons I've learned so far after speaking with some companies.

                            In my area, both recycled asphalt and recycled concrete cost about $12-$13/ton delivered locally. I did a google search to come up with local paving companies that offer those products.

                            From what I understand, recycled concrete can get quite dusty in the summer, plus it often comes with chunks of rebar. I guess you would have to sift through the loads to remove the concrete with rebar in it? That is making it look like a less desirable alternative.

                            The gentleman I spoke with today could not say enough positive things about recycled asphalt. I was under the impression that asphalt had oil (?) or something in it and I was concerned about health hazards. He told me that (at least this particular asphalt) has no oil and is nontoxic. The pricing would be the same-about $12-$13 a ton delivered locally. It is also compactable but allows water to drain through it. Apparently it is also very easy to rake. He didn't think I needed geotextile and I could use just the asphalt. I'm not sure about this-I can remember walking on asphalt in high heels on a super hot muggy day and my heels sinking into the asphalt! I wonder if the same would happen with shod horses?

                            Anyway, hope this helps!


                            • Original Poster

                              anchodavis-if I do the geotextile/asphalt it will be for just the muddiest part of my paddocks. I think if you have it in the highest traffic areas, that would help reduce the mud where it's the worst.

                              If you google cowcarpet, there are a few websites that have before/after pictures. It looks pretty cool.


                              • #16
                                Didn't read all the posts, but for under your compost what about brick? Cheap and ammy friendly - though time consuming - and might be robust enough to stand up to being scraped by the bucket.

                                regarding mud I had a neat experience this year.

                                I self care board and "my" barn is in the lowest lying area, any time there is any precip it all runs to the high traffic area. Though the ground is sandy soil, it often takes weeks to dry up. I tried gravel, sand, and last year became so enraged at the mud I was going to scrape it all up and put down cow carpet too. It was my SO that talked sense into me and made me realize I'd be putting QUITE a bit of money and effort into someone else's property.

                                In the middle of my mud woes, I learned my horse has a back problem. I figured regular work over cavaletti would do nothing but good, but my time was limited due to busy work. I happened across a whole bunch of abandoned fence posts in the corner of the BO's property and had a eureka moment. Why not put cavaletti in front of the run-in shed where the horses go in and out all day, and let my horse work himself over cavaletti many dozens of times a day? So I did and my horses are better off for it.

                                This year, when the horrid snow and rain came around, I was bracing again for epic mud season and kicking myself for not having scraped and put down cattle carpet. But a funny thing happened, I never got epic mud, despite repeated flooding conditions. Apparently, having the cavaletti keeps the horses from churning up the earth into mud and mire. It does get mucky, and doesn't drain any faster, but its not the boot sucking fetlock deep black blech that I'd been dealing with each year. Its a very tame mud that is really little more than an eyesore and mild inconvenience.

                                The other week, during [yet another] flood, the BO came by and remarked on how amazing there is virtually no 'mud' around the barn this year, and how it must be the cavaletti. We both marveled at how effective and how simple at the same time.

                                If you have a high traffic lane, it might be worth experimenting with if you have suitable cavaletti material lying around. I expanded mine so I have a large ring around the open end of the shelter, I ended up using large fairly straight branches.
                                Being terrible at something is the first step to being truly great at it. Struggle is the evidence of progress.


                                • #17
                                  Oooh, asphalt on the floor of the manure bunkers, what a GREAT idea! I'm poaching it!

                                  We are blessed with sandy soil that never gets too muddy, but one area near the gates has been a perennial problem spot. After 5 years of adding a yard of pea gravel every fall, it's finally built up to be pretty solid and no longer a problem spot. However, there isn't very much traffic there during wet times, so I'm not sure if that's a good solution for heavy traffic spots.

                                  I'd be leery of putting down regular carpet due to the long, indestructble nylon fibers . . . would hate for those to work their way up and into horse tummies, mower blades, harrows, horseshoes, etc.
                                  Click here before you buy.


                                  • Original Poster

                                    Deltawave-I hadn't even thought about the carpet fibers working their way up through the soil-good point!!

                                    I hope that you're better with the front end loader than me- I did do some snowscraping with the tractor on my driveway this winter and took up a little chunk by the front entrance-oops!

                                    I think I will be trying the geotextile/asphalt combo. If so, I will definitely let everyone know how it works!


                                    • #19
                                      We wanted to firm up the gate area of our stallion's
                                      paddock. We had a bunch of that orange plastic snow
                                      fence around that had become ripped so not suitable
                                      for its original use. We dug up the region around the
                                      gate, put down the snow fence on the soil, put down
                                      limestone rock over it and then some screenings over
                                      that. The plastic snow fence keeps the rock from worming
                                      its way down and disappearing, much as carpet might.
                                      It is fairly durable and mostly invisible under the rock.
                                      It will tear if a horse should somehow catch a leg in a
                                      bit of it. I'd love to do our whole winter paddock in
                                      the stuff, but 6 acres is a bit much to cover.

                                      I have read that you can sometimes get geo-textile
                                      fabric cheaper by contacting local highway departments
                                      or road building companies in your area. They will
                                      sometimes have end pieces from a roll that they used
                                      for a particularly troublesome section of a road they
                                      built or repaired. The remaining piece is too small for
                                      their needs but might be just right for yours.
                                      Robin from Dancing Horse Hill
                                      Elmwood, Wisconsin


                                      • #20
                                        Just wanted to chime in on the recycled concrete -- I use it around my barn because we have a plant very near our farm and it is $4 a ton, very affordable. I can get a big truckload for $170 delivered and spread by my landscape guy! It is great -- OUTSIDE. It is NOT great under the overhang on my barn (I have Dutch doors and a 10' overhang in the paddock for shelter) because I find it to be quite dusty in summer under the overhang. In the open where it occasionally gets rained on, it is not a problem really.

                                        The kind I get is called "fines" by my plant. There is no rebar in it, I made sure of that before purchasing and I inspected it carefully on arrival. A few larger pebbles were the only "problems."

                                        I find that it is cushier than crushed limestone at first, tending to soft in the beginning. For a while I didn't like it, but after six months I really liked it -- it firmed up and is nice rather than deep, but not hard. Thumbs up overall, I just called for another load this morning. I will not be putting it under the overhang again.

                                        I use it to level the base of my stalls too, I dampen it to a nice mealy consistency and mix in a couple bags of Portland Cement per stall. Level with a 2x4 and let set for a month to harden. Add trimmed mats on top and you get a perfect base that is much softer than a slab of concrete but doesn't shift.

                                        The recycled asphalt sounds interesting but I have visions of sticky black melted asphalt on everything, and asphalt pebbles stuck in hooves. Asphalt rocks seem the perfect size to get stuck in shoes to me. I would inspect it very carefully first.