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Compost Pile

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  • Compost Pile

    My compost pile is more of a compost mountain. I know most of ya'll can probably relate.

    How do you manage your compost?

    We don't have any equipment (other than elbow grease and shovels) to turn it, so once it gets heaped, that's it. Is there some secret easy way to manage a mountain of poo such that it becomes ideal compost? Just let time do to the work? I've done no turning or watering, but I do want to use my pile for gardening. Right now the interior stuff seems well-baked but completely bone dry.
    "I did know once, only I've sort of forgotten." - Winnie the Pooh

  • #2
    Do you have a neighbor with a tractor/bucket that would be able to turn the pile periodically? Do you have a way to water the pile? - compost needs the moisture to be able to cook. I'll try to google compost sites and post them for you.

    Meanwhile- you can call your county extension agent and they should have lots of info for you!

    Comment


    • #3
      If you have enough time and space to wait for it to occur naturally, the stuff in the middle and on the bottom WILL compost, eventually. But in the meantime a lot of it will just plain rot and be stinky and slimy.

      Turning and aerating and keeping the moisture level just right is CRUCIAL to making good compost, quickly. I have a great link at home for managing horse manure and composting it properly--probably searchable here if you look at some other threads on composting, but I don't have it saved on this computer.

      One way to make the pile semi-manageable if you haven't got a loader to turn it is to place the pile in "windrow" fashion: long, long, rows of (connected) small piles that are manageable with a fork and elbow grease, and don't require as much turning. But you need LOTS of space.

      I dump my daily muckings into two composting bunkers, each about 4.5 foot square. As one fills, I turn it about 1-2x weekly, keeping some water on it if it's very dry by dumping buckets in there or turning the hose on it now and then. When the full bunker no longer smokes or steams or smells bad when it's turned, it's close to being "cooked" and then I move its contents to a large pile at the edge of our property, which is located very conveniently for people to pick up. Then I have an empty bunker to start all over, and I keep turning the other one that is by now about half full and still cooking. Every now and then I also turn the "cooked" pile to keep it uniform, and if it sits long enough it turns into beautiful, odorless stuff that is just great for gardens.

      I advertise "free compost for your garden" on Craigslist and Freecycle, and in the spring I usually manage to give the whole winter's worth away. In the fall I also manage to give some away, and will spread the rest on parts of the property that aren't being grazed. I have no objection to spreading the stuff on the pastures, but I like to be a little more scientific about fertilizing the grazing areas and usually do that with regular fertilizer and lime, according to soil tests.
      Click here before you buy.

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      • #4
        You don't say how many horses are contributing to your mountain or how many acres it is on.
        But:
        My 2 horses on 5ac (total including my house & yard) produce a smallish mountain themselves.

        Being a lazy - er, I mean ergonomically-inclined - sort by nature, I do not turn or in any way manipulate the pile except for pitchforking the top layer a bit in the Spring when I can see it steaming.
        Under the dry-looking top layer is the most beautiful compost you ever want to see. Odor-free and full of earthworms.

        The only "farm equipment" I own is a 17.5hp lawn tractor.
        To this I hitch a dumpcart and take cartfuls of the stuff to my gardens.
        It is slowly becoming a raised bed veggie garden and enriching the soil for my meadow-to-be where I have perennials planted.

        I also dump the wheelbarrow fresh from cleaning stalls on the flowerbeds in Fall once everything has finished blooming and gone brown. This composts over the Winter and is ready for planting by Spring.

        Once Winter settles in and hauling the wheelbarrow is not an option (for me), I muck stalls over the fenceline that is set at a right angle to the back of the barn. My stalls have dutch doors that stay open 24/7/365 so this makes my Life a lot easier.
        Over the last 5 years this has created my Barn Garden which hosted the Horde of Zucchini one year, then watermelons the next. This year it was intended to grow sweet corn and pumpkins but I never did get around to planting the seeds. Next year....

        I also have gardening friends & neighbors that generally are only too glad to haul away around half the pile. To them it is Black Gold.
        When they worry about taking too much, I just tell them 2 Dogs Farm motto is:
        We Never Close!
        *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
        Steppin' Out 1988-2004
        Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
        Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015

        Comment


        • #5
          Here is the link I was talking about.
          Click here before you buy.

          Comment


          • #6
            Do you have pine shavings with your manure in those compost piles? Does it make a difference?
            www.flyingcolorsfarm.comHome of pinto stallion Claim to Fame and his homozygous son, Counterclaim. Friend us on Facebook!https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Fl...04678589573428

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            • #7
              well, that's how compost happens: pile it up and let it rot. The rest is icing on the cake.

              No

              wait

              that does not sound right....

              Anyhow, the turning and composing and meddling with speeds things up, but it is not necessary.

              When you get you use it, you can put the not so decomposed parts back into the new pile (an jump start it) or even just put them out in the garden, too, it will continue to decompose and work. compost happens.

              BTW, I need some in my yard, all I got is some red stuff, not quiet clay and hard as cement...
              Originally posted by BigMama1
              Facts don't have versions. If they do, they are opinions
              GNU Terry Prachett

              Comment


              • #8
                Can you cover the pile with a tarp? That way the pile will heat up faster.

                Comment


                • #9
                  A friend of mine "aerates" her manure pile by periodically poking holes in it with a broom/rake handle. She says that method works great to help break it down quick and easy without having to break her back turning it with a shovel.
                  Equus Keepus Brokus

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Putting in some form of "brown" waste (like shavings or sawdust) is VITAL to good compost. Just plain poop never comes out as nice--in the summer when my horses rarely, if ever, sleep in their stalls I make sure I add some shavings now and then to keep the mixture right for good compost. However, I will admit to being slightly obsessed with making "good" stuff.
                    Click here before you buy.

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      We have 2 horses on 2.5 acres, so it's not a really a mountain... just a very big pile! Mr. A4B and I spent part of yesterday morning out there converting poo mountain into a range of more managable poo hills. Added water. We do not have stalls, so there are no shavings/sawdust in the pile. However, we do include the grass clippings when we mow, so there's quite a bit of vegetation in the pile, including leftover bits of hay. Hopefully, the bulk of what's there now will be prime for planting next March.

                      Sidenote: Where do ya'll get seeds? I was in Lowe's a few days ago looking for fall seeds, but there are no seeds at all. When I asked about fall planting, the employee stated they were out of season. (Fall seeds out of season for fall... hmm... ) So I guess the reason there are fall crop varieties amongst the plethora of seeds in the spring is because you're supposed to buy everything at once...?
                      "I did know once, only I've sort of forgotten." - Winnie the Pooh

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I have very little in my compost pile in the way of straw/shavings as I only have my broodmares confined for approximately 2 1/2 weeks a year (during and after foaling). Most of the pile is composed of manure picked up from the fields. The resulting compost is black, odorless, and fairly uniform. There is some green vegetation that makes it's way into the pile when it gets stuck on my manure fork though
                        Liz
                        Ainninn House Stud
                        Irish Draughts and Connemaras
                        Co. Westmeath, Ireland

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Aggie4Bar View Post
                          We have 2 horses on 2.5 acres, so it's not a really a mountain... just a very big pile! Mr. A4B and I spent part of yesterday morning out there converting poo mountain into a range of more managable poo hills. Added water. We do not have stalls, so there are no shavings/sawdust in the pile. However, we do include the grass clippings when we mow, so there's quite a bit of vegetation in the pile, including leftover bits of hay. Hopefully, the bulk of what's there now will be prime for planting next March.

                          Sidenote: Where do ya'll get seeds? I was in Lowe's a few days ago looking for fall seeds, but there are no seeds at all. When I asked about fall planting, the employee stated they were out of season. (Fall seeds out of season for fall... hmm... ) So I guess the reason there are fall crop varieties amongst the plethora of seeds in the spring is because you're supposed to buy everything at once...?

                          it's the pits to get seeds for the second season (fall) I bet you my shirt, turn around and Christmas stuff will be out in a couple of weeks, skipping fall.

                          First, grab all the seeds in spring. OK, too late now.

                          There are several seed companies out, mail order, I am assuming they sell year round. naturally, come October, the plants will go on sale, but likely the bulk will be pansies and mums.

                          I had looked at Park seed catalog, they seemed reasonable. But there are a few more out, maybe there are some localy.
                          Originally posted by BigMama1
                          Facts don't have versions. If they do, they are opinions
                          GNU Terry Prachett

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