November 11, 2015

How to Organize Your Shit

Horses poop, like, A LOT!  At KCRC I just carted my manure to the big pile there and eventually they turned it or carted it off after some time.  Here I have to figure out what to do with all this stuff.  I've only been here two months with one horse and now two but I have still gathered a decent sized pile that we are going to compost.

Composting is great but can be labor intensive when you don't have a tractor with a bucket (eh, hem, yeah we don't have that).  So.....yipee!  Exercise!!  Composting decomposes the material to a nice rich and more usable form for plants.  It has to be done correctly though or you don't get all the benefits you could from this black gold.  The pile has to heat up in order to kill weed seeds and to kill off parasites.  Steve and I composted leaves and grass in the Winston house, rarely turned it but in the end had some dark rich soil with which to amend our yard.  

For the horse's "by-products" I've built three, soon to be four "bins" from pallets and "U" posts.  It was pretty simple to put together, just tap the posts in between the wood pieces and place the next pallet at a 90 degree angle....tap that one in and boom, compost bin.  When the bin starts getting full we'll add a "front" to each bin using a wooden lattice and some more posts to hold that in place.  The plan is to completely fill one up then water it, cover it, turn it a few times and within a couple months sift and spread on our property. While that first pile is heating up and turning into rich compost you start dumping your manure in the next bin until it is full (repeat process). The whole idea is that once all three are full (or better yet even before then) the first bin will be completely composted and ready to use.   

Many horse owners muck manure directly into a manure spreader and spread it on the pasture during a warmer dry period.  This kills parasites and the smaller pieces will still eventually fertilize the soil.  It works best on larger properties it seems. I think with our property being so small composting is a better way to go and definitely less high tech (aka not needing fancy equipment).  We'll still need a spreader but we can use a simple fertilizer spreader vs. a manure spreader.  These are smaller and less expensive.

The bins were easy to set up and I've already seen the manure start to break down in the first one.  We even saw some steam coming from the pile before we tarped it to keep the heat in and the moisture level damp but not soaking.  One does not want pouring rain to percolate through the pile and cause the run off to enter streams or ponds.  We are doing our best to have our horse care be environmentally friendly.

Our large pile of poo that was growing into a large blop, not unlike "Slimer" the famous gross ghost from Ghostbusters, is now neatly organized and becoming something pretty darn awesome.  Yes, I'm excited about horse poop.  I collect the manure from the stable area daily and then weekly from fields the horses have been grazing.  Not an apple is wasted!  But man, this fescue with its rhizomes make forking poo difficult.....I'll be posting on that soon too.  LOL.  

So there you have it.  Simple compost bins made from pallets, what a way to organize your shit!


Camryn said...

Something to help with watering it in is a pvc pipe in the center wit holes drilled in. You just put your hose in the pipe to more evenly wet it. I used to rototill my cooked piles. Neighbors had no idea it was apples.

lytha said...

We also have no tractor and no way to get a tractor onto our horse area anyway, so everything is done by hand. I have a similar manure pile but the tarp fell apart and it rained so much it grew grass all over the top, so it's not composting at all. I gave up and now I just take the wheelbarrow down the hill and dump it under the trees and sort of spread it around and hope no one complains because of the fish ponds down there. Getting the empty wheelbarrow back up the hill empty is hard because it's so steep and muddy. If I'd known how inconvenient it is to have horses on such a slanted piece of land, I would have never tried. Live and learn. And since we sold the horse and only have one donkey, it's remarkable how much less poop there is, what you are experiencing now in reverse.

Mrs Shoes said...

That's a great tip about the pipe from Camryn, I'll be using that one!
After years of dealing with shit, we wish we'd bought a tractor when we bought this place - & we're still wishing.
If we had it to do over, we would have gone ahead & bought one because there is just no end to things that would be easier to accomplish.
Looking for a tractor under $6000

Christie Maszk said...

Rototill is a great idea. We'll be getting one of those in the spring to start our garden. We certainly want to get a tractor at some point, the one we want is the smallest with a front loader type attachment. Those run easily 10k or more new. It will be a few years so for now guess I'll just burn the calories. Pretty happy we decided to go with a smaller property than the 20 acres or more we were hoping to find! LOL. Can you imagine??? Love this topic and love the comments everyone!