It may seem strange, (ok it IS strange) to blog about poo, but keep in mind this is a chronicle of our journey to the farm and I feel compelled to record every detail so we can look back someday and have a good laugh at our own expense. Read on if you have the stomach for it…
I used to be pretty squeamish about all things poo-related so it is funny that I now deal with poo on a daily basis and quite happily I might add. Kitty litter boxes and doggie pooper scoopers aside, my first foray into serious poo was worm composting. After all, worm castings are basically worm poo.
I was never really overly fond of bugs in general, but now I live in awe of worms and their ability to take my kitchen scraps and turn them into black gold and nutrient rich compost tea – it is nothing short of miraculous.
Things really started to turn in a whole new direction for me when we got our first flock of chickens. I could hardly wait to get my hands on that stuff and into our oh-so-slow compost pile. We live in the very moist Pacific Northwest on a shady wooded lot where a hot compost pile is hard to achieve. But chicken poo changed all that. I finally had a pile that heated up to 145 degrees. Woo hoo!
True confession: I now eagerly await notifications on my local freecycle and farmer email lists for free poo. I know I’ve gone from one extreme to another, but the farm is going to require a whole lot of compost to get things started than I can brew up in my backyard with worms and 14 chickens… I need to start thinking big.
Just last week I jumped at the chance to pick up a truck bed full of dairy cow manure, which, at this time of year is very wet and soupy. Luckily I lined the bed with straw before the farmer dumped two huge loader buckets full into the back of my pickup as it made getting it out a lot easier. I covered it with a tarp and strapped six 55 gallon bags of maple leaves I raked up from a friends yard the day before (he was going to throw them away!), along with two more 55 gallons bags of chicken poo and bedding from my own coop on top and headed out to the farm. This nitrogen rich stuff was going directly into the pile we had started with sod scrapings and chipped limbs from our cleared building site.
Man, that stuff is, hmmm… let’s say “rich” smelling. I felt sorry for anyone that was stuck behind me in traffic. By the time I got to the farm (it’s 2 1/2 hours away), the tarp had started to become submerged and the bags of leaves were covered in icky poo – literally! It was going to be a chore to get everything out without being covered in poo for the rest of the weekend. Good thing I had extra rubber boots and rain gear and a large plastic bag to carry them home in.
Warning – the following picture is not for the squeamish.
I shoveled as much of the manure onto the compost pile as I could muster but it was pretty heavy so I built a smaller pile off the end of the bed layering in leaves and straw. I sprinkled the rest of the leaves over the top of the big pile then chipped up more tree limbs and shoveled those on too. When M arrive on Sunday, he fired up our friend’s skid steer (on loan to us for a couple of months) and mixed it all together.
Hopefully we will see some real heat in the pile next trip down. If not, I have an open invitation from the dairy farmer to stop by and pick up a load anytime as it is too wet to spread it on their fields this time of year.
I have a new found respect for poo – how about you?