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*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Archive for August 23rd, 2014

Fertilizer happens

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In about a month we will reach the point of having had our 4 horses for one year. No matter how much reading and planning we could do for manure management, it is nothing like actually seeing and dealing with the real thing. For the uninitiated, a 1000 pound horse can produce around 50 lbs of manure a day. We now have an idea of what that is really like.

DSCN2286eThe storage and distribution system I naively devised over time worked adequately for this first year, going from having none at all to a year’s-worth. Now we are approaching the point of starting the second year with a lot less open storage space. It is roughly half-filled with composting manure right now.

There are some refinements to my system of manure management that I hope to accomplish. My effort to thoroughly compost is forcing me to rethink my methods and may require some expansion of space to store ‘in-process’ manure. I like working small-scale, but the sheer volume produced might force my hand to take up the offer from neighbor George to use his manure spreader and my front loader to distribute a bulk amount all at once.

DSCN2287eI continue to use the oldest, bottom level of partially composted material as clean fill in a variety of places around our property, but I’m guessing there might come a day when I run out of a need for that kind of use. Maybe by the time that happens I will have perfected a system that allows me to offer (sell?) bagged horse manure fertilizer to interested gardeners as a means of distribution.

The current challenge has been moving the pile around to provide access to that base level of compacted material I want to use. Yesterday, when I was doing so, it became obvious how quickly the composting dries out an inside layer. The pile always seems so wet to me that I haven’t been worrying about adding moisture, but the light bulb came on when I saw the dramatic difference as a result of trying to move the entire upper level to a new location. I got the hose out and watered the pile, and Delilah. She absolutely cannot resist chasing water from a hose.

Unfortunately, that meant she was trying to chase it through manure. Not a pretty picture.

Written by johnwhays

August 23, 2014 at 9:33 am