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

Garden Fuel

with 2 comments

Record heat yesterday put early pressure on the horses to cope with high temperatures before they have yet to fully shed their winter coats. We are experiencing temperatures that are more than 30 degrees (F) above average for this time of year. Production at Wintervale was focused on packaging for most of the day, bagging the precious commodity produced by the horses.

The remaining lot of seasoned compost from 2022 was bagged for distribution as Wintervale’s Equine Magic Premium Garden Fuel.

After moving three bags back to a stock location in the barn using a wheelbarrow, my tired arms thought up a better idea. the new electric mower has a small cargo bin behind the seat with a 200-pound carrying capacity. Using that to move the bags gave me a great opportunity to get some practice navigating our terrain.

I quickly discovered it doesn’t do well in saturated muddy areas. I never got completely stuck, but tires started spinning and forward momentum was interrupted. I’m not quick with my corrections yet because the steering maneuvers don’t come automatically to me. I need to think through a solution that tends to be a little late, coming after my unconscious reaction has already proved to be unhelpful.

While the sun was high, I stopped out in the Production area to see how staff were feeling about the 80-degree working conditions. Without trying to put any extra pressure on them, I pointed out that inventory is low after so much of last year’s garden fuel was repurposed as fill for landscaping along the edges of the driveway.

Mix assured me they understand my fixation with trying to pick up every last morsel that lands in the paddocks and she pointed out there was plenty more out in the pastures if I really needed it. She’s so helpful.

The main compost station would need to go through an expansion if I started picking up everything they lay down out there. We don’t have a roof over the main compost area so moisture control is not managed well. I can add water if the compost piles get too dry but when conditions get extremely wet I’m sunk.

With four horses working production, and me on my own managing the finishing, our operation isn’t going to become an industrial juggernaut for garden compost. As long as we have enough to share with interested friends, there will always be potential for bartered home-grown produce as a reward for all of our effort.



Written by johnwhays

April 13, 2023 at 6:00 am

2 Responses

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  1. LOL, John, I’m doing the same thing, working the compost scene, and I don’t really even have a garden! (Instead, taking it to a friend’s garden that I help out on occasionally). Although I don’t currently have any beasts, there were plenty on the 13 acres historically, and in some of the corral/stable areas, so I am harvesting that into a collection area and adding household compost as well as pee (all that nitrogen!). Then screening after a year or so of actual composting. I have to screen because of the amount of ‘stuff’ that I find in the stable detritus: tools, broken glass, bottle caps, wire, you name it! I’m sure your stables are in much better order, given the efforts you make! I can’t imagine having four horses to take care of!

    John Hopkins

    April 13, 2023 at 10:45 am

    • We have kept our household compost separate in a container to discourage scrounging wildlife. That’s been rather futile because burrowing critters and raccoons find ways in anyway!


      April 13, 2023 at 12:18 pm

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