Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘compost pile

Cooking Compost

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Does horse manure attract flies?

Yes, it does.

It also cooks at over 160°(F) given the right conditions. Just the right amount of moisture, air, and shape of the pile trigger the microorganisms to go wild. Unfortunately, at that temperature and above, the microbes start to die off and the pile can go inert.

I did a little cooking of my own in the hot sun yesterday, working in front of the hay shed. I’m cutting up old cedar boards ripped off our deck to make a small woodshed for up at the lake place.

I’m creating a kit of cut boards that I can fit in my car for transport up north where the plan is to assemble it in place. It’s a little tricky because I tend to make design decisions as I go on my building projects. I’m wrestling with the mental challenge of envisioning each step in advance and knowing what pieces and precise dimensions I need for each step in the process.

I anticipate the assembly will stretch over several different weekend visits up north. As if we need excuses to spend more time at the lake in the months ahead.

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Written by johnwhays

July 25, 2021 at 9:57 am

They’re Free!

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We opened the fencing of the coop courtyards to the big wide world yesterday and the chickens slowly, but surely, began expanding their perimeter. It started with an initial surge seeking the wealth of green grass just beyond the fencing.

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They have completely decimated the grounds of their confinement. Scorched earth. It made the growth surrounding them appear incredibly lush and particularly enticing. Eventually, they calmed down a bit and began scratching and leaping after the bugs that come along with the healthy greenery suddenly available.

While I was sitting with them, the initial sounds of a cockerel learning to crow arose from within the coop. The only thing I know for sure is that it wasn’t our long-ago identified Buffalo Bill, as he was out with me. The birds have become difficult to tell apart and with twenty-five in constant motion, hard to count.

I couldn’t tell who was missing.

This morning, a group of them discovered the mother lode.

As I shaped the three compost piles yesterday to maximize the processing, it occurred to me that my control over the piles was about to end. From past experience, I know that the chickens are able to destroy the structures I build up faster than I can maintain them.

It’s a minuscule gripe, as they are busy doing precisely what I want them around to do: control flies. I can live with the mess.

Now begins the ongoing challenge of our birds avoiding the random daytime threats of marauding predators. We can keep them safe in their coop at night, but we don’t have control over all of the critters that occasionally switch their hunting from the dark of night to broad daylight.

They are free, but for the game of life and death, it’s game on from here on out.

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Written by johnwhays

July 10, 2021 at 9:12 am

Steaming Pile

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The new manure pile is already cooking! Given the near-freezing temperatures we have been enduring of late, the heat from the pile of composting manure was clearly visible in the form of steam wafting up out of it.

It’s not completely obvious in the image above, but there’s a little fogginess around the upper edges. The composting process is underway. We’ll have more fertile soil for Cyndie’s vegetable garden in about six weeks if I studiously work this pile. Not that we have a critical need.

Based on previous experience, I tend to miss a few key time intervals when it comes to composting, so I don’t think we ever achieved getting useable compost in the shortest possible time. Since we don’t have our compost area covered, I can’t protect the piles from getting too wet when weather is rainy. I am also prone to missing a day or two of checking the piles, so they can become too compacted or over-dry before I finally notice.

As a result, my composting has usually been more of a stuttering on-and-off process that ultimately falls short of locking in maximum nutrients and thoroughly killing weed seeds and fly larva. That is the promise when paying precise attention to detail, or so I’ve read.

The horses are doing a fabulous job of grazing the back pasture to make sure we will have no shortage of manure. They continue to look increasingly comfortable with their new surroundings. Cyndie and I reinstalled one gate yesterday afternoon that allows us to break the paddocks into two during the short period when we set out pans of feed. This served to prevent the horses from chasing each other off their pans.

With two horses on each side, they settled down and ate with no fuss.

On my way down to the barn from the house, I stopped off to check the unauthorized nest Cyndie found. No eggs for one day. We’ll keep an eye on it and see how long that lasts.

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Written by johnwhays

April 22, 2021 at 6:00 am

Author Captured

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Before we moved the chicks out to the coop, we had dumped some of their droppings in the manure pile and noticed how hyper it made Delilah over the scent. Thinking it might do the same thing to natural predators, we decided to move the trail-cam to monitor the pile for a few days to survey for night prowlers attracted to the new chicken smells.

The only thing we captured was the author of this blog in his natural habitat.

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Written by johnwhays

April 21, 2017 at 6:00 am