Where there are large animals, there is a large amount of poop. We currently have 4 horses and 1 cow, so we have plenty of manure to manage on a daily basis. Of course using the manure to make compost and then using the compost on our fruit trees and in our garden is ideal, but it is harder than I imagined...
Composting is a true science! I am still learning and experimenting! Basically we want to create the perfect environment for the organisms, which will decompose the matter, so then we will have the correct carbon to nitrogen ratio. Scientists have discovered that having the ratio of 25-30 parts carbon per 1 part nitrogen is how to create perfect compost. Carbon materials are hay, straw, and leaves etc. and nitrogen materials are things such as manure, food scraps, and fresh weeds. If we have the correct ratio of C:N then microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, and actinomycetes, they will thrive, therefore breakdown, and change the chemistry of the pile (macroorganisms such as earthworms and millipedes help too). You must also consider the environmental factors to such as air, moisture, food and temperature. But, creating the perfect environment seems more difficult than I had anticipated!
It is a pile of scraps and poop, but there is a lot going on and a lot to balance!
Here are a couple tips that I hope help!
- Try to have pile near where you are mucking, so you don't have to travel far with the manure
- You can have a drip line on pile if you live where it's dry or tarp the pile if you live in a wet, rainy area.
- If you squeeze a sample and it and sticks together but without water dripping out, that is a good moisture level.
- Keep checking samples and adjust accordingly (photo below of my hand is in the breaking down process).
- Cow manure is better than horse manure.
- Add finished compost to your pile and it can really help speed up the process!
- It's ok to experiment! Keep trying - it is all about learning!
Happy Mucking! Lauren