Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Building compost

I built a compost heap today.

We regularly leave our trailer at a stable.  They have many horses on the property and need to clear the waste.  We take down our empty trailer, they shovel manure and sawdust (which they use on the stable floors) into it, and a couple of days later I pick up my full load.  Sometimes I spread it on paddocks straight from the back of the trailer but other times, like today, I use it for a compost heap.
Our goats sleep in pens overnight and their bedding is straw or hay.  We don't clean it out but add fresh hay on the top.  It's a wonderful method because their beds become more comfortable as time goes and the hay begins to compost under them and creates warmth.  Nature's electric blanket!
Daisy's pen is becoming too high as the layers have built up.  She's almost able to step out of the pen!  It has happened before!  So using some of her bedding and the full load of manure, I've created a heap that will be ready in plenty of time for spring.

I shoveled out heaps of the manure, added a layer of soiled hay from Daisy's pen, watered it down until the hay was moist and then shoveled another thick layer of manure.  I like making compost at this time of year because the manure is moist and the hay is too in some places so I don't use as much water to create a pile as I would in summer.  I continued with my layers until there was no manure left in the trailer and then covered the whole pile with a generous layer of the bedding hay.  It serves to keep the rain from entering the pile and leaching the nutrients.
This pile will heat up over the next couple of days.  I'll be able to feel the heat if I put my hand on the hay.  Sometimes it has rising steam in the mornings.  I'll turn the pile in a few days after it starts to cool.  This starts the heating process again.  Then a final turning of the compost and I'll leave it to sit until I need to use it.  I like the look of the hay covered pile.  A bit like a little haystack hiding secret garden goodness.  However Buddy was helping today and insisted that we cover it with the old picnic blanket.  We use this to cover a pile if we're not working with hay.
When we don't have old bedding material available, I just create compost with two trailer loads of manure, make sure it's moist and cover with the picnic blanket or black plastic until it's ready for turning.  It makes good compost but I much prefer the result from the hay/manure mix.  Of course Buddy wanted to pose with his job-well-done!
My garden will be sooo happy with this brew in a few weeks!  Do you have compost on the go?


Kim said...

This is a great idea , Linda. We have lots of hay here ,but the problem I have is that everytime I handle hay I get hayfever, so end up looking like some kind of space alien with my mask and goggle everytime I use it. David is building me a goat shed at the moment, so maybe I will get to try this idea!

Tricia said...

That's a great system you have going with the stable. We have new owners at a local horse stud....and I might see if i can arrange something similar once we get our trailer. Great idea thanks.

Linda said...

Sounds like David should be in charge of goat bedding and compost building Kim! The goats love their winter beds. Give it a try.

There's always someone around desperate to get rid of manure Tricia. I've even asked on buyswapsells on fb and found people happy to fill my trailer from their paddocks. Then I just go back to collect when they're done.

cityhippyfarmgirl said...

We're currently creating compost magic at our local school. I've never been so enthusiastic and excitedly checking of the compost before :-)

Linda said...

That's wonderful Cityhippyfarmgirl but be careful.... Compost enthusiasm fosters strange behaviour. I've been known to take my morning coffee out to the pile to admire and check for warmth.