Saturday, May 10, 2008

whew, compost sorted

having emptied my compost bin into the garden to amend the soil for the tomatoes left work to be done. while tabitha was milking i paxied* toly. we went trough the clover field--previously known as the wishº field--previously the cows only pasture. i took the covers off the three stage-one bins and sized up our task.

the contents of the three bins were very different. one was obviously comprised of large whole cow pies. two was made of a finely broken up mix of cow pies and straw--from the loafing shed foor. the third was large cow pies and lots of straw. their respective states of compost was also different. the large cow pies were the least composted. where it was composted it was wet and hot--steamy. the finely broken matter bin was almost finished composting. the third was also very composted but only in the center of the bin. the composted matter was white hot and probably would have burned my hand had i touched it.

i forked all three bins into the center (big one). i did my best to blend the three evenly and break all large cow pies into small chunks. finally i had to get toly off my back because the full silage fork was heavy enough. kassi came out to the field to play so toly could be entertained somewhere besides my back. then the chickens descended upon me. they wanted into the long neglected bins to eat the bugs and larvae. at every rest break they would go crazy on all four piles. the bin that was mostly cow pies had the most larvae in it.

i took several breaks to give the chickens a chance to rid the bin of as many bugs as possible. lots of bugs makes rich and tasty eggs. i am not sure what the chickens think of me. they hang underfoot while i'm working on the compost and splitting wood but flee from like crazy the rest of the time. maybe it is because i chase them down until exhaustion and toss them out of the garden whenever they manage to trespass there.

tabitha weeded the beets--sorely needed. toly and kassi almost made it the entire two hours it took for me to combine bins. somehow toly managed to climb the orange gate and break into the garden. stomping freshly planted tomatoes was the first order of business--he only got a couple.

i covered the center bin in preparation for the impending storm. rain and compost bins don't mix. i've had it happen in the past--a huge festering mess.

as i forked and forked i imagined an aeration solution. if i were to bury several pieces of pvc pipe with holes in them exposing the ends to the outside, would that do the trick? i have some old drainage pipe that would work perfectly. next time i fill a bin i'll have some pieces of pvc ready. has anyone heard of anything like this? mostly i'd like to cut out the need to turn the compost more than once--or not at all.

this bin should really get cooking over the next few days. i wonder if tabitha would mind if i were to swipe her show kitchen thermometer. it has a probe on a cord that could sense the temperatures deep in the bin. maybe i should get my own "dirty" thermometer.


* (put toly in the ergo-back-back carrier)
º (dandelions gone to seed are wishes)

6 comments:

hillbilly2be said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sasha said...

I think I have a spare cheese thermometer (just a regular kitchen thermometer) if you want it.

~Sasha

karl said...

ron that is funny that you mention human manure i was just rereading it online. i plan (last in current queue) to build an outhouse and want to compost everything. initially our fruit trees will enjoy the nutrients. once i am confident of my composting skills it might make it to the garden. although, we have so many non-garden things that need fertilizer that take away from our current composting system that will likely use up any humanure i can produce.

i must admit peeing on my compost bins every chance i get though. it helps kick start the exothermic reaction.

karl said...

sasha, thanks for the offer but i was just taunting tabitha a little. i've got a fancy thermometer with thermistors that can be fashioned into a probe. i appreciate the thought though.

hillbilly2be said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matt said...

Hey Karl--

I've been known to sink a PVC pipe with holes drilled in it into the center of a pile as I build it. It makes the pile cook really fast and makes it easy to water it too if you need to.

Give it a try sometime. I just put it vertically into the center of the pile and leave it alone.

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