this week’s theme…

Poop.

Yup.

This week’s theme is poop.

We spend a lot of time discussing and dealing with poop around here. Chicken poop. Sheep poop. More chicken poop.

Livestock manure is a great thing. At least when you have a big garden. We basically can’t produce enough compost. We will use as much as we produce in a year–and we could always use more. And that was before we expanded the garden with the corn and squash patch.

More on that in a separate post.

If we didn’t have the garden, the animal poop would be waste and a pain to deal with. Instead, it’s amazing fertilizer that makes even more amazing compost. After putting compost in the main garden bed every year since 2011, that soil is fantastic–rich, crumbly, ever-less-rocky by the year. Similarly, the garlic patch is in great shape. We started putting compost in there. Ever since we started planting garlic each year, however, it gets less compost and more fall leaves. Those leaves cover and protect the garlic bulbs when we plant them around Halloween. The plants grow up through the leaves in the spring and summer, we harvest the garlic in July, and till the leaves in September or October before the next round of garlic planting. Apparently the leaves have been rich enough on their own to re-fertilize the garlic bed.

We’ve had the chickens for 2.5 years now–since July 2013. We’ve been integrating their poopy straw into the compost, and into the garden directly, since then. Not to mention chicken poop straight into the garden thanks to their wandering–and pooping.

This is the first year we’re adding sheep poop into the garden/compost mix. They’ve been moving around the property since late July when we got them. Ron put them in their winter pasture around Thanksgiving. They are supposed to be in one place(ish) then through early spring once there is enough grass for them to graze.

Now that they are in one place, we are really noticing how much they poop–and it’s only five sheep! If we didn’t clean up after them very much, we think it’d be pretty messy and stinky, especially by late March or April. Instead, we’ve been trying to keep them a bit cleaner and the winter pasture less stinky. Ron cleans out the sheep shack every few days and piles up the poopy straw in a big pile by the shack. Once stacked up for a while, he’s moved those piles into the corn and squash patch. That provides great amusement, of course, for the chickens who run around digging, scratching, and spreading out the poopy hay.

There was a small(ish) pile today so I moved that into the compost bins as part of my attempt to produce more compost. We’ve got two unusually full compost bins and I started the third bin today. That will be our “active” bin for winter (now that it is finally here–maybe).

In addition to raking up poopy sheep hay from the shack, I’ve been collecting 5-gallon buckets of sheep “lumps” in the pasture from time to time, and dumped those into the compost. It doesn’t take much time and it adds a lot of dense nutrients to the compost piles. Cold days like today are the best days for collecting sheep lumps. They are frozen little lumps that are easily tossed into the bucket. Needless to say, warmer days after some rain are not so great… That said, cleaning up sheep poop is a lot less gross and stinky than cleaning up dog piles. Sheep poop is grass rich so it doesn’t smell that bad. It’s especially entertaining when I’m wandering around looking for sheep piles and the sheep are following me.

“What are you doing?” “What’s in the bucket?” “Is it CORN????”

No, it’s what your corn treats turn into…

 

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