Friday, April 25, 2008


I started composting about a year ago. It was my way of embracing country life. We had tried to move (long story) but things didn't work out. I decided since I was going to stay I should make the most of things and do all the "country" things I always thought I might do. Composting was an easy one to start. I bought a commercial bin. We could have made our own but we thought this would be the easiest way. I really like the bin, it would even look fine in a city residential yard. This is the standard about 3 ft tall black plastic bin with slits in the side. I do wish we had gotten a bigger one because there are times this one reaches the top. That's when I start turning it more so we can keep adding to it. I do think it composts slower because it's cold here so much of the year, and because our only real "brown" ingredient are the oak leaves we use to cover the kitchen scraps. Oak leaves are known for composting slowly.

In order to do this I had to learn all about composting. It's not hard, but you do need to get near the right balance of "brown" and "green" items in the pile. It needs to be wet, but not too wet. And the more you turn it and allow air into it, the faster it composes. More information can be found:

Not too long after we started composting we decided to go into the alpaca business. Talk about embracing country life! I quickly realized the potential for compost, as alpaca manure is touted as an excellent fertilizer.

We started a manure compost pile in the woods near the barn. I'll have to get a picture of how huge this pile is. It is mixed with hay and straw as there were times it was impossible to sort the two. I plan to work it into a compost using the manure and straw/hay so it should work out fine. I know some people prefer just the manure, which I need to look more into the benefits of that. For now, we'll make a mixed compost.

Last weekend we spent almost all day Sunday cleaning the barn of all the straw we had put down for the winter, and all the hay the alpacas knocked on the floor. Unfortunately a lot of hay was wasted, more so because the only hay we could find was not very good. And the straw we put down was much more than we needed or wanted. Being our first year doing it, we have learned a lot and will do things differently next year. For one, we likely won't put any straw down, or only a little. And with the hay, we found a source of really good hay so we should not have the waste that we ended up with this past year. But it does leave us this year with a very large pile of hay/straw mix. This we towed in the trailer to a spot in the woods near our house. We are planning to compost this. But what a huge chore! I took a picture of this pile, I had my daughter and dog sit in the front of the picture so you can get an idea of how big this area is (it includes all the area under the green tarp and extending behind it, and it's a couple feet deep, deeper in the middle of the pile):

I honestly am not sure how we will compose all of this! From what I've read, we need the balance of "brown" and "green". The straw/hay counts as "brown" so we will need a lot of green. I am not sure where that all will come from. I need to gather some more information to see how we will accomplish this. The end result would be some compost that we can use on the pastures we will eventually put in right by our house.

No comments:

Pin It button on image hover