Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The compost pile

It's not glamorous, but it has to be done. Animals create poop, and it needs to go somewhere. Plus it's actually a sort of 'produce' on our farm. After all, the animals produce it, and once composted it will be great for the garden. My first pile is made up of pallets wired together. I need to make a front wall for it that I can add boards to as the pile grows. The pipe down the center is to get air down into the pile so it will 'cook' faster.

The poor animals are stuck in their winter areas while the pasture recovers from a summer of grazing. Unfortunately the paddock has gotten very muddy, and with the poop and mud I worry about their feet. So I need to clean up the manure at least every couple days. That's why I put the compost pile conveniently close to the paddock, right next to it in fact. There's room for three piles if necessary, which I understand a lot of folks end up with. That way one pile cooks while you're filing up the next one. Also I want to put down bark chips to give them something to stand on that won't be so muddy.
If we can find the money to get started on the project the pasture could look very different soon. I want to fence off the swale and plant it with native plants and trees, and divide the rest of the pasture into small paddocks for rotational grazing. This should help us get more use of the pasture without wearing it out, and reduce weeds. All it takes is money, money, money, right?! I got my ideas from a 12 week class I just finished through the county extension. Today I had a lady come out from the conservation district and walk around the property and give me some tips about mud and pasture maintenance. Their main interest is water and keeping the water table clean. I think I'm doing a pretty good job of managing our land so far (dumb luck), and I'm eager to make more good changes.




3 comments:

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Hmmm...I didn't know that the County Extension Office offered classes. I wonder if ours does too? I'll have to look into that for sure. I could really use some experienced wisdom.
Like you, I also want to create rotational pastures. I also need to create a smaller paddock to give the main pasture a break, as well. The animals only have a large pen and I can't leave them in there all winter. Too small for all of them. The horse, on the other hand has alot more room and more options. I wonder why that is? lol!

We don't have problems with mud or water, though. The winter is our dry time, except for maybe a few good snows, hopefully. We get our monsoons in July and August.

I've been meaning to ask you if you ever have trouble trimming your llama's feet? Or if you add gravel or rock to help wear them down?
My female llama allows me to handle her feet, but my gelding llama is still skittish and won't let me near his feet. I need to work with him alot more, or I may try to find out if the vet can help me do a trim, if they do that sort of thing. lol!

Great compost pile ideas. Do you have to do anything, like add water to get your llama beans to break down faster? It's so dry here, that months later, our beans are still solid.

~Lisa
New Mexico

StefRobrts said...

Just the opposite, we have so much water that the pile will have to be covered else it will just wash away!

Two of our llamas are used for 4H, so they get their feet trimmed as part of the kids lessons on llama maintenance - which is nice because I don't have to worry about it! Houdini isn't in 4H so we just keep an eye on his feet, and they haven't needed trimming yet so he must wear them down. If they do need it we'll probably get the vet to help.

Every now and then I grab a goat or sheep and check their feet. They seem to need trimming more often than the llamas, but they are easier to do so that's ok.

You should check into your extension office, I was surprised at how many resources they had available, and it's all free because it's already been paid for by your taxes. About time I got something back out of that deal!

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Thanks for all that great info and your nice reply, Stef. Now I need to find out how to get a 4Her to 'adopt' one or both of my llamas, eh? hehehe

~Lisa
New Mexico