Monday, 12 May 2014

A Connoisseur of Fine Manure

What do you call someone who considers themselves a connoisseur of fine manures? Someone who understands and appreciates the subtle complexities of a well aged pile of dung? Simply put, you call them a Farmer.

Last week the lovely German couple from up the road, operating the largest and most prestigious Show Jumping Stables in North America, called and offered us a few loads of their mountainous pile of horse manure. Yippeee! Only a farmer could get as excited as we were to receive such a gracious gift. And only a farmer could consider a big pile of horse poo a "gift". lol.

We jumped on it straight away, and within a couple of days we had ourselves a big steamy pile of beautiful overwintered horse manure. It had the perfect ratio of manure/bedding/straw. And, as it had sat all winter, it was already mostly composted. With only a slight hint of ammonia to its sweet earthiness. Horse dung is the Bordeaux of manures, as it contains the perfect ratio of carbon to nitrogen. Making it the favoured choice of vegetable farmers.

As we operate an organic farm, we hot compost all of our manures. Meaning we turn the pile (the act of transporting it and piling it is sufficient), and heat that pile to over 130 degrees Celcius for a minimum of at least 4 days. This process kills off any seeds or pathogens that might have been present in the pile, making it fit for use on our farm. Once the pile starts to cool down, meaning the thermophilic bacteria have done their work and start to die off, we cover the pile and let it age and cure for another few months.

Once our precious pile has cured, it will have the sweet, earthy, seductive smell of a well aged wine. Its texture will be light and fluffy, silky and soft. And it will add an array of nutrients, as well as organic matter, to our soil. We are so blessed to have this traditionally run horse stables just up the road from us. Thanks a HEAP Gerwig & Eleke Bahle!

First Day: Sunny and beautiful. A foal was born not 2 min before we got there that morning. Cute!

Second Day: Pouring Rain. We were still happy as pigs in... well you know! To be receiving this manure.

Nevin taking the piles temperature with our handy compost thermometer.

Mmmmm, smells almost done!

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