Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Neighbor’s Manure Pile

Look at it.  Just sitting there.  All that fertility.

My neighbor cleaned his feed lot and put together a big-ole manure pile.  The stuff that dreams are made of.  I’m sure he’ll spread it on his fields this fall without really letting it compost but that’s just how most people do it.

My other neighbor, my dad, keeps horses.  There is a fair manure pile at the barn made from the manure of one of the horses.  I …erm…liberated…some portion of that manure for my garden and hope that dad doesn’t mind.  I mean, it’s his manure.  He needs it for his hay fields and his own garden.  Maybe if I put in some extra effort to keep all three horses bedded and keep the manure composting he won’t mind…

I have a few cows.  We rotationally graze them so there is no cow manure pile.  I have a lot of chickens…same thing.  No manure except in the old hen house.  Pigs?  No manure pile.  I keep rabbits and the breeders stay put.  Well, that’s what I’ve got.  Rabbit manure.  Well, rabbit manure and what I clean out of the hen house each spring and fall.  Well, that and what I clean out of the greenhouses in the spring.  But I need compost now.  Like…NOW!  Ugh.  What to do?

I guess I could head to St. Louis Composting to just buy compost.  For $25 I can buy a pickup truck load but why would I do that when I could spend a month shoveling, raking, sifting and hauling to end up with a lesser quality (though herbicide-free) compost for free?

And even if I had my neighbor’s manure piles and even if I had the energy to turn them all by hand or a heaven-sent front-end loader to turn the piles for me would it be enough?  How much finished compost could I haul home at $25/yard?  When would that be enough?  If I had 50 yards of compost sitting in a pile on the farm ready to be used would I still look over the fence wishing that manure pile was my own?  Is there such a thing as enough?  Am I a compost miser?  Do I hoard manure?  Are my eyes bigger than my stomach?

How much is enough?  I don’t know.  I just know I need more and I need it right now.  And again in the spring.  And again in the summer.  And again next fall.  Does anybody else have these problems?

6 thoughts on “Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Neighbor’s Manure Pile

  1. Well yes I do have manure pile envy….. Living on a half acre it’s interesting. But it’s how I ended up with 10 chickens and a hot manure pile and we lived happily ever after 🙂

  2. Maybe if you look coy enough, someone will just start bringing manure to you FOC just to rid of it…once the word gets out.

    We’re happy to be a dumping ground for our neighbors, they bring horse poop and lots o’ carbon!

    I hate to be a harpy too, but you know, my hens just about compost their deep bedding for me. Dump truck load + per year, no turning, no sweating, and it’s ready to use all the time…I do have to haul it away though, one light wheelbarrow load at a time 🙂

    • You don’t hate to be a harpy. I know, cows move, chickens stay put. Back to Eden guy does the same thing. But you should see the grass where the layer flock has been! Same effect spread over the entire farm…just without the wheelbarrow.

  3. We have about 300 yards (yes, 300) of horse manure composting at work now. It warms my heart (and my hands) to observe it. Most of the guys think I’m pretty peculiar as I gaze at it, thinking of all the glory that it will bring. They’ll see me drive by and holler “are you going to look at your poo pile?” Yes sir I am.

    Once one realizes the gold that compost is, there’s no turning back. You are a hoarder…now embrace it. 🙂

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