Some Seriously Good Sh- er…Manure

Sharon April 1st, 2009

Note: Posting will be light the next two weeks, as the crazy Passover preparation insanity hits full swing, and then, so does Pesach.  Plus I just accidentally lost a long post on marriage, gay and straight, and its role in the Long Emergency.  I spent two freakin’ weeks on this, hit a wrong key and then WordPress saved the blank page before I could fix it.  Gack!  So that will be along as soon as I get up the energy to rewrite the whole thing.  Right now, I’d rather go sort my seeds ;-) .

My last post was rapturous about springtime, and it is a time of rapture and delight, especially in cold places.  However, it has its less rapturous bits as well, and one of them is the annual barn cleaning that follows the melting of the snow that has been blocking off the wide double doors through which we can take a wheelbarrow.

From December to March or April, we simply don’t clean out the barn.  This sounds as if it might be gross, but it really isn’t – we keep layering on bedding, and sufficient carbon keeps it from smelling bad – earthy and barnish, sure, but not particularly icky.  We don’t just do this because we’re lazy – this is good husbandry for our climate.  The barn has cement floors, left over from its days as a garage, and those cement floors get cold in the winter.  A very thick layer of bedding, some of it composting at the bottom and giving off heat is better for the animals.  Moreover, cleaning out the barn would involve throwing open the doors for the whole day – some days this is good, but our barn is already pretty well ventilated, and during the coldest weather (-27 was our lowest temp this year), throwing all the accumulated heat of composting and the heat the animals give off out of the barn.  Plus we’d have to kick the critters out, and frankly, the chickens especially have no interest in going out in 3 foot drifts of snow.

So there are several months of accumulated manure, plus the food scraps that the chickens didn’t eat, plus bit of food, hair, feathers that come off the critters.  Cleaning this sounds like it would be rather horrible, but oddly, both Eric and I find it kind of fun.  It is physical and strenuous, but not that unpleasant.   We have both found that the easiest way to clean the barn is with snow shovels, which do a great job of getting down the bottom of the mess.  Once we’ve got a wheelbarrow full, we start dividing up the rest of the work, he shovels, I put the top layer on the compost pile and the rest of it on the garden beds, and then hack up with a hoe anyplace it has become too dry and calcified.  The whole project is the kind of afternoon’s work that makes you feel like you are fully entitled to collapse on the couch with a cup of tea afterwards.

This year’s manure accumulation was sufficient to almost entirely cover the garden beds and fruit trees on the side yard, plus the courtyard permaculture plantings.  I’ll be able to finish off the rest of that part of the yard with the remaining compost from the load of horse manure I bartered with a neighbor (she gets room in our hay barn to store her horse’s hay for the winter, we get composted manure – yay!) last fall and never got onto the garden. 

The front yard garden and plantings, however, are sadly unmanured.  Which means we have to go seeking the stuff.  Fortunately, we have a horse farm across the street, another around the corner, alpacas down the road and four dairy farms within short range.  The barter arrangement I mentioned before, plus the results of other farmer’s barn cleanings (the standard response to requests for manure here is “Please, take it!”) means that we will be rich with organic matter and fertility for our gardens.

And this is no small issue.  It is tough to make enough compost to cover even a moderate sized garden, much less the one we have.  One can purchase inputs for one’s farm, but these are costly, and many come from far away places.  Animal manures represent (mostly) a balanced fertilizer, when they are properly used to fertilize pasture, or handled correctly.  Unfortunately, nearly all industrial animal agriculture treats animal manures in ways that not only unfit them for garden use, but make them contaminants and destructive toxins.  Industrial manures, often laden with antibiotics and chemicals, and held in vast lagoons, unmixed with the carbonaceous material that renders the stuff into usable compost and mutes the odor, are toxic, atmosphere destroying, water contaminating, and deeply destructive.  On that scale, they are as unlike the manure in my barn as anything could be.

And this is one of the big deals - perhaps the biggest.  Decent food yields depend on decent soil fertility.  Most of our fertilizers are mined or chemically produced using large quantities of fossil fuels – and, as last year showed, are vulnerable to dramatic price increases, when fossil fuels do.  There are also long term isues with phosphorous availability, as well as high costs to divorcing the organic matter in manures from the chemical constituents of fertility – ie, from dumping chemical fertilizers on the ground instead of manuring.  Plus, marginally profitable as most farming is, having to buy more inputs can be the difference between making a profit or not.

Now out in the country where I am, manure access  not a major problem.  But in denser areas, where most people purchase compost or manures or other inputs that are trucked in, the question of fertility is a long term concern – and a serious one, because in a lower energy world, we’re going to need to grow more food where people actually live.

 One possible answer is to divert urine, which is (mostly) sterile, and can provide much of the fertility (without the quantity of organic matter) that a garden needs.  Another possibility is large scale humanure composting, on the municipal level.  One way or another, we’re going to have to deal with the fact that in the US, the major source of manure comes from an animal with two legs, a large brain and a beer can ;-) .  There is a very good chance that in the next few decades we will no longer have the option of treating our manures as waste.  The project of readapting our infrastructure to use them should be a priority, because of the terrible consequences of not carefully handling human outputs.

Meanwhile, back to my barn, we spread the partly composted manures on the side yard garden – I won’t be planting there until the fence goes up in a couple of weeks (keeping the poultry and goats out), so there’s time for everything to settle in.  I’ll go out and broadfork the beds to loosen things up and begin to incorporate today or tomorrow, depending on whether the predicted rain shows up or not.

Shoveling manure is one of those things that we imagine, if we haven’t done it, to be intolerable, the symbol of the misery of agriculture, the horrible side effect of our reliance on animals.  And if I were channelling pig shit from a thousand industrially raised pigs into a giant manure lagoon, or cleaning out a chicken house with 60,000 hens in it, I’d sure agree.  But my animals don’t produce manure as a unpleasant consequence of being alive – manure is one of their gifts to me.  We don’t see their manure as a waste product to be managed, but as an output that we benefit from – my goats produce milk *and* manure for my garden.  My chickens give me eggs *and* chicken manure that makes my corn grow tall.  Viewed this way, and on a human, rather than industrial scale, it becomes not only a manageable, but desirable thing.

And while I don’t always love doing it, with good management, on a home scale, it is really no more unpleasant than changing diapers, perhaps a bit less.  And at the root, I know that the decentralization of animal production that I’m practicing, modelling and that I can perhaps help others begin is the answer to much of the contaminating effect of industrial animal production, and also to the problem of how to get a decent yield out of your cucumbers.  Cleaning out the barn is just one small step in solving our larger problems.

 Sharon

36 Responses to “Some Seriously Good Sh- er…Manure”

  1. JLeuze says:

    It looks like you are using a really old version of WordPress Sharon. The newest version has a spiffy new control panel, but one feature in particular, post revisions, could have saved your post:
    http://support.wordpress.com/posts/post-revisions/

    You’re using WordPress 2.3.2, the latest version is 2.7.1. Aside from helpful new features, using such an old version is a big security risk, I’d highly recommend upgrading your site.

    My two year old produces more than enough poo for me, I think I’ll hold off on the chickens until he’s old enough to shovel!

  2. DEE says:

    What’s not to love about manure? I don’t see poop….I see tomatoes, peppers, green beans,carotts,lilies,dalhias,sunflowers….well,you get the picture. We were just talking about cleaning out the chicken house as have new peeps coming next week and the two year old gals have been sluffing off so we’ve been culling and soup-potting them….too expensive to feed freeloaders.

    Son is building a chicken coop at his place so will give him half our nest boxes as the girls seem to prefer the ones on the west end excusivly…look identical to me! He has been digging in some ancient manure on the cow side of our barn; comes off in sheets so we run it thru the chipper/shredder and it is like the store stuff…but stand back ’cause things really grow when you use it!

    Our neighbor has found a supplement to her income with her huge pile of poo…she’d been giving it away but now with the resurgence of garden fever she’s getting $25 a pickup load; money she really needs to stay on her little farm. DEE

  3. Bill says:

    Amen to that Sharon. My hens are fenced in to one side of my unheated garden hoop house and spend the winter on a deep manure / mulch pack that they very happily aerate for me all winter. I just keep adding hay and table scraps and of course collect the eggs. Plenty of light and warmth in there when the sun shines, even when it is below zero. The best part comes here in a week or two when the birds go outside and I get to harvest all the goodies they have left behind for me. This is used as a main ingredient for next year’s (2010) compost which will be gradually built in one giant pile throughout the summer. Gotta love those birds!

  4. cynthia says:

    This post makes me smile ;) My daughter and I just recently had this conversation about sh*t. Dog sh*t, cat sh*t, chicken sh*t… anyway, sh*t happens! We (overly) ‘civilized’ humans have forgotten how to deal with it. I have also been looking into a composting toilet and how to compost the ‘humanure’… and I live in town… How are ya’ll dealing with the sh*t in your lives? Cyn

  5. ChristyACB says:

    I agree! The manure is a bonus and I sure wish I had access to more here!

    I do have a quick question though: Some things, like carrots, don’t like to have recent manure on them and anytime I’ve used anything not fully composted I get burned plants. How do you get yours garden ready so quickly?

  6. shoshana says:

    Several of my Slow Food Book Club friends and I put an ad on Freecycle for composted manure and got a great response. We are commandeering someone’s dad’s pickup, grabbing our shovels and having a communal sh*t shoveling event. Great community builder….or alternatively, great little business for kids looking for work. -Shosh

  7. Laurie in MN says:

    Sharon, how deep do you layer new bedding on the old, shall we say “manured”, stuff? This is purely out of curiousity — I do not now nor will I probably have any time in the near future actual livestock. I was just a horse crazy kid (in the city, sigh) who remembers reading that horses at least can get serious foot issues from standing in wet/soiled bedding. I am quite certain your goats had no trouble at all!! :) I’m just curious how deep the new bedding needs to go on to provide the benefits you mentioned.

    On another note… mmmmmmm, compost. :) I raked all the back yard leaves onto our fairly small garden plot this fall (and last) assuming that good things will happen to my soil as they break down. I’m wondering if an application of manure before I turn everything under might not be a bad idea. I am open for suggestions!

  8. Sharon says:

    Laurie – I agree, standing in wet soiled bedding isn’t good for any animal – plus being icky. But the answer to your post is “enough to keep it dry and not icky.” Sorry, I don’t have actual measurements.

    Sharon

  9. Chili says:

    “Manure is one of their gifts to me.” How true! I consider it gold. I grew up on a horse farm “pitching sh_” for many years, and I never imagined someday I’d have a mound in my backyard and counldn’t wait for it to arrive so I can start digging in it. I tease my husband when the neighbors are no longer around, I’ll have to get animals for the manure!

  10. Susan says:

    Amen to this post! DH and I were having this very conversation last night, about the chickens and their gifts to us. His dad still thinks it’s crazy we have chickens but since we’ve been getting eggs he’s gone to thinking his daughter in law is merely eccentric. I keep telling him we have pets with benefits: eggs, manure, and cheap entertainment. How can you go wrong with a combination like that?

    I put the greatest portion of my coop’s manure into the potato barrels this year as an experiment. So far they’re growing like crazy but I guess the proof will be in the harvest.

  11. Edward Bryant says:

    Sorry about your lost post…I have a Time Machine HD hooked up to my Mac for just this sort of thing!

    Animal manures are great, but humanure is awesome. We have been composting our humanure for seven years now and the results are tremendous. Joe Jenkins’ Humanure Handbook should be required reading for every High School student and their parents. Fecophobia is as bad as fungiphobia!

    Speaking of fungi, humanure compost also supports various manure mushrooms, like cremini, white button and portabelo (which are all Agaricus bisporus).

    This means you can go to the garden and get all the ingredients for a mushroom-shallot omelet in one trip! If I only had a cow, I could have cheese too.

  12. Jerry says:

    Who better to comment on your latest post than a small pasture based dairyman. I too add carbon to our cow’s manure whether it be the corn silage that rots on the side of a horizontal pile or the hay that the cows throw out of the bunk. I do not spread my cow manure on my rotational pasture because of refusal issues by the cows. Of course they are spreading it themselves during the grazing months. I also raise my calves in a manner like you do just adding either hay or sawdust when the top gets wet. I do this until I let them outside for the first time also training them to stay inside an electric fence. Sometimes I have to push a reluctant heifer out of the barn and then of course they all immediately run through the fence until they calm down and then one by one have an encounter with the live fence with their wet nose.
    I do use much of my cow manure to grow my corn for silage storing it until can be spread and than harrowing it within a few days to keep the nitrogen from vanishing into the air. I have found that I can grow great corn using just manure.
    I consider myself different from industrial farming but I still rely on some antibiotics when needed and do use genectically modified seed from time to time. I don’t think that all industrial farms have toxic manure as most of the large dairy farms use large amounts of sawdust for bedding on rubber mats. I am sure that they use more antibiotics than I do due to the fact that most of them are bringing in new cows while I have a closed herd.

  13. rdheather says:

    I had to call my mother to tell her how exciting it was that the horse poops lots and lots! And in neat rows too. Poop is good.

    My only question is has anyone had problems with a persistent herbicide called Pico-something? It can still have herbicide effects(on non-grass plants) after a trip though the animals gut and composting, or so I’ve heard. My hay is currently of an unknown origin so I’m going to test the compost before slathering it on the garden.

  14. SoapBoxTech says:

    Great post.

    I grew up spending what felt like my entire summer removing the winter`s manure build up, with my brother. After we moved off the farm, my grandmother actually re-assumed most of that work until she was about 85. She`d go down for about an hour at a time, and then go rest awhile, plugging away at it all summer long. Amazing.

    I have taken that work over again now. When I was young, I absolutely despised it and would take or make any excuse to bugger off to something else. Obviously this made it far worse than it actually was but youth has to learn these things on their own…and I was no different. Now I find it quite rewarding exercise, especially wearing a diskman or now an mp3 player.

    Winters are long here and the barns get filled deep. When I was young we had a larger herd and all the barns got used heavily. This meant there was a LOT of manure to clear out. Even without buggering around it would take a good month and a half for one adult male working a steady 6 or 8 hours a day to clear it all out.

    The benefit was enough manure each year to be able to spread it out over our crops on a rotational basis, meaning our crops never needed chemical fertilizers…ever. Our farmland is just about the only land in this area which has been farmed for 3 generations and never tasted chemical fertilizer. It has only been for about 40 years that fossil fuels have been used to power the farm as well. My family used horses into the 70`s.

    That leads me to commenting on moving nutrients into urban centers. The teamster union is called such, as they were the truckers of old, using teams to transport goods and fertilizers to cities, and others good back to urban sites. Despite Webster Tarpley`s assertion that this will mean humanity is regressing, I disagree. I believe a return to this kind of activity will one again be necessary. But I also agree that humanure has to be re-embraced, urine as well.

    Which leads to commenting on toxic manure. Humanure is somewhat toxic as well, but it is microbial and fungal activity which render it inert in terms of toxicity. The same should hold true for toxic animal manure, although I vehemently agree that many of the practices which lead to highly toxic animal manure should be abandoned. I suggest people have a look at:

    http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/paul_stamets_on_6_ways_mushrooms_can_save_the_world.html

    Thanks. Peace and comfort.

  15. SoapBoxTech says:

    Oops, that should have read “…teams of horses to transport goods and fertilizers to cities,…”.

  16. ~debra~ says:

    when it’s time to clean up after the chickens i get a lot of “aww mom it’s not my turn!” and often times end up doing the job myself. weird as it sounds, it’s a chore i enjoy. it’s peaceful, i feel as though i’m doing something “good.” the more chicken poo i shovel, the better my garden grows. like dee, i don’t see poop or smell chicken waste. i see blooms and buds, green beans and corn. i smell apple and pear blossoms and healthy foods for my family. i’d rather the physicality of spending the day scraping floors and scrubbing walls than spend one single minute on a treadmill in a gym somewhere.

  17. MEA says:

    Sharon — how Icelandic c. 400-600 CE you are.

    As an old farmer in Derbyshire once told me,

    “Nowt s’fine as muck spreading, saving the golden hoof.” (That meant running sheep on land you wanted to cultivate later, so that there sharp little hooves would work the muck into the soil.”

  18. Laurie in MN says:

    Sharon:
    Thanks for the answer anyway. :) As I said, idle curiosity and wondering whether say 6 inches is sufficient vs. laying down 12 inches at a time. At any rate, it’s interesting to hear about the process you use — those of us without livestock really don’t think about all the details involved, especially with long cold winters. I don’t blame the critters for not wanting to go outside!

  19. rdheather, I think the herbicide you’re thinking of is Confront, with the chemical being clopyralid. Besides being part of the lawn care industry, grain growers use it as a control for broadleaf weeds in grain crops. After the grain is harvested, the stalk (straw) is baled and sold to feed stores for bedding and gardeners as mulch. There may be some hay growers that use it, but most contamination comes from straw and grass clippings being recycled in municipal composting operations.

    We buy straw from a grower who while not organic, employs good farming rotations and avoids most weed problems. So we know our deep bedding packs for our livestock contain no surprises.

    The feed store most likely has no idea, so it is hard for gardeners/small holders to find good straw, etc for bedding their stock.

    Here is a link about the problem in our neck of the woods.
    http://www.safe2use.com/ca-ipm/02-03-13.htm

    Jerry, the cows will have no repugnance to the manure if you stack it and let it compost before spreading. We put it on recently hayed paddocks to give them a boost, so that helps too, since the cows won’t graze there for some time.

  20. Edward Bryant says:

    rdheather:

    The herbicide you are thinking of is Picrolam. It is very similar to clopyralid that Throwback at Trapper Creek mentioned above. Both have the same uses (against broad leaf plants in grain production) and enter the animal food/compost chain via grain feed and especially straw bedding. The city of Spokane, Washington had to shut down their city-wide composting facility after contaminated compost damaged crops. A local effort(Spokane Tilth) to ban these nasties was defeated by big-ag interests.

  21. Jim says:

    –And this is no small issue. It is tough to make enough compost to cover even a moderate sized garden, much less the one we have.

    Sharon, truer words were never spoken (save on the Mount, I’ll admit). I’ve been spreading the results of two compost piles on the little garden I’ve got, and can’t get it deeper than a couple of inches. It does help, as poor as the actual soil is here in the desert.
    Sigh.

  22. Jerry says:

    Throwback,

    You don’t realize how much carbon you have to add to cow manure to get it to compost correctly let alone the expense of turning it and the sheer volumn a 1600lb Holstein will give you let alone 50 of them.

  23. Claire says:

    You mentioned humanure and how we need to change our current system of dealing with it … in St. Louis the sh*t is about to hit the fan. The sewer district, which operates the stormwater and sanitary sewer system, is supposed to finally deal with the problem of the sewer system becoming overloaded during heavy rains, with the result that untreated, diluted sewage bypasses the treatment plants and goes straight into the local creeks and rivers. They tell us it could wind up costing ratepayers $100/month versus the current average of about $25-30/month to completely separate the stormwater and sewage systems. Seems to me a better solution would be collection and composting of humanure. If they collected autumn leaves for compost (many people already send them to be composted since yard waste is not allowed in the landfills) and then added the shredded paper from the recycling waste stream, it might make a good composting system and deal with three waste streams not now being used to their full potential. And then they could sell the composted humane back to interested gardeners for an additional revenue stream! I’m going to propose this at one of the upcoming public meetings on their plans. It would be so much more sensible than what they are proposing. Still have to deal with graywater, of course.

  24. Jerry, I realize 30+ Herefords don’t have the output of 50 Holsteins, but I do know how much carbon it takes to tie down the nutrients in their cow manure. It takes a lot! We spend a fair amount of time just looking for carbon. We don’t turn our compost, but add biodynamic preps and stack it for a year, it breaks down in that time, and is almost like dirt, after that time. I suppose if you were in a hurry you would need the equipment to turn it, but we are only dealing with manure storage during the winter, during the grazing season the cows are distributing it themselves.

    Several of my posts from last year, show how it turns out after a year.

  25. Stephen B. says:

    The residential school I work and farm at got a small tractor loader last fall as a health and wellness grant award for the kids. Now, normally I disdain large power equipment such as this, but between kitchen scraps from 20 kids, grass clippings, wood chip waste, and yard trimmings from 2 area landscapers, and all the horse manure and stall clean outs we could ever wish for from the horse boarding farm down the road, the multiple compost piles/windrows we ended up with were 8 to10 feet tall and simply beyond what we could turn or spread by hand.

    We finally got to start properly mixing and turning said piles this past fall too and for all our extra effort, we ended up with piles steaming well into the winter. (After the piles were “done”, I put tarps over them to keep them from leaching out in the rain and snow.) Now we’re starting to spread the finished various compost on our orchard, as well as our berry bushes, grapes, and veggie gardens. We’re getting this stuff down about 2 inches thick in most places. I expect our community of staff and kids are going to be amazed at the difference some “poop” mixed with yard waste makes.

    I’ve often told the kids “gold is really black” and I suspect that later this year they’ll believe me.

  26. Stephen B. says:

    I meant to say: “Now we’re starting to spread the finished compost on our orchard, as well as our various berry bushes, grapes, and veggie gardens.”

    Silly me, I inserted a word in the wrong spot. ‘Time for bed I guess.

  27. SoapBoxTech says:

    Your work sounds very rewarding, Stephen B.

  28. BP says:

    Sharon,

    A bit of advice from someone who has been bit by a computer more than a few times. For long works in web forms, I always copy and paste the contents of the text box I’m working in to a text file every so often. This has saved me a rewite on more than one occasion when the form vaporizes my composition.

    BP

  29. Sharon says:

    Thanks everyone for the advice on wordpress. And Jerry, you are right, I’m not quite being fair to some dairy farmers, whose manure is handled much better than this. I was thinking mostly of hog and chicken confinement operations, but of course, y’all can’t see what I’m thinking about ;-) . Thanks for the clarification. Obviously, I’m dealing with small potatoes compared to those of you with bigger critters.

    Christy, the top layers go on the compost pile to cook some more, and it is the bottom stuff, left from December/January, which has already done some composting in place, that I’m putting on the garden. Also, there’s a *lot* of carbonaceous material mixed in, which helps. Generally I plan where I’ll be putting root crops ahead, and manure/compost their beds in the fall.

    Urban humanure is such a fascinating and fraught problem – Claire, thanks for telling us about your area’s issue. One of the complexities, of course, is how to keep toxic stuff out of the humanure stream – people clean their toilets with such horrible stuff, and dump lord knows what down their toilets – keeping people’s waste separate, and getting them to clean with low-or-no toxicity cleaners seems like a tough sell – doable perhaps, but with a *lot* of education.

    Sharon

  30. Christyk says:

    As to Humanure in urban settings, I have four years experience.
    Half inch hardware cloth and pallets make a great compost pile structure that keeps out all critters.
    Finding lots of carbon is facilitated by our oak tree leaves and a local door and window shops sawdust. (this is not optimal as milling sawdust is wetter, not kiln dried, but it does avoid plywoods and other cabinet shop contaminants.) The shop receives credit per bag for sawdust not going to the dump. I pick up a very large bag at a go on a bike truck, short front wheel with platform over it attached to mainframe, a custom frame.
    Optimally there would be no fossil fuel transport of urban humans byproducts. Rather there could be neighborhood piles which do not get too big. Most folks I would think would prefer to do their own but I would handle others, old folks, uninterested, etc for the ultimate fertilizer…
    Pharmeceuticals are the biggest issue to me-cancer meds and anti-biotics being obvious but others do not break down and can arrive in your ultimate food! so family piles are “known quanitities” and best. Knowing your neighbors and trusting each other as the depression deepens and more see that saving water and energy this way is very efficient will be good.
    I do not turn my piles but let them sit two years, watering them in the non-rainy season as this is California…and they rarely need covering from leaching downpours…I added worms one year and they persist moving from pile to pile happily…
    A friend bought a composting toilet that was expensive, loud fan equipped and otherwise overdone…One can handle this easily, as in the baby diaper changing analogy…
    Joe Jenkins Humanure is a great resource on all the issues and free online. He will also send free copies to any government official willing to read it.
    I pay a local feed store worker to deliver four bales of rice straw to our home on his way home after work, one delivery each year as it is a bore doing bales on the bike. I have gotten too old for that in traffic…The straw is a great insulator to hold moisture in the pile and a great carbon addition/topping when we have added the latest batch of buckets both food compost and humanure…
    Obama could get on this and legalize it nationwide and then license folks to do the work, great labor and food producing project…In Mongolia Jenkins helped organize neighborhood piles in an urban settings.
    I have to add, that not only are GM, Ford, and Chrysler over, but the single occupancy car is over…It is very sad to me that all over the country,”shovel ready projects” are car based transit rather than mass transit infrastructure which is far more needed for a viable trade future between the local farm and folks…not to mention all other longer than bike trips/loads… Track was torn out all over the country, in the cities and across the countryside…Bikes may not be for everyone but my favorite story is of the old lady in France who lived to 130 or so,riding her bike until she was 100 and outliving two generations of holders of her reverse mortgage!

  31. e4 says:

    Sharon, I have to say that I’d much rather clean out the barn stall than change diapers. I’d actually rather clean out the barn stall that do my day job. At least when I get done, I have the satisfaction of seeing a huge compost pile. The manure I push around at work is invisible. And the humanure in diapers smells 10 times worse to me…

  32. Ken Neal says:

    You seem to be using a lot of manure on your garden Sharon. If you did less digging you wouldn’t need so much fertilizer. See this video and its sequel -

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ugFd1JdFaE0

    Anaerobic digestion of animal and human manures renders them useful to agriculture on a large scale and gives a good amount of energy as well.

  33. Lori Scott says:

    Remember the old english saying “where there’s muck, there’s money”.

    That statement held lots of revolutionary socio-political comment but really means that manure is the basis of fertility in the soil which then underpins every other money making concern they could have thought of in those days.

  34. [...] By foodnstuff Here’s a nice post about the benefits of manure from Sharon at Casaubon’s Book. This is a rather good [...]

  35. [...] The Chatelaine’s Keys » Blog Archive » Some Seriously Good Sh-And this is no small issue.  It is tough to make enough compost to cover even a moderate sized garden, much less the one we have.  One can purchase inputs for one’s farm, but these are costly, and many come from far away places.  Animal manures represent (mostly) a balanced fertilizer, when they are properly used… Comments Off [...]

  36. Amanda Davis says:

    I am very distressed regarding the upcoming election. Considering what is happening in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Middle East (not to mention the economy) we seriously should be looking for a experienced leader. I’m not at all convinced that President Obama or any of the Republican challengers so far have the experience or skills necessary to get the job done the way it needs to be accomplished. Being president of the United States is an hugely hard job. Do you think there is anyone out there with the experience, skill, and moral courage to do the job?

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