Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Spreading The Joy
“Mankind, for all it’s artistic pretensions, owes it’s existence to 6 inches of topsoil and the fact that it rains”
One of the tasks of winter is the cleaning of the animal barns. The composting process grinds to a halt due to the cold weather, but the poo keeps coming. I top up the compost bins just before freezeup and let the freeze thaw cycle continue the work of the hibernating microbes.
Our old barn has a manure pack laid down by various animal residents over the years. The sharp hooves of the sheep shred the surface and they drag their bedding straw around the pen. Every few days, I rake the surface and pile the manure into my cheerfully coloured plastic sleigh. I then haul it to the garden and spread it on the beds. In keeping with organic practices, I can only add this lightly aged manure for a few months in deepest winter. I must stop adding uncomposted manure no later than 90 days before planting my crop. The deadline is 120 days before planting a root crop. I’ve got until about June, so I should get all my beds covered with a layer of black gold.
The henhouse gets refreshed on the warmer days of winter. The poultry litter is too hot to be applied directly to the garden so it is piled over a heap of cornstalks and left to ferment. I also continue to add the contents of my household compost pail, as well as a small amunt of sawdust and wood ash from the stove.
It is pleasant winters work. It gets me outside for a while each day. There is none of the urgency of the other seasons and the reward is measureable.
The thaw and the rains of spring will leach the harshness out of this manure and leave a rich black crumb which will add to the tilth of my little patch of heaven.