Friday, May 10, 2013

A Berm of Brilliance

Things were going beautifully one day in March when I decided it was the perfect day to clean out my biggest enclosure. To sufficiently accomplish this task, I had to remove a wall and the roof. (a humorous topic for another day) It took surprisingly little time to completely deconstruct the coop and scatter all its parts and pieces in the yard surrounding the foot deep layer cake of rich, juicy, fermenting compost. I brought out my favorite implement, the pitch fork, and began filling the wheelbarrow in earnest.

The wheelbarrow had about 200 lbs of wet soppy manure in it by the time I decided to call it full. It was then that I realized that between me and the compost pile was an assortment of now super mud encrusted lumber and boards haphazardly laid out like pick up sticks.   This was not good.

I told myself the official compost "structure" was really just a place to hold the fermenting goop so the dogs wouldn't rolling in it. It wasn't like I was actively turning it or trying to speed the decomposition process. Then it occurred to me that all sopping wet layers of straw, leaves, shredded paper, feed dregs, and "barn dirt" would compost just as well in a long berm as it would in the declared compost pile. Plus, the berm would slow down storm water run off and maybe catch some of the confetti and sludge before it hit the driveway.

As I pitchforked it out of the wheel barrow I flipped each piece so the hard crusted side was down and the  stinky juicy side was up.  It seemed like a good way to get the fumes to disperse. The problem was that to build up the berm I would have to stack the pieces. The ammonia would stay trapped between the layers and burn anything I tried to plant.

The Berm of Brilliance would have to wait.  I spread out the pieces intending to come back after the bedding was drier and more manageable.  And then, it began to rain....and it didn't stop for a week.

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