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Composted Nanny Berries
by
Keith Smith

There seems to be an overabundance of little round dark colored things in our goat pens. I finally figured out what the problem is... Mismanagement! And I have a solution...
Actually the most effective solution would be to decrease the number of goats on this 2.78 acres but that's not the solution that I prefer.

I opened my copy of the Dairy Goat Journal last week and the first article that caught my eye was about a commercial composting company.
A What?
A commercial composting company!
These guys (and gals, I suppose - or is it "persons"?)... Please quit interrupting! These persons have a business wherein they collect the stuff produced by the South end of North bound livestock and convert it to compost. They use this compost to reduce the salt level in Utah soil.
Well, to start with, I would have never thought of trying to reduce the salinity of Utah. I've always figured that if an area isn't good for growing plants then farmers probably shouldn't settle there in the first place. I know that reclaiming land is as important to the government as "protecting" privately held farmland but why Utah? And why try to grow things in salt? But, I digress...

That DGJ article got me to thinking (ouch!). We have more stuff coming out of our goats than we can handle. We've been bagging it up and giving it to our neighbor to plow into his 180 acres in Ranger, TX. Twenty or thirty bags a week. Maybe he has a salinity problem.
Anyway... The article prompted me to search for composting on the internet. My favorite search engine, AltaVista, found 126,960 pages with the term "composting" featured. Luckily the first one I selected was the Texas A&M Horticulture site http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/extension/compost/compost.html. This site has a wonderful presentation of the composting whys and hows. There are graphics depicting the structures you might build for composting, some great "cartoon" graphics of the process, and even I could understand it.

The first "chapter" taught me the difference between aerobic and anaerobic composting - anaerobic stinks and takes longer. (You're only gonna' get the highlights from me - visit the site for specific information). I also learned about the general composting cycle and what makes it work.

Next came another chapter about the basics of why it works - a rather slow read but don't skip over it. You'll need the info later (I'm assuming, here, that you're gonna' try this composting stuff for yourself).

I finally got to chapter 3 - what every "Tim-The-Toolman-Taylor" is really interested in... How to build the structures needed for composting. Who would have dreamed that there were so many different holding/turning/storing structures just for composting?

I checked out the next chapter - what to put in your compost pile - but I didn't pay too much attention... I know what's going in mine! It did tell me that more than just goat poop is required - guess I'll have to stop feeding the table scraps to the yard dogs.

That's as far as I got - Learned all I wanted to know. Besides, by the time my compost pile is ready to use (4-6 months) it'll be about 400 feet high and cover the entire 2.78 acres. Guess I'd better go back to plan A - reduce the number of goats.

 

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