At the end of each year, Honi, Clay and I sit down to discuss ways to improve our agricultural practices at the farm. We have two capital projects this year which are being implemented as we speak, both of which enhance our utilization of the farm’s natural fertilizer - our animal by-product, manure. In natural-sustainable-no-industrial-product farming, it’s all about the free poop, folks. How about that!
In our beef finishing pastures, we make alfalfa hay available to our beeves, free choice. Wherever that hay is located - we move it around - tends to accumulate excess manure. Same thing happens at the watering trough. We have dealt with it manually to this point, a time consuming and back-breaking chore. So we await our new front-end loader (“fel”) attachment for our tractor, an expensive but very helpful piece of equipment that will enable us to conserve this valuable resource 100%.
Here’s the plan: with the fel, we will first use it to roll out round bales of hay to a 12 inch thickness where the most intense manuring occurs. The hay will not only keep these areas more sanitary but will capture those valuable carbons and soil nutrients for later use. When the absorption level has been reached we will use the fel to haul it out and store it at the compost pile where it will mature into a fine, crumbly compost, bound eventually for our expanding orchard and garden.
Having seen the miracle of pig poop and its effect on the soil and things that grow there, we are adding gates at our forestal pig paddocks so that the porkers can be cut loose into larger pastures than they currently occupy. This will allow for more “layering” in our operation - that is, we will graze more than one type of animal over the same ground, adding that diversity to enrich the soil from 2 rather than just one animal.