Farming is a circular process, or cyclical, if you prefer, in that what goes around, comes around if you wait long enough. Nothing is wasted and everything is a part of the process. Take my little composting project as a prime example, because it combines what has already taken place in the past, with what is going on today, and blends it together to form what will be happening tomorrow.
Like my father, who always had a compost pile cooking, I have taken up the mantle of producing this commodity, and find it one of the most satisfying components of my profession. Being a Virgo, reputed to be organized, I am certain has nothing to do with it, nor does being OCD-cough-but I get off on taking what is essentially refuse, and turning it into gold.
Begin with a flock of seventeen chickens and a small herd of rabbits, and it’s a formula for success, because with the manure they produce, I combine dead organic matter, available year-round for the most part, and produce compost.
I am layering primarily three components: manure, dead plants/weeds, et al, and compost that HappyDay Farms orders for refurbishment of the terraces, as we rotate our seasonal crops. The pile is fifteen feet long by ten feet wide, and stretches up toward the sky, all of about four feet in the center. It is probably only about one-tenth of what gets delivered periodically, on-farm, but it allows me to successfully recycle otherwise worthless byproducts of our farming endeavors.
|Maybe one-third of the way done|
So yesterday being a banner day for moving a pile of earth, it not being raining, I dug in-pun intended-and had at it. There was a time not to (I want to emulate our President) long ago, when I would simply have moved it, regardless of how long it took, in one sitting so to speak.
Now the wisdom of my advancing age urges me to act cautiously. Well, wisdom and that rebuilt right shoulder, the reconstructed left knee, the-[Editor’s note: Ahem]-yes, well I have learned that discretion is the better part of valor, and besides, I have as much time as it takes. I am retired.
I don’t need the compost until we are up-planting, ten or twelve weeks away, but I wanted to get down into the center, where there is still matter that is nowhere near completely decomposed, and redistribute the entire pile. I have no objection to organic matter that is still in the process of breaking down, because in addition to providing needed elements, it helps keep the soil loose and aerated.
I could use the compost today if I needed to, but because it is so moist from all the rain, I will tarp it and let it continue to stew until it is go-time. What am I using it for, primarily, if there is proportionately such a small amount of it, compared to what is delivered to the farm?
|Delivery for Happy-Day Farms|
I will not be using it for cannabis because that is all determined independently of what I have going, and the amendments/compost provided by the boys. No, I am using it for ornamentals, herbs and Gluten-Free Mama’s special area that I created when we gave up the apartment in Willits.
Within its sheet-cake-sized back yard, she had created a little green mecca to which we could retire of an afternoon in July, and contemplate the universe with a pleasingly colorful view of flowers. Here on the mountain, I then created a five-leveled series of boxes in an area that used to have a small lawn within it, to replace the one in Willits.
French Thyme, oregano, lavender, chives, zinnias, ten rose bushes, mint, sage and a multitude of seasonal favorites, are only some of what is planted in this area. Into this complex will go at least twenty wheel-barrow loads of my compost, along with rice hulls to help with soil aeration.
Everything is on a drip system, and all I have to do is flip a valve, so it is important that the water flow freely down through the soil. I will also mulch everything meticulously to help prevent that precious water from evaporating.
Right now, last season’s decaying seasonal remnants are still covering the ground, along with the oak leaves that fell last autumn, but when the time comes in May, all of this will be removed and transported to the newly-formed compost pile, to be mixed with the wheel-barrow of rabbit manure and two of chicken poop, just removed from the yard.
Job security, you know?