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Filled up the bins with awesome well aged horse manure. And it was preloaded with an abundance of REDS!!!! They have lots of this, will fill my other beds with it, and they have a loader to put it into the truck. SCORE!!!!

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Comment by Lee Jolliffe on May 1, 2011 at 12:40pm
Sweet deal!
Comment by Don Dillon on May 1, 2011 at 1:44pm

Yep, on the surface it would seem. But on further review, it may not be a perfect deal.  Looking at it closer, it appears to be a really high percentage of sawdust and wood shaving to actual horse manure.  The part I analyzed in my truck that had lots of manure and worms wasn't a true indication of the entire load.  I'm afraid the carbon percentage is way to high for a truly perfect worm environment.

But like many things dealing with worms.... all is not lost.  We have an entire 30 foot bed that has lots of excellent green material that we can mix a good amount of this into.  It just involves more work (sigh).  I will have to be more diligent next time when loading up the bins like this, what I thought was a really great aged dry manure was sawdust on really close examination.  Had I know this, I would still use it, but only as an addendum to other more easily worm consumed food sources.

Ideally, and What I will look for locally, is aged horse manure that is mixed with straw, not wood chips.  The straw can be a higher percentage and that is still a positive for the worms cause they just dig (pun intended) that stuff as a seriously awesome breeding grounds.


My mistake was thinking the entire load was just like the sample I looked at.  I was already tired from a long day at the farm, and just unloaded it as fast as I could into the bins.  If I had paid more attention when unloading, I would have noticed the makeup of the material was different.

Comment by Lee Jolliffe on May 1, 2011 at 2:24pm

That's something I've run into here in Des Moines, where the horse farm that lets me get manure switched to a wood-chip/sawdust bedding, so the manure needs a lot of chopped leaves and moisture and cut grass well mixed in when I'm pre=composting it.


I will say, I got some "compost" from the city here and it turned out to be a sort of finely chopped wood and wood "dust", mostly, but I filled a makeshift planter box with it (built from cinder blocks the college students leave behind every spring when they move out of the dorms) and I have six "Nanking cherry bushes" growing happily and hugely in it. They were covered with blooms this year (last year the rabbits had snapped them off near the snow-level!) and now they have that swelling by the flower, so there will be fruit!


So maybe something that like an acid soil with high nutrition might grow in your new beds even now. I'm trying to think what likes muck...asparagus, raspberries and blackberries, to some extent blueberries (rabbits will decimate those too, so fence 'em), brocoli, cabbage, turnips, cauliflower, herbs..... Maybe you can grow food in it while you feed the worms with it!

Comment by Don Dillon on May 23, 2011 at 6:44pm

So, after even further review, this was not such a bad thing.  I moved most of the manure/wood shavings into some new raised beds as the bottom 6" of soil treatment.  The top 6" or so will be filled with a nice custom organic compost mix we get from a local soil/gravel yard.  There is still a nice layer of the stuff in the worm bins, but it is now just a minor part of their nutritious breakfast, not the entire meal ;)


I did realize that this is going to be a great manure source for the RM bins that I'm putting together for sale at the markets.  I have 20 put together now with 1/2 to 3/4 lbs of worms, and lots of good bedding ( a fairly exotic mix or paper, cardboard, plant cuttings, composted leaves, compost, etc).  I was worried about feeding them enough because I'm just not producing enough kitchen wastes at home to sustain this amount, but its also not enough to go in cahoots with any food places either.   But I mixed some of this stuff with shredded cardboard and just enough water to create a good moisture content and I think this will be a great, and easily maintainable food source.  I put about a gallon of this in a corner of my bigger FT to monitor if it plans to heat up or not and to see how the worms respond to it, but I'm guessing they are going to love it and it will start a egg laying frenzy as horse manure and shredded cardboard seem to have that effect on the little guys ;)


I also went to another neighbor that has sheep, cows, goats and who knows what else and found that she has lots of really old aged manure that is mixed with straw, not sawdust.  PERFECT!!  I took my pitchfork out to the piles and dug around and found masses of REDS in this stuff.  They have a front loader to load into the truck, so half the work is done there.   Yeah!!  I'll pick up 1 or 2 loads to this weekend dump it near the beds for easy feeding.  It was pretty goopy because it had be raining torrents for days, but with the current heat wave this week it should be fine for the weekend.  


Oh, and here are some words of wisdom: Don't try walking over a 3 foot hight pile that looks like hay/straw because it may be filled with fresh manure and you may end up shin deep in poopoo.  Ok, if your wearing boots, but not if your wearing Chuck Taylors.  Guess which ones I was wearing ;(


Comment by Lee Jolliffe on May 26, 2011 at 6:12am
Oh, man, not your best boots! Bummer. But how great to get the manure AND resident worms AND everything pre-composted. I had a place like that back in Ohio that I could go to , but haven't found one in Iowa yet. I just wind up with the raw, hot manure in fine wood shavings. I'm trying it in my compost tumbler now, with leaves & straw (mostly for air circulation in the mass), and a huge sack of rotting veggies from a local market. Will let you know how fast the wood shavings rot in that environment. What you're getting might be fine to go straight into the garden. That's what I used to do with the already-wormy stuff I got in Ohio, with no ill effects that I could see.
Comment by Lee Jolliffe on May 26, 2011 at 6:13am
I should add, I layered all the " hot" ingredients with lots of leaves.
Comment by Don Dillon on May 26, 2011 at 8:08am
update on the moist manure/wood shavings/cardboard/ mix I put into my FT bin.  They are mowing through this stuff like there is no tomorrow (they must have heard about the Rapture ;)  It didn't heat up at all (Yeah) in a couple of days, so I mixed up a bigger batch and fed a corner of my RM bins.  Worms in the bins were at the manure buffet on the next day.  I think I will get another load to 2 or this and just set it aside at the farm for storage.  I pretty much hand picked (well, hand shoveled) this load for higher manure concentration, so I might set up a rough 1/2" screen to screen mostly manure for FT and RM  feeding purposes.  Screening a garbage can of this stuff to take home will probably take only 10 minutes at most.


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