I love cow poop. Really I do.
You see, cow poop composts. It produces some of the most beautiful "black gold" you'll ever see. And compost is one of the most perfect plant foods there is, ideal for vegetable gardens.
This is our massive compost pile, steaming gently in the chilly morning dawn.
Here's one of our hens, perched on top.
Let me pause here so I can wax philosophical for a moment.
You see, I envision homesteading as a big circle. In a complete circle, all things on the farm are interconnected. In an incomplete circle, there is still input from outside sources. The challenge as I see it is to link and connect as much of that circle as we can, slowly decreasing the number of outside sources we use.
Without the compost provided by our livestock, that circle would be virtually impossible to close.
So how does cow poop help close the circle? Well, consider our chickens.
A neighbor often comments on how fat our chickens are compared to his. One day while showing him our latest calf, he pointed to our giganto mound of compost and said, "That's why your chickens are fat and mine are not."
His ladies are free-range, just like ours are, but he lacks the richness of a compost pile, chock-full of earthworms and other delectable goodies for his hens to forage.
It would be no exaggeration to say our chickens spend most of their waking hours on the compost pile, scratching up whatever edibles they can find. Their consumption of store-bought chicken feed goes down drastically in warmer months.
Today, while in the barn, I noticed this pile of fresh cow poop (from Raven, who still has access to the barn until we castrate little Curly). Notice these large golden flies.
Any time a cow drops a fresh patty, these flies cluster to it within moments.
I don't know what kind of flies they are, but since they don't come in the house, nor do they sting or otherwise bother us, I don't care. But one thing's for certain: the hens love them. Chickens will sometimes station themselves by a fresh patty and gobble the flies as they land.
With older cow patties, the ladies will scratch through them, eating any larvae they find.
In other words, cow poop -- either fresh or composting -- indirectly provides food for the chickens. The chickens, in turn, provide food for us. Then in its turn, chicken litter (from cleaning the coop) gets put on the compost pile, where it eventually breaks down with everything else until it becomes "black gold" we can put on the garden, which in turn feeds us. Garden waste, meanwhile, is either fed to chickens or cows, or if it's inedible to the beasties, it's also composted... and thus the cycle continues, closing a few more gaps in that circle.
So although it sounds funny, and although I don't appreciate it when I forget to check the bottom of my shoes, I really do love cow poop.
And I'm guessing that's not a sentiment you often hear from many women.