Country Living Series

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

I ♥ cow poop

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.

14 comments:

  1. But .... I totally agree w/you. Poop makes the world go rounds ..

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  2. I have to link you on Facebook, just for the title if nothing else! lol (I DO have a couple homesteader types that read my page, though.)

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    1. Happy linking! Just be aware I don't have a Facebook page.

      - Patrice

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  3. I agree w/you 100% Patrice. However, I also have to let you know that many of your posts also make me smile and sometimes outright laugh. Thank you for your sound posts injected w/humor. My husband & I are always laughing, thanking the good Lord for our sense of humor. :o)

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  4. Janae at Creekside FarmsteadApril 21, 2015 at 7:01 PM

    I absolutely agree 100%! Homesteading or Farmsteading is all about poop! With all the critters (horses, cows, sheep, goats, chickens, ducks, and a rabbit!) we have on our farm we always have several piles of compost in various stages of cooking. And our gardens and flowers alike benefit from all the "black gold"! Each year we have several friends, who don't have critters, come out to our farm and get compost for their own gardens as well. So as I always tell my kids....farming, well... It's about that poop! (just put that to the tune of All About that Bass) :)

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  5. On Sunday our neighbors came and got a load of our excellent sheep compost, for which they paid us in fresh quail eggs.....many many many of them. lol They'll also be bringing us fresh produce from their garden this summer.
    Life is better with a killer compost pile for sure.

    A. McSp

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  6. So... Do you like cow poop better than bear poop? B-)

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  7. Patrice; does range fed manure cause a weed problem?

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    1. Not if it's composted. The process of composting kills weed seeds. We don't do anything special to our compost pile, so it takes about three years from start to finish for materials to compost. Others use heat methods which work much faster.

      - Patrice

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  8. Patrice: does using range manure cause weed problems?

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  9. When we first moved to our rural property, we had almost no soil on the rocky land in the area where we wanted to build our home. We put out the word that we were purchasing manure and would pay a certain price per sack . . . and the response was overwhelming! We now have a lovely green yard around our buildings. The neighbors still think the gringos are a strange bunch, however. LOL

    The links below have photos of the manure arriving by the ox-cart load! I hope posting the links is okay. :)

    http://sowers4pastors.blogspot.com/2011/02/growing-lawn-and-cornering-manure.html

    http://sowers4pastors.blogspot.com/2011/02/traffic-jam-at-my-house-today.html

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  10. Wally McCrea has a wonderful poem on the subject. I think it's called 'Intristic Worth" Priceless!

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  11. As a farmer, I call myself a Poop Professor----you can tell the condition of your critters by checking their poop!

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  12. That's funny. We had to have our old horse put down this past winter, and while I was fond of her and miss her, I really miss her poop! :)

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