~around the farm~ manure wealth

last week i made some new compost bins. look at that fine joinery (haha, i did not take any closeups, because i perform joinery with scrap ropes off the beach, not fasteners.)

how i know my man really, really likes me: he let me fill up his truck with manure. i mucked out my friend’s goat barn for her, so she would feel like it was a good trade, when really i was the one driving away with a ton of nitrogen-rich bedding (in a quarter ton truck, my man pointed out). i also got complimented on my pitchfork skills, yet another skill i did not realize i had any advantage in until my friend brought it up. this is the same friend i attempted to teach how to milk a goat, until i realized i didn’t know how to teach things i had already done by the time i was three.

tossed manure into bin number one, watered with all that nice rain water that filled up all those buckets around the farm.

ta-da! admire my pile of manure.


speaking of admiring, look at that chocolate cake soil. it’s beginning to take shape in its spirally windy paths-and-beds format that i’m trying out. toby hemenway reminded me that you can fit a lot more vegetation into places with more edge. one of the principles of ecological gardening is to create as much edge as you can. so here is my attempt at being edgy. i will continue to attempt to take better photos as i go along…

for a couple of days in the greenhouse, temperatures soared and little plants threatened to wilt in the heat. luckily it was the weekend so i was there to give them a little drink. they are more habituated to temperatures barely reaching 60 degrees mid-day.

i’m trying out a lot of new things with seeds this year. i’m attempting to grow a few things for barely any money that would cost a pretty penny to buy in plant form. i’m hoping to end up with berry bushes and nut trees for the investment of time and effort. the time is no biggie- i need to find and prepare sites to plant them all anyway. and the effort is just plain fun. i’m trying my hand at cold stratifying and scarifying seeds, neither of which i’ve done before. this year i ordered many of my seeds from companies not too far distant, hoping to capitalize on local adaptation. (no hard feelings, seeds of change, but are seeds grown in new mexico the best candidates to thrive in my cold, wet coastal climate?) wild garden seed (grown on gathering together farm in nearby philomath, oregon), horizon herbs (williams, oregon), and bountiful gardens (willits, california) are the three companies i bought a lot of seeds from this year. i like catalogs that include lots of hippie humor in their plant descriptions, and that value the same plant attributes i do. several plants in their pages earned the accolade “a true permaculture plant” – need i say more?


red hibiscus for my tea: scarify, soak, plant, keep very warm. (you can see them already germinating after their soak!)

back outside, the rhododendrons are stealing the show, coming into their full riot of color. i keep finding new surprises, like the yellow-peachy rhody tucked in the backyard, and two more magnolia trees i hadn’t seen yet. these two photos were taken by quinn:

did you ever notice the way the dew drops cling to each serration of the edges of celery leaves? i didn’t, until this week.

gardening is so much about noticing, just being in a place, constantly putting on new eyes and seeing how things grow.

8 comments to ~around the farm~ manure wealth

  • Tim

    Pirated poop! I need to find a friend with a goat barn. Bag of poop for 2 dollars doesn't seem expensive until you realize you just bought poop. And hey, you never milked a goat before you were three! Though now that I think about it, it would be hard to teach how to milk an animal… um. put your hand on the teat. Now pull. No wait, don't pull, just make the milk come out at the end. Um, squeeze? But start at the top, sorta. Just kinda roll it across the palm of your hand. No not like that. Here let me do it. :p

    Your dirt is beautiful. Would you believe our tiny back yard is full of coal? I just moved my two blueberry bushes that looked to be on their way out, but a little poop (they say not to feed when you transplant, but I don't believe them) and a new home by the fence and they're turning green again. We also have a black raspberry, and strangely enough, it thinks Cortland is the perfect environment! Well, I guess that's not very strange after all. But the reds both died. So I'll get another black.

    I want to move my tree, because the fact that it is 3 feet from where I should have put it will probably irk me forever (it's a silly symmetry thing, but I like me some symmetry). But I'm just not sure if I should… there wasn't ever a good time to move it this spring, since spring started way too soon and then winter came back for a bit. On the other hand if I don't move it now, it will only get harder or less likely to succeed later. Oh, decisions.

  • marybethrew

    maybe you need one more tree to balance the symmetry, instead of moving that one!

    is the soil there not acidic enough for red raspberries? maybe some lime, or coffee grounds from coffee mania, isn't that near your house? you should bring them a bucket and ask them if they will save grounds for you so you can feed your raspberries. or something. (i do that. actually i got rich to do it since i no longer drink coffee, but he stops by the coffee thing every morning on his way to work.)

    hahaha i love your description of milking. yes. exactly. and paying for poop- hahahahaha. chicken poop is good too, you could just get some backyard chickens! they'd eat all your table scraps and fertilize your stuff. and make eggs. chickens are good. you're already an expert, too. πŸ˜‰

  • marybethrew

    and what's up with coal in your yard??? from being near the train tracks? what kind of soil chemistry does that give you… what would do well in that? (not blueberries…)

    oh and you're right about never milking a goat before age 3- as you know, it was only cows. but yes, i think the principle transfers pretty readily between the two.

    i love the particular posts you choose to comment on, bro. starting with "pirated poop". yessssss!

  • Tim

    Hiya. Yeah, we're right by the train tracks… Talan and Oliver get up on their tool bench in front of the window to see the train go by about 10 times a day. And we're also right by that old red barn-like building across from the Hess station… the one that has painted on the side "Hudson Coal, cleanest fuel in the world" or some sort of ridiculousness. So I'm pretty sure that old barn building used to be where they stored the coal for the trains way back when. As far as soil ph, it maybe isn't really acidic enough for the blueberries, but they're still kicking. So I imagine it should be acidic enough for the red raspberries, but I'm not entirely sure. Coffee grounds are supposed to be neutral, aren't they? And lime is definitely alkaline, Dad's told me that many a time. Oddly enough though, I just looked up coal and it says it can cause acidity in soil. So, I guess the blueberries should be happy after all. I just need to figure out how to actually test the ph. As for those raspberries, I probably just got a couple duds (I was waiting to plant those apple trees that I got for free by mistake, and then it turned out there were three raspberries wrapped up with them… so I may have waited too long for the poor little raspberries).

    I think I'll pass on the chickens. For one thing, they'd probably eat all the berries unless I had them in a coop. Though they'd get the ants too. And then there's that whole being in town thing.

  • marybethrew

    yes i'm so silly i know not lime! lime does make it more alkaline. (duh!) maybe it's more than just ph with the coal. i mean, it could be there is just something icky gross that inhibits plant growth in general (i wonder about toxicity testing…) or it could just be a nutrient imbalance. even just the basic carbon to nitrogen ratio, isn't coal super carbon-y? that may be why adding a bunch of poop helped- it added lots of nitrogen and if that ratio is balanced, the other nutrients in the soil are available to plants. too much nitrogen can also lock up nutrients. anyway. screw lime. you could have the boys pee out in the yard a lot. πŸ˜‰

    that whole being in town thing only matters if it's against your city ordinances. you never know. some towns allow urban chickens! but i hear you on not wanting to share berries with them.

    wood chips as mulch- that would add acidity. if that is an issue for you. you are right, coffee grounds are not very acidic once they have been made into coffee beverages. you can take some of your soil in to the county extension service to have your soil tested, and they do ph as well as measure at least the basic nutrients (N-P-K). or you can also find out a lot about your soil by what kind of weeds you have growing in your yard. sort of a dying art, so if you hear any local old people talking plants, you should ask them questions about that. then write a blog post about it. narf! (or just a long comment on my blog. love.)

    • Tim

      I'm sure Talan would enjoy watering the bushes for me. He was really excited to pee on a tree at the park the other day (we went to the umpteenth annual Corn Ducky Derby… I saw Missy Finch (well used to be Finch at least?…) there and we talked for a bit.

      I still wouldn't want chickens even if the town liked it… my dream is to own a flock of ducks instead. Muscovies are supposed to be super quiet, but there are some sorta-quiet-still ducks that lay almost as many eggs as chickens, so I might go that route instead.

      Well I haven't talked to any old people yet. I wonder if Dad qualifies as old yet =)? Not only that but I am no expert on weeds… our back yard seems to grow an abundance of turf grasses. Those are weeds right? πŸ˜‰ The lawn also grows an abundance of clover, and dandelions, which we like because Talan loves yellow. Wherever we try to grow non-grass, there are other weeds, but I have no idea what they are. I need a handbook on weeds, or more old people.

      I did use wood chips when I moved the blueberries, so that might have helped too. I need to look into the county extension thing. Unfortunately, the county office building is right on the way home from work so there is no way I'll ever get there.

  • lau

    TIM should def blog! Am loving the sibling comments! πŸ™‚

  • That goat poop is some good looking stuff. What a treat! And what a fine looking greenhouse you've got there. I'm excited to watch your spiral beds grow.
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