Monday, January 10, 2011

All the scoop on the poop

When I posted last week that my wheelbarrow runneth over, many of you asked what I did with all the poop. Allow me to explain.

First of all, exactly how much poop are we talking about? The average 1,000-pound horse produces around 30 pounds of manure per day. Since Hank weighs about 1,200 pounds, and the burros together add up to another 1,200 pounds...that all works out to about 72 pounds of poop. Per. Day.

I am obsessed with keeping the barn and the corral poop-free. I also try to keep the pasture areas behind the barn and close to the house poop-free. The poop that lands further out in the pasture is another story, which I'll get to later.

Let me introduce you to the tools in my battle against the poop:
Several times a day, I pull my poop cart around, scooping poop in the poop tub. When the tub is full, I dump it into the Newer Spreader. When the spreader is full, I hook it up to the Ranger and haul it over to the poop track.

Here's a little map to help you get the lay of the land:

The Newer Spreader is a pretty slick invention, and I could not live without it. The poop goes in...
...and an agitator in the bottom of the bin turns, crumbling the poop and dumping it out the bottom.

So here we are over on the poop track:
I merrily drive around in a figure eight, spreading the poop behind me. Fresh poop crumbles very easily, frozen poop - not so much. So a few times during the winter months, I'll hook up the harrow to the Ranger and drive it around the track to pulverize the poop. I'll also harrow the track a few times during the summer to churn things up. Farmers plow their fields, I plow my poop.

Amazingly, all I've got to show for over five years' worth of poop is about a six-inch layer of crumbled, dry stuff.

Much of it simply blows away to fertilize the rangeland around the 7MSN. There isn't enough moisture out here to turn it into a rich, organic compost. This stuff has no odor and turns into a dry kind of dirt when you crush it.

As obsessed as I am with keeping the ranch clean, there's no way I can pick up all the poop piles in the 80 acres of pasture.
So when I'm out walking in the pasture, whenever I come upon a pile of poop...

I kick the crap out of it. This breaks up the pile and helps it decompose a little faster.

There you have it – all the scoop on the poop and just another chapter in my glamorous life.


  1. Very interesting poop story, and I love all of your equipment. I never realized that the boys blessed you with soooo much poop! Gee gads!!

  2. My goodness that is a glamorous life isn't it! Ha!! Hey, we all have our own poop to deal with, right? I'd say yours is fairly easy to get rid of, but that is a lot of back breaking shoveling.

    Keep up the good work!

  3. Very interesting eh! But I weep because I PAY for composted cow manure from Home Depot for my garden!!!!
    sniveling in the great white (snowy) north
    Theresa in Alberta

  4. When I just had 1-2 horses on only 2.5 acres, I shoveled weekly. Now, with 3 horses on 5 acres, I can't keep up with it. Periodically, Mr. Fry hooks up the harrows and drags it. Like you, if I come across a big pile as I'm walking, I kick it apart.

  5. Amazing--it all just kind of goes away, after you haul it around a bit, of course. That last photo sure does show what our dry air can do!

  6. I never even thought about it being too dry to turn into compost. Interesting!

    Good job on poop patrol, Ms Carson!

  7. Well, now, that was interesting!

  8. That's the best part of horse poop- it just breaks up and turns into dirt and dust in our dry climate.

  9. Now we know why those planes fly over the 7MSN. They are trying to figure out what that 8, or infinity symbol means! :)

    I do that kick thing too. My favorite thing is harrowing with the mower on, as the mower blade tends to mulch the things that need mulching and then the harrow spreads everything out.

  10. Love your little map. :)
    My neighbor has a poop spreader, too. Works wonders for getting the stuff to break down more quickly.

  11. I love your picture of the layout and the poop on the ground behind the equines. LOL!
    I also love your shadow waving in picture 5.

  12. I'm always impressed with your efficiency and cleverness!

    Your life may not be all that glamorous as the world sees glamor but it sure is rich and full!! (and not just with the poop :) )

  13. Why is cow poop sold and horse poop given away for free? I always see adds in my local craigslist for free horse poop, and the local garden centers sell cow poop as fertilizer...why can't horse people get in on the business end of poop?

  14. Hi Linda.
    I also work on keeping a poop free environment. It is a lot of work but I'd not have it any other way. I only have one horse to keep up after-I think I'd be overwhelmed by three equines!

  15. I wish it would dry up and blow away here! Instead we have to much wet!!!

  16. That lovely broken down non smelly dirt made of poo is called humus (not to be confused with the spread made of chick pea's)

  17. This almost puts a damper on my dream wish to have a pet burro in the city.

  18. Your line about what you do with a poop pile in the pasture, "I kick the crap out of it." made me laugh, out loud! (o:
    I need one of those Newer Spreaders for my Ranger...didn't know there was such a thing!! Fun poop post! (o:

  19. Bet you have buff arms from all that shoveling. I can see it now, your hobbling along broken down in the back with buff arms right? Just kidding ;) I applaud you for managing the poop situation so well. Do your animals stay in the pasture 24/7 or do you stall them at night? I was just thinking it would be easier if you didn't have to stall them at night. Then you wouldn't have to clean stalls too.

  20. We too like a poop free pasture. However I collect the poop in a wheelbarrow all winter and make a really big pile. Over the summer it composts down ( about 1/4 the size), gets really hot, like, smoking hot, and then the following summer, I put it in the garden, or spread it by hand on the fields.

    So I always have a completed pile, one brewing, and one to be finished up. Does it grow vegetables!!!!

    In Alberta, horse poop is also "black gold" properly handled.

    I also turn the hot pile once, mid summer.

  21. My younger son and I just had a good home-school discussion on this post. :) Even grammar, with all your various "subject-related" words scattered throughout. Love the last picture! Now that took timing to kick AND snap a photo at the same time!

  22. Wilsonnc, I leave the back barn doors open 24/7, so the boys are free to spend the night wherever they please. Thankfully they have the good sense not to poop in their stalls.

  23. We'll have fun with our new Ranger and new Millcreek spreader when we get to NM. We spread each weekend and have a lovely green pasture to use if we ever need extra grazing room. Here the cold kills parasite eggs faster than the heat of composting would kill them.

    Carry on...kicking the crap outta crap.

  24. Glamorous? Wow, I'll say! *grin*

    It's all organic anyway, just reconstituted hay and grass. I guess that's why they burned the stuff in the Dirty 30's.

  25. Love your setup! Very simple and easy to manage.
    I clean up after... lemmee think, lol. 7 equines in 5 pens daily. I don't want to do the math on how many lbs that is, lol. The others are in a "pasture", 1 acre and they do a fine job of churning it to dust. The pens I do clean, I put it along the fenceline, to keep dogs from digging out (a forever battle) and my pipe fence from being washed out. Works well, but I wish we had a small tractor (for Wade to drive, not me, I don't do tractors).
    I'm always fascinated by what other people do with their poop. (and that sounds SO VERY WRONG)
    Thanks for the insight!

  26. Holy crap. I am immediately bookmarking this post so The Other Half who wants a farm with frolicking animals like yours can have a read! In fact, this should be compulsory reading for ANYONE dreaming of a quiet life off the beaten path!

    That said, you make a shitty story sound so interesting, fun and funny, I don't even mind that I'm having my brekkie while reading.

    Have a lovely day, rancher woman :)

  27. I only wish I had the acreage to do what you do with all your manure. With three horses and one donkey, I have to pick up daily too. But sadly, I have to pay to have it hauled away!

  28. This is really a lot of poop you have to carry away. That means, your outdoor family is in good health!
    Have you ever thought about asking them to poop gold? You should :-)

  29. Sounds like another day at at the office, including the bit about kicking the poop apart.

  30. Love the map. BTW, you now have Don trying to figure out how we can spread the boys's poop on the driveway.

  31. I do the same as Ian H; I have a big pile going now, and it's heating up good, you can see it steam on cold days.

  32. Im almost afraid to say this but I can't help myself; "Holy poop on a stick"! I never took into consideration all the poop scooping that would be going on with 3 guys. When my sis and I had our horses we scooped and spread it into our barren pasture and complain the whole time! Of course the next year we had pasture grass if only short lived for a while.

  33. Hi! It's been awhile since I've been able to visit, er read, your blog. This post reminded me of a story my Dad told me. He was raised on a farm in central Missouri. His Dad would have him clean up the barn yard, load them onto a trailer my grandfather had built just for this purpose and then take the poop, er turds, out to the fields. My grandfather referred to the poop carriage as the turd hearse. haha

    Great news about Lucy! My best to you and your fur/feather family.