Monday, March 1, 2010

Gearing up for composting on a larger scale

I’ve continued to be impressed with Forerunner over at the homesteading today forums. Some of his latest posts are in the Extreme Composting thread. He’s inspired me to develop and expand my composting efforts. I’m planning on putting the dump bed on my 1979 F250 to good use starting very soon. There are a lot of items in the county that need composted, and our fields could sure use some amendment since they are mostly old tobacco fields.

I own a couple pitchforks. Actually, I own three, but one has only half a handle because it got broken. I need to buy a new handle and figure out how to put it on that one. Pitchforks and the old scoop shovel that I own are good tools for making compost and cleaning out a barn. I’ve done that. There’s nothing wrong with hard work and a bit of sweat. However, I’m thinking of doing some composting on a scale larger than what I would like to do with a couple pitchforks and a scoop shovel. I’ll do it that way if I have to, of course.

So, I’ve been seeing about acquiring some equipment to help with this endeavor. One of the things that would be helpful is a manure spreader. Old Oliver manure spreaderI already have one, but it’s about 100 years old, or thereabout. I bought it a few years ago from a man who cleans up junk for people. He drug it off of an old farm where it had sat for who knows how long, but it was still operational. I didn’t pay much for it, something less than $150.

It continued to work until last year when both of the chains for the moving floor broke. Tag on the manure spreaderI haven’t fixed them yet. I know I should have, but it’s just one of those things that I haven’t gotten to. I’m going to soon. I haven’t decided whether to keep it or to sell it. It’s an old Oliver horse drawn spreader that someone removed the front axle from and welded on a hitch for a tractor. It shivers and shakes when in operation, threatening to blow itself apart, but other than the chains that broke, it hasn’t given me much trouble.

Still, I’ve wanted a newer manure spreader, or at least one that doesn’t seem like it’s gonna blow apart. Newer Manure SpreaderI found one on Craigslist last week and bought it on Friday. The business endIt’s a pto driven spreader and is in decent shape. I’m going to replace the floor sometime and replace a bearing in the top beaters which are currently disconnected. They only serve to knock the top off the load when spreading, so it works without them connected. I think it will be a good piece of equipment to have, especially when considering the amount of bedding in the barn that will need spread after it composts.

Contemplating loading several tons of composted bedding and manure by hand for spreading doesn’t excite me greatly, although if that’s what must be done, I’ll do it. My old International 424 would make a nice loader tractor except for one thing – it doesn’t have power steering. I know how hard of a beast it is to steer without extra weight on the front. So, I have never seriously considered adding a loader to it.

I thought about maybe buying a small loader tractor for my composting endeavors. Then, I thought maybe it would be better to find another tractor to bobcat 610 photo from the adreplace the 424 that had a loader. I looked at one that might have worked, but it only convinced me that I really like my 424. Then, I found a good deal on an old Bobcat skidsteer online.  There was only one problem: it was located way up in the thumb of Michigan. That’s a long ways away. However, the deal was a really good one and I found someone to haul it very reasonably. So, I’m buying it. I believe I could resell it here and actually make some money off of it. I’ll know better once I get it here.

Someone on a forum explained that they considered their tractor to be their most important investment on their farm/homestead after their house. I never thought of it that way, but I can see their point. I’ve mostly approached buying equipment with a very frugal viewpoint. That’s been justified, I think, by the fact that I don’t have much to actually spend. However, I’m going to consider saving some pennies in order to upgrade my tractor (not Grandpa’s JD MT, though) at some point.Josey, a happy cow

The animals in the barn are doing well. Josey ought to have her calf in a couple of months. She isn’t really showing much, but she’s not been in heat for the last seven months that I’ve been aware of, and she usually makes it obvious by how noisy she gets. Cleo is growing strong, but she’s a wild thing. She never calmed down and responded positively to human interaction. I decided I really didn’t want to spend the time to tame her. So, we’ll sell her in another month. Hopefully, Josey will have a heifer – I’d rather keep hers anyway. It will be Ramiah’s calf.

Jessica’s horse, Spice, is fairing well, and Jessica is looking forward to it warming up and drying up a bit around here so she Jessica with Spicecan work more with her and ride her more. I’m trying to figure out how to rotate grazing for the cows this spring and summer. I want to really implement management intensive grazing. Milk cows offer some extra challenges for doing so than beef cows. I’ve got some ideas which I’ll share later as they develop.

I’m going to boil down some more maple sap to make syrup. I’m thinking about having a giveaway with a bottle or two of the syrup. Is anyone interested? I’ll announce it soon. There aren’t a great number of readers of this blog, so the odds should be pretty good. So far, what we’ve made has been excellent.


small farm girl

Whooo Hooo! I would love to get some syrup. Nothing like REAL syrup. I would even consider buying some.

Spice is looking good too.

Gen-IL Homesteader

I'm an occasional lurker here. Guess when there's a giveaway people come out of the woodwork.:) I'd love to be entered in your giveaway. Thanks! (BTW, I saw your pond article in the most recent Countryside! I thought, 'I've read his blog before'!!


Okay, the giveaway will be determined by how much more sap I get. Hopefully, there will be some more just so that some can be given away. No problem with lurkers coming out of the woodwork either, Gen-IL Homesteader! :) Good to see you here!


I don't think I have ever actually tasted real maple syrup, so count me in for wanting to enter a giveaway.

Last year I used a tractor to build a compost pile in the area where I fed hay to the cattle over the winter, it is a satisfying feeling to build a mountain of composting material with a tractor and watch it turn into a smaller mountain of compost.


Cute cow and cute horse, and REALLY cute girl! :) Could I get some of that give-away syrup? :)


I'm working on the syrup giveaway since there are at least a few of you interested. I'll be letting you know soon. And, Ruth, I reckon you can get in on the giveaway. :)

Welcome To Wilmoth Farms

It was great to catch up on your blog, you may not remember me since I had just started following your blog shortly after I had to stop blogging for health reasons about 7 months ago, I'm located in Hardin co.and we too have a farm. I'm interested in hearing about your ideas with milk vs beef cattle, we raise beef cattle, but I have 2 Jerseys (currently looking to purchase a bull if you know of any - hard to find a good quality one right now for some reason) enjoyed catching up on you today! Rachel - kyfarmlife/wilmothfarms

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