Monday, April 26, 2010

Great Things Come From Sheep

So cleaning out the barn is not my favorite farm activity but there is one consolation...yummy compost. Sheep make a great soil amendment, not the sheep themselves but what they make. All that excrement that accumulates in their sleep quarters combined with straw (adds carbon for a good C/N ratio) helps the garden grow. We pile all the barn waste for the year into a big pile and let it sit for a year or two. No turning, no fuss, the rain, bugs and worms do a terrific job breaking it all down into some super soil. We either spread it on the pasture to help the grass grow for the sheep; complete cycle. Or we use it on the vegetable garden. Sheep manure is one of the best. This year I did some sheet composting and even spread layers of discarded wool (from my skirting of fleeces) under the added compost. Wool breaks down slow but it does release nitrogen (just don't get it tangled in the weed eater!). As you can see our garden is flourishing this spring. The picture of the two piles show how much it breaks down and becomes smaller. Breaking it down first lets all the bugs have their way with it
before putting it around your tender plants. If it is not broken down first, I have found the bugs begin to eat the tender seedlings. Also before spreading it back on the pasture, the sheep parasites will die and I won't be giving them back to the sheep. They are happy for that. So as I am shoveling and hauling, I try to think about all the great things that will come from cleaning out the barn, and it isn't so bad.

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