A friend and fellow horse lover and equine artist brought my attention to this article http://www.thehorse.com//ViewArticle.aspx?ID=13380&eID=96992 on composting horse manure. Every horse owner knows this is a necessary evil of keeping horses. I am fanatic about keeping my barn clean and not accumulating manure piles. Since I've had a few days away from my easel due to the holidays I thought I would reference this article and talk about farm management today.
Over the years I have found a couple good ways for me to use manure besides hot composting in bins which is what the article above is about . I have what I call a 'trotting track' that goes around the outside perimeter of my horse pasture. Instead of fencing right up to the property lines we brought the fence in by a good 12 feet. I have enough room to ride and also to drive my tractor and manure spreader around on this track. I've measured the length and can get an idea of how many miles my horse and I ride. On the trotting track I spread a thin layer of manure and sawdust around this path and over time I have accumulated a very nice surface in which to ride or walk on. Because the layer is thin the manure dries and breaks down quickly and parasites also are destroyed. It keeps the weeds and grass down and provides a nice slightly padded surface. I had an added benefit when we first moved to our new place the first rides in the unfamiliar area went very well because the path must of carried the familiar scent of all the horses because the horses were relaxed and comfortable.
I also have spread manure in my pastures in such a way as to control the selective grazing of the horses. I have a large pasture and if left to their own devices the horses selectively graze only their 'favorite' areas so some places become over grazed and some grow too long since the horses won't graze after grass gets a certain length. I've always intended to divide my pasture up but since I've not done that yet I spread a thin layer of manure on the overgrazed areas to move the horses on to the other areas before the grass gets to the length in which they won't eat from it. Again because the layer is thin the manure quickly breaks down and puts nutrients back into the soil and I have the added benefit of a more evenly grazed pasture. In order for this to work I still need to mow and drag my pasture on a regular basis.
I am back at my easel today and then for 3 days this week I am teaching a middle school 'mini term' art class. While I am teaching I likely won't be working on my own art but we'll see. I enjoy the kids and do this every year but I have a new appreciation for art teachers after every class! Creating art and teaching art are two very different things I have found but its fun. I believe in exposing and encouraging kids to pursue art so I am glad to do this so please just bear with me for the next few days.
To see my equine and animal artwork go to http://suesteiner.com