Thursday, February 10, 2011

Home again!, or, I like parentheses

Sorry for the slow update! I got home yesterday evening. Had a horrible trip out of SF in the rental. Did you know the radio sucks when you usually listen to your iPod? And did you know that you can't even see the bay from the Bay Bridge going eastbound in a car? (Of course you didn't know that - I am of the few, the proud, the absolutely insane who has driven a pickup into SF.)

Somehow I made it to beautiful Concord, CA and got my truck from the lying jerks at the dealership. The brakes do work now, and they didn't try to charge me anything, so I can't be too mad. I got in my absolutely wonderful truck at 3 and made Reno right before 7. Right as I hit the Sierras, I passed a flatbed pickup with crates and crates and crates of bees strapped down - I'm trying to figure out where he was headed. Does alfalfa need honeybees? When do they plant those melons in Fallon? You'd think if the bees were going much further than Nevada, they'd be on a semi, but what in Nevada needs February pollination?

When I got home, it was too late to pick up Cersei, so I had a very cold and lonely night. The kitten usually sleeps on my ankles, which sounds sweet but actually gets really painful after a while - but she usurped the dog's spot on the other side of the bed. Banders sat on the dresser and stared at me as I fell asleep. Stupid cats, I need warmth!

Today I restocked, like, everything. I deliberately ran out of some stuff (no sense in buying cream that's gonna be iffy by the time you get home) and just cut it real close on some other stuff. I picked up Cersei and reassured her that I'm really home, then parked her on the couch and got gas, food, ration balancer, layer pellets, oyster shell, and drugs. (Flonase is the bomb if you're allergic to everything.) After I got home, I realized I forgot the propane for the gas grill, so I ran up to the grocery store and swapped that out. While I was gone, the propane guy came and filled up the big propane tank for the house. Told you - everything got restocked!

I had one of those "I live in the future!!" moments with the little propane tank - there was a self-serve kiosk, so I just put in my debit card and activated the giant robotic vending machine and got a tank swap with no human interaction. I was kind of surprised it worked, but it did.

It seemed pretty thawed out, so I picked up a few wheelbarrows of manure. Here is my dirty secret: I haven't picked the paddock in like two months. It's unbelievably easy to pick manure off of sand, but it's almost impossible if the sand is frozen. I know, I am a terrible horse owner. Oh well. Anyway, the top layer of sand in the sunniest spots was thawed, so I made a little progress.

I'm really worried about my chances of becoming a high desert gardener this year. I was counting on turning horse poop into beautiful compost, but the damn compost pile froze in November and it's still frozen. It's huge - 4' x 4' x 6' - and solid as a rock. Very depressing.

I found another freakin hidden pile of banty eggs. 7 more. They all sank, so Cersei and the cats got an eggy feast. Cersei is right now rewarding me with egg farts. I can hardly wait to snuggle up in bed with my sulfurous dog. :rolleyes:

Dixie, in her infinite wisdom, has decided that early February is the correct time for her to blow her entire winter coat. I suppose she's afraid I really will clip her for Rides of March? I took pictures of the huge piles of white I curried off of her - it was at least a half a cat. (The proper measurement for shedded horse hair is in units of cat - how many cats can one form from the hair one groomed off?) I will post them tomorrow. Too much effort tonight :)


  1. Is your compost pile frozen even in the middle of it, or just on the outside? There might be hope for it yet!

    Glad you made it home!!

  2. ^-Melissa is right, if your compost pile is composting, it should have enough heat in the middle to keep it from freezing and the outer edges may be all that is frozen.

    Cats never snuggle when you need them to-LOL.

    And I don't scoop poop in the winter either. I will say an added advantage to feeding oats is that the birds do a wonderful job of spreading out the manure piles for me. There's not much left after they finish picking-LOL.

    You sound glad to be home.

  3. No shedding here in the tundra, but plenty of poop piles. We can't scoop in the winter either; will get the skid loader in when it dries out.

    I'm turning into the crazy dog & cat lady... the animals are invading my bed! It's been a long, cold winter! :)

  4. Melissa - it's very cold but not frozen in the middle. I had been leaving it totally alone in the hopes something was still happening on the inside, but yesterday I dug a hole to the center of the oldest part of the pile. It's not finished and it's not hot. Just cold and damp. :(

    I guess I will rebuild the piles in the spring, with new poop and hay sweepings from the barn and the half-done winter compost.

    BEC - I woke up with the kitten in a cozy little ball on my hip. :) Sometimes she comes through for me!

    Glad yall don't obsess over winter poop either. :)

  5. No use obsessing over winter poop and frozen fecal balls... heh. You just need MORE cats for warmth and then they can rotate... good thing your sniffer doesn't work so great with all those eggy farts ... grin.

  6. For some reason, my manure composting pile never heated up this year either. I didn't really start it until November, then we had a really cold spell, then wet, and it never had a chance to get going. Now that it's warming up, I'm hoping all those little microbes come out of hibernation and start doing their job!
    I hav=d one little Welsh-Morgan pony (that my kids learned to ride on) that would shed piles and piles of white hair--I thought about making and selling saddle pads, but didn't have the ambition at the time!

  7. I am glad I'm not the only one who has been somewhat remiss in winter mucking. Poopsicles are just no fun. It's also great when the manure FREEZES TO YOUR WHEELBARROW. Wha???

    However, I am pleased to report that the center of my compost pile was steaming happily this morning in the 20 degree weather. Funder, shall I send you some nice steamy compost? ;)

  8. When I lived in a cold place the manure stayed warm in the middle and we found snakes wintering there.

    Lucky Cersei didn't eat cabbage too:)

  9. My horses are starting to shed a little bit, but I'm certainly not getting gobs of hair when I curry. Thank goodness because I hate shedding season... especially with a white horse!!

    Dog farts are the worst no matter what they had to eat! LOL Add egg in there and it's pretty lethal.

  10. My dogs are blowing their coats. Lovely yellow labrador hair EVERYWHERE! The horses not so much.

    I don't scoop poop in the winter either. I'm fortunate that the horses have summer and winter pens. After they are moved I'll have the crew use the skid steer to clean out the winter paddocks.

    Try putting a piece of black cloth or plastic over your compost pile.

  11. Glad I'm not the only one with failed compost!

    i2p - the white hair is awful, but I'm really looking forward to seeing Dixie's horse face, as opposed to her wintertime goat face.

    AKPG - funny, I had just decided that when everything thaws I'll try a tarp.

    My compost lives in a (cow?) shed in the paddock - it's a 3 sided shelter that's too low for any horse. It's a convenient place to put it, and the roof keeps the rain and snow off, but it also means it's always shaded. Right now I'm thinking when the nights warm up a bit more I'll start a new pile, outside of the shed, with the frozen stuff, new poop, and the hay sweepings from the barn. Water it and tarp it down with big stakes - if I use a brown tarp, it'll absorb a lot of heat. Maybe I've still got a shot at using it this year?

  12. I let my cold compost pile go for a year - no turning or tending needed. I think you need to turn it and water it if you live in a dry area and want it to be the hotter faster type.

    Val's poops were frozen in the sand this very morning - it's very frustrating to be ocd, but I'm also stubborn!

    Cats are so self serving, but then again - not as malodorous either ;)

  13. You might also try pouring some hot compost tea on your cold pile before tarping it. Wake those sleeping bugs up!

  14. Glad you finally got home, but I'm sure not as glad as you. LOL

    Frozen manure pile?? I'm with Melissa and BECG. It gets pretty darn hot in the middle of those things but then I don't remember exactly how long your temps were so low. I'm sure there's an equation somewhere to compute the amount of time it would take thought. Can you just see that question on some kid's math quiz? LOL

    I know lots of people who never scoop poop so I guess you're probably safe from the poop police.

    I'm looking forward to those pics of cat size piles of horse hair. Dixie is not the only horse blowing coat right now. Legs and Storm are too and I suspect if they are the rest of the herd is following along. Maybe we are going to get an early spring.


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