Saturday, May 3, 2008

Conservation District Class or How To Deal With Horse Poop

Our local King Conservation District had a class today right around the corner from our place on Manure Control and composting, pasture rotation, and some other stuff. I went by to check it out. Alayne and Matt from Clean Water For Horses hosted it at their place. We met them at another class a while back, and have since been horseback riding with them a few times - really nice people, and very helpful to the newbie rancher.

One of the biggest things that I like about being involved with this program is the cost share program. Once you get a farm plan with the conservation district, they will reimburse you up to $5000 on improvements to your property that are approved in the plan. Things like stall footing and fencing, French drains and a bunch of other categories. Any time I can get some help paying for farm stuff, I'm there. Plus they have a lot of really good ideas on the best way to do things in this area. It can get really muddy up here, and figuring out the best way to combat that at the least expense is the way to go.

We got a demonstration on Horse Poop. We need to build our manure confinement areas. (Add that to the list!) It doesn't seem that hard. Keeping it covered seems to the be the trick up here - so that it doesn't get too wet. Too much moisture and the pile compresses and no air gets in there, and then it really stinks up the place. If it's "cooking" right, and you're getting plenty of air in the pile, the odor is not bad at all.

Another really good idea I got was not to mix the gravel size in the horse runs. We have a mud pit at the end of our runs right now. I was thinking of putting down some big gravel in a layer, compacting it, and then putting some smaller gravel on the top. Matt said he tried that, and as the horses walk on it, the bigger pieces work their way to the top. The sharp edges on the 1 1/4" gravel is not comfortable on the horse feet. So that was good to know - we are just about to order a few truck loads of gravel.

The other really good idea I saw was to install a Rain Garden for runoff. I'd been thinking about this because we just got our new roof installed and I need to get gutters put in. I was wondering what the best way to handle that much water going to one spot would be.

They had a really cool booklet they gave out. I can't seem to find an online version on their website, but I'm sure you could get one at their office. (Add that project to the list.)

Overall, it was 2 hours well spent.

See you next time.