Friday, July 19, 2013

Horse Manure

Yoshi, my homestead horse. 
Meet Yoshi, superintendent in charge of manure production. Often referred to as the mobile lawn ornament, this retired ranch horse is an important farm employee. She works 365 days a year, demands minimal benefits, never takes a vacation, and doesn't belong to a union. She helps keep the pastures under control, keep my land taxes low, and produces all the horse manure I need.

Having on-site manure production is a farm requirement for my homestead. Years ago I use to go out a gather manure from others' pastures, but often the timing was wrong. Other gardeners beat me to the close piles, so I had to hand carry buckets a distance. Trudging around unimproved pastures dragging five gallons buckets was work! Manure gathering was time consuming. Plus I never knew when medications and dewormers were being used on the horses. I didn't want manure with unwanted chemicals in it.

Having always enjoyed horses, I wanted one of my own for the farm. While just the fact that it would produce horse manure was plus, I wanted a safe horse that wouldn't intentionally hurt me. If I were able to ride, that would be a bonus, but it wasn't mandatory. I initially purchased two horses with the fantasy idea that hubby and I would go riding together. That never happened, so my hubby's horse was sold. That left Yoshi as the farm horse.

Horse manure is one of the ingredients of my compost. It's a very important source of fertilizer on the farm. Using compost really works well for me, helping this homestead to be reasonably self reliant. No need to purchase commercial fertilizer for the gardens.


  1. Yoshi looks quite content, well-cared-for, and big enough to produce enough "meadow muffins" to stoke a hoy compost heap. I am on a tight enough budget now that a horse would be unwise, but it would be fun. I theoretically could pasture a couple of horses on the east or west ends of this property if I could add some horse-safe fence with electric fence as well, since we have the whole south side of the property bordered by a national forest, complete with all kind predators - black bear, cougar, coyote, even hawks and eagles. Plenty wild birds too, and I don't put up any birdhouses or feeders. I am hoping to bring in enough blackberries for a little co-op market (I think), since those vines are my "barricade" along the unfenced areas, mostly to keep out the two-legged kind. Lots of big sweet blackberries, just coming into a big crop soon. My wife is still resisting even a teeny flock of chickens (she knows I would be nuts to add them just now, regardless of the promise of fresh eggs...). So - I watch to see which neighbors are keeping livestock, but I bet they use all the pasture patties for their own gardens!

  2. Barry, most people don't bother to pick up the manure. A horse produces a small wheelbarrow load a day, so there's plenty. So for most gardeners, one horse produces an over abundance.

    If you have a seasonal pasture, then keeping a horse can be expensive. Yoshi gets no grain, so she does just fine on pasture and bananas. I've learned to file her hooves each week, so I avoid farrier costs. But I still have the cost of deworming and fly control. Luckily she has never needed a vet, but does need her teeth floated every once in a while. Of course the biggest expense is fencing.

    If you can find a neighbor who would let you pick up manure, that's the way I would, and did, start. You'll get plenty for a garden that way. Once you get into farming, then having a near by horse gets to be a better solution.

    Blackberries! Oh I miss berries! Yum.

  3. On site manure is a must! We've had more goats this year and more compost! And my garden is thriving because of it. I have to say I wouldn't mind having a horse and Yoshi sure is a looker.