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April 27, 2005

Clean Pastures and Sweet Melons

Have you ever been overwhelmed by the amount of manure your donkeys and mules can produce?

I know it seems like I no more than turn my back, and my donkeys have created quite a collection at their favorite dumping grounds! Fortunately my donkeys have picked special spots to leave their manure, instead of leaving it all over the field, but it can get kind of messy in those areas. I know after a long winter, no matter how hard I work to keep it clean, it seems like the area in front of my barn always ends up with a nice collection of manure.

My solution? We have a building equipment rental business down at the end of our street that has some lovely landscaping equipment. Usually ever spring I rent one of their Bobcats or similar scoopers, and scrape up all the manure piles and collection areas around my paddocks and barn.

That is just what we did this last weekend. We also moved some dirt to help the muddy areas in my donkeys' pens drain better, too. Here is the "super pooper scooper" that we used this year. It is make this so much easier than moving all the manure and dirt by hand, and we can just drive it wherever we want to leave the dirt and manure, and dump it there. Here is the little scooper we rented this year. It is smaller than a standard Bobcat, and was only about 4 feet wide. That made it easier to manuver in tight places. But you do have to be careful about lifting heavy loads of dirt up high with it - it isn't well balanced for that. But it does an excellent job of scraping up manure piles.


By the way, I learned a few years ago that old donkey manure piles make an excellent place to grow watermelons! I had a big pile of manure that I had dumped in one corner of our garden a few winters ago. The next spring we must have dumped some watermelon rinds and food garbage out there to turn into compost. One of the watermelon seeds decided to sprout, and grew hidden in the weeds around the manure pile. That fall when we were cleaning up our garden, we found a huge watermelon growing on that vine! Here in Utah the growing season is short enough that we only usually get tiny Sugar Baby type watermelons to grow in our gardens - if we're lucky. But this watermelon was as big as the giant watermelons you can get at the grocery store, and it was really sweet and perfectly ripe too! I haven't gotten around to planting any more watermelon seeds in that area yet, but I want to do it again sometime.

Kristie Jorgensen

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Posted by Kristie Jorgensen at April 27, 2005 10:38 PM