Monday, September 7, 2015

3 million gallons of poo

Last week I rented this
It's a long-reach excavator, and it's a special-purpose machine to do the sort of work that I wanted to do.  The last operator of my farm neglected his manure lagoon, and because of that neglect it was basically less than half of the normal capacity.  

This this bad boy is just the thing to reach in and scoop it out.  Basically run it along the top of the lagoon wall all the way around and scoop up the solids.  We're putting the solids into a pile that we'll compost over the next 6 months or so and then spread the compost over the fields as an organic fertilizer.  

the solids aren't really solid; some of it, the sawdust used for bedding, is pretty firm.  But there's a pretty good percentage that is basically pudding, and I spent quite a few hours scooping and swinging, scooping and swinging.  

I wasn't able to get to the center of the lagoon, but I was able to clear the outer 25' of the lagoon all the way around.  So we're at 2/3rds capacity going into fall.  

Next spring I'll take a fire hose out and spray the island I left this year, and then agitate the lagoon and spray the solid/water mixture out.   A year from now we should be at 90% or so of capacity.  

This is a 200-series machine, about 44,000 lbs.  At full extension it'll just barely pick up a full bucket.  But it did the job, and I'm glad to have that off my fall to-do list.  

Once out of the lagoon I'm letting it dry a little, and then i'll use the tractor to move it into one big pile.  It'll keep composting even when the outside temperature goes below 40; stirred once a month, it'll maintain an internal temperature well above 100 all winter.  

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