I’m not a big fan of chemicals. They have their place and are useful in certain applications. But in general, I think that as a society we rely too heavily on them. We work hard on the farm to avoid chemicals – especially if there is a healthier, more natural method available to us.
One example involves our hay field. When you grow your own hay, you regularly harvest it and remove it from the ground in which it was grown. As a result, you need to do something to add nutrients back to the soil. If you don’t, the soil gets depleted and doesn’t grow much except weeds.
Many farms rely on chemical fertilizers to add nutrients back to the soil. Instead, we recycle what we have lots of – manure laden bedding. We shovel the goats’ stalls and use wheel barrows to take the dirty bedding to the hay fields.
We then spread it out into thin layers with a rake (or more commonly) our boots:
Spreading the bedding out accomplishes several things. As previously mentioned, it returns the nutrients back to the soil. But it also allows the bedding to dry out which keeps flies away. Plus a thin layer of bedding allows the grass to grow through the bedding (as opposed to a large pile which would kill the grass).
We add the rabbit waste back to the garden for the same reason.
If you look closely in the photo below, you can see the line where the children spread manure last year. (I added arrows so you can see the line better.) See how there is a line where the grass changes from dark green to light green? The dark green is where the bedding was spread.
The color difference in the grass is an outward indication of the fact that healthy soil produces healthier grass.
It’s a lot of work to spread all that bedding by hand. But it’s worth it!