Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Recycling on the Homestead

We try to take recycling to a whole other level at our farm. Of course we do all the regular stuff like hauling our glass, metal, plastic, newspaper, old magazines and cardboard to the local recycling bins. But we also look for other ways to recycle.

One of our best recycling efforts is that of the cattle. They start by harvesting the sun as they graze the grass and deposit their manure on our land. We are compensated for the weight that they gain during the grazing season with hay from the cattle owner’s ranch. This hay contains more nutrients which are processed by our horses through the winter and deposited back on our pasture. The actions of the cattle and the horses help incorporate the nutrients back into the soil so the nutrient cycle (or re-cycle) continues year after year. We also compost some of the cattle and horse manure for use in our gardens around the house.

The care of our kitties is another source of nutrient recycling. Several years ago we switched from using commercial kitty litter to using a pelleted horse feed in their litter box. I spread the soiled litter daily and it either breaks down releasing its nutrients into the soil or the resident wild turkey flock cleans it up and then deposits their own manure in its place. And added benefit is that the horse feed actually does a better job than the commercial kitty litter and costs half the price.

Over the course of a winter we will burn 4 to 5 cords of firewood. Much of it we cut on our farm but some comes from other locations. No matter the source after releasing its wonderful heat into our home, we spread the ash and send the nutrients back to the soil. More recycling.

Rather than composting kitchen waste in winter we generally burn the residue in the woodstove. The remains go out with the rest of the ash to be spread.

I know there is more that we can do and we are always looking for recycling ideas. Our goal is to turn inputs into nutrients and return them to the soil.

From Fleur Creek Farm