The little tractor that could

Remember that post about the new, bigger manure spreader? Well, one of the fall chores around the ranch is to spread our compost over the fields. It used to be a very tedious, long three or four days. Now, we can get it done in about a day!

Dad unhooks the tractor and uses the shovel to fill the spreader.

We were initially worried that our little tractor couldn’t pull the fully loaded spreader, but Dad put ‘er in low gear and just (slowly) went for it.

He hooks it back up, and takes it out into the field.

As an ecologist, I have to say, we have some pretty nice native plants in our fields. We make sure our compost is well and truly cooked before we spread it, because the high temperatures inside a good pile (135° -160° F) will kill weed seeds.

There are all sorts of moving parts. The compost sits on two belts that feed it to the back, where it gets turned over and split up as it’s spread.

We fertilize our fields in the fall, so moisture from rain and snow through winter and spring will break it down further, and spread the nutrients into the soil.

Our compost is more like mulch at this stage, so the auger thing is kind of redundant. It would dribble right off the back without any help.

I used to study this kind of thing, so I’m tempted to discuss over fertilization of historically nutrient poor areas (the plains of Colorado aren’t exactly verdant). Let’s just say that a careful balance between nitrogen, which comes from the animal waste, and carbon, which comes from their bedding, is important. I haven’t run any chemistry on our compost, but as long as the NATIVE plants keep looking healthy, I’d say we’re in good shape.

About cliffhousealpacas

Once upon a time, my dad drove by some funny looking animals standing on little dirt hills in a field. Thus, the dream of an alpaca ranch was born. Now, we are embarking on a grand adventure of raising alpacas and becoming fiber artists.
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2 Responses to The little tractor that could

  1. Patty says:

    Yay for having a healthy population of native plants!

    • Dad has an eagle eye out for the weeds you’ve taught him. And we have some along the driveway (disturbed areas, amiright?), but overall, it’s a remarkably diverse little shortgrass steppe.

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