Hipster Homesteading

Warning: there is talk about poop in this post.

Being that I was so inspired by attending the MUG workshop this past Saturday (you can read about it here), I decided to do something I’ve never done before: put poop on my garden. Horse poop, to be specific. This time of year, there are lots of horse ranches cleaning out their barns and offering free manure for the hauling. One happened to be a few miles from our house, in a northern suburb. After the workshop, I called them up and asked if I could come and get a few buckets.  That was fine with the farmer, so I moved on to the next obstacle: hauling the stuff in our tiny Honda Civic hybrid.

When we haul wood chips, we just lay a sheet down in the trunk and fill it up. However, manure was a whole different thing. I had two five-gallon pails and a 17-gallon tote, none of which fit into our tiny trunk. So I finally decided to lay down a plastic tarp in the backseat and set the buckets on top.

I arrived at the ranch and was escorted through a mucky pasture (good thing I remembered to wear my rubber rain boots!) to a pile of wet horse manure.

“This,” I thought to myself, “Is the real thing.”

The farmer fed his horses “so they would leave me alone” (were they planning on harassing me for stealing their old poop?) while I filled the two buckets. Jason was busy that day, so I couldn’t fill the tote the whole way or it would have been too heavy for my chicken arms. The farmer did help me lift the buckets into my car, remarking that it would make it smell really good in there. He also mentioned, with some sense of puzzlement, that he’d had many people like me stop out with their cars and haul the stuff in buckets. I pictured tons of hipster homesteaders from the city showing up in their fancy clothes and hybrid cars to get free poop for their organic gardens. Like something out of “Portlandia”.

I thanked him for his help, and he told me I was welcome to come by anytime to get more. Maybe I’ll take him up on that offer. You know, if we ever get a decent vehicle for hauling…

Anyway, I set off on my merry way back to north Milwaukee, with the windows down and a scarf over my face. I kept hoping that I wouldn’t have to brake suddenly or get into a car accident because, well, that would have been crappy. Pun intended.

The irony of the whole thing was not lost on me. Because, honestly, it’s funny that I hauled horse poop in buckets in my backseat with my clothing-swap scarf over my nose. I never want to take myself too seriously! Stuff like this keeps me grounded.

Because I didn’t haul much, I only put a thin layer down in the garden. Which is fine – it will help it compost easier. The bed that got the poop treatment is the one I dug last September – it will be where I plant warm weather veggies like eggplants and tomatoes so it still has a good two months to break down into the soil.

For the record, I left the car windows open for a few hours and then took it to the corner gas station to vacuum it out. I’m happy to report that no traces of manure smell remained. AND – I dragged the big tote out of the backseat and into the backyard all on my own! When Jason came out to take a look later, he looked down at the garden bed and exclaimed, “Poop!” Well, he used another word but I’m trying to keep this blog somewhat PG ;). He was amazed at my manure-hauling feat. Naturally.

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