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Date:11/22/2014 11:21:05 PM
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Manure, Part I
When I posted the info for this blog on Facebook, I suspected that some would laugh at the subject matter, but I knew that countrymen and women would understand and respect the importance of this subject. Manure revitalizes the soil; and that is tremendously important to people who live off the land, who depend on the soil for their sustenance. The word "manure" comes from the same Latin rootword for "maneuver." Both words translate to mean "handwork," or "manual labor." One of the two photos that I posted shows me doing the "handwork" of spreading the manure by hand. Both are shown above on this site. There are two types of manure. One is what we are all to familiar with, the mixture of feces and bedding of livestock. Countrymen and women have known from early on the value of spreading this on the land. The second type is "green manure." The best description of this is copied from Wikiepedia: "Green manures are crops grown for the express purpose of plowing them in, thus increasing fertility through the incorporation of nutrients and organic matter into the soil. Leguminous plants such as clover are often used for this, as they fix nitrogen using Rhizobia bacteria in specialized nodes in the root structure." At La Ferme Sabloneuse, we use both. My Ruthie, at my request, took a good second photo capturing these two types of manure. In the foreground is the winter rye grass that eldest brother David plants each summer. This is plowed under in the spring and then that plot becomes the garden. In the background is me shoveling the other type of manure.
Even in the Middle Ages, the value of manure was recognized. Medieval records show that manure was taken from the peasants to to fertilize the fields belonging exclusively to the lord of the manor. These records also show that manure was named as part of the fealty, or tax that serfs, or peasants had to pay to their masters.

The value and characteristics of manure depend on the type of animal that produced it. Again, I quote Wikipedia: "Manure from different animals has different qualities and requires different application rates when used as fertilizer. For example horses, cattle, pigs, sheep, chickens, turkeys, rabbits, humans (sewage), and guano from seabirds and bats all have different properties.[1] For instance, sheep manure is high in nitrogen and potash, while pig manure is relatively low in both. Horses mainly eat grass and a few weeds so horse manure can contain grass and weed seeds, as horses do not digest seeds the way that cattle do. Chicken litter, coming from a bird, is very concentrated in nitrogen and protein and is prized for both properties." More scoop on farm poop later. -- Gary

PS Be sure to check a few blogs down to see a related post by my good friend, The Farmwife.
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