Cow manure!

In all the drama of my honey bees and chickens, I almost forgot about the vegetables! Vegetables are the main reason why The Beanstalk has a website so I figured I’d better plant some. My tractor was in the shop for almost a month and it delayed my planting. So did the heaps of rain we got all spring. Like most areas around Edmonton, the soil I’m growing with has a lot of clay in it. This is good in that it sucks up and retains water in an amazing manner, but after heavy rains it takes a while for it to dry out enough for me to till without ruining the soil structure. But the soil has dried out and I’ve planted all the tasty veggies now, and now I have a bit of time to update this website.

But wait, emerging seedlings aren’t the most interesting photos subjects. Instead, let me tell you about the diversity of animals around my compost piles. There are the wasps and frogs around my lawn clipping and leaf compost pile. There’s the dog and yellow-bellied sapsucker woodpecker obsessed with my horse manure/mushroon compost. The dog I can understand. But the woodpecker? There must be something interesting in there.

But the most biologically diverse compost is the cow manure. I picked the cow manure up from the pastures (yes, I felt very peasant-like doing this) so we’re not talking cow manure/feedlot slurry here, we’re talking about a dried, almost peat-like cow manure that’s been self-composting out in the fields for a year. There are lots of larvae of various insects living in it, and a tiger salamander! It didn’t like having it’s photo taken very much, but here it is.

It's about the best photo I managed to get.

I don’t know if I collected the salamander when I collected the cow pies or if (s)he made it there alone, but the compost pile is now being watered consistently to make sure the salamander, rather than the manure, doesn’t dry out. The western-tailed blues have also been near constant visitors to the cow manure pile as well.

Western tailed blue

Although not related to compost biodiversity, the other discovery was bats in the old garage doors! I’ve been hearing scritch-scritch-scruffles up there for a couple days, but I didn’t have the courage to climb up there and stare the noise maker in the face until a few days ago. And what did I have staring back at me but beady little eyes and leather wings! I’ve seen bats flying at night of course, but hunched up during the day in a garage door is another experience entirely. These bats are very tiny, two and a half inches or three inches at most. They might need to have a real bat house made for them because rain falls down into the garage doors and bats probably don’t like rain very much. I credit them to keeping the mosquito population low around my field.

I’ll post photos of the vegetables when they look a bit more interesting!

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