Poo Wrangler

11 Feb

Howdy there, sorry about the lag. I’ve been, er, chasing poo. Animal turds, just to clarify. I feel like a spend half my morning scooping manure. Then I work in the garden–trying to get it in shape for the Feb 27 gala (u r invited: 11am-2pm at the farm: snacks and ribbon cutting)! The sunny, climate change weather keeps prodding me to get all my beds laid out and seeded even though really it’s too early for that.

But back to the poo. I had the pleasure of going to the ranch where they make Pt. Reyes Blue, and, to make the cheese, they have 350 milk cows. The location is  stunning out there in West Marin. Of course I was there to cover the shit story–which is a compost company that is recycling the cow poo into black gold for your garden. Watch for it in the Chronicle, in the garden section.

Back to my animals’ turds, though. I don’t have a tool called a Separator like they have at the Giacomini’s ranch. Instead, I just lay down some wood shavings (scrounged from Wooden Window off of San Pablo–love them!) let the animals void, then scoop it up. But then what to do? At first, this winter (that’s when the shit really hit the fan because I built up my rabbit operation) I would lay the turds and bedding into berms and let it rest. Now these berms are mostly broken down and ready to be planted into. But the poo keeps flying. And I can’t make more piles of bedding and poo (no more room, rodent problems if the pile gets too big). What to do? I went to Dublin, Ca.

Because Dublin is where my tumbler compost hook up (thanks craigslist) lives. In the garage of their home, an adorable family builds these here contraptions:

This is where the angels and rays of sunlight  come in.

Note that it’s made of plastic–recycled from sturdy olive containers. Note that a rat might have a hard time chewing on it, or getting into that screw on lid. Note that it tumbles around, so I don’t have to pitchfork it around all day long. The family is building them to make college money for their son. It’s really sweet. (We might start selling them at the Oasis–stay tuned if you want to buy one in the East Bay. If you want my tumbler guy’s email, just post a comment with your email and I’ll forward it to him.)

So far I’ve bought two, and all the farm turds from one week fit in one of these babies. It takes a month for them to break down, so I need to buy two more and then I can start the rotation. I can even–gasp–start food scrap recycling again.

Ok, gotta go to Arkansas now….I’ll be speaking at the University of the Ozarks. Can’t wait!

27 Responses to “Poo Wrangler”

  1. Liz February 11, 2011 at 5:11 pm #

    I would love to get the tumbler maker’s e-mail, we need a better way to deal with the clean out from the chicken coop. Coop rhymes with Poop, hehe (yes I have the mind of a 10 year old)

  2. Dan Wood February 11, 2011 at 5:36 pm #

    Wow the tumbler compost device looks awesome – I had built a radially tumbling composter with some plans and an old 55 gallon formerly food-liquid-holding metal drum, but it was terribly unwieldy and heavy; we gave up. This looks sufficiently low-maintenance. We might want to pick one up at the O, or yeah, have the maker get in touch with me please.

  3. Paula February 11, 2011 at 6:24 pm #

    I’ve read that rabbit poo is the only one that can be spread on your garden ‘hot’; everything else, especially chicken shit, has to be composted. Maybe that would buy you some space.

    In any case, it’s higher in nitrogen than chicken shit, and is supposed to supercharge your compost pile.

  4. karen Ohio February 12, 2011 at 4:33 pm #

    I just spend all day researching animal poo, so this post is timely. I understand alpaca and llama poo can be applied directly without composting too. I have a big source for my community garden, so hope this is true. I applied sheep poo directly one summer (not ON plants) and it did not burn, but was probably lucky.

  5. Jean Norris February 12, 2011 at 5:39 pm #

    I’d like to know more about the the Dublin tumbling composter, too.
    How big? Internal grids of any kind to help mixing? Aeration system?
    Price? Stuff like that.

    Thanks for making an email connection.

  6. Kat February 13, 2011 at 9:22 am #

    I live about 3 minutes away from Dublin and would love to get one of these for my garden!

  7. Daedre February 14, 2011 at 6:40 am #

    How full do you fill that contraption? Is it difficult to rotate with all that heavy stuff inside?

  8. Yolanda February 14, 2011 at 1:35 pm #

    I have 2 of these that are very similar. We made them ourselves! I have them on a frame made of galvanized pipe that is concreted into the ground. So while it’s not portable (who would want to carry that heavy crap around!) it is very sturdy, and very easy to harvest the finished compost by tilting the open drum into a wheelbarrow and sifting the compost into the garden.

    @Daedre, it *is* heavy; especially if there are liquids in the mix too. But we find that it lightens up after it cooks and cools.

    Stay warm, Novella!

  9. Linda Worthman February 14, 2011 at 8:11 pm #

    Yes, please! Many thanks for discovering this poop mobile!

  10. Don Lee February 15, 2011 at 8:03 am #

    Dear Novella,
    The talk you gave at the U of O was wonderful; thanks for coming here. Everyone had a terrific time. Now I can’t wait to get the book.
    Don Lee

  11. -Pam February 15, 2011 at 8:15 am #

    Do they have a website?


  12. Marie February 15, 2011 at 7:48 pm #

    Can I get the contact info for the maker of the compost tumbler?

  13. Kerri February 17, 2011 at 10:15 am #

    Novella – I highly recommend you track down a copy of Gene Logsdon’s newest book “Holy Shit: Managing Manure To Save Mankind.” Not only is it a fascinating book on the whys and wherefores of manure in agriculture, there is a whole bunch of practical info as well. Gene is worth reading and has a weekly blog “The Contrary Farmer.” http://www.thecontraryfarmer.com/ where you can find more about what he’s published and his thoughts on practically everything – all with a wicked sense of humor!

  14. fer February 18, 2011 at 11:46 pm #

    Very nice. I wish I had a garden big enough to make some good compost. For now I have to settle with buying soil

  15. amber February 19, 2011 at 8:07 pm #


  16. MotherLodeBeth February 19, 2011 at 11:06 pm #

    Used to live in Dublin back in the 80’s and love the tumbler which looks better made than 90% of the tumblers I have seen. Would love to get one for myself, and can even drive from here in San Andreas area to Dublin to pick up and visit old friends at the same time. Dublin was great because we also had backyard chickens.

  17. Tripp February 21, 2011 at 9:50 pm #

    Hi Novella, you made an appearance in my latest blog post, and I thought I’d share the link with you, if you want to check it out in your copious free time;) Riana liked my blog when I finally came out of hiding and posted a comment on her FB thread last month. The influence you and your sister have had on us over the last couple of years will be pretty plain to see!

  18. Kristi February 24, 2011 at 10:38 am #

    I’d love to find out where to get that tumbler composter. We primarily only have food scraps to compost….what will we need to add to that to get some good compost??

  19. penandra February 24, 2011 at 2:43 pm #

    Would love to find out about this composter . . . I’m using a compost tumbler at present, but I’m on my second one . . . they rust out eventually — for the cost of that brand that most people pay that’s unconscionable (although I did get this last one for free from Craig’s list and the first one for free from a guy at work) — would love information about these! Thanks for your talk this afternoon.

  20. Dave Wood February 26, 2011 at 6:30 pm #

    Please help me contact the folks who make the composter – it looks perfect for my sized yard, and sending a kid to college is a great cause. Thanks, Dave

  21. Henri March 16, 2011 at 5:05 pm #

    Ditto, would like to get the contact for the tumbler. Thanks!

  22. Bill March 20, 2011 at 11:27 am #

    With all of the poop you have to deal with why don’t you go into the composted crap business. I know that it is hard for us in the city to get good organic manure. I think if you put a system in place you could be the goto place for poop in the East Bay.

  23. Tonqari March 23, 2011 at 7:44 am #

    I would like the contact info for the tumbler too please. Thanks!

  24. timtum26@gmail.com April 4, 2011 at 12:14 am #

    Hi – Thanks for this info – I’d love the contact info to get a compost tumbler!

  25. lisa May 1, 2011 at 1:24 pm #

    Hi, I’d love to get the contact info for the compost tumbler. Thanks!

  26. Nicole August 29, 2011 at 1:03 pm #

    I would love the info for this!

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