I took the drive out to the Wakonda/Volin area this afternoon to pick up a load of composted animal bedding from Mike “Vito” Gaidelis at Red Rooster Farms. One thing you gotta say about Vito: he’s got good sh*t.
This barn is about a foot deep in slowly aged and composted animal bedding (which includes all the good stuff, plus hay). Mike dumped a tractor scoop full of it into the back of my truck, then shoveled more into buckets, which I dumped on top.
Mike’s a “real farmer,” in that he’s got barns, livestock, and has been busier than hell getting the hay in these past few weeks. His family is heavily involved in 4-H, and it’s thanks to his contacts that the Farmers Market is now at the Fairgrounds in Vermillion, where we’ve had the best of all our seasons since we organized a few years ago.
His major crop isn’t what you might expect though–not corn, not soybeans, but garlic. Huge fist-sized heads of elephant garlic (in my case it’s be almost two fists’-sized). His compost, to which he adds all kinds of good organic material–straw, bedding, manure, and more, is a fantastic product. He also sells a bit of baled straw and shredded straw, which is nice for a lighter cover.
This year, he added potatoes to his line-up, and has supplied extra potatoes for my CSA members, as well as garlic greens, and (in the past and I hope this year, too) garlic and apples. Overall, it’s great to have a guy like Mike around–really thoughtful and interested in sustainability and good, clean farm practices, and a good source of local materials for local gardeners.
After filling up the truck, and getting a sample of a few of the extra potato onions Mike’s trying out this fall, I enjoyed a long and leisurely drive back to Vermillion along the Bluff Road, trying to avoid bouncing on my back axles.
One thing I’ve said and will say again about my little S-10 pickup–a full load in that bed is about as much as I can handle/process at once–by weight or by volume. It’s just the right size.
I pulled my truck down my neighbor’s drive, then backed it into my backyard, careful to avoid the massive cottonwood tree and the new bed I’ve been building. Then I started pitchin’ the sh*t into the bed.
At about four o’ clock I took a break and came in for some Lady Grey tea (What? You don’t observe tea time? How do you make it through the rest of the day?). Outside, the yard smelled sweet with the odor of compost and hay; inside, the house was redolent of the sweet basil I’d put in the dehydrator before I left this morning.
Standing out in the backyard with my tea, I realized I shouldn’t use up all this lovely load of compost in the one area–part needs to be mixed into the older section of the bed. But I couldn’t leave it in the truck bed, either, and I couldn’t leave the truck in the backyard–if the neighbor’s renters came home, I might not be able to get back out.
Not to mention I was parked right over Vega’s favorite spot to do her “business.” Hard to convince her she really needs to “go” in the backyard if I block all access.
Enter the hat trick with the tarp. Did you notice my truckbed was lined with one in the image above? Please don’t tell me you thought I was trying to keep my truck clean. Nope. That little blue beauty allowed me to pull the rest of the compost (about a quarter remained) off the end of the tailgate and down into the yard without spilling a clump.
Next on the agenda: tearing down the old herb bed wall, removing the plants along the outside edge (as I’m moving the old bed’s border back a few inches), lining where the new edge will be with landscape fabric. Retrieving another load of blocks.
Then: joining the old bed to the new one with landscape blocks. A lot of sweating and digging. Containment of “mints-gone-wild.” Pulling some of the soil from the old bed into the new one. Mixing the remaining compost into the old bed. And more.
I’ll keep posting on how it all comes together.