The three_little_birds manual on manure - it's the dookey! "Birds love the oil rich seeds of this fruitful plant and in their ecstasies of eating have swallowed many seeds whole. Throughout the ages Cannabis has flown here and there in the bellies of birds and then found itself plopped down on the earth in a pile of ****, ready to go." Bill Drake Marijuana - The Cultivator's Handbook - 1979 Some ancient Italian in a proverb-making mood observed, "Hemp will grow anywhere, but without manure, though it were planted in heaven itself, it will be of no use at all." How lucky it is for Hemp to find Heaven in a pile of birdshit. How fortunate for the birds to find themselves high. How fortunate for the first men and women to notice how the little singing creatures became euphoric after eating the seeds of the tall, strong smelling plant. The planet is tight." Bill Drake Marijuana - The Cultivator's Handbook - 1979 Growing up on a small family farm, one of the three little bird’s childhood memories include complaining to her father about being surrounded by the terrible smell of wastes from the livestock they were raising. "Sweetheart, that's not stink . . . That's the smell of money," was Dad's reply. She certainly understood the value of the livestock her family was raising for profit, which was where Daddy's money came from. Early on, she also made the connection between the farm animals and the tasty meat on their own table. She understood another ironic meaning for her Dad's statement when one of her first paying jobs came shoveling stock barns at a State Fair. And finally, one day as she appreciated the fine aroma of some beautiful blooming wildflowers growing in a recently grazed pasture, she also began to understand the role manure plays as a fertilizer in making our soils rich and productive. Her Father’s saying about manure smelling like money was a few simple words, but, as was often the case with his wisdom, it held many meanings. * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * The use of manure in agriculture is an age-old and time-honored tradition. Manure has been used as a soil amendment and fertilizer since before mankind first began recording words and symbols in writing. Scientists as prominent as Carl Sagan have suggested that the very first cultivated agricultural crop was likely cannabis. It’s possible that the mingling of manure and marijuana goes all the way back to the very beginning of mankind's attempts to grow crops for a purpose, rather than surviving by simple hunting and gathering. Under the influence of some fine herb, it becomes simple to imagine going back in time. Looking back, in the mind’s eye we can see a tribe of nomadic people looking similar to modern man, but leading a primitive hunter-gatherer existence. We can imagine the clan following available game while taking advantage of locally available fruits and nuts. These men (and women) were not necessarily bigger or stronger than the wild animals they competed against for survival, but they were smarter. And during those seasonal migrations, one of those very distant ancestors likely noticed that their favorite herb plants were thriving especially well in areas where their nomadic tribe disposed of wastes near their seasonal camps. They may have realized that the very herds of animals their clan had been following helped to distribute and nourish the plants they favored. Perhaps, as Bill Drake suggests, it was a discovery from a pile of birdshit where it all began. Regardless of where it started, with a little more thought, our ancestors realized that crops could be fertilized, and even grown with a purpose. Some speculate that this is how agriculture was born; that it all began with a fortuitously placed pile of ****. In the end folks can call it what they like. Whether it's a fancier name like castings or guano, or one of the more common names like crap, ****, manure, or dung. In the end it's all just ****! The three_little_birds want you to know, however, that it can be very good ****. We want you to know that manures are one of the keys to unlocking the awesome potential of organic gardening. In the immeasurable time prior to the invention of agriculture, before man began to till the soil, dead and rotting vegetation naturally returned to the earth as rich and fertile humus. In traditional forms of farming, our ancestors learned to use the components of animal dung and bedding wastes in a sustainable fashion. Before the discovery of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, manure was used as a resource, not a waste product. Natural humus, built up during the ages before agriculture, was replaced by manure, rich in nitrogen and other elements that plants depend upon. Today, that is no longer true. From an environmental perspective, manure is a resource that is being wasted at a terrible rate. In some agricultural areas where a large number of livestock are concentrated and raised, manure is not a resource, but rather, it has become an environmental hazard. Consider, for instance, that a single hog will produce 3000 pounds of manure in under a year. It’s easy to see then how the large concentration of wastes found in corporate factory farms can rival a good-sized city for the total volume of organic waste produced. According to one estimate, the USA alone has something in the range of 175 million farms animals. That multitude of animals excretes over two billion tons of waste per year. Due to mismanagement, misuse, and ignorance, very few of the potential nutrients from these wastes are returned to the land, less than 20% according to some estimates. Instead, this incredible mass of manure threatens to pollute river, streams, lakes, and even the subterranean groundwater that supplies many folk with their drinking water. Therefore, finding proper solutions for the treatment and disposal of all that manure, in an economically feasible fashion, is an absolute necessity of modern agriculture. In the end, good stewardship requires sustainable farming practices that concentrate on finding a balance on the farm. So, as long as humans raise and consume animal livestock, as long as we keep animals such as horses for purpose or pleasure, it is wise to properly use manure to build and sustain our soil. As a side note, one advanced form of gardening, vegan organics, does offer hope for budding organic gardeners who will have nothing to do with the use of manures and guanos. We mention this since some folk might be dismissive of the very thought of handling animal dung, and some indoor gardeners might be repelled by the thought of bringing it into their homes or grow areas. Perhaps for some folk this will be enough reason to decide this particular form of organic gardening is not for them. We hope not because working with manures in your garden does not have to include large messes or smells . . . it's just a question of knowing your ****! For a simple definition, manure is the dung and urine of animals. It is made up of undigested and partially digested food particles, as well as a cocktail of digestive juices and bacteria. As much as 30% of the total mass of manure may be bacteria, so it should be no surprise that dung can serve as excellent inoculants for a compost pile. Mixing manure in your compost can provide all the necessary bacterial populations to quickly and efficiently break down all the other materials common to the heap. Manures can contain the full range of major, minor, and micronutrients that our plants need for strong health and vigor. Most manure will contain these nutrients in forms that are readily available to plants. The organic components of manure will continue to break down slowly over time, providing food for plants in the longer term as well. When composted with even longer-lived rock fertilizers such as Rock Phosphate or Greensand, manures can be used for true long-term soil building. In addition to providing excellent service to gardeners as a potential fertilizer and soil builder, guanos and manures can also both be effectively applied as teas. Manure and guano teas act as fertilizers, providing available nutrients in forms easily assimilated by plants. They also serve as very effective inoculants of many beneficial bacteria The nutrient value of manures can vary significantly from species to species, due to different digestive systems and feeding patterns. Even within a species, the fertilizer content of dung will vary depending on factors such as diet, the animal’s general health, as well as their age. Young animals devote much of their energy to growth, so their manure will be poorer in nutrients than that of mature animals. A lot full of baby pigs on starter feed will deposit wastes with a different nutrient value than the wastes produced by a lot full of swine ready to go to market.