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The Palace of Cookie Dough

Cookie the Cow produces at least 50 pounds of--let's call it Cookie dough--every day. Before milking her in the morning and evening, I fill my little garden cart with pies and soaked straw from her stall. What to do with it all? Build a palace for it, that's what.

In the Pacific Northwest, 30-plus inches of winter rains leach nutrients out of any compost left uncovered. I pride myself on keeping nutrients on the farm. We save our kitchen scraps, compost humanure, and treasure animal manure. Cookie's compost contributions are practically as valuable as her milk. Aw shucks, those giant beets and cabbages? That wall of towering raspberry plants? They are just a result of keeping nutrients where plant roots can reach them, instead of a landfill or nearby creeks.

At first I piled Cookie's stall cleanings in the garden so they can compost right where the plants will use them in the spring. I put old greenhouse plastic over the piles to prevent the rain from leaching them.

See how the helpful rats burrow in to aerate the pile? Yes, let's call them helpful. They eat leftover grain from the barley straw we use as bedding. Cookie doesn't get any grain to eat right now.

Now I have the simple-to-build, open-at-both-ends, easy-to-add-to Palace of Cookie Dough. Note how I can open a gate that swings right in to the Palace. Cookie won't follow me because of the strand of electric wire across the gate. When I give her stall a thorough cleaning (or more accurately, ask Matt or T-Bone or Cesare to give her stall a thorough cleaning) I can take down the wire and lead her into a small side paddock. Otherwise she follows us around asking for ear scratches and knocking over the wheelbarrow.

Whether you have a cow or a goldfish, make it easy to deal with your on-farm manure! It's holy crap, folks.

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