Saturday, October 3, 2020

Casting Call: A Key to A Horse's Natural Health

This is a picture of health, and a picture that too few people ever see. This is an overnight buildup of castings from red wiggler worms in one of the pastures close to our vermiculture operation. 

The casting are as potent a soil amendment and organic growth agent as I know of. Our original vermicomposter is an old hot tub that is buried level with the ground so that it does not freeze in the winter.  Over the years we have added many tons of horse manure to fork fulls of old hay. We brought additional microbes in to the mixture by adding much smaller amounts of hog, rabbit, poultry, goat, cow and sheep manure.  We roll out round bales of hay over the pastures and that provides seed, a carbon cover to the soil,  and organic matter to the soil--all while the horses eat hay.

The largest vermicomoposter contains red wiggler composting worms. Over the years many thousands of them have left the container and became feral. The closer the pastures are to the composter the more dense they are in worms. The worms aerate and fertilize the soil. They also attract scores of one of my favorite wild birds, killdeer. 

It is not just a matter of what we put into the soil. Equally important is what we do not put in the soil . There has not been any herbicide or pesticide on the soil in twenty years and there has been no commercial fertilizer on the soil in about ten years.

The super potent soil produces super nutritious grass, forbs, and weeds--everything that a horse needs to thrive.  It takes years of staying away from poison building up a solid microbial base to achieve this state. We are beginning the process on the new pastures that we are developing. and within a decade we will likely have nearly fifty acres of dark, living soil  supporting the nearly extinct Colonial Spanish horse strains that we work to preserve and promote.

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