With 20+ horses and many donkeys, there is plenty of poo to be dealt with on a daily basis. Add in some fruit and vegetable scraps and we produce almost a ton of organic waste each day. Not only is this a lot of waste, but it’s a whole lot of WORK!
We rely on old-fashioned people power and wheelbarrows to move it from point A to B.
Once it arrives at our compost area, it begins a sort of decomposition procession down one of our 16 rows that each holds 2 tonnes of compost. At the beginning, all the fresh stuff gets lumped in together. Once the row is full, it gets covered in some donated astro turf to lock in the moisture and keep off the direct sun which will end up killing the bacteria needed to make the compost. Due to the arid conditions, we actually have to water our compost to stop it from drying out to the point that it ruins the decomposition process. After 2 weeks, it’s time to move the compost from one row to the next. With shovels in hand, our volunteers really do get down and dirty, moving literal tonnes of waste from one spot to the next. So then, with 16 rows of compost at a 2 week rotation period, our compost takes a total of 6 months to reach the final process. At this point, it gets removed from the last row and sifted to ensure no rocks or other items have made their way in. From there, it is either used on our plants or gets bagged up to be sold, all profits going right back into the sanctuary.
While living in desert conditions, it seems necessary to do our bit to cultivate some plant life where we can. This is home for many of us, so we also want it to look and feel like it - in a sepia washed landscape, a little bit of colour goes a long way! This doesn’t mean attempting to grow species that don’t belong under the sun or that are incredibly water intensive. It means being careful to select plants that require minimal water and that are resilient to the prevailing weather and soil conditions.
We have plants that feed our animals and serve as snack pit stops on horse or donkey walks. We also have vegetables and herbs that we use in the kitchen too. Some of our garden is fed using grey water from our showers, some from our filtered wastewater and the rest by normal mains. We’re trialling grass (one that is normally deemed an invasive weed but is ideal in this environment) that can be used in some of the animal areas. We’ve also got a mini-hydroponic garden helping us grow a bunch of different vegetables, but most importantly it’s helping us propagate papyrus to filter our grey water system.
You’ll have to read our blog for all the in-depth stuff, but for now let’s let the pictures take you there.