The compost heap, when one gets it right, is a thing of utter tear-inducing wonderment. I got my heap wrong last year and it still lurks there, full of ants, rat shit, and doom. And I don’t know what to do with it. But the one I started this winter, back in the frozen old days of January, by fucking jeepers-creepers it’s a good ‘un.
I stoked her (for surely any seriously super heap is a “her”) in January with some greenish but woody bits and bobs from the garden. Live twiggy bits of holly and the like. For as any composterer knows, one needs air to flow happily and freely through the heap. The live twiggy bits ensure that this will happen.
Prior to that I placed chicken wire beneath her. This was to keep out the rats, the rats who made a base in the old heap. The old heap was next to where the hens live, so it was a nice, warm, smelly, and tasty HQ for them. They could snooze on the Bad Heap during daylight hours and in darkness, prey upon the leftover hen food. The fuckers.
This time it won’t happen because of the chicken wire that keeps out the rats. It’s a good heap, and rats hate a good heap*. Through frigid February and March I wait. I wait for my garden to grow, I wait for the weeds to grow, so that the heap can start working. There’s nothing** that a heap likes more than a few weeds.
In April we get some warmth. The seeds I have sown have sprouted but it goes cold and they go on hold. The grass grows and I mow, and I introduce the heap to her first layer…
…On a hot weekend in May I smell the heap. I put my hand in the heap and it feels warm. I put my trust in the heap. I even ask my mother-in-law, a compost-expert, to take a sniff of the heap.
A lot has changed since January. We have made a baby, I have lost a job. But the heap goes on and on and on.
The compost heap is working, even if I am not. I feed it and worry about it and perhaps this will do as a pre-runner to fatherhood.
*I don’t know if that’s actually true
** Well, some things, but we’ll get to that later