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My super easy rat-composter

 
Dan Boone
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We have a lot of rescue dogs that run around at our place. They kill a lot of rabbits, rats, and smaller burrowing nibblers. They pretty much eat everything they catch except for the rats, which they frequently just leave laying around in the lawn to freak out my spouse. Sometimes they leave messy rabbit portions laying about as well.

Before I started gardening, I would often be requested to police up the dead animals, put 'em in a plastic bag, and put them in the outside trash. Now that obviously strikes me as too wasteful, so I've been digging little holes near my trees and putting the rats there, especially if two or three have piled up. But it's a bit of a pain to dig those holes -- they need to be deep enough that the dogs won't dig them back up just to see what I buried (they always want to know) and pretty small so I don't disturb any tree roots.

Then today I got a bright idea. I have read -- somewhere here on Permies, cannot find the thread -- advice to irrigate fruit trees by setting a piece of 4" PVC pipe endways into the ground, fairly deep, and filling it with irrigation water. The notion is that injecting the water fairly deep into the ground encourages the fruit tree to send its roots more deeply. My bright idea was that I could probably drop two or three small rats a week into such a device and if I make it fairly tall like a chimney, I don't think I'll ever smell a thing, certainly not in the cool part of the year anyway. And as the rats decompose they'll feed my trees. There will surely be flies, but if it gets to be too many coming in and out of that pipe I expect birds and frogs and spiders will hunt them in that very confined place.

If I get too many rats for the system to handle cleanly, I can just build more irrigation/composting devices in more places. I put the first one under the spreading boughs of an oak at the edge of my yard where I have a sheltered rhubarb patch that needs frequent irrigation in the summer, and adjacent to a spot where I'm hoping to put in a pawpaw tree and a fig.

We'll see how it works in the summer, but for now, I'm feeling clever. Just pick up a dead rat on the tip of my shovel and "plonk" it's gone. No fuss, no muss.

rat-composter.JPG
[Thumbnail for rat-composter.JPG]
combination rat composter and tree root irrigator
 
Michael Cox
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Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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It has been done before, and commercialised on a household scale for food waste disposal.

The Green Cone

Not used one myself, but I've heard good things about them. The idea is that the composting material is below soil level so I contact with the soil biota, and warmed by the cone. The lid on the cone stops fly and smell problems.

Pop a lid on your tube and you should get rid of your problems with flies etc...
 
chip sanft
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Location: 18 acres & heart in zone 4 (central MN). Current abode: Knoxville (zone 6 /7)
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I bet Dan's system is cheaper than the ninety-two pounds ninety-five pence Green Cone, though...
 
Dan Boone
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LOL, yeah, I don't have $120 or so (haven't checked the exchange rate) to spend on a plastic cone! That piece of PVC pipe is all rotten and came off the junk pile, I had to cut away broken bits on both ends with a hacksaw to get a clean-ish looking piece of pipe.

The lid is smart though, if I do have a fly problem I'll put a $1.00 flower pot upside down over the pipe.
 
Eric Thompson
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Location: Bothell, WA - USA
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Add the screen to the top - compost those flies too!
 
Leila Rich
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Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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My mum has a large, revolting and very stinky version:
an old washing machine bowl semi-buried under the prized avocado's dripline.
into it goes possums, manure, lambs that didn't make it, guts, you name it.
Occasionally she remembers to chuck some wood mulch on to calm the stench, but mostly it just...stinks.
There's an old net curtain over it, but I suspect it doesn't stop the flies.
There's so much rain at her place that the tree must get quite well fed.
It's pretty productive anyway!
 
William Bronson
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Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
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Two Buckets. One bottomless, flipped over and sunken half way into the soil. The other about half way up and used as the lid. Add a handle if you like.
I like these for bones and dog/cat poop.


From the title I was thinking you feed scrap to rats to make poop!
 
Dan Boone
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Leila Rich wrote:My mum has a large, revolting and very stinky version:
an old washing machine bowl semi-buried under the prized avocado's dripline.


Hah -- my mother was fond of her 55 gallon drum full of rotting fish offal and water, so long as she had children she could "supervise" (from fifty feet upwind in a cloud of cigarette smoke) to do the dirty work of spreading it on the garden.
 
Dan Boone
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William Bronson wrote:From the title I was thinking you feed scrap to rats to make poop!


Ha, nope! That doesn't sound "super-easy" to me, LOL. Although I have found so much wonderful rat midden duff and bedding and dried poop under loose piles of sheet steel (what they used to call "tin" when galvanized and used as siding) that I've considered setting up rat nesting boxes just to collect the stuff as a soil amendment. If we didn't live in potential Hanta virus territory (making voluntary contact with rodent feces contraindicated) I'd probably have done it, too.
 
Dan Boone
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Location: Central Oklahoma (zone 7a) ~39" rain/year
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Yesterday my dogs brought home the fattest squirrel I've ever seen. After a couple of hours it was clear they had no plans to eat it. So I went to put it in my rat digester. It was so big, I thought it wasn't going to fit into the 4" pipe! But it did, once I got it lined up right.
 
Alder Burns
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Black soldier flies would do a handy job with all sorts of dead critters. I also simply boil them up, if they're fresh, whether skinned or not, and throw all to the chickens. Feeding frenzy!
 
Ben Brownlow
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Location: Rutledge, MO
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Been using chickens as my go-to rat composters. We just lay 'em out on a log and chop 'em a little with a hatchet before tossing the little bits in our barnyard with the table scraps.
 
Dan Boone
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Location: Central Oklahoma (zone 7a) ~39" rain/year
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Sadly there are no fowl in my systems yet. The predator issue means I'll need fencing and housing that will be a ton of work to make with the scrounged materials I have. It's on the list, but without a target date.
 
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