• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education skip experiences global resources cider press projects digital market permies.com private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Anne Miller
  • Nicole Alderman
  • r ranson
  • Pearl Sutton
  • Mike Haasl
  • paul wheaton
stewards:
  • Joylynn Hardesty
  • Dave Burton
  • Joseph Lofthouse
master gardeners:
  • jordan barton
  • Greg Martin
gardeners:
  • Carla Burke
  • Ash Jackson
  • Kate Downham

Racoon digging up compost pile

 
Posts: 186
Location: Swanton, MD
13
goat hugelkultur purity tiny house books food preservation
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
My humanure compost pile is being dug up. I strongly suspect a raccoon is doing this because the uncovering always occurs overnight.

I use a 2-bucket system, one for pee and one for poo. I use peat moss for cover instead of sawdust in the bathroom as it is hard to find sawdust is hard to find, especially in the winter. Once outside, I use grass clippings and straw to cover the compost pile. Only the poo bucket is put on the compost pile. The pee bucket has a funnel-hose setup that drains into a floor drain that is plumbed to drain into the forest behind me.

The critter is not looking for blood as I am past that age in my life. I am tempted, but reluctant to trap the critter - I just want to stop it from uncovering the compost.

I live in the mountains, so the compost needs every ounce of sunlight and air that it can get. Also, it needs whatever rain that occurs. It is open on top and 1 side.

Has anyone else had this problem or can offer a solution?

By the way, this is a new problem. Within the last 6 months. I have lived here 16 years without ever having a problem like this.
 
Posts: 318
9
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi Nancy, is it literally a compost pile or is it in some sort of frame? Either way you should be able to put a bit of wire fence over the whole thing, doesn't take much, not very heavy and easy to put on and take off. Mine is a three sided frame, soon to be four sided, and I use a piece of page wire fencing draped over the exposed side and the top to discourage animals digging. I think a piece of chain link fence would work better but I didn't have an easy available piece. I also started flopping the fourth pallet over the one side once it popped out of the frozen ground. I did have something digging once and that is when I started putting the pallet on as well. Hope this helps.
 
Nancy Troutman
Posts: 186
Location: Swanton, MD
13
goat hugelkultur purity tiny house books food preservation
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
It is 3 pallets standing up, braced with 4 posts. Top and 1 side is open. I like your wire idea. Just not sure how to attach it for ease of use, both in summer and with winter snows. Summer is not a problem. I need access to it about once a week in the winter. We can have 1-2' of snow or more monthly where I live from December through March.

I add humanure to it at least weekly and cover it with straw. Less often I add kitchen scraps, the scraps are entirely vegetarian. I keep a leaf pile near it that I use instead of straw until the leaves run out.
 
gardener
Posts: 6671
Location: Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
1322
hugelkultur dog forest garden duck fish fungi hunting books chicken writing homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Rather than a raccoon it might be a skunk that is your culprit. If the holes are round then I would suspect a skunk over a raccoon straight away.

Raccoons in our area tend to dig oblong holes if they dig. The skunks leave nearly perfect round holes where they dig for bugs and what not.
 
Nancy Troutman
Posts: 186
Location: Swanton, MD
13
goat hugelkultur purity tiny house books food preservation
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Yes, the holes are perfectly round. And, around March of this year, I did add a container of earthworms to the pile. It might explain why I went years without a problem and have a problem now. The earthworms would be a tasty snack for a skunk.

I haven't smelled skunk, but I am glad I did not run into this one.

Thank you for that information. It never occurred to me that the type of hole suggested skunk over raccoon. I just assumed raccoon.




 
Wyatt Barnes
Posts: 318
9
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I don't attach the wire in any way, it is laying right on top of the cover material inside the frame. It is meant to interfere with a digging animal, not keep them from coming into contact with the compost. You could toss on some old fridge or stove racks or anything like that. Just needs to be annoying to the animal and keep them from easily penetrating the cover material.
 
pollinator
Posts: 459
Location: 18 acres & heart in zone 4 (central MN). Current abode: Knoxville (zone 6 /7)
50
dog books urban bike
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
If it's a humanure pile -- so you're presumably not losing veggie scraps and other valuable compost materials -- is it a problem if an animal aerates it for you? I'm not being a smart aleck, I just wonder.
 
Nancy Troutman
Posts: 186
Location: Swanton, MD
13
goat hugelkultur purity tiny house books food preservation
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I set a hav-a-hart trap last night. Around midnight it caught a skunk. So Bryant turned out to be 100% right. Neighbor came over and shot it for me this morning. I plan to take Wyatt's suggestion about laying down oven racks on top of the pile. To avoid it being a temptation for future skunks.

It is a humanure pile, but I do add veggie kitchen garbage to it from time to time. Mostly in the winter to heat it up.

Anyway, thanks for all your suggestions.
 
Wyatt Barnes
Posts: 318
9
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
From what I have read you can compost the skunk. Might need a bit of your inside cover material to balance it. One fellow composted a 70 lb pig and got good compost 2 yrs later.
 
pollinator
Posts: 11799
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
1042
cat forest garden fish trees chicken fiber arts wood heat greening the desert
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Poor skunk was just being a skunk. What did it do to deserve being shot?
 
Nancy Troutman
Posts: 186
Location: Swanton, MD
13
goat hugelkultur purity tiny house books food preservation
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I didn't know you could compost critters! Everything I read says not to add meat to your compost pile. I shall have to look into this. I am thinking bones might leach some valuable minerals back into the soil.

And the reason the skunk had to be put down was because of rabies. Skunks, coyotes, foxes and raccoons are dangerous because of rabies. If you catch one, you have to dispatch them humanely. I have become paranoid about rabies since recently my vet had to put down a horse due to rabies near me.
 
Wyatt Barnes
Posts: 318
9
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Read the forum on Humanure Handbook if you are interested in composting Q and A, specifically for humanure. Joe Jenkins, the poster boy for the movement, specifically says that meat, bones and fat can be added since the human feces makes it unpalatable or possibly unnoticeable unlike the advice given for regular composting. So far I have put in chicken beef and pork bones as well as pan fat and any kind of oily rinse water. I have a 5 gallon kitchen compost pail and everything that isn't eaten goes in it.
 
Nancy Troutman
Posts: 186
Location: Swanton, MD
13
goat hugelkultur purity tiny house books food preservation
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Fats and meat that are not eaten by me are fed to the chickens and cats. However, I have been disposing of the bones after I remove the marrow. (Read Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon for the reasons why I go after the marrow.

Has your bones actually broken down in the finished compost? To the point that when you use the compost you do not have bones in it?
 
Wyatt Barnes
Posts: 318
9
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The answer is it depends. The fellow that composted the largish pig said that there were only small bone shards in the finished good compost 2 years later. He was quite happy with the end result. I do not have much personal experience with this since I am just approaching the opening date for my first large compost pile. I had a smaller aged compost from the very first few months of our humanure beginnings 2 years ago and it did have some larger turkey bones still identifiable but I don't know how representative that pile was due to its small size. My guess would be that whole animals are more likely to disappear fairly completely because of the volatility of the complete soft tissue system compared to individual bones dropped in. This is just a guess, eventually I expect to have some first hand knowledge, I have been thinking of adding some road kill as an experiment, although I should really have a control pile as well.
 
Nancy Troutman
Posts: 186
Location: Swanton, MD
13
goat hugelkultur purity tiny house books food preservation
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I will be very interested in your results when you open up the pile. Under what thread do you think you will post the results of your bone experiment?
 
Wyatt Barnes
Posts: 318
9
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
On this one as well as the Humanure Handbook. I am about to cap last years pile so I will see if I can come up with a few road kills to try once I get started with the 2016/2017. Patience is a virtue, results in 2 years time.
 
In the renaissance, how big were the dinosaurs? Did you have tiny ads?
Rocket Mass Heater Manual - now free for a while
https://permies.com/goodies/8/rmhman
reply
    Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic