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People, Please Point Me to the Perfect Poop for Plaster (Erica??)  RSS feed

 
Zee Swartz
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Hello Dear Ones,

First off, I'm thankful for a forum on which I can post a question about choosing POOP and get intelligent responses.  It makes me happy.

So here's today's conundrum:

I have easy, ready, free access to too many poop options.

This is the set up: A bale-cob structure in central Oklahoma (where the wind really does come sweeping down the plain along with allergens from the four corners of the earth.)  We want to finish the structure with dung-clay plaster for its a) accessibility and cost (or decided lack thereof) b) strength and water resistance c) the look and d) its non-toxicity/family-friendlier-than-lime-application in terms of safety.  Yes, we have an generous overhang. Yes, we have a high stem wall. Yes, it will be protected from driving rain. Yes, there are layers upon layers of drainage in place.  We're talking back ups to our back ups.  There would need to be a flood of Biblical proportions for water to get to the plaster in any significant amount.

I have read that horse manure has more micro fibers but cow manure has more enzymes.  Hmmm.  And, okay, fine, the cows around here are purty conventional and eat sprayed grass and who knows what else and frankly, their poop sceers me a leetle bit.

HOWEVER, I also have access to "purer" cow manure, but it's a farther (further) drive, (there's a conventional ranch literally across the street) as well as horse manure and POSSIBLY bison manure (how COOL would that be?  "My house is coated in a fine mixture of native red clay, local sand and regal bison excrement.") 

Does anyone have suggestions for what qualities to look for in manure, or more specifically, the animals from which the poop comes, when choosing what to use in a plaster that you will have physical contact with for an extended amount of time??  And, uh, am I over thinking this?  AND hows about using a mixture of horse AND cow manure.  I know experimentation is in order, but I wanted input from others concerning healthy poop for plaster.  That is all.

Thanks and Blessings to ya!

Zee
 
Daniel Ray
pollinator
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Location: Stevensville, Montana; Zone 4b
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Great thread. I think with all the variables of feed for manure you are going to want to make a few test plasters, something you have already thought of. I have only ever used horse manure and it worked extremely well. Make sure you crush/sift so that you don't get many clumps. I've heard the same, that fresh cow manure will make a more elastic plaster, easier to work with, but I don't know how true that is. I know people really like using fresh manure, but I have found that dry gets you a lot less bugs escaping from your plaster and ruining your finish. You will probably get less sprouting from cow manure I think.

I wouldn't go out of your way to get good quality cow manure, stick to a nearby resource if you are planning on making a lot of plaster and it will end up saving you a lot of time. Good luck!

Here is a my recipe:

1) Sift 3 (5 gallon) buckets of soil -- We used an 1/8" screen
2) Mix in water until a smooth (slightly liquid) mix is achieved
3) Sift and mix in 1 1/2 (5 gallon) buckets of sifted horse manure
4) Cook wheat paste
     a) Boil 8 cups of water
     b) mix 4 cups cold water with 3 cups flour
     c) add flour to boiling water and simmer for a few minutes until thickened
5) Add wheat paste to mix and blend thoroughly
 
Zee Swartz
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Thank you, Daniel, for responding! I appreciate yiu sharing your experience and recipe; I'll report back with our experiment results. Yay!
Zee
 
Krofter Young
Posts: 24
Location: Baja Arizona
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Zee - Horse manure is the traditional choice because of the larger size of the fibers - bigger fibers make for a stronger plaster.  Horses are not ruminants which means the fibers don't get broken down into as small of pieces as the same food would in the multiple stomachs of a ruminant like cattle, goats or alpacas.  Danial is correct, what the animal is eating also makes a difference.  Grass can make a better fiber than alfalfa, unless the horse is eating some really coarse, stemmy alfalfa.  But any horse person worth their salt will not be feeding alfalfa to horses. Cattle eating stemmy alfalfa will make a coarser fiber than cattle eating fresh grass.  There's something to be said for a mix of the two as well, kind alike mixing various grades of aggregate to achieve a strong cement or non-fibrous plaster - earthen or otherwise.  Having said that, there are times when a finer, smoother fiber is needed to make a smoother plaster, like inside on a highly visible wall.  Then cow manure can work.  For that reason I don't recommend using a ruminate manure in an exterior plaster.  To make your plaster adhere better while making it much stronger and more resilient, add some femented or boiled nopal juice to the mix. 
Avoid animals being fed GMO alfalfa or grass.  It'll be contaminated with the bane of our existence, glyphosate (http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/12/15/glyphosate-modern-diseases-pathway.aspx#!)   While working on a project for Fundacion APoy del Infatil in Sonora Mexico building low income straw bale homes, we had no manure or aggregate.  Just lots of nice clay and lenty of wheat straw.  I learned that if you put enough straw into clay and let it set overnight to soften up and allow the lignins to leach from the straw into the mud, you can make it do some really interesting things.  If you can find lignins, use them.  You might want to check out the "Natural Building" page and the "Cob Farm House" page here - http://erdakroft.com/Erdakroftfarm/Blogs/Blogs.html
 
Bryant RedHawk
gardener
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Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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Just about any of the Ruminant poos will work well then you have the Horse, Mule, Donkey poops that will have more undigested fibers.
Probably the best bet would be a combination of these instead of just a mono poop mix.

Mostly it would depend on what you can get and how much of it you can get.
 
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