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    Barn Tips Contest | Spring 2006 Out Here Magazine

    Nancy Black's tip to keep manure piles manageable was a winner.

    Take charge of your barn with these ideas

    By Carol Davis

    Photography by Matthew Hinton

    Sprinkle lime and a quarter cup of compost starter on your horses' manure piles. You'll reduce the piles, provide rich compost for your garden, and keep the neighbors happy, says Nancy Black, winner of Tractor Supply Company's Barn Chore-Busting Tips Contest hosted by Equisearch.com.

    Visitors to Equisearch.com were asked to submit their best barn time-saving tip for a chance to win a Tractor Supply gift card. Three finalists were chosen by Equisearch.com editors, thenEquisearch.com readers voted for their favorite.

    Black, of Willseyville, NY, won the contest, and a $550 Tractor Supply gift card, with this entry:

    "To keep flies down and the odor level normal, add lime to each wheelbarrow of manure you take to your pile. Works like a charm and settles it nicely. I also add compost starter to really activate it and it makes a wonderful add-in."

    Black credits her winning entry in part to a suggestion from her father decades ago.

    "My dad, way back before I moved away from home, always bought the hydrated lime and spread it all over the manure piles, and it really ate it up and settled it, and kept the flies down," Black says.

    But years later when she and her horses moved to a new, smaller place, Black's neighbors complained about odor from the manure piles.

    She went to the local feed mill for advice. "They said, 'Have you added compost starter?' They said it would really turn to black gold and be perfect for a garden," she says.

    Not only does the mixture of lime and about a quarter cup of compost starter keep down flies and horseflies, it turns manure piles to compact piles of black compost within a season, Black says.

    "Now," she says, "nobody complains about anything."

    Willie Collie, of Marshall, Texas, submitted the second-place winner: "After cleaning leather tack, store in cotton bags. Old pillowcases work great or you can make your own. This really cuts down on mold and mildew problems."

    Pam Bjorlo, of Fort Collins, CO, came in third with this: "To organize my grooming and tack-cleaning supplies, hoof dressing, and fly sprays, I use a clear 24-pocket shoe holder. I hang it over a door or screw it to a wall. The pockets hold everything close by where I can get to it easily, and liquids won't tip over and spill."

    Other entries:

    • "Wet your horses' grain with just a little water or corn oil so that powder supplements stick to the grain (and get eaten) instead of falling to the bottom of the tub and getting wasted," says Heather Young of Sellersville, PA.
    • "Use baby oil gel on those stubborn tangles on manes and tails. Regular baby oil runs off, but the gel holds and can be rubbed in and even left overnight on those bad tangles and can be brushed out a lot more easily the next day," suggests Beth Morris, of North Vernon, IN.
    • "This past winter, frozen water was a problem in the barn. We found that if you slide a 2x4 into the water container, you can use leverage on it to bust the top layer of ice easier," suggests Jada McWilliams of Covington, TN.

    Carol Davis, Out Here editor, has shoveled her share of manure in her day.