Not gonna lie, when I got the idea into my head to buy some Nigerian Dwarf goats and turn the northern border of our backyard into a barnyard, dealing with goat poop was kind of an afterthought.
But after about a week or two of shoveling goat pellets I realized I needed to make a decision – fill the city green waste bin each week, or start a backyard compost bin? The DIYer / Urban Homesteader side of me decided that hording my goats poop sounded like a fantastic idea. (Even though I didn’t really have any use for compost.. like, at all.)
So to remedy my “problem” of not being in dire need of my goats weekly fecal load, I made some plans to order some rare heirloom seeds, build some raised garden beds, fill out the empty flower beds, and maybe build a greenhouse while I’m at it. Ya know, to save money. (You DIYers understand, right? Lol!)
So step one – begin saving my goats poop. I knew I would need a bin type structure for my composting plan, with good airflow but solid enough to not spill over.. it basically needed to be able to hold the small pellets as they break down to usable manure / fertilizer. So that pretty much left me with the cliche DIY Pinterest style recycled pallet bin with chicken wire dealio.
Nothing against the repurposed pallets but.. they sometimes look a bit janky in my opinion. I wanted something similar functionally but not so… I dunno.. homespun? I invested a lot of time and effort into my goat pen (click here to check it out!) and I didn’t want a bunch of crudely nailed together boards and wire with an obvious pile of goat turds to mar my little outdoor landscape. So I started thinking outside the box…
And then it hit me! Vintage citrus crates! The newer ones are all made of plastic, but the older crates are wood, with thin airflow slats – perfect for goat manure composting! And they don’t look awful! Woohoo!
It took a little bit of searching, but eventually one turned up on Craigslist for a mere $25. An old citrus farm in Ivanhoe, California was going out of business and selling the entire farm and supplies, including vintage crates, vintage wooden citrus ladders and tons of vintage barn lumber. The coolest part was that each fruit crate (ranging from the 1940’s to the 1970’s) featured stamps from local farms, providing some awesome local history to the vintage find.
Some of the crates were in terrible condition, but the majority were totally workable. It was just a matter of finding one with a logo or a location that struck my fancy. I wanted something with some obviously local history, and we eventually settled on this little beauty from T. Apkarian & Sons – an old fruit farm located in Reedley, California, approximately 25 miles southeast of Fresno. Reedley dubs itself “The World’s Fruit Basket” and it just tickles me pink to be incorporating so much local history into my little budding backyard farm.
T. Apkarian & Sons of Reedley, California 1950’s era citrus crate and fruit box logo.
We’ve been using our compost bin for about two to three weeks now, and between the two goats, the uneaten alfalfa (goats are notorious wasters of perfectly good grazing), and the soiled bedding (it’s winter, so I’m spoiling them with inches of warm straw), the bin is already close to half full! Whew! Good thing I have four raised garden beds in the work, yeah?!