The Impossible Farm #1 – Straw Bale Composting

The Impossible Farm #1 - Straw Bale Composting

In which we begin the impossible farm and spread straw bales all over everything.

The fall is the time to prepare the soil for our spring garden (and field crops to come) and so we’re GETTING STARTED! Thanks for coming along.

I’m not promising anything about when videos will come out because that Nick fellow is so absolutely fierce about this thing that we homestead first and make videos second. 🙂 But Wednesday nights is a good time to check. We are super grateful for your patience with us and the sense of community you share as we struggle to build a life that matters. We appreciate you!!!!


About the Fouch Family:

We are Nick and Esther, and our three kids Milo, Stella, and Sadie. We have lived off the grid — in the sense of not connected to the power grid — for four years on three acres of wooded land in Southwestern Idaho. Nick is a finish carpenter working on building his own business. Esther is a writer, the author of a recent memoir called “What Falls From the Sky,” and a daughter of the homesteading teacher and activist Carla Emery, who wrote “The Encyclopedia of Country Living.” Nick and Esther were both raised in Idaho, near where we live now, but we’ve also lived in Massachusetts, Utah, and California. Our kids are ages 9, 8 and 4.

If you haven’t seen our original show, Mountain Dream Home, that playlist is here:

The “Little House” playlist, heavily featuring kids and holiday fun, is here:

Esther’s book:

Esther’s mom’s book:

More about straw bale composting:

In this episode we made temporary compost bins by arranging straw bales (spray free) in C-shapes against a hillside and layering our compostable materials inside them. Our basic compost recipe is 4″ deep of chopped straw, 4″ deep of chopped alfalfa hay and 2″ of horse manure, repeated to the height of one straw bale. We water it every couple of inches as we layer it, keep it moist and turn it approximately every ten days.

As long as there is plenty of alfalfa hay in the mix we don’t need any “activators” to kick it off, but if we needed something we would probably use blood meal as we do keep that around.

There are a lot of factors determining how long it takes to finish, but in this case we will spread the compost when the season demands it, which is after the first frost and before the ground is frozen hard. Then we’ll start another batch of compost in the same straw bales and let it go all winter.

Feel free to add your suggestions or ask questions about COMPOSTING!!! Happy gardening and homesteading to everyone!

And finally, if you can only read ONE BOOK about MAKING COMPOST, here’s Esther’s pick.

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