I just came across an amazing quote by John Adams, our second president.  He is known for many things.  He and Jefferson opened the rift that our country divides along to this day, but they shared a passionate love for their soil.

...John Adams one of the fathers of our compost (and also country)

I have to share Adam’s musings on his manure piles:

Braintree, Massachusetts, 8 August 1771

I must also bring in 20 Loads of Sea Weed, i.e., Eel Grass, and 20 Loads of Marsh Mud, and what dead ashes I can get from the Potash Works and what Dung I can get from Boston, and what Rock Weed from Nat. Belcher or else where.  All this together with what will be made in the Barn and Yard by my Horses, Oxen, Cows, Hogs, etc and by the Weeds, that will be carried in from the Gardens, and the Wash and Trash from the House, in the Course of  Year would make a great Quantity of Choice manure.

In one of my common Walks, along the Edgeware Road, there ar fine Meadows belonging to a noted cow keeper.  These Plotts are plentifully manured.  There are on the Side of the Way, several heaps of manure, an hundred Loads perhaps in each heap.  I have carefully examined them and find them composed of Straw and dung from the Stables and Streets of London, mud, Clay or Marl, dug out of the Ditch along the Hedge and Turf, Sward cutt up, with Spades, hoes and hovels in the Road.  This may be good manure, but it is not equal to mine.

John, I know just how you feel.  There is nothing like feeling that you have created something so good and rich that all manner of things can thrive on its bounty.

Remember Uncle Fester from the Adams’s family? (Coincidence or what!) He was very proud that his name meant “to rot.”


What’s your favorite part of this amazing process?   For me it’s watching our compost thermometer start to spike.  That’s when I know the magic is happening.

4 replies

    • Hi Monique,
      Yes, steam is a little more immediate feedback than the thermometer. I reminds me of how much I like the feeling of being active outdoors in the winter and feeling toasty on a cold day from the power of my own metabolism.
      Maybe the true cousins in compost are me and the manure pile.

  1. Mine is the satisfaction of throwing something onto a heap knowing it is not going to waste. I was even more encouraged to read that left for two years even infected material is dealt with, so no worries about spreading disease and still improving the health of the soil in the long run.

    • So true, Joanna! It does feel good. I feel gratified every time I take the compost bucket out. And I love how hygienic the trash can stays without food waste in it. That’s a plus on those rare occasions when I suspect I’ve thrown away something by accident and have to check through the trash.
      I’m reading Dirt: The Ecstatic Skin of the Earth by William Bryant Logan. He says that the phrase “throw it away” makes no sense because there is so such place as away. I’ve been thinking about that ever since I read it.

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