Here is something many small-time homesteaders, especially urban homesteaders, may not know; you have to sweep the yard where your animals are confined! Yes, you really do! I did it today, and have to every month if I want the goat yard to stay nice. With very little land and no real room to rotate “pasture” I have to clean up after my animals, just like you would a dog.
Now, if you are blessed to have enough space to move your animals around, or they can spread out any time they want, this isn’t really necessary. You clean up the barn in those cases and are pretty good to go. For those of us an an acre or less, we really have to clean those pens. This isn’t any harder than cleaning a barn, really, it’s just something that needs to be done on a regular basis. Here is how to do it.
First, pick a nice, dry day with as little extra wind as possible. Pick a place to make a compost pile. It’s best to remove the waste from the animal yard, though I do pile it in a corner for a couple of months before shoveling it into a wheelbarrow and moving it to the compost pile. This seems to make my life a little easier and still keeps the yard clean. Be sure to avoid being uphill from your water supply as the feces can contaminate it.
Now, the hard part. I take a large garden rake over the yard first, especially in grassy areas. This removes the large pieces of wood we bring our confined goats to chew on. After going over the yard with the garden rake, I take a plastic leaf rake over it to rake up most of the poop. It works really well, and what it doesn’t get ends up broken up and fertilizing the soil. If you can, move the animals to a new yard for a few months to allow pests to die off and vegetation to grow. If you can’t do that, a plain yard with no vegetation is best to prevent parasites in your goats. And that is how the urban homesteader has to sweep the yard. Your animals will thank you, and you will spend far less money on garden soil and wormers!