Rancho Mucho Caca was not named in vain (and yes, I know, it should be "mucha" caca but I think it sounds better this way). Caca is a big part of my life. This morning I have spent the last two hours dealing with caca -- an hour shoveling a week's worth of manure from the stalls followed by another hour tending to the three automated self-cleaning litter boxes that serve the six cats who live in the house. I still have one ordinary box to clean out but that will only take a minute.
Here at the Ranch, there is a six by eight foot open trailer with 12 inch sides that belongs to a gentleman down the road whose hobby or livelihood (I've never asked which) is the production of compost. That trailer has been parked outside my gate for four or five years now. I load it up with horse manure, chicken litter, and fallen leaves and fruit (but no branches or grass) and he comes down with his little garden tractor about once a week and hauls it off.
I have another friend who is into compost who would take it too, but I'd have to haul it about 3 miles to him. Before I got into this arrangement, it went into the dumpster. I save about $20 a month in trash fees by not having a dumpster. Of course, the tradeoff is the occasional trip to the brush pit to dispose of tree trimmings since they won't fit in the household can I now use.
The reason corral cleaning took an hour today instead of 15 minutes is because it has been cold and rainy all week and I've been swamped with out of town errands and just haven't taken the time to do it.
The nice thing is that the two mares out there have been staying in since it was so cold and rainy so the manure was essentially un-rained-upon. It was all under roof, somewhat piled up, and not soggy.
Normally I clean daily, twice daily if I can during the summer. But along with the cold comes freedom from flies, and they are the primary reason I try to keep the stalls pristine.
As for the six indoor cats I have, I found it interesting to note their potty habits. I have three "Litter Robot" self-cleaning litter boxes. One was bought new for about $400. The second one was a refurb unit I got for $300. The third someone found for me at a Goodwill store and bought it on half-price day for $65. It is one of the earliest models, they have been vastly improved since then, and very noisy and slow.
And THAT was the one where the cats had filled the catch pan to the brim. It appears that is the box of choice for doing "number one."
The other two Robots (R2D2 and C3PO) had barely been used at all since their last emptying about two weeks ago, and apparently those Robots are used primarily for "number 2."
There is one open box I keep in the bathroom, not self-cleaning, and it seems to be their second choice of toilet, and it is used for both number one and number two.
Which makes me wonder -- who decides? I've noticed this pattern before when I had multiple litter boxes, that some are used for one function and others for the other function, and usually another box for both. (I try to have as many boxes as there are cats but I have two "extra" cats at the moment. Anyone want a nice spayed tortie? Or two?)
Which makes me wonder if Alfie, the little Princess, has claimed one box as her personal potty and uses it for both. Or do the boys use the old Robot for pee, and one of the newer ones for poop, and the three females share the open box, perhaps because they don't want to touch the sides of the robots?
I do know that Bugsy prefers clean litter, so he probably uses the lesser-used robots. Alfie is a longhair with a big fluffy tail and probably doesn't like going inside the robots (she's also the one who pees in places other than the boxes in the first place but that's a subject for another blog post).
I think I will get her a Litter Maid, which I've used before unsatisfactorily, but there are better litters available now that resolve some of the issues I've had. It's also self-cleaning, but open. The Robots are a big globe that the cat goes into, and the globe rotates to sift the litter so they're inside it while using it.
As for the horses, Dawn is the best when it comes to bathroom habits. She literally piles it up against the back wall of her stall, or far corner of the corral. She never walks through it or spreads it, and she pees in the poop so there are no mud holes. Dash, her older sister, tends to go in an area, walks through and scatters it a little.
Their mother, however, is coming back from Oregon in two weeks, and she goes everywhere, walks through it, scatters it, pees all over, and is generally a slob.
The reason I can get away during non-fly season with not cleaning for a week is because they do pile it up, so the majority of the corral area stays clean. The manure I picked up today was mostly in a 10X20 area of one stall, with a small amount in a 6x6 area of another stall.
And that's probably more than you wanted to know about the Caca at Rancho Mucho Caca.
Watch for the 2012 "Manure Makers of Rancho Mucho Caca" Calendar coming soon.