Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Muscles or Mussels?

 I've been avoiding writing about this topic since it's become somewhat...contentious in our household, but that doesn't make it any less interesting for those of you wanting the details on how we actually farm (versus the details on my personal feelings about various topics).  Pictured above is the big love muscle posing with his mussels.  For the past month or so Mark has been taking the dump truck out to the Island Aqua Farms plant to get loads of 'mussel waste' which is basically the small or damaged mussels that don't make the grade for retail.  Besides mussels there is also other little sea creatures like the occasional crab or wormy sort of thing, tunicates, sea weed, etc.  
Mark has been unloading it beside our aging manure pile about a half kilometer from the farm, back in the field and even through all this warm weather it hasn't been stinking too badly.  There was one day when I questioned whether I should hang the clothes on the line, but all in all, I have to say it hasn't been as awful as you might think rotting sea creatures could be. 
 The plan is to mix it with straw and the manure to create a magical, wonderful mix of nutrition for the soil.  Mark has plans in his head about an addition to our manure spreader to help distribute it better, rather than the clumps that most likely will result from using the manure spreader as per usual.
The reason it has been a bit contentious has nothing to do with the smell, but with the perceived value of such a product.  The round trip ( includes the time Mark sits in the truck while they load the 15 or so large buckets of mussels) takes about 1.5 hours and I continue to present the position that he would never travel that far or long for manure and how much better is this than manure?  On the surface, in my mind, it seems like a bunch of mussel shells have very little short term value, particularly relative to manure, but I am slowly being convinced otherwise.  In speaking to anyone who has used it, it is clear that it provides significant short term value, but also has lasting effects on the soil that manure cannot compare to.  Anyway, I guess we'll see.  Here's hoping our neighbours don't boo us out of Freetown first for the smell one of these breezy warm days.



  1. Years ago, your ancestors dug and spread oyster "mud" on the land. It was a hard job and those who did it were rewarded with non acid land for years. I can remember planting potatoes down in Jardineville and there were still bits of oyster shell showing up.

  2. whos the big stud by the muscle pile!