Dawn Carlson of River Heights Ranch in central Iowa has always practiced environmental stewardship by using goats to graze noxious weeds, planting native plants and wildflowers, etc. So, naturally, the manure management plan for her horses utilized the composting process. She began those efforts by putting the waste into a static pile (in the horse pasture with the horses) and turning the pile (irregularly) with the hope of creating a decent compost product. Her primary concern with this method was the pile's proximity to a creek and the city wells.
As her ranch facility grew, Dawn realized she needed a better way to manage the 500-600 lbs of manure and bedding waste that was accumulating daily. She contacted O2Compost in 2019 with a desire to "manage a premier compost production" that would provide a quality finished product. If you visit her websites and read about the wonderful programs she has developed, it will be of no surprise to learn that she accomplished what she set out to do.
River Heights Ranch is a small business that provides horse riding clinics and lessons, equine assisted services, goat grazing, casual events, and cowboy church. Dawn's ranch is also home to Rhythms of Grace, a therapeutic riding facility she founded with a vision of serving others, especially those who have special needs. The Equine Assisted Services are open to all ages and include three valuable programs:
- Horsemanship - therapeutic riding lessons provided by PATH International instructors.
- Learning - relationship life skills such as trust, respect, honesty, and communication.
- Therapy - mental health therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy.
Dawn's O2Compost Benchmark System has provided her with an attractive, efficient, and environmentally friendly way to manage horse manure and create a marketable compost product. She even enhanced the construction design by adding two storage areas on each end of the 4-bin system (for horse hay, feed, and bedding storage), and she installed an adjustable sprinkler system (on a timer) to manage the moisture content more easily.
The finished compost is shared "with gratitude" to Rhythms of Grace volunteers, neighbors, and supporters. At a recent Open House event, gallon-sized Ziploc bags of compost labeled "Growing with Grace Organic Compost" were given away. Any proceeds or donations received for these compost gifts are used directly for the benefit of the Rhythms of Grace non-profit program.
Dawn is happy to report "The system works. It helps with fly populations and minimizes weed distribution. We have family nurseries, tree farms, and master gardeners who are all amazed that our product does not smell and produces very health plant life." If we all take good care of our earth, it will take good care of us.