October 2018
The Herb Farm

Bat Guano and Other Stuff

 

This tiny skipper is coming in for a landing. “I’m a bat!”

Oh, yes. This is the time of year when the air gets a little crisper and the leaves begin to fall; compost heaps begin to grow, and idiot drivers seem to need their medication adjusted!

Yeah, I got t-boned, and I do not mean "had steak for dinner." Seems the driver was more concerned with getting the child to soccer practice on time than getting the child to soccer practice safely.

Oh, there were no injuries to the kid or yours truly, but my truck is bent beyond economical repair and so is the driver’s car with the plastic front end. The inattentive driver got a bloody nose from the air bag being deployed, although my evil twin which lives in my mind wishes he’d done it!

It’s kind of sad to see my old Ford go away. I’m not too keen on buying a new truck. The old one served me just fine since 1996.

Well, speaking of crazy, let’s talk a little bit about fertilizers. I got an email from a reader back in April of this year and he wanted to know my take on bat guano fertilizer. No, I didn’t mean to imply that my reader or his question was crazy. In fact, it is a great question about a very mild organic plant food. Also, I always appreciate my readers and their emails.

“Bat Watching is one of my tiny art collection pieces.”

 

I answered his email right away, but I think I should write about it now, especially after being exposed to so many bat guano crazy people lately!

My first experience with bat guano was back in the mid-80s when a friend of mine bought a small container of the fertilizer from an ad he saw in High Times magazine. (Don’t even ask.) It seems that this stuff was harvested from a cave in Middle Tennessee, mixed with leaves and other organic materials and allowed to compost for a few months. My friend and I found the factory (so to speak) and drove up there to meet the fellow. That was so long ago, all I remember about where it was is somewhere in a valley, in the middle of nowhere, on a two-lane highway.

As it turned out, the factory was at a garden shop across the highway from where the fellow harvested the magic mess from the floor of the bat cave.

An interesting guy, he was. He lived in a little cabin behind his store, along with his wife and children. The garden shop was small and sold a wide variety of plants, some that he grew and some that he bought from a wholesale nursery nearby. An interesting, and somewhat frightening, feature at the nursery was that the ceiling in the main part of the building was made from homemade, reinforced lattice and was a floor for part of a loft. In the loft were a couple of cats … Large cats! Yes. The couple had two full-grown mountain lions (Puma concolor) that they raised from cubs.

Finally, the business owner, who was obviously a seasoned stoner and a little bat guano crazy himself, showed us how he mixed his magical fertilizer.

He said he would go into the cave about three times a year to harvest the guano from the floor. Each time he went in he would bring back two five-gallon buckets of the fresh stuff and would make several trips into the tunnels until he had enough buckets to fill his pickup truck bed.

Then he brought the truckload to his backyard where he had a large concrete pad for mixing with the organic matter. He would mix it all up with his tractor, then cover the piles with tarps. About twice a month, the piles were uncovered, watered for several hours with a sprinkler system and covered again.

At the end of three months he had his final product. He, his wife, and their children all packaged the fertilizer by hand. First it was scooped into a small clear plastic bag, weighed (8 ounces), then placed into colorful boxes. The whole operation, from manufacturing to point of sale, was done right there on his property.

 

Gulf Fritillary (Agaraulis vanillae). Signs of autumn.

This was before the current era of asking if it had an organic certification. It didn’t but was. I remember asking him what the NPK value was, and surprisingly, he told me that he had samples tested at the Extension Office. It tested at 8–2–1.

What a hoot! I’m glad I could share that adventure with you. I’ve told about it so many times that most of my friends have heard it at least once.

Let’s have some comfort food this evening!

After supper, after wine, after the radio program goes off and I’m gathering the cats for bedtime, sometimes I want a simple sweet snack.

Tonight it’s "Loaded Cinnamon Toast" with lots of that evil old processed cane sugar! It’s one of my simple pleasures in life.

Two slices of bread; butter one side; sprinkle 1 Tbsp + white sugar on top and dust with cinnamon. Toast in broiler or a toaster oven until the sugar begins to bubble. Eat!

I love this month because, like I’ve been telling y’all since 2011, October offers me a chance to visit my dear lady-Wicca friends and attend their monthly meeting (Third Saturday) of the Women’s Weekend Witches Society (WWWS). That always gets me going! I think I’ll take some popcorn balls to the event!

I hope your October is filled with that kind of enjoyment and friends. Stay away from those batty folks!

Until next time, remember to watch your salt and sugar, drink plenty of pure water and breathe in and out!

Thanks for reading!

For more information, email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. I’ll answer your questions and I enjoy the emails!

Be sure to find me on Facebook at: "Herb Farmer-The Herb Farm."