Home Meat and Dairy Can Be Composted (You Just Need To Know What You Are Doing)
Remains of Composted Squirrel Photographic Evidence

Pictured to the right are the remains of a squirrel whose life was ended by a car driving past my house. I placed the carcass in the center of a small rectangular sifter, and filled the surrounding area with finished composted stuff. I placed the sifter into the center of a pile that was under construction, surrounded the sifter + squirrel with moist raw material, and finished building the pile. That took place on a typically warm Texas summer day.

A month later I carefully excavated the sifter, flipped the package over onto the pile, and voila, photographic evidence that the bones were picked clean by...something other than rats, as the bones were clearly not disturbed. Some fur was still evident, which likely would have been gone had the tomb been left undisturbed for another week.

Anecdotal Evidence

One year a spring cleanout of my freezer yielded a bag of last year's Thanksgiving turkey "extras" (neck, liver, etc.). The bag contents were deposited in the Indoor Watering System along with other stuff and water. It sat on a countertop until the anaerobic reaction became strong enough that odor escaped through the container's seal - it was time to incorporate the container's into an outdoor pile. I had composted rank ingredients in the past, but what happened this time was a novel experience.

I built an active pile to the halfway point and, as a pizza chef would with sauce and toppings, deposited the smelly stuff in the center. Then, with a small hand fork, I spread the material about the pile center in a thin layer, leaving a 6" wide perimeter of "crust." Using a chopping motion, I repeatedly struck the "toppings" with a hand fork, which mixed the toppings with the crusty material below. The stench was overwhelming and a small swarm of common houseflies immediately showed up. Uh oh?

I said to myself, "OK Rob, there is no turning back, you are not going to undo anything, you are going to conduct an impromptu experiment to answer the following question: "How many flies will be around when the pile is complete?

A quantatative summary of the outcome was not feasible, but the qualitative result was that the number of flies buzzing about the top of the pile diminished with each successive layer. After the fourth and final layer and placement of the Insulating Disk, there were no flies to be seen. They had vacated the premises in search of a meal, a place to lay eggs, or to take a nap for all I care. The experiment was a success and I was relieved (even though I was pretty confident of the outcome). However, as annoying as they are, houseflies are not the most dreaded pest associated with compost piles. They are not RATS.

I tried to find a comparison of the sense of smell of a fly to a rat but could not. Though I suspect the rat would win, I did not anticipate any rat issues. Subsequent checks on the pile supported my intuition - there was no evidence (tell-tale chew marks on the foam Insulating Disk) of attempted pile entry by rats. Five weeks after construction, the pile was decimated, allowed to dry some, and then sifted. No evidence of the once putrescent materials was present, not even an odor.

More Photographic Evidence

To be updated with photograph of steak and turkey bones....

Previous - "Browns, Greens, Reds, and Beiges" Next - "The Ideal Compost Pile"