Saturday, January 9, 2021

"So many bodies! Where will be bury them all?" -Finnish soldier, 1939


Fluids leak down. Aroma diffuses upward.

The rumor that I buried a dead aunt under my grapevine was correct. The vine needed fertilizing, my aunt had to be buried, and I dedicated her to this high purpose. Does that unfit me for the Presidency? ...No other citizen was ever considered unworthy of this office because he enriched his grapevines with his dead relatives. Why should I be selected as the first victim of an absurd prejudice?    -Mark Twain
Sadly, anybody who raises livestock or engages in political life must at some point dispose of  bodies.

The current "best practice" is to compost them. It requires less energy than burying, requires almost no heavy equipment and generates less paperwork than sending them to the knacker.

A few key points in composting bodies:

  • Bodies are protein. That needs to be balanced with low nitrogen (low protein) carbs like sawdust, straw or corn cobs
  • The high-carb materials must be bulky and not pack down. The composting process shuts down if it goes anaerobic (that is, deprived of air/oxygen)
  • Many composters find that a mix of wood-chips to ensure good air penetration and finer material like shredded paper/straw or sawdust to absorb fluids works best.
  • Fluids leak down. Don't skimp on carbs beneath the body(s)
  • Aroma diffuses upward
  • Forensics teams rarely look beneath the 1400 pound Holstein to determine if there are any other bodies being composted.
  • Large animals take longer to decompose than smaller animals. A 500 pound calf, if well managed, is reduced to a skeleton in about four months.
  • After composting, the compost is excellent fertilizer for grapevines and lilacs.

Reference links:


  1. I am inclined to think that the above quoted Finnish soldier was referring to the over-abundance of Russian bodies. The Winter War of 1939-1940 was a classic of how to deal with a numerically vastly superior invader. Chop it up into pieces, and then dispose of each piece at your leisure.

    What the Finns lacked in numbers and equipment, they made up for by knowing and exploiting the terrain, being expert marksmen, and being tough and hardy outdoorsman with high unit cohesion, morale, motivation, and clarity of purpose. Great lessons for what will likely be required in the spicy times to come.

  2. I think its best to make a depression in the ground before topping with compost. If left on top of the ground as illustrated you end up piling up so much compost you expend as much energy as digging a trench.

  3. Thanks for the reminder. I have to go turn my large compost pile.

    (I know, I know. I should have built better aerators. Its just that my compost has gotten overgrown.)


Readers who are willing to comment make this a better blog. Civil dialog is a valuable thing.