About a week ago I made a new compost. I layered lawn clippings with bedding straw and manure from the chooks and goats, some shredded paper and a couple of bags of horse poo I had picked up somewhere. I dampened it and covered it with a piece of carpet. Nothing out of the ordinary.
As you know, if you get the mix right, the compost will heat up as the bacteria kicks in. This was a good pile, and when I poked around in it a few days later I was very satisfied to see the steam rise and feel the warmth.
Then I got to thinking about animals that incubate their eggs in composting nests.
One thought lead to another and...
I buried an egg in the compost.
I went back to retrieve it two days later and this is what I found.
Not a 'perfect soft boiled' egg...but definitely cooked.
Cook had better watch out...she may be out of a job.
Makes me admire the Australian brush turkeys , saltwater crocodiles and mallee fowl. They all use the heating power of composts to incubate their eggs...without cooking them.
Brush turkeys spend their days testing the temperature of the nest with their beak and adding and subtracting material to adjust the temperature. They must maintain a steady temperature of 33 - 35 degrees celsius.
The crocodiles spend 90 days watching over their nests and maintain the temperature at around 30 deg. by splashing water onto the pile with their tails. Small temperature variations, in both cases, effect the sex of the offspring. Cooler temperatures result in male chicks for the turkeys and female babies for the crocodile.
The mallee fowl builds a huge nest mound 1metre high and 4 metres across using mainly sand. The male fowl puts damp leaf litter in the centre to create the heat and the parents test the temperature by sticking their heads in the mound. The ideal temperature for mallee fowl eggs is 33 deg. The mallee fowl is the most hard working of this trio of composters. The male fowl adjusts the temperature by scratching huge amounts of sand on and off the pile. On hot days he scratches it off and spreads it around. As the day cools he scratches layers of the warmed sand back onto the pile.
I thought about hatching some eggs in the compost but it sounds too hard for this old chick!
FOOTNOTE: This is actually a post that I prepared earlier. It is sheer coincidence that Missy had a visit from a brush turkey and blogged about it yesterday. Serendipity strikes again! But do click on her name to have a gander at a brush turkey.