My first compost pile, which I started last September (2005), is full. While it could probably continue to be used for several weeks or even months (as long as it keeps settling between additions), I have decided to start a new pile so that I can harvest the first one next spring.
This time, I am putting a piece of hardware cloth on the bottom of the pile, and will also use a piece on the top, to discourage mice or moles from digging in it. They haven't caused a big problem, but I do find elements of kitchen compost carried out from within the pile and scattered around the top of it.
My first (small) pick-up truck full of sawdust is almost gone and I need to get busy and purchase some more. Unfortunately, I now have a topper on my truck which is a pain to remove and then put back on. Perhaps I'll order a dump-truck load. One worry has been cats digging and pooping in my sawdust pile prior to using it as cover material (don't want to handle cat excrement as I pick pieces of bark and wood out of the sawdust or as I dip in for a scoop of cover material). I'm thinking of putting some plastic (woven) garden fence around the next pile to keep out the cats.
I now have a wicker cloths hamper (with a plastic liner) to keep the cover material in (in the bathroom). It looks nice and the color matches my decor (insofar as that word can be applied to '79 mobile home which I paid $3,000 for).
Anyway, I am really enjoying this process and look forward to the spring of '07 when I can dig into my first pile. I am not really worried about pathogens or paracites, but out of curiosity, I am thinking of having samples of the pile tested. Where can that be done? How many samples should be taken? About what might it cost? Feedback apprecitated!