I think youâ€™ve got some very good input from the above posts and here is something else to consider. This is how I open pile compost (anyone comments or suggestions on how I might improve are much appreciated).
I also live on a hilly plot. Mice, moles, rats, possums, raccoons, hedgehogs, dogs, cats and deer all live in abundant harmony. I know any one of them would love to have a go at my compost pile.
I store up my kitchen scraps for a week or two (stowing in a covered 5 gal bucket in the shade if need be) and when I have enough stuff and the time, I puree it all in my food processor, adding water as needed to slurry. I usually have about four or five gallons when done. I then add it to the top of one of my â€˜openâ€™ piles, add a few browns (mostly leaves, maybe some well rinsed seaweed), five or ten gallons of fresh, untreated grass clippings, some more leaves, then water gently and move on with the day.
On occasion I have seen one animal or another checking it out but Iâ€™ve never seen one make a habit of it. They might scratch â€˜n sniff and poke around a little - looking for the source of that wonderful smell - but all theyâ€™re really doing is helping me turn my pile a little bit. Thereâ€™s nothing for them to grab onto and they leave unsatisfied.
For me, the main flaw in this program is that there are things that I don't or canâ€™t puree. Onions, garlic and citrus (being anti-bacterial/microbial I'm told) as well as corn cobs and husks (they just don't puree easily, same with onion and garlic paper). The onions and garlic can also leave an odor for a day or two which might be offensive to my close neighbors. At this point I am throwing these things out, which I know is wrong in theory, if not in practice. I'm looking for a better solution.
I am very fortunate to have an endless supply (for my needs anyway) of leaves. Come fall, I rake my leaves from high ground to low (into the backyard). I draw from that pile as I add and layer the next year. My neighbors also know where my leaf pile is and rake or haul theirs down into mine as they see fit. It is easier for them than bagging and hauling to their front yard for the garbage crew. Gravity works.
So, Iâ€™ve got a big pile of leaves at least 8 x 10 and 6 foot high more or less (mostly more) and off to the side I have one, two or three working compost piles taking up another 8 x 10 foot space (I try to keep them 4 to 6 feet high). Itâ€™s very informal. Iâ€™ll water a bit now and then, and once a week or two, Iâ€™ll go out and turn one onto the other, whatever seems to makes sense. When I get to the bottom (where the worms are) Iâ€™ll screen it out and harvest what I need (and maybe spread a little on top of the other pile/piles), then I start adding new to the part just emptied. Iâ€™ve harvested at least forty gallons this year which I attribute to last yearâ€™s efforts. If I needed to, I'm sure I could get another 20 or more gallons with whatâ€™s out there right now. I actually give some away to friends in need (which of course, often gets them started).
I use a thin tined, long handled pitch fork to turn. Kills fewer worms than a shovel and when I canâ€™t fork up anymore, I know I'm in the good stuff. Anything that makes it thru my 1/2 inch mesh screen, I consider â€˜compostâ€™. Depending on where itâ€™s going, I might pick the worms back in or take them with me.
In this neighborhood, it blends right in. Not very scientific and not very slick - I know, but itâ€™s quick and easy, effective and cheap â€“ which is all I need.
Hope this helps.