I don't layer my compost, I mix it all in. If pressed for time, I will mix it in just one spot.
If it is difficult to turn I'd stop adding water. I think the biggest mistake I made at first was adding too much water because the instructions I read (numerous from the web and a local compost class) weren't clear in this point. I decided that water was heavy and it had to be harder to turn wet. (Think of a cow pie - you can sling them far when they are dry, but too far it won't get if the cowpie is too wet). So I stopped adding as much water. I found it easier to water the edges, then turn that into the middle. Mine is a wide pile so that might not work as well for you.
When I went to the compost class and saw the difference in the compost moisture, I felt sure I was on the right track. Describing how moist something is with words is not as easy as one would think. But seeing and feeling the compost was like turning on a light bulb.
If you have a very open compost, it will dry out quicker so more water is needed than a closed one. Mine is somewhat in the middle. It's covered with a thick plastic (blue because I couldn't find anything big enough in black) and the sides of the pile are exposed because it is so big. There a few small holes and rips in the plastic, but it is intact. The wind whips up the edges so they will dry quicker. I wet the edges and the ground around when watering my plants even if I do nothing else to the compost.
At the compost class, both of the instructors suggested "eyeballing" your compost to determine how much water to add. I didn't find that advice too helpful. They also said that too much water causes the composting to be slower. Neither one talked about hot and cold composting until I asked about it at the end. But neither of the instructors had successfully composted at home - they only knew the results of the compost done at the community garden by others where the class was held. The gardens had about twenty different compost styles on display for us to examine.
Everyone in the class was new to composting (instructors included, but they had training to talk about how it is done.) and quite a few people wanted answers/directions to correct their compost because it was too smelly, had a lot of bugs, etc. The instructors suggested they start over. Quite a few of the people decided upon leaving that they were more confused. Me, I was more determined to solve the mystery.
Pill bugs are isopods that spend their lives eating decaying
matter almost exclusively. This makes them beneficial bugs. But in large numbers, they can be a problem from what I've read because they will eat some live plants and roots. I don't know if their numbers in the compost is a good thing or not. I do know that when I felt my compost wasn't progressing quite "right" for me, I saw a lot of pill bugs at the top and sides of my compost and a ton of fat worms throughout. Now I see fewer pill bugs and slightly fewer worms, but the worms are still throughout. So I wondered if they would consume too much of the "food" in the compost and leave less for the compost microbes and bacteria if their numbers were significant?
Ok. I'm rambling the thoughts in my head because I've been going over compost questions each time I turn my pile. Last time I turned it is the first time I felt I could pat myself on the back. I've discussed and read compost discussions on different forums and learned that there are a lot of people hoping to get it right. Me included. Some of the most useful ideas I've gotten were from people talking about their compost problems and successes. So, if more of us that are learning talk about it, maybe we can all learn - even the people lurking or passing through. (We all know there are lurkers. I lurked on many compost discussions for a long while before ever speaking up.) It's a confusing topic. The "browns" and "greens" really confused me for a long while because I kept wanting to think in colors. It also confused me when I saw photos of successful compost piles that had weeds growing out of them. Yikes. I don't want weeds in mine if I'm going to spread it in my garden.
So petalfuzz, I think it is good you are complaining and venting. We all can probably learn from it. Especially because some people will give the impression that it is easy. And I might have been a better composter if I'd vented my frustration with it long ago. Maybe some people can offer suggestions on speeding up the compost so you have fewer chunks. For me it was less water and more straw, which I guess is a brown.
"Love all God's creatures, the animals, the plants. Love everything to perceive the divine mystery in all." -Fyodor Dostoyevsky