Did I get compost or did I get ripped off?

Hi, Today I just took delivery of load of compost and it doesn't look at all like I expected.
I'm fairly new to gardening and have only made my first compost pile this past summer. I've read many bboks on composting but have actually seen only one example of compost before, my own. The compost I made is very dark and crumbly and smells earthy and good. It looks like dark dirt, with all sorts different sized bits and lots of bugs and worms.
The stuff I just got smells earthy but looks like stiff black mud. It's very smooth with no real distinct particles and no air pockets. You can easily scoop out a handful and make a ball that will stay together even when rolled or tossed. Does this sound right?
-rick
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On 1 Nov 2005 07:49:27 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@mail.com wrote:

Hevvins, no! You described clearly the difference between your own REAL compost and the "whatever" they delivered. If you can get them to take it back, please try. Maybe they delivered something else by mistake.
Any reason why you can't continue to make your own?
Persephone.
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Sounds to me like it could be fully composted manure & peat moss or fine sawdust, which if it is feedlot steer manure or hog manure from slurries, it is the cheapest (& often the saltiest) compost on the market, & looks pretty muddy when well wetted. It would've looked more like what you expected if they'd used larger woodchips or shredded phone books and food waste or municiple garden waste instead of peat or sawdust with the manure, but there's nothing wrong with the muddier unchunky compost. It is almost inert as to nutrients, but mixed well into soil it'll support the microorganisms that manufacture the plant-accessible nitrogens & sugars, so it'd be good stuff. A well turned organic compost would be crumblier, perhaps better, & cost a great deal more. No safe & properly composted commercial compost would have bugs & worms in it however, because a properly heating compost kills insects & worms while cooking out the pathogens.
-paghat the ratgirl
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I was only able to make one cubic yard this past summer. I would love to make it all myself but I needed alot more.
If I could figure out how to post and image, I could show you what it looks like.
-rick
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snipped-for-privacy@mail.com wrote:

You can't post pictures here you will need to go to "alt.binaries.pictures.gardens" and post it there.
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Travis in Shoreline (just North of Seattle) Washington
USDA Zone 8
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On Tue, 01 Nov 2005 20:39:11 GMT, "Travis"

Ah, been wondering about that. I did post a picture at alt.binaries, and mentioned it on rec.gardens, and it did get viewed OK.
But I want to know how to get that "blue ball" at the end of my post to rec.gardens. Sorry for naive question; am new at the binary game.
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Persephone


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Persephone wrote:

What "blue ball"?
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Travis in Shoreline (just North of Seattle) Washington
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<Persephone> wrote in message wrote:

If you only have a picture or two, you can upload them to www.tinypic.com The site will host the picture and give you a URL that can be posted so others can see the picture. Binary groups often have very short retention, so you picture posted to such a group may only be available for a day or two. TinyPic theoretically has infinite retention.
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Sounds like the composted cow manure I've been buying in bags. Not a bad thing at all, but not "compost", per se. Call the vendor and find out if this is what you got.
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If the ball stays together even when tossed you must have some clay in it. Now, if you take a few tons of organic matter, and put it into a bed and wait say three years, that organic matter (with the exception of large wood chips or other slowly decaying stuff) will look the way you describe it, smooth muck with some native soil in it, courtesy of the earthworms which churned the bed several times in those years. It will still be good soil, call it a loam with high organic content.
Your own compost looks the way compost looks after six months or so. My compost beds (up to eight years old, entirely filled with organic matter) look like muck, with a bit of sand thoroughly mixed because I have sandy soil underneath. The soil is stiff enough that you can make a ball. As others have said, many nutrients will be gone in compost this old, in my experience mostly nitrogen, and need to be resupplied. At that point you have enough humus in there that you can, by and large, fertilize chemically. And it is soil that drains well and has good water retention.
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This sounds pretty close to some bagged compost I bought once. As it turned out it was steer feedlot compost and was pretty heavy. Parts of it still smelled pretty bad but in a day or two that went away.
There is quite a bit of questionable compost on the market. My last truck load sprouted a huge crop of weed seeds so it was never heated properly.
We do have a municipality pretty close that composts its leaves and tree trimmings with sludge and it is real good for ornamentals.
Keep trying my friend. Sooner or later you will find a good compost vendor. It is a pretty good idea to go visit the compost yard to see what it looks like prior to buying if possible. I have found great stuff all the way down to weedy stuff. But all of it had some value as a soil conditoner.
I too have made my own but can never make enough.
RonT
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