i have been reading a gardening book called 'good food dirt cheap' from the late 80's. there are 3 methods given for making usable compost. 1) is 10 days, which i have recently done (10 days after pile first reaches 140-160 degrees) 2) is a 21 day method, 3) is an annual method. for the pile to quickly breakdown and reach the desired temps, there must be a 30-1 carbon to nitrogen ratio. the book gives a list of each item and what their carbon/nitrogen levels are, which i will list in next post if anyone is interested. i have recently moved into a much smaller yard and do not have the space for a big compost, secondly i need usable compost quickly to mend soil issues. then once pile reaches the desired temps, to keep the microbes digesting quickly, the pile must be pulled apart with a machete and hoe, shovel or pick axe every two days and then covered. (10 day method) or every 3 days (21 day method) if it smells like horse poo, you have too much nitrogen , not enough carbon. once pile is reduced in size considerably, and will no longer pass 110 degrees, no matter how much you hack it apart, it is ready to be bagged or put on garden. here is a picture at 8 days. i am working on next pile tomorrow and will be taking step by step pictures. please feel free to add any advice, as i am new at composting! peace.