I've worked a lot with compost, but never bothered to make a pile. This is mostly because it's so easy to pick up a yard for $30 in my truck. That said, it's a skill I want to learn, and we have this soiled chicken bedding we need to do something with. So I started one 3 weeks ago and finished it a week and a half ago, after slaughtering the chickens. It is mostly a straw/chicken poop/food scraps mix from the chicken run, soiled straw that was left out in the wet, green matter from the yard, garden, old potting soil, and the feathers from our birds. It's a lump about 4 feet across at the base and 2.5 feet high, damp and covered with a tarp.
Yesterday at Tilth, Graham said a compost heap can finish in 2-3 months, even in the winter. We'll see how mine does. Will check the temp soon.