Monday, October 25, 2010

Chicken Slaw!

I am frequently asked how and what we compost.  We've done a lot of experimenting over the years and we've discovered several things. Good compost is an art. Starting with your fresh material, you need to chop it, mix it, turn it, keep it moist, make sure it thoroughly heats... and then you really get something that is beautiful.  Otherwise, you get a large pile of sort-of-rotted plant material that hasn't really heated enough to kill weed seeds, disease pathogens, fungus or anything else.  Not bad stuff, but not what you were dreaming of.  Ninety percent of the time, that's what we find ourselves looking at.  Oh, in time - a couple of years - it rots down into something pretty decent, but it's not what the articles have promised. In our case, we just forget to get out there and turn the pile. 

Oh, and I should probably mention that when we were seriously composting food and garden scraps and cuttings, our compost heap was something we turned with a full-sized Ford 3930 tractor bucket. Not a little bin and a hand shovel type operation.

Now we've "retired" and I'm too lazy to shovel all that stuff.  I grind everything outdoors that I can with our hand lawnmower, which drives Rob crazy because he feels, probably correctly, that I'm dulling the blades.  Grass cuttings go into the chicken run to amuse the girls and, while they are at it, they pick out all the grass and weed seeds and turn the bits over and over until they decompose. I use the chickens to do the composting of our food scraps.  Here's the deal:


Fresh veggie scraps are the very best thing.
Torn into large pieces, they fit into the processor
and chop up in an instant.  The eggshells keep
our hens supplied with calcium.
 (A) Food scraps get loaded into the food processor:


I rarely use meat because the doglets get the good scraps.  All veggies go in, unless they are icky (remembering that you never feed your animals anything you think has gone "bad) and all eggshells are added.


(B)Then I  pulse the processor to chop it all up. Whatever amount - this isn't rocket science!


Everything is chopped to bite-sized pieces.
Looks like cole slaw for chickens, doesn't it?

Everyone runs to see today's offering!



Dottie, the Spangled Hamburg, and LockenFlocken, the Lackenfelter hen, are always first and last at the snack bowl.

Eventually, what's left gets kicked into the run where the chooks gradually root through it, turning it into the straw and chips and soil to make a lovely composted mix that I shovel out periodically and finish off outside the run. 

The final mixture goes into the raised beds where we will raise the veggies that will become our food and the next batch of tasty scraps for the chickens!
Full circle once again.

1 comment:

  1. My grandmother kept chickens on her farm, my mom kept chickens on her land, and if I lived in the country, I would have chickens. There are many benefits to having chickens besides the eggs that they provide. We need to realize the other benefits and use them for the sake of raising good vegetables.

    ReplyDelete

The sharing of ideas, experience and helpful information between one gardener and another has always been the very best of gardening traditions.