Compost and Chickens

I thought I would give a little update for those who do not follow me on Facebook. Our weather has been bipolar; Arctic one week and Springlike the next. Oddly, the nicer days have fallen on the weekends. We are trying to make good use of those days. Today we began one of our higher priority projects. We installed 200 feet of welded wire fence. We are enclosing an area for a guardian dog and our hens. Eventually we will fence the whole perimeter, but there are areas we need to keep the hens out of like our grape vines and fruit trees.

We let the hens out today when we finished and they loved it! They were so busy scratching in the leaves. We still have about 200 more feet to fully enclose it, but a section near the road, closer to the coop, is fenced. This should also keep the wandering dogs from gaining access to the hens. There is one dog in particular that comes into the yard, uninvited. He makes me nervous because he is not easily scared off. Shadow used to keep him from coming too close, but now he helps himself to whatever area he pleases. The way the fence is now, cuts off that access he used to have. Though he could go around the house and up again, he is not likely to do that. Soon, that will not be an option either.

The Youngun hanging out with the flock.
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When I did my hen count last night, one was missing again…Mabel. I found her bedded down in some straw on the other side of the fence. I guess sometimes she figures out how to get back in and other times she doesn’t. This is why I try to go out when there is still some light. Hunting a hen by flashlight is not easy, especially when they nestle down in the leaves and straw. But, they are never too far away from the flock.

We ordered ten new grape vines and an additional one to replace a Zinfadel we lost last year. That gives us 16 vines this year. It is very exciting. Instead of the wire and TPost trellis method, we are going to do TPosts and cattle panels. We did this for the blackberries and think it will be an easier and more economical way to do the grape vines, plus it looks really nice.

I have decided to move my compost into the garden. It is a mess right now and I cannot keep a compost pile where the dogs and hens have access to it. I plan on doing a smaller version of what I have now. What I do now is throw my scraps, leaves, and straw in a pile and leave it. I have never covered it,which allows for too much rain to soak it. Covering it will also help heat it up to break down and kill any weed seeds that may be in the pile. My set up now, well, it is embarrassing. Perhaps I will share it with you when it’s not 30 below wind chills out there. I also lose a lot of good compost with it now. There is not much point in a compost pile if I can’t utilize it.

There are so many ways to compost: making bins, buying bins, worm composting, heating methods, etc. Here is a good overview of compost principles. It includes helpful links covering making your own, buying, types, etc.

Another method I am also considering is worm towers. They use PVC pipe, with holes drilled in the bottom portion, then they are buried. Scraps for composting are stuffed down the pipe, and to get a jump start, you can throw in some red wigglers. I have seen lots of worms in my soil, though, their population may have been reduced since my hens have had run of the garden. Maybe I will get some to re-populate. I thought this would be a good way to provide rich soil to the garden on a continual basis.

It is encouraging to see some of our projects getting done. It is slow sometimes, but by Fall I know we will stand back and say, “Wow. We are making progress”.

Here are some random pics I have shared on Facebook.
Peace ‘n Chickens y’all!

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