Monday, June 7, 2010

Multi-tasking Chickens

Everything, nowadays, has to be thought out to the fullest, whether it be cutting down on back breaking work or spending unnecessary money.I try to be as frugal as possible, since the life expectancy, nowadays, is increasing, and the money does not go as far as it once did.(Who would have thought a medium size box of washing powder would be around $10 or so. Who knew milk would be as much as $4 a gallon at times, or gas $3 a gallon or worse at times.The price of staples is outrageous.)So here at Good Enough Acres (my pet name for our little 5 acre lot)we do what we can, both being retired, to save ourselves as much work and expense as possible.We both feel that chickens are not worth the feed we must buy to keep them producing eggs, so I try to get double duty from them, as well. I know that sounds cruel, but I feel they get lots of pleasure and a few little treats now and then from the work they do for me. Being couped in the small area which they are confined to, must be boring, so I feel the things I have them doing for me,breaks the monotony for them.
I purchased a compost tumbler 10 years ago, pictured in one of my gardening magazines. I know it was 10 years, because my Dad helped me assemble it, right before he became ill with the cancer that took his life 9 years ago,September 5.I have never really used the tumbler to make a complete cycle for a batch of compost. It requires more work than I cared to put into it.That's when I decided to let my chickens help me make my compost dirt.We have always had a good relationship with the tree trimming crew that keep the electric lines free and clear of tree limbs, so that is where most of my mulch has come from for many years. Now we have a tree trimming business in the family. Pop has helped his cousin on that job on occasion, when his regular help is unavailable, so we get all the free mulch we need.Cousin Larry has kept me in mulch for a couple of years now. I use Pop's BIG tractor, which has a bucket on the front, to transfer some of the mulch to the chicken pen.The mulch has been sitting for awhile, so there are lots of nice juicy morsels like earthworms and bugs in it.A feast for the chickens. All they must do is scratch it around to get to them.They enjoy doing that.
After they have scratched it around for a couple of weeks, I take my leaf rake to the chicken pen and scratch up lots of compost. I use my fancy sifter, which Pop and I make,to sift the finer particles from the coarser ones.The finer compost goes to side dressing or transplanting my plants and flowers.The coarser matter goes back into the compost pile or is used as an additional layer of mulch around other plants.I have so many beds to mulch, it would break a bank, if one had to buy enough to cover them all.
I do purchase the red mulch to top dress some of the beds, but even that gets expensive.Over all, I agree with Gavin, in one of his latest post,,the therapy is like no other.

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