Helping Others and a New Composting System

Dealing with waste and dealing with winter have some things in common. Most notably, neither is pleasant most of the time. I know I am from Alaska and Missouri winters are incredibly mild in comparison. However, the daily chores in winter are not very fun even if I do enjoy nippy air and snow covered fields. On the other hand, I don’t know anyone who enjoys dealing with waste.

To make things more pleasant this week we revisited our composting situation and pitched in to make winter a little more tolerable for some people we know.

New Composting System

We have tried a great many composting systems since we settled into our homestead. We started with massive piles, moved to a three bin composting system, and experimented with 18 day composts. There has been success and failure with each of these, however, with them all we have faced the same difficulty. Chickens scratching the compost pile down to nothing between turnings.

We can hardly blame them. It is in their nature and actually helps save us some feed costs. Still, when it comes to our compost we had enough! So, with the chickens locked up it was time to try something new, by putting the compost pile with the chickens. Literally, it is 4 feet from their door. They can not miss it.

The idea is that since they like scratching through it so much they spread and mix the material. Then once every week or so we come along and throw it all back together. Thus turning and mixing the pile. This saves us time and effort and helps feed the chickens.

The idea came to me from Geoff Laton’s permaculture course, where he discusses using chickens to turn a cubic meter of waste into compost every week. His original idea starts with a pile of bedding from the coop and food scraps right next to the coop. Chickens scratch through it for a week then you pile it back up a few feet further from the coop. Then build a new pile with the past weeks bedding and food scraps. Rinse and repeat until you have 4 plies going. After 4 weeks the waste should be compost.

Our current system is a little less ambitious. We are only going to pull the bedding from the coop once a month. Of course that will be from the chickens, the ducks, the guineas, and anyone else who is not on pasture at the time. That’s makes for a big pile. Other than that we plan on following the same principles, just on a slightly longer time scale.

Helping Others: a Wood Cut

We live in 100 acres of forest. At least every other week I spend 2-3 hours outside felling trees, cutting them into rounds, stacking, and splitting firewood to keep us warm in the winter. At this point I already have most of next years wood cut and stacked. Thankfully I have the time and resources to ensure we have firewood readily available.

The fireplace keeping us warm.
The fireplace that keeps us warm all winter long.

Here in Missouri there are lots of people who still rely on wood burning stoves for heat. Unfortunately, many of them are not in my position and need help finding and gathering firewood. Our local church group gets together a couple of times a year to help out by cutting wood for as many people as possible. This past weekend was one such gathering. It was a cold morning, but the work kept us warm and the company was good.

Helping others always brings peace to us here. Especially since the people of Missouri have so quickly welcomed us and helped us get settled in. We are grateful for the opportunity to give back and help keep people warm.

1 comment / Add your comment below

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.