I have done something that is great for both the chickens and for me. I have enlisted the chickens onto my compost team. I am in the process of moving the weedpost pile, the pile where I was chucking my weeds and the worms and bugs were decomposing them, into the chicken pen. I didn’t know how big the weedpost pile was going to get, but there are an awful lot of weeds around here. It just kept getting bigger and bigger and thwarting progress on The Great Vege Garden Expansion Plan with its presence. It had to move and it had to be turned more regularly, so… Hello, chicken pen! I put the old wooden three-sided surround from the original compost heap against the garage wall in The Orchard Pen. It had been sitting in there on it’s side as a not-particularly-great shelter after the general compost heap outgrew it. Then, I began to shovel and fork the weedpost material into it.
There is a delicate balance between bringing exciting material into the chicken pen and preventing the chickens from wandering out the gate into the vege garden. And trying not to freak out the chickens by throwing more compost into their compost bin. Every time I turned my back they were in there. They love it! Their job is to dig and scratch around the compost material so that it breaks down faster. They think their job is to have fun and eat bugs and other morsels. Stroke of genius! I think I will call it the chickpost bin.
I am making a few adjustments though. I put a big log on one side of their compost bin to help them get up, but they were jumping down a lot from the highest side and I was worried about their feet getting sore and damaged. For now I’ve leaned one of the chunky pallets (do you think The Husband will notice that one has disappeared?) on the long side of the chickpost bin to help the chickens get up there. What I would really like to do though, is turn the three-sided compost surround around so there’s something between the compost and the garage wall, make a smaller wall along the open side and then make another bay joining onto that for the new weeds. Simply dividing it in half wouldn’t allow enough space for chickens or weeds. With two bays I would have the ready or almost-ready compost in one bay and the fresh material in it’s own bay and the chickens could hop over into either one.
Once the weedpost pile has all been transferred into the chickpost pile we can get digging to get out the one remaining old fence post that is in the way of The Great Vege Garden Expansion Plan. I have had thoughts about the raised bed that I was planning to have blackcurrant bushes in. It is now going to be another vege bed. Because we need more space for the veges!
The blackcurrants are soon going to be planted in the Maple Garden in the corner around the loquat tree. Then we might actually be able to move the wooden planter they’re in out of the Plum Tree Garden. It’s sooo heavy that one person can barely budge it, and that is after we had sliced through the blackcurrant roots that had grown through the bottom into the ground. In order to fit the three blackcurrants under the loquat tree I had to move the Anemanthele lessoniana (gossamer grass) that had gotten rather too large for its spot anyway. I divided it into four clumps and planted them in The Cedar Pen. Hopefully they can get settled in before the chickens return. They might just be big enough to be good chicken pen plants. If the chickens don’t eat too much of them they will love hiding under them and the grasses can droop down lusciously over the wall. The other native grasses I planted in there were too small to get going enough and the chickens nibbled them to the ground. Most of them are regrowing but they’re going to have to be tough to survive!
And so, the ‘do this, so I can do that’ cycle continues. What on earth do you think I’m up to now? Erm, building a chicken coop, just casually… But also, I have to mention that I went to my first POULTRY SHOW on Saturday. Ahhhhh!!!!!! I will have to post about that later.