All of our animals have jobs that we feel they have to do to contribute toward the success of our little homestead. Sailor, our dog, keeps the deer and raccoons away. The cat, Willa, is our mouser. The bees pollinate our crops and produce honey. The worms produce beautiful fertilizer. Even the guinea pig, Gusteau, provides pellets that can go directly into our garden.
But it’s the chickens who are the true workhorses on our property. Of course, their eggs are a staple in our diet. But we use their chicken yard as a closed loop composting system where our weeds go in, the scratch them up, add their own fertilizer, and we excavate the yard throughout the year for the beautiful fertilized compost they provide. But here’s one more thing they do for us: The produce a perfectly-sifted specialty compost that we can scatter around our lawns and gardens that rivals any commercial compost out there.
Here’s how it works. Their yard is penned in by 2-inch chicken wire, and it’s placed up on a hill where the backside of the hen yard has a 3-foot slope behind it. The chickens, daily, dig and scratch near the fence, constructing their dust baths and looking for tasty bits to peck at in the yard materials we throw inside.
As their scratching activity breaks down the organic matter we throw inside their yard, their scratching serves to sift and push the small composted materials through the wire fence, which acts like a sieve. On the outside of the hen yard, we have a slope of pure black, composted and perfectly-sifted humus fertilizer, ready for the gardens and lawns.
All I have to do is show up with a bucket every few days, and collect the fluffy sifted compost to use around the property. Thank you, girls, for your hard work! We appreciate your efforts and contribution toward making the world’s most beautiful sifted compost there is.