Fall days are death- if you are a leaf. For the rest of us, they are a glorious final celebration before the doomy gloom of winter smothers every memory of happier times. If you doubt my hatred of winter, just know I’ve spent the past two out of three winters fleeing to the tropics under the flimsy excuse of ” gaining farm experience.” Farming was a great idea, but mostly I just thought winter in Hawaii sounded better than in Michigan. I don’t do well with cold, and I do even less well without natural light. But seeing as West Virginia doesn’t have the climate of a Pacific Island, winter is going to happen here regardless of my personal preferences. Until that happens, I’ll continue to skip around barefoot and lay down in the grass to read books. And Ian and I will continue to use as much of the fleeting daylight that we can to continue with our property projects. This week, we tried to figure out what to do with the thick blanketing of dead leaves around our home’s perimeter.
The first project was pulling out the o’ chipper we found stashed in a shed to shred up as many leaves as we could collect. This was a two person job, so while I scurried around with a big rake and bigger tarp, Ian fed the piles into the roaring machine. I guess it worked, because our massive pile of leaves shrank to one tenth its original volume, easily fitting in our makeshift leaf composter. The idea is that greater surface area will allow the leaves to decompose faster, allowing for quicker compost. I’ll report back in a few weeks on the results.
*he wants everyone to know that he’s lost fifteen pounds** **yes, he really did tell me to say that
The second project was another composting method, but instead of a chipper we wanted to try out a different farm tool- the chickens. Lazy things haven’t laid any eggs yet, so we needed to find a different way to get some use out of them. Chickens enjoy nothing better than to scuffle around their yard, scratching and turning over everything in their path in an endless pursuit of bugs. It look a matter of hours for six little hens to turn their pen into a barren clay wasteland. So we thought we’d give them our leaves to play with instead. Their shredding instincts would be put to good use and we wouldn’t have to run the chipper as much. The bonus addition of their poop into the mix could make for a nitrogen-rich fertilizer for the garden come spring.
So we filled the coop with close to a foot of leaf litter and allowed the chickens to play around in it. They seemed a little startled by the dramatic change to their outdoor arrangements, but being chickens, it took them all of two seconds to adapt. Do they like playing in the leaves? Watch the video below ad see for yourself!
Let’s all just agree that chickens are the best. Cool. Glad we agree.