If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time you know that I like my barns clean and tidy. I keep them swept. Feed is stored in labeled galvanized cans. Bedding is skipped out daily. But, caring for animals is innately dirty and messy. There’s manure, feathers and fur, spilled feed, uneaten treats and dust. Gardens produce weeds and rotten things. Despite my tendencies towards neatness, that’s fine with me, too. I’ve figured out a system that keeps all of that detritus in check, and even turns it into a positive part of animal keeping and gardening.
I have compost piles in the chicken pens. This takes care of anything that is even potentially edible by the hens, and some stuff that is not, but that they will shred and turn into lovely dirt. I have bins set aside near the vegetable garden for the chicken manure (keeping this separate breaks the parasite cycle.) These two areas for compost take all of the waste, and with little effort, have provided me with glorious dirt that I’ve used in my gardens. That’s why my pumpkin patch looks like this.
But after giving the Big Barn a thorough cleaning after last month’s bout with respiratory disease, I ran out of room in the compost bins. At the same time, I realized that there were some things, like moldy bread, that I didn’t have a compost area for. I saw exactly what I wanted in a gardening catalog, but it would have cost around $150; instead of spending the money, I put my teenage son (who happens to like using power tools) to work.
With a few pieces of scrap wood and a new roll of hardware cloth he made this compost bin. I sited it out of sight, but in an easy to access spot between the asparagus bed and the chicken run.
It is 30-inches square. The dogs can’t get in, but the earthworms can. It has a hinged lid with a rod to keep it propped up (how clever is that, much nicer than the one in the catalog!)
I’d say that it’s the perfect compost bin.