Perfect Compost Bin

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!)

lid up


I’d say that it’s the perfect compost bin.


close up


  1. You have two very handy men around the house. What more can a girl ask for? Jacob will make someone very happy one day. I’m going to get hubby to look at Jacob’ compost bin. I’m wanting one outside the coop for the reasons you specified. He wanted to put one behind shed and coop, but is shaded last 8 hours of day. Does a compost bin need lots of sunshine? Just wondering.

  2. Wow, look at that pumpkin plant! Does the balloon thing with “eyes” really work? I’ve not seen many raspberries, blueberries or figs since the birds discovered my garden…I do get some Concord grapes, and nobody bothers the gooseberries, so I guess I shouldn’t complain.

    • I’m very disappointed in those eye balloons. Birds sit on them! Didn’t help at all with the blueberries, but I have one by the peach tree and I think (maybe) it’s keeping the chipmunks away. Maybe.

  3. Nice, but what’s wrong with moldy bread in the other piles? I’ve fed moldy bread to my chickens before. Is that an oops?

      • Oh right. I don’t give many starchy treats. Five pounds of scratch lasts me six months too. Even though I’m stingy they beg at the back door.

  4. It looks so nice! I have separate recycling areas for my kitchen waste, too. The bread is given to the dog… :) I do have a big black composter, but it is a bit more a nuisance, since I can’t dump it into a wagon or wheel barrow the way I’d like. But, it does make nice soil, so, meh!


  5. Thanks for the compost bins pix. I’ve been wondering. I’m not much of a gardener but I’m a great weeder, pruner, and composter.

    One of the best, and largest, setups for composting I’ve ever seen is at Green Animals in Portsmouth, RI. It’s part of the Newport mansions membership. If you ever get a chance to see the house and gardens at Green Animals (called that because of the topiary), it’s really worth it.

    I think I have compost bin envy…


    • I love Green Animals, but haven’t been for a couple of years. Next time I’ll make a point of looking for the compost bins.

  6. Your son has a great DIY MOTHER, too! The kid hit the jackpot! Speaking as a city dweller with little sunlight or room for anything to grow, your place looks heavenly! Amazing pumpkin plants!! Congratulations!!

  7. I am wondering is the compost bin bottomless so you can lift up and get the compost?

    • Yes, it does not have a bottom exactly for that reason. Some urban locals require a bottom – you could use the wire. A bottom will keep vermin out, but I don’t have that problem, thanks to Lily Dog.

  8. Love Green Animals. Read about it in Yankee Magazine in the late 70”s. Even though we lived in Michigan. We spent many happy vacations out East. In Rhode Island in Newport and at Custy’s eating lobsters. Then onto Boston and Cape Cod and Maine. Kudos to your men…great job on the bin.

  9. Beautiful job on the compost bin! And on the pumpkin patch, too! Our garden did not do too well this year. We visited farms today to purchase produce for canning, and one farm had home-raised emus that keep arial predators and fox away. Just an idea for you! They are big, big birds! ;)

  10. Somebody is getting busy in the nesting box again. So excited for you!

  11. not about the compost bin, wonderful as it is….I’ve been watching the inside cam, and that one white chicken seems to have the bunny cowed! he watches her every move like a hawk, but has not moved himself for quite a while. Yesterday, when he was inspecting the stone work by his tunnel, the same? white chicken came by, and he scampered away. Are the chicken watching him to make sure he doesn’t dig another escape route??

    • Betsy (the little white hen) and Buffy do not like rabbits. They remember Candy teasing them. Phoebe knows enough to stay out of their way.