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Chicken Yard Project: New Compost Bins

The chicken yard was Dan's August project, but it was delayed because...


... we had car trouble. It clanked terribly every time we started it or turned it off, sounding like something was fixin' to fall off. After checking all the connecting rod bearings, Dan finally figured out that the bolts on the flywheel were loose. He tightened them up and the clanking stopped. (Whew.)

The chicken yard project list had three subgoals:
  • compost bins
  • grazing beds
  • a duck house
Materials is always a first step, and Dan wanted to use what we had available. That meant cutting his lumber from an old pine tree he cut down last spring.

Last spring's felled pine tree cut into 8-foot sections and ready to mill.

Those logs became 4x4s, 2x4s, and boards.

He treats lumber for projects like this with old motor oil. He saves it whenever he changes the oil in a vehicle. He thins it with a little gasoline and either soaks the ends of posts or paints boards with it. The gasoline evaporates and the soaked in oil preserves the wood.

Posts soaking in spent motor oil.

I missed getting photos of building the compost bin, because I was tied to a kitchen filled with pears, apples, figs, elderberries, cowpeas, tomatoes and milk for cheesemaking. But I can show you the results.

All home-milled lumber.

We've always had a three bin system, but never managed to use all three bins, so we opted to try two bins. The boards for the shorter front wall are removable, making it easy to get a wheelbarrow in there for dumping or filling.

The back of the compost bin.

We moved the location too. The new bin backs up to the tractor path between the chicken yard and the workshop. The poultry yard has both a front and back gate, so this is a more convenient.

What did the chickens think?

"No way we're going in there."

They weren't convinced, even after Dan moved the compost from the old bins to the new. When I brought them the canning scraps they recognized the compost bucket and came running. I made a great show of dumping it into the new bin, but when I stepped back they just stood there looking at me. Not one chicken ran to gobble down my offerings. Thinking I was standing too close, I moved away. But instead of jumping into the new bin, they ran to the old and started scratching around in it. They knew I'd brought goodies and ran to where the goodies were supposed to be! I had toss several handfuls of scratch into the new bins before they caught on.

"Oh yeah! Food!"

The second item on the project list was to make more grazing beds. I'll show you those next time.

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