Compost is the BEST

Frank recently started the long process of sieving the compost by removing a bunch of leaves and fresh matter from the top of our compost heap. The chickens saw what he was doing (they see EVERYTHING) but didn’t pay much attention. They have no interest in the compost pile.

Then, for whatever reason, they took an interest. At which point they discovered we’d been hiding a plethora of good eatin’ under all that rubbish.

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Bronwyn was on top of the heap with the other girls for a little while, but our head chook prefers solid ground under her feet. Not that she lets that stop her from keeping an eye on the others, noooo. Seriously, she was peeking through the boards of the compost bin to see what they found.

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There was no way she was going to let them uncover something extra special,without giving her the chance to steal it from them (and then run like a lunatic because they’d steal it back). This merry chase happened when Rosie found a little lizard. That poor thing met a very grizzly, but quick, death: drawn, quartered and consumed in 10 seconds flat.

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Bronwyn “supervising” Rosie and Isabel in their compost foraging

As time went on, Frank made progress with the compost processing and Bronwyn decided that being inside the compost bin was much better than being outside.

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While Isabel and Rosie opted to scour the sieve-leavings for their lunch.

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The end result of their interest in Frank’s sieving was Isabel and Rosie walking around with a smattering of dirt on their backs. They didn’t seem to mind, or maybe they didn’t notice. Since dirt is their cleanser of choice I suppose it would have been like taking a shower rather than a bath.

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And now that they’ve been introduced to the compost bin and all the secrets it contains? Yep, they hop up as part of their regular backyard rounds. You never know what you might find in there.

Chickens on the Compost Pile

Chickens on the Compost Pile

Obviously, compost is the BEST playground ever.

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About Laura Rittenhouse

I'm an American-Australian author, gardener and traveller. Go to my writing website: www.laurarittenhouse.com for more. If you're trying to find my gardening blog, it's here.
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21 Responses to Compost is the BEST

  1. I love the picture of the one chicken peeking through at the others – so cute! We have recently been learning how good chickens can be at helping work the compost pile. Our plan is to let the new chicks free range where our compost pile is when they are grown up with the hope they will work the pile for us.

    • That was my hope but we’ve had the chickens free ranging for about 8 months now and before now we couldn’t interest them in the darned pile. Even after setting them on top a few times. I hope yours catch on sooner.

  2. that is lovely black gold you have there, and the chickens do look as though they have struck gold.

  3. anamonreal19 says:

    What a funny post, I love how much personality your chickens have. I can’t wait to have my own someday. I have a question about composting, do you keep adding and turning the compost or do you let it sit. I need to do some more research.

    • I suspect all chickens are really bright and interesting birds – I think we underrate them because it makes it easier to treat them like a commodity that way. Humans can be pretty callous.

      We add to our compost daily:
      From the kitchen – we have a small box beside the sink and a “staging” box outside the back door.
      From the garden – everything that isn’t a woody branch goes in there.
      From the backs of our chickens – every morning we take the newspaper from under their roost and that ends up in the compost, poop and all (which dilutes the manure before it ends up on the veggies). Sometimes we soak the poo in water to make fertiliser tea but the “tea leaves” (aka soggy chicken poo) always end up back in the compost.

      We don’t stir the heap nearly as often as we should – maybe once every few weeks. It should be stirred weekly and it decomposes a lot faster when we do. We bought a huge cork-screw like thingy for stirring the compost and that makes the stirring less of a challenge. Then 2 or 3 times a year Frank lifts off the top, least processed bits, and sieves several wheel barrows worth of wonderful compost.

      Of course besides getting all that goodness for the garden, we’re also keeping a bunch of rubbish out of garbage dumps which is a great thing so I just love that compost heap. And it’s fun that my chickens now do too!

  4. True recycling in motion by your chickens.

  5. I reckon that apart from the tops of my trees the chooks have invaded all parts of my garden! xxx

  6. What a lovely post and beautiful pictures. I love your compost bin and you are lucky to have a husband who does all that wonderful work. Mine doesn’t help in the garden.

    • Mine helps – all in his own good time. I’ve learned to do what I need and only take on what I can handle and be thrilled when I get some serious manual labour from my man. In the past I’ve given up waiting and gone in and dug out buckets of unsieved compost because I needed it and couldn’t wait for the mood to strike my workman. But I can’t really complain because he does do a lot in the garden.

  7. Love your pictures! Especially of that cheeky chook peeking at the other girls through the boards – classic. The fifth pic looks like the chickens are about to be captured under the lid! 🙂

    • I too love that cheeky chook Bronwyn. And she makes me crazy because she’s ALWAYS getting into trouble.

      I did wonder why the chickens weren’t afraid of that contraption collapsing on them. I think they trust us absolutely and figure if we’re playing with it, it must be good fun.

  8. I guess your chooks would have liked the worms in the compost heap!!

    • Strangely, they aren’t big fans of worms. They LOVE grubs and give them a lizard any day but worms they just pull up and torment without eating so every time I see a worm I bury it or move it to save it for my veggies.

  9. vuchickens says:

    love it! and the dirt showers are too funny!

  10. I miss a good compost pile. I live in a cold high desert area of Montana and used to live in the Midwest. In the Midwest I could flip a compost pile a couple times in a year. Here the lack of oxygen and cold temps that make heat hard to achieve in the pile, make compost a huge challenge. Even with my chickens helping with their contribution to the compost pile it is hard work to end up with compost even once a year, usually more like ever 18 months. My chickens love to get in a root through my pile and see if there are any goodies left in it.

    • I would miss my compost if I didn’t get it so often. I generally keep a pile of it for use in preparing seed trays or turning over vegetable beds. But I bet my chickens would miss the warmth more than my compost pile. I guess those down jackets your chooks have help keep them warm even in Montana winters – brrrr.

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