putting the ladies to work!

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Last summer, we erected a new greenhouse… in June. It was REALLY bad timing on our part, as we had to plant into it, ASAP. But, except for a small patch that our old greenhouse covered, we hadn’t even turned the sod yet. We decided to not stress out, and not fight the grass either. We simply planted our nightshades in large grow bags, and decided to deal with the grass the following year.

But, towards the end of the season, the farmer had a brilliant idea! You see there was another problem we were facing on the farm- how to keep the hens out of the snow for the winter, without having to shovel their run. I don’t want you reading that last sentence & think we are lazy or anything… it just that the previous year, we got over 6 feet of snow in just 2 days!

You’re probably going to guess what I’m going to say next…

We decided to put the chickens in the greenhouse! All we had to do was put up some plywood walls, a temporary roost, and add some nesting boxes.

IMG_3791So, we did it… and it was the BEST idea ever!

Not only are chickens VERY hard workers; working from dusk ‘til dawn, the fact that they are constantly pecking & scratching means that they are achieving the work we would otherwise have to do ourselves. Mainly, get rid of the grass.

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We also needed to build soil in the greenhouse, so we could have a great season this year. We could have simply brought soil in, but the best soil is usually the one made on your own land. And there’s the bonus: by putting the girls in the greenhouse, and applying a “deep bedding” method, we did just that. The nitrogen from their droppings, and any kitchen scraps we threw in there, mixed with the carbon of the bedding (in this case straw), means we are {currently} making a beautiful soil.

The chickens are also meticulous in moving things around, as they help “shred” up the kitchen scraps into smaller pieces. This makes the ground more biologically active, allowing earthworms, pill bugs, and billions of microbes to come up out of the ground, and help sift through the mess, which, therefore builds a better soil.

10154120_10154117418095026_6996334590412614415_nAll those worms and bugs were also great for the girls too! High in vitamins K & B12, the bugs themselves provided the hens with a quality, nutrient dense natural feed, which is totally immune building. All that goodness gets passed onto the eggs too, making them extra nutritious! And lets not forget about the girls’ mental health; they had so much fun pecking, scratching, and searching for insects in the ground, that they totally forgot they were in a confined space for that short period of time.

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Now that the hens are back in their own coop, we have tilled the soil one time, and it is now percolating under black plastic, to help speed up the decomposition process.

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Just a couple more weeks until we till again…Hopefully our little experiment paid off, and we will have that black gold we were after!

(This post, along with others I have written, can also be found on AO: the GROW blog, for Agrarian Organics.)

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