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Belgian Town Gives Chickens To Residents

Belgian Town Gives Chickens To Residents


According to the BBC, the town of Mouscron, in Belgium, has 50 pairs of chickens it plans to give to residents as a way to decrease the waste stream.

I have to say, my chickens have both significantly lowered my household and garden waste, and here in the arid west, they’ve exponentially sped up the composting process. Composting is a real problem here, because it’s so dry. Because there was an 8×10 concrete pad in the back part of the yard, that’s where I built the chicken coop. And because the compost heaps were already in that part of the yard (my very fancy setup built from recycled pallets) we decided it would probably be easier just to enclose the compost in with the chickens. We didn’t really know what we were doing, but it worked out beautifully. The chickens scratch around in the compost piles all day, digging holes, excavating for bugs, and aerating the compost in the process. And cleaning out the coop and yard is really easy — I rake out the shavings from inside the coop, then hurl the shavings and straw (that’s what I use to cover the concrete) into the compost heaps. Then the chickens pull it all down, and I toss it back up. I’m getting compost in months that used to take years. Plus, I think it gives the chickens something to do all day.

I’ve been bartering eggs for all sorts of things, and I’ve gotten big compliments on how delicious my eggs are. If I know the person well I tell them the secret is compost. Compost the chickens, compost the garden, it’s all good.

Clean Beds

Clean Beds

pb280024This was my other weekend project — cleaning out the garden beds and turning over the soil. I used straw mulch last year, which was a great success, but it was a seedy batch, and I wound up with a sturdy winter cover crop of wheat. I experimented a couple of months ago with just turning it over. But like the grass that I also have troubles with, it kept coming back.

So this weekend I went through each bed, digging out the wheat, and the carcasses of dead vegetables, and turned over the soil, breaking up lumps along the way. It was good solid physical work. It felt good after a long winter inside. And it’s the sort of quiet, repetitive task that gives you time to think about the things going on in your life.  The sun was shining, it was warm, I was back in the garden, and all was good.

pb280025 This compost bin was nearly empty when I started pulling wheat sprouts. I think it’s going to make a nice start to the season — by default it’s a pretty good mix of green and brown. We’ll see — maybe it’ll heat up. But it was a good weekend of real work.

And now I’m ready to start planting.