The other day I was reading a thread on a site my friend’s husband calls Cow Talker, and the title of the thread was something like, “FINALLY BESSIE WILL START CONTRIBUTING.” The topic was about the cow owners finally getting some milk from their heifer… . Before that they figured all they had were figures in the expense column. Purchase price, housing, feed, bedding etc. Unfortunately so typical. One of the most important things missing from agricultural these days, whether it be urban or rural, is animal manure and a reverence for that precious material. IMHO. Jane has been contributing for some time now, and I haven’t got a drop of milk yet.
I started this blog to write about family cows. And it has turned out I write mostly about manure. No Shit! Still working on the smooth family cow thing. New readers will have to go back to the beginning and see how that has turned out the last 4 years. Jane will write that next chapter.
I have a hard time defining what I think is more important about my baker’s dozen flock of chickens. The eggs or the manure? If it’s breakfast time, I would say the eggs, but if I am in the garden, I would say the manure.
My chickens are housed in a small greenhouse. A morphed approach to having fresh eggs and ratcheting down from a large pastured egg operation. We always wintered our hens in hoophouses to keep them off the pasture during the winter months, for predator protection and to gather more bedding for fertilizing purposes.
The bedding really builds up over time. What a resource at all our finger tips, if we would just not be so tight with bedding. And with chickens, they do the work of turning it and breaking it down for us. No machinery, no stinky chicken houses to clean because we have added carbon and lots of it.
Every day I at least cover up the night soil area where the flock sleeps. Weekly I bed the whole she-bang, replenish the nest boxes with new straw, and sit back and watch the chickens dig through the straw for tidbits of grain that escaped the combine.
The greenhouse floor is soil, the ground is damp around the edges, and earth worms migrate in from the outside to the rich manure pack, and provide treats for hens. It’s a great system, the hens are safe, warm and dry, and I get copious amounts of light, easy-to-move deep bedding for my gardens.
Can’t beat that!