17 March 2007

Lazy Woman's Leaf Shredder

I mentioned shredding leaves in a previous post and indeed, I have a huge red funnel shaped leaf shredder parked in the workshop. I've used it once -- it's like an upsidedown weedeater head deep inside the funnel -- and it produces such finely chopped leaves they turn to soil in the garden nearly instantly. And that's pretty impressive with the tough oak leaves we have around here. It'll chop straw and pine needles too. 

But it's loud, very loud. And creates a big cloud of leaf dust.

Back in North Carolina I had a dozen hens who lived in a chicken house with a fenced and covered outdoor run, which was of course picked bare within minutes of everything green. Since I couldn't leave them unattended with the garden -- I use a deep mulch system that represents heaven to a chicken, but isn't "deep mulch" once they are done with it -- I brought the yard and garden to them. Clumps of pulled weeds, old broccoli leaves and stalks, grass clippings, raked leaves, old hay...anything I could went into the chicken pen that had become a chicken powered composter!

It was great. They shredded everything to bits, stirred and aerated, picked out bugs and seeds. And of course added some chicken poop. Every few weeks I'd rake it all out, put it in a big wire compost bin and water well. Bingo: the easiet, quickest compost ever. 

So here a Larrapin, the chickens have three huge pens to roam around in, the there's little grass left between them and the goats. So I've put them to work as leaf shredders again. We rake all the oak leaves that have mellowed over the winter into the first pen. Every day I toss their scratch corn into the leaves. They never stop turning, scratching, breaking the tough leaves up.  And after several weeks, I can go rake up finely shredded forest duff-like leaf remains. It works great  as a soil-building deep mulch that draws earthworms by the herds. Or if I layer it with the shed hay from the goat stalls into a big compost pile, it breaks down in record time. 

This is how you too can put your chickens to work, without even building a chicken tractor! What's a chicken tractor. More later. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great idea. I was looking for some way to feed/entertain my chickens since I don't have a movable pen. They have bard dirt in their pen right now, and feed is getting expensive. Soon the leaves will fall, and I will rake them all into the chicken pen. I would love to hear any other ideas you have on what I can throw in there. Are there any plants that they should NOT eat?