Alexander rode an elephant; Caesar a gold chariot. Napoleon preferred a stallion. Gaucho, Chicken Emperor of the Acre, likes a wheelbarrow loaded with compost.
That's no simple pile of dirt! That's a mound of super rich, composted chicken manure and straw "bricks" to recharge the spent beds in the vegetable garden.
Tomato skins and bolted lettuce may not be a the top of your list when it comes to lunch, but for the ducks and chickens it's a five star meal.
My new hugelskultur garden is proving to be more complicated than I thought. Not because the garden is hard, but because the chickens won't get out of the way.
We didn't get hens for eggs originally. But now that inflation has driven the cost of store-bought eggs so high, we're saving about $70 a year by having them.
In winter we open the vegetable garden to the poultry. The chickens have already cleaned the artichoke beds and are taking a dust bath and fertilizer break before moving on.
We waste very little food thanks to our chickens. For example, here are Gaucho, Buffy and Summer with a fresh summer salad of overgrown zucchini and cucumbers.
I find it quite reassuring that once I'm done shifting compost from one bit to the other, there's an inspection crew standing by to make sure I did it right.
Shy is our only Cuckoo Maran hen (she's named Shy because, unlike the buffs and Welsummers, she's not really interested in people or their food). When she disappeared a few weeks back, I figured she'd been nabbed by a coyote, raccoon, bobcat, or one of the other varmits that like the taste of chicken. Shy with her new chicks Imagine my surprise when she appeared yesterday with one black and one white chick. Turns out she was just nesting [keep reading...]