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Composting Everything!

Here at Dare 2 Dream farms we get a lot of compost going all year long. between the many chicken droppings, to bedding of pine shavings, and tons of vegetable matter that is pulled from the garden, there are mountains of compost created each year, which we put back into our garden to recycle the health of the soil.

Our composting systems are “no turn” and do not get rotated on their own. Unlike composting bins, with aeration and a turning mechanism, out piles break down at a slower rate. The mix of Carbon based additives and Nitrogen based additives compliment each other and create a compost rich in nutrients, not too acidic and not too alkaline, for seeds to grow in the garden.

Compost is like the special medicine for a healthy soil. When adding compost, there are an abundance of nutrients, vitamins, and other living substances that work with the soil to create life. When compost mixed in to the soil, each layer of the plant roots has a chance to take up any nutrients that it will need for growth.

Activators, such as chicken manure, young weeds and grass clippings, are all still “living” and actually bring life to the compost. Since weeds and grass break down easily, they start a process of breaking down with the rest of the food waste and ingredients within the compost. Chicken manure, since it is digested and broken down with enzymes, can be a great way to kick start the break down process as well. Activators are a great additive to any compost to initiate the decomposition and prevent plant matter and food waste from just sitting in a pile and rotting.

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A compost pile or bin is ready for use when it looks dark brown and shows consistency in its composition. The temperature can be too hot to touch. You can always use a thermometer to test your own compost and make sure it has reached a level between 130-150 degrees F. At this temperature, all unpleasant bacteria has had a chance to break down and be recycled into the rich compost to be used.

If planning on using compost to incorporate into your vegetable garden beds, it is not recommended to use any chemicals, grass clippings that may contain pesticides, or unnatural substances. Steer clear from things that you would not normally consume. Everything that is adding into your compost will be absorbed by future seedlings.

 

Written by: Kelsie Crane

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Backyard Chickens, Chicken Health, homesteading

Heat Busters for the Coop!

We’ve got a scary Heat Wave starting today in California. Other states around us are going to be affected too. This could last for 7-10 days, break and then start anew!

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For those of you who have chickens but haven’t yet had to put a plan into place for protecting your ladies from extreme heat: NOW is the time. The key elements for helping your chickens beat the heat are water, shade, and ventilation. Here are some tips:

  1. Evaporative Cooling: If you have good soil drainage and moving air, you can spray down the ground with water early in the day. As the heat of the day increases it will pull some of the heat with the evaporating water, keeping the chicken area a bit cooler. Using misters can also be helpful, though they are a bit more expensive to install and run especially if you’re in a cooler area that doesn’t normally require you to help your beat the heat except for short heat waves like this.
  2. Freeze Treats: Frozen watermelon seems to be the favorite but other melons, berries, and veggies can work just as well. You could even mash or purée your mixed kitchen or garden scraps, put them in a metal bowl and freeze it for a chicken slushee!
  3. Extra Waterers: Leave out more water, and even extra water containers as the chickens will be drinking more often and shouldn’t have to stand around a crowded watered waiting a turn.
  4. Air Movement: Do you have a portable fan you’re not using while you’re out for the day? Run it out near the coop on an extension cord to keep the air circulating. This works especially well if it blows towards the chickens over something cold like a bucket of ice.
  5. More Shade: If you have potted plants, patio furniture or other large objects in the yard, rearranging them near the coop short term will help to cast more shade. Alternatively, o draped over the run can help create a larger shaded space. Something like this:

NKTM 50%-60% Sunblock Shade Cloth, Cut Edge UV Resistant Shade for Plant Cover, Greenhouse, Barn or Kennel

Don’t forget to remind your fellow chicken keepers about protecting their hens! For more ideas, visit the Dare 2 Dream Farms Forum.