The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Leaves in chicken tractors

Chicken tractor full of leaves.Our chickens are pretty self-sufficient as long as the temperature doesn't get too far below freezing.  We've been known to leave them for up to four days with just an extra automatic chicken waterer and a few scoops of feed sprinkled over the ground.  The only problem with leaving them alone for so long is that they scratch the ground up pretty badly, and in rainy weather the soil turns into a morass of mud.

Before heading out on our cruise, I decided to try a different tactic.  I begged Mark to rake me up a bunch of leaves, and I filled each tractor with a mountain of organic matter.  When we returned a week later, each mountain had sunk to a mole hill of shredded leaves well mixed with chicken poop, but the ground wasn't muddy despite an inch and a half of rain.  I'm emulating the traditional Guatemalan method of using this combination as a well-balanced soil amendment, though I plan to use the poopy mass as mulch on my garlic beds rather than working it into the soil.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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