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

Chicken-bone biochar

Chicken-bone biochar

Chicken bones have been a problem on our farm for years.  I like to stew them up to make delicious broth, but after that, the bones are too brittle to be safely fed to Lucy.  And if we put the bones anywhere except deep underground...Lucy finds them!  Some weeks, I'd decide not to cook one of our delicious homegrown chickens because I didn't want to deal with the bones.

Burning bones

But I recently saw on two different blogs where homesteaders were putting their chicken bones in the fire to make biochar.  Great idea!  It turns out that if I throw the wet mass of bones onto a strong fire in our wood stove just before it's time to damp it down, the bones quickly turn into a crumbly form that I suspect will have many of the benefits of biochar (with none of the succulent smell that attracts Lucy).  We always sift our wood-stove ashes to salvage the charcoal for the garden, so the bone char will be put to good use.

The solution is so simple, I can't figure out why I didn't think of it before!  I guess I'd better thaw out one of those chickens in the freezer....

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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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I've been processing bones for garden use on my homestead for years now They're a good source for phosphorous. Before letting my woodstove fire urn out, I'll just set the bones atop the coals. Chicken bones treated this way will crumble easily by hand. I also burn all bones including cattle. They're a good soil amendment
Comment by Su Ba Sun Feb 9 15:23:12 2014

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