compost happens

This is a busy little corner of our yard.  Hens cluck proudly after they lay, the compost pile occasionally gets turned, we chat with our backyard neighbor as she smokes high above us on her deck.... last Sunday, while Claire napped and Mike sat down for a few minutes to eat some lunch and relax after our morning of yard and garden work, I headed out to sift the compost.

Because it is truly one of the most meditative and calming things I know.

It starts out (as compost typically does) as a mix of our kitchen scraps, yard waste, and chicken poo and looks something like this:

and then we stop adding to that pile and turn it more often and after some time (weeks? a couple months?)  and lots of rain and sun and worms and billions of little microbes, it looks like this:

and then we shovel it onto the handy compost screen that Mike made and smush it all around to sift out the sticks and acorns and not-really-quick-to-compost compostable forks and what-have-you

and we are left with this:

which we use in our raised beds and as part of our soil mix (equal parts compost, vermiculite and rehydrated coconut coir) that we make up to start all sorts of green and growing goodness.

Ah, compost.  What lessons there are to be learned from you~

I love this poem from prairepoetry.org:

When I've left my husk and you've had your weep,
Toss me out on the compost heap.
Mix me in with the leaves and such
And sprinkle some water -- it won't take much.
Stir well with a fork, or whatever you've got,
Do what it takes to help me rot.

And when I've become a rich, dark soil
Plow me in, and I'll start my toil
Of nourishing worms, and likewise roots
And pushing up some tender shoots
Of grass, and veggies, and bushes and trees
Perches for birds, and banquets for bees.

I'll make plants fruit! I'll grow food for critters!
I'll raise up some corn, and you can make fritters!
It'll be lots of fun -- I can just hardly wait!
To nurture new life will really be great.
And I'll laugh at you some, if I get on your shirt
And you get annoyed and start calling me "dirt."

When dogs track me in Winter, my name will be Mud
But when Spring comes around, I'll be in each bud.
Hug a tree in the Summer, and pat on its bark,
Rest yourself in its shade -- say, "You're looking good, Mark!"
If you miss me in Autumn, well heck -- look around
I'll be in the leaves, the river, the ground.

Sprinkle me some where the wildflowers grow, and
I'll be in the trilliums, pushing up through the snow
And I'll be in the worms when the young robins feed
And provide a soft cradle for each dying plant's seed.
When a fish eats a worm (if the robins are sharin')
There's a good chance I'll fly in the wings of a heron.

Whatever you do, don't build me a tomb --
I haven't been bad! Don't lock me in a room!
I want to be free -- instead of riding my bike, I'll
Go out and pedal on Life's great cycle
And I'll get around, all over this Earth,
Following the path of life, death and rebirth.
L. Mark Finch


  1. gorgeous -- the compost and the poem. i'm trying to figure out how to deal with other types of animal poop. am thinking i should have a separate compost spot for that? what do you think?

    1. I am really quite pleased that after a few years of trying different things we seem to have our little system down~ 2 open 'bins' walled in with easily removable plywood boards, one bin for the pile that is finishing and one that is currently being added to. Turn, sift, apply. The chicken's coop is right there so it makes it so easy to just toss in their waste and any nasty bedding. Yes, I do think I'd compost the other animals' poop separately. I think the chicken waste breaks down more quickly and so it is more ideal to add to the regular compost pile. Not positive about that, but pretty sure. Past neighbors of ours had donkeys and they would pile the manure in one area and after it had a few months or so to break down pretty well then we'd add some in with our compost or turn it into the soil off season.

      Another thing we recently figured out was that if we piled our fall leaf piles into the chicken yard, after a few months they turn them into the most wonderful leaf mulch/compost that we can either use to mulch berries (ours are mostly oak leaves and the high acid content is good for berries) or to add into the raised beds.

      hope you're having fun out there living the good life!


thanks for taking the time to read and comment~