This blog is mainly a rambling kind of diary of the transition from smallholderwannabe to smallholder.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

We have been collecting leaves.  Last year I collected some and was occasionally accompanied by an unwilling husband.  Two of us together got far more collected in a MUCH shorter time.  We put them in the runs for the hens.  There is no grass left in their half of the garden because they have scratched up every last blade.  When it rains, the water does not drain easily or quickly from our heavy clay soil and I would often come home from work to find the poor things paddling up to their ankles in rainwater. The leaves just keep their feet up out of the water a bit.  Besides they absolutely love turning the leaves over and over and scratching through them in the hope of finding a tasty bug or two. After a week, the leaves are just a big pile of crumbs and we rake them up and put them in the compost heap where they rot down much more quickly than full size leaves.  What you might call a win-win situation.  And leaves are a free resource too.  A fringe benefit is that since the top covering of leaves and any poop is removed every week, the hens are not directly on the ground, so if it is really wet weather at the weekend, we have the option of leaving them on that bit of ground for a second week before moving the runs.  Unless they have a huge space to run around in, the hens need to be moved regularly on to fresh ground to stop the soil going a bit sour which promotes disease.  If it is pouring with rain, sweeping up last week's leaves and emptying a fresh bag into the run takes way less time than moving the run.  If it is raining heavily on the second weekend, then we are in trouble : (

This year, when I tentatively suggested that we pop out and sweep up a few leaves from the pavement by our house (lots of trees nearby) I had an enthusiastic "yes - they've been so useful this last year".  I was struck dumb for at least a second or two.  Mind you, the enthusiasm has worn off a bit now that we have gathered up 115 bags of leaves.  Using them at the rate of 4 bags a week, that will do us six months so a few more would be good but not crucial.  I've been recycling uncollected charity bags as well as some green bags and I've also got some bags left from last year which can be reused.  You wouldn't believe the space that 115 bags take up in the garden. I have happy neighbours because I've swept up the leaves from their housefronts too.

Over the summer, we also collected up all the woody prunings from shrubs or wherever and put them through the shredder.  We have a dozen bags of these shreddings to be kept for sprinkling on top of frozen ground or snow.  The leaves freeze as well as the ground and the hens like something unfrozen underfoot.

So, happy hens and happy neighbours and the only cost involved is a little effort.



  • At 1:11 AM, Anonymous janie said…

    Wowsers, surely 115 bags takes more than a little effort though?? Hats off to you both, you have very lucky chooks ;o)


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