Back when we started raising
our own broilers, Mark and I had a difference of opinion about what to
do with the guts and heads. I wanted to toss them down the
outhouse hole, figuring why dig an extra hole in a random location when
we'd already decided to consolidate high nitrogen waste near the roots
of fruit trees. Mark thought it was disrespectful to poop on top
of decapitated chicken heads, and he was also worried about smell (a
problem with our outhouse 1.0).
The way our marriage
works, if we disagree and both feel strongly about the matter, we table
it until one or the other of us changes our minds. On the other
hand, if one feels strongly and the other doesn't, the former generally
wins. (This is an excellent way to keep a marriage together, if
not the best way to get things done.) Since Mark cared more than
I did about the chicken waste (and since he was going to be the one
digging the extra holes), we buried our chicken guts, feathers, and
heads for a couple of years.
This summer, I snuck a composting
toilet onto our farm. Mark felt pretty strongly that he
didn't want to be handling human waste, but I talked him around by
redesigning the structure so no one will be touching fecal matter until
it has decomposed for at least a year. Finding a
source of sawdust made the composting toilet a much easier sell
since the structure now meant that not only would Mark no longer have
to dig holes to China (outhouse holes), but also that our manure would
be covered with a high carbon layer that would keep down smells and
Now I was ready to reopen the
issue of composting the waste from our broilers, and I was happy to
discover that Mark no longer felt strongly about the issue of combining
chicken remains with human manure. I think several years of
farming has changed the idea of high nitrogen inputs from "waste" to
"nutrient source" for both of us, and we were just concerned that the
meaty compost would attract critters. So Mark screwed an extra
board to the side of the composting toilet as a temporary barrier and I
topped the feathers and heads off with extra sawdust, and the problem
was solved. No more waste stream!
Our chicken waterer makes it easy
to raise healthy chickens on pasture since it never spills.
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