• helpinghensfarmri

Run Muck Revisited

Updated: May 3, 2020

If you saw our posted Run Muck? What Luck?, then you know we've been leveraging a damp spot of our run for some extra protein for the flock and a little exercise for the farmer. Well, today was a nice spring Sunday, so the boy and I headed out to the run to work on things a bit more.

The muck has a bit of a smell due to the anaerobic (without oxygen) way the damp area is decomposing. It's not a great way to compost, although the volume of worms I'm finding in the muck is staggering. I figured we' may keep the worms and remove the muck and smell by composting.

So, we started digging and piling. To help cut down on the smell, we added extra carbon in the form of 9 barrels of leaves from the neighbors yard. We started with two barrels of leaves and then a layer of muck, and alternated layers of leaves and mucks until the pile got...quite a bit taller than I expected.

Here's the start of the pile:

Getting bigger:

One of our Polish playing king (well, queen) of the mountain:

As you can see, that pile is getting pretty sizable...actually quite a bit taller than I expected. The worm load is huge, and the flock was climbing, scratching, and gorging themselves as we were building. I was surprised by the number of sprouts we were digging up, as well. I expect most of them were oak or maple trees, although I'm sure some were volunteer seeds brought in with veggie scraps.

We dug out quite a bit of the mucky area out to make that pile. It's amazing how deep the area was....probably a foot or more in places, and generally we were digging down a minimum of 6 inches. My son was working a pick ax and I was using my compost fork, which can be seen in this picture and was a Valentine's present.

We threw some shavings down over the formerly mucky area. Wood chips would have been better, but we wanted to get something down to soak up the moisture and the shavings were easy.

And no, I don't expect that area to stay nearly that neat for long.

We didn't get the muck all removed, but got most of the remaining muck stirred up enough that the hens were happily working it over.

Since I was already in the run and dirty, I cleaned out one of the coops and added that carbon to the compost pile:

One more barrel of leaves and the pile is complete for today:

I'm hoping that the new compost pile will keep the chickens entertained and snacking on worms, sprouts, and other assorted creepy crawlies and biota. I'm also hopeful that piling and aerating it will help it break down aerobically, to cut down on the odors and speed the process of turning into rich compost.

With a little luck, the mucky area of the coop won't be quite as mucky. It was nice to see how much organic matter we've added to the area over the last few years. I think I saw more worms in a single forkful of muck than the entire property had on it when we moved here!

Anyway, all in all a great day. Less run muck, more chicken feed, lots of father/son time and lots of fresh air and exercise!

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