Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Things You Might Find When Tilling

We decided that Monday would be a great day to clean out the chicken pen. It was cool and beautiful, and Hubby was home for most of the day.

The last time we cleaned the pen it was spring--mucky, yucky, gross, stinky work!

This time it wasn't bad at all! We had spread old straw under the coop, which is really a big cage covered with tarps. The pen was dusty, but all the poo came up easily with the straw. It's been dry for a few months, so everything was much easier to clean this time.

We shoveled all the poo from under the coop and dumped it in a few low spots in the pasture. Then we decided to till the rest of the pen instead of shoveling. In the fall we line the pen with pine needles because they don't compact and the pen doesn't get as stinky. The pine needles don't turn into a mushy mud puddle, either. So, in the winter we use pine needles, then in the summer we throw the old straw and hay in there just for a little bit more bedding.

Everything was mostly decomposed and dry so we thought it would be easiest to till it instead of shoveling. We've lived in this house for 15 years and have never tilled the chicken pen. Not very long after Hubby started tilling he found some old tire chains and a bunch of baling wire. Apparently it had been buried deep enough that we had never shoveled it out, but it was not deep enough for the tiller to miss.

It took us half an hour to get the chains off the the left side of the tines, and the wire unwrapped from the right side of the tines. And mixed in with all of that was some baling twine! What a mess! The wire and chains had sheared off two bolts from the tiller, too.

It took Hubby longer to get the tiller running again than it did to till the pen. But it was worth it in the end. The pen looks and smells much nicer. It's bedded down with old straw and shavings again. And the chickens can still scratch through the straw to the soft dirt below.

In a few months, when friends start cleaning out under their pine trees, we'll bring our pick-up over and help. We'll fill the bed of the truck with pine needles. Then we'll bed the chicken pen down for the winter with pine needles.

Two things that we will do next year are 1) wait until the pen is dry before we clean it out, and 2) use the tiller instead of the shovel.

And I think we'll run the big magnet over the whole pen before we use the tiller, just to be on the safe side.

1 comment:

~Tonia said...

Oh wow!! Interesting about the pine needles.. I wonder if cedar woudl work the same way..
We have been planting different things and dug deeper than normal and found neat bottles other stuff. But the chains like that would be a little aggravating.