I needed to get some more straw into it, so as I filled the Geobin, I incorporated the last of last year's straw bale in with the compost. My friend Rae helped me out recently by hauling four bales of straw for me, which are keeping dry in the garage. Those are hopefully going to cover my carbon needs for the rest of this year. (I'm sure the neighbors think I've lost my mind and went full farmer whenever they look in the garage and see four bales stacked up.) I have a separate, new garbage can that's never held garbage in it, and I keep my dry carbon in it. Last fall I started it with dry leaves from The Biggest Sweet Gum Known To Mankind, which I put through my shredder. Then last weekend, I topped off my carbon barrel with some shredded straw.
|Shredding straw in the garage|
The idea here is to render the carbon smaller so that it will decompose more quickly, because I need lots of compost fast. I've read that fast compost is not as fertile as slow compost, but I'm not as worried about soil fertility at this point as I am incorporating organic material into my native clay. I can always fertilize with a variety of organic methods. To me, compost is the absolute gold I need for turning the backyard into ground with good tilth that will feed us.
The carbon barrel is outside now, parked next to the compost piles. Going forward, we'll add more carbon to the working pile as we add compostables from the kitchen. I've instructed Steve not to add anything to the resting pile in the Geobin; I'm going to let that finish, and I'm hoping that it will be done by the time the seed potatoes show up in April. The compost and carbon barrel are going to be key for growing potatoes, and I'll post about that later.
|Shredded on the left, regular straw on the right|
In the meantime, I have a question for you keepers of chickens. I've read that pine shavings are the best thing on which to raise chicks. I've also read that the silly little dears eat pine shavings. Here is a picture of the shredded straw next to straw that hasn't been shredded. The shredded straw is pretty small, and broken up. Do you think that shredded it would make decent bedding for chicks? Or do I really have to make the investment into pine shavings?
I've also read that chicks stir up a lot of dust. Where did you raise your chicks? I'm thinking about putting them in the garage, but I'm concerned about the car. Would backing the car out of the garage be enough exhaust to make them sick? I've also read chickens have very sensitive lungs. We don't idle the car in the garage, but it does smell pretty bad just backing it out. I can think of only one other place to raise them, but I'm concerned about the dust since it would be in the house.
What do you think?