2021–In Praise of Chicken Excrement

Black Gold

When you get up early on New Year’s Day to feed the chickens, and the low temp is 67 F, something is seriously wrong. That something is Anthropogenic Climate Disturbance, aka Global Warming. It’s fine now, but the summer will be when the bill comes due.

There is one constant, however–the wonders of chicken excrement. Americans in general treat chickens like a protein machine, caged, abused, and thrown away and eaten at a very early age. Our flock of eight ramble around all day, eat greens and high protein food, and we get eggs by the dozen. Better, possibly is the giant piles of excrement, which I compost. I am just beginning to use it as fertilizer. It could be the GOAT (greatest of all time.)

Chicken excrement and I go way back. When I grew up on the old farm, that was our main fertilizer, and sometimes the only one. As it turns out, industrial scale chicken production produces industrial scale chicken stuff. We had tons of this stuff at a time, which means we had tons of vegetables, and pounds and pounds of beef–we fertilized the pastures with chicken stuff, and even had to buy a giant stuff spreader to be able to do it.

So the moral for this new year is, what goes around, comes around. I have been fertilizing my mustard greens with chicken stuff, and feed the greens to the chicks, and the egg quality just gets better. I composted my garlic plants (forty in total,) and they took off like weeds. I just layered my young asparagus patch with several inches of compost. I better get the asparagus steamer ready for spring.

Film at eleven.

Gamma Seal Lids

Ten Gallons for the Dogs

Though in general I hate all plastic products, occasionally one comes along that is actually useful. In this case it is the classic Gamma Seal lid, which turns those disposable and ubiquitous five gallon buckets into something valuable. We have storage now for all the dog food, chicken food, and wild bird seed that we can handle, and I’m talking about fifty pound bags of each, which is what we now purchase, mainly because we have these lids.

Keeping the Critters Fat and Happy

Boaters as well as country folk love these things, as they have an o-ring seal that makes them next to waterproof. Even though I literally have a closet full of Cascade Designs dry bags, which I now mainly use as luggage, these are the first choice for the canoe, in that they will hold-you’ll never guess-five gallons of junk.

The trick to properly installing these things onto a bucket is to have a nice heavy wooden mallet. It will still take some whacking on every side to get these properly seated. Once on, though, they are not likely to ever come off again.

The great French writer Roland Barthes asserted that “the quick change artistry of plastic is absolute: it can becomes buckets as well as jewels.” I will leave the plastic jewels for everyone else. I just want the buckets.