Sunday, September 16, 2012

Slappin' it together.

I think building a legit chicken coop has made us pretty confident in the power of a hammer and nail.  'Cause when we realized we needed a compost bin, we slapped one together like it was easy as pie. 

In the old place, we had a corner of our yard that had a concrete wall that was perfect for a compost pile.  It was pretty big, and made it really easy to just toss whatever we needed composted into the corner.  It was accessible to the ladies to turn it while looking for worms, which made it a pretty good system.

Unfortunately, the new place has no such corner.  So we had to build a compost bin.  We though about buying one, but they're pretty expensive.

We started with a piece of grape stake fencing that we originally picked up as possible material to build the coop.  It was pretty old and rotten on the edges, so we cut off the ends of the vertical slats down to the 2x4 cross pieces.  This got rid of the rotten parts while maintaining stability.

Brackets, random pieces of plywood, nails, screws...
Then we cut the whole thing into 3 pieces to make the back and 2 sides of the box.  Those were secured together with random brackets and things we had lying around.

We really just slapped it together.  It's pretty rickety.  I wouldn't trust the stability even for a doghouse.
At this point we decided to move it to it's permanent home since it was still light enough to move.  But in order to do that, we needed to do some concrete work.  I had never laid any concrete, but Shawn had, and my dad is quite the home concrete-laying veteran, so we were able to pour a slab down in no time.  We decided a concrete slab was necessary since on the other side of the fence is a veritable wall of blackberry bushes that I wanted to prevent from growing into my compost. 

And what happened right after we poured it?  The cats walked in it of course!!!
Once the stab was dry and set 2 days later, we moved the incomplete bin to it's final destination.  I was a little sad to say goodbye to the cute little kitty footprints.

Next we tacked on a piece of plywood 10 inches from the bottom to create the front wall.  A second piece of plywood was cut to (semi) fit the bottom part.  This way, instead of digging down to the finished compost next year, we would have a door for instant access to the black gold when we need it.  The door is made so that it can be slid in and out (up and down).  This was done by tacking on two small pieces of wood into each corner to hold the board in place.  The current board we're using isn't quite the right size, and we do have some plywood that we can cut to fit, but we'll get to fixing that when we get around to it.  The key was getting this whole thing made quickly so we could actually put stuff in it, since chickens keep pooping whether you have a compost bin or not.

This was a few weeks ago.  It's way fuller now.
The last part of construction was to attach a roof to the top with some hinges so we can easily open it up and drop stuff inside.  The plywood we used for the roof is pretty thin so it's really easy to open it with your elbow when you have a handfull of stuff you need to throw in. 

So there you go.  Who knows how long the actual bin will last, but for now we have a place to put all the chicken crap, garden garbage, and food scraps.  We've been watering it down every few weeks to maintain moisture and promote decomposition, and we'll probably turn it here soon to see how things are looking towards the bottom.  I'm happy to say that all the materials that went into the construction of this bin was stuff we had lying around so basically we got a compost bin for free, plus some elbow grease.  Oh wait, we did have to buy the concrete.  So we got a compost bin for $15 plus some elbow grease.  Still a good deal.

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