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Welcome! I created this site to share what we've done, talk about what we plan to do, and exchange ideas with other folks who are on the same path as us. Join us in the fun of living at Chickaree Hill Farm!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Reducing your household waste

When we got chickens last year, I was so happy that our leftover or scrap food could be fed to them.  I really hate wasting food, and I didn't realize just how much food was routinely thrown out until we started saving the leftovers for them.  (Mind you - we eat leftovers for lunch during the week, so I am talking more about scraps).

Composting was another challenge.  Over the years, we had tried to be true to composting uncooked kitchen waste.  We bought the cute ceramic container that is supposed to make it so convenient to compost.  It ended up not getting dumped often enough (yuck!) and then one day one of the ceramic knobs broke off. We tried different types of containers but nothing really "stuck."  Usually each spring, we would compost for about 1-2 months and then give up.

This year was different.  We did a couple of things to keep us motivated - maybe some of these ideas will help you too!

  • First, we moved the compost pile closer to "home."  We used to have one large pile out in one of our back fields and it was a good 8 minute trek round-trip.  Now we have three smaller bins right near the chicken coop.  Since we walk out to the coop a few times each day anyway, it is no big deal to take the compost out.
  • I keep two small containers in one of the wells of my kitchen sink - one for the chickens, and one for the compost.  They are open so that I can see what is inside and they get emptied when they are full or have been there a while.  The rule is they get emptied at least once a day!  Nothing is left there overnight.  This keeps the grossness factor way down!
Here is a list of things that you can typically put in your compost pile from the kitchen:
  • fruit/vegetable peelings
  • coffee grounds
  • tea bags
  • overripe fruits and vegetables
This compares to what you might give to your chickens:
  • leftover raw or cooked vegetables or fruits
  • dairy - yogurt, cream cheese, sour cream, etc.
  • breads
  • cooked meat - beef, pork, fish, chicken (yes, it sounds gross, but they love meat ...)
You can see that between the two bins, hardly any food is thrown away!  There are a few things that you shouldn't feed chickens - onions and peppers (strong flavors might affect the taste of the eggs) and avocados (makes them VERY sick), to name a few.  They also don't usually like citrus fruits, but maybe there are some chickens out there who do.

When there is something from the kitchen that could go in either bin, I always choose the chickens, since it has a more direct benefit to me.  Feeding them kitchen scraps lowers the amount of commercial food that they eat, which helps to save money!

It's funny ... because now that we have greatly reduced the amount of unused waste from our kitchen, I am struck when I am visiting other people's houses at how much is thrown away.  I can't help but think "if only my chickens were here!" 

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