I was over at a friend's house the other day. She has over an acre of land, lovely organic gardens and the world's most perfect compost & worm bin. I love that she has an acre of land and I adore all that food that she is able to grow (more than just a few tomato and bean plants.) But people, I am downright envious of her compost bin.
Laugh if you will, but I came home almost in tears that day. Things have just felt so frustrating on our little quarter acre. This downtown property just isn't set up for extensive veggie gardens, chickens and ducks. But, I've done all of that anyway. Oh, how many hours are spent on just keeping things from getting totally unruly because not only do I want it to be a farm, I want it to be beautiful. And, well, with ducks on the lawn all day and chickens in the chard, it's just not as easy as you might think.
The coop is now big enough to leave the birds in for a good chunk of the day, but no matter what, when I do let the chickens out to free range for that one or so hours, they are going to poop somewhere inconvenient and eat something they shouldn't. It's what they do. They're kind of very insensitive like that. Rude as hell. Half our growing veggies are jailed up in chicken wire and garden fencing. It bothers Brad because ultimately, the chickens and ducks should have their own huge space. I agree. But I gotta let 'em run around just a little. The Brad says: Damn it woman! The coop is as big as a one bedroom apartment! I say: Would you like to never be let out of your one bedroom apartment? When he asks me what it would take to never let them out in the yard, I tell him: a two bedroom apartment. But he knows I'm lying. After he builds a two-bedroom apartment size coop I'll want it to be three bedrooms. (My chickens need a fenced quarter acre to themselves. That is what I really feel.)
To make it all the worse, our compost sucks. I've been waiting and waiting for my "black gold" but it just hasn't materialized. My friend has "black gold," I have "brown crap." Our compost is still a solid mess of what is clearly too many "brown" ingredients (such as straw from the coop.) My friends compost is oh so perfect. Fully decomposed, a huge freaking vat of it, with worms just having the time of their life in there. I have full on compost envy.
Anyway, things are what they are, and also, there is always more that can be done. That is one thing I know.
So, yes, I came home almost in tears over compost. But after a nice talk with The Brad about everything, we set out the next day to make things better on our little farm. We splurged at the nursery (which we never truly allow ourselves to do) and purchased a bunch of 5 gallon drought resistant plants to fill in certain gaps in the yard. We bought compost (grrrr) and I re planted a badly suffering portion of our veggie garden. We bought a new (big) blueberry bush, made plans to put our little apple tree from a pot into the ground, put up fencing to keep the ducks off the porch area, tossed out things like rotting shoes and decomposing wood chairs and then The Brad power washed the outside of the house (which made it look like we have a new paint job. GOD I love The Brad.) On top of all that I bought used bricks from the hardware store and began finishing a little landscaping idea I've had for about 2 years (I'll show you pics next week.)
Today I will be dumping out all that compost that just won't break down and starting all. over. again. (Yes, I've tried everything to make it break down, please just let me start over the right way.) The Brad even said he'll build me a worm bin if I want. So, I guess you could say things are looking up. It takes time and planning and trial and error and even then, sometimes, on a 1/4 acre downtown property with 6 chickens, 2 ducks, 3 dogs, 1 cat and 4 humans...it's gonna be a challenge. I get it. I won't ever come anything close to quitting, mind you...but I do get it.