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A three-part food disposal system. September 11, 2014

Posted by ourfriendben in Ben Franklin, chickens, critters, gardening, homesteading, pets, wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood here. There’s nothing as demoralizing as wasting food, but we all do it. It’s not just a shame, but a sin, when people all over the globe, people in our own cities, are going hungry. Yet we’ve all had the experience of opening our vegetable drawer and finding produce that’s past its prime, or discovering a container of leftovers that makes us go “Eeeeewww!!!,” or looking forward to our morning toast and finding a moldy loaf of bread (sob).

No worries, this food needn’t go to waste. Our friend Ben and I have a three-part food-disposal system that takes care of pretty much everything. Well, actually, I guess it’s four-part. The first line of defense is our black German shepherd, Shiloh, and our yellow-naped Amazon parrot Plutarch. They do a pretty decent job of eating scraps of cheese, veggies, chips, nuts, and the like.

The second line of defense is our flock of six heritage-breed chickens. They’ll eat that moldy bread, overripe tomato, leftover rice or pasta, wilted greens, or what-have-you with relish. The only thing I’ve ever seen chickens reject is zucchini. If that’s not a statement, I don’t know what is.

Then there’s our earthworm composter. Earthworms also love leftover fruits, salad greens, and veggies, but they’ll also eat things like coffee grounds and tea bags, turning them into rich fertilizer for greenhouse and garden plants.

Finally, there are our compost bins. We can put anything in them, with these exceptions: diseased plants, meat, dairy, grease. Diseased plants will contaminate the compost, infecting whatever you put it on, while the other contaminants will attract rats and other vermin to your compost bins. I’d also advise against putting weeds, especially weeds that can harm you like poison ivy or aggressive weeds like thistle that can spread throughout your garden, in your compost bins. Sometimes, the trash can is the only option.

However, between pets, chickens, earthworms, and the compost bin, a lot of potentially wasted food gets returned to the earth and enjoyed. I love to cook and use fresh seasonal produce, but I never feel guilty about eating out. OFB and I make a point of bringing every single thing we don’t eat home. I’ll bring a meal home that’s big enough for the two of us for another supper. OFB will bring his leftover French fries and half a bun home for the always-thrilled chickens. With our pets, our chickens, our earthworms, our compost bins, and, well okay, ourselves, there’s never an excuse to waste food. As our beloved hero and blog mentor, the great Benjamin Franklin, would say, “Waste not, want not.”

‘Til next time,




1. auntynini - September 11, 2014

I Totally get it! I used your system last year, but my problem was that 1. My chickens and dogs are way too picky for any old scraps and 2. My worm hole (a big mud section where I used to throw out scraps) was too close to the building housing the coops. My chicken coop building the winter before last, was overrun by rodents of various sizes enjoying warmth and a never-ending buffet.

Last fall, I moved all the old strawbales and used wood chips with seed n feed to the southside of the property – in a huge heap and I now throw scraps out there – basically to keep the wildlife on the other side of the tracks. This past winter, I found very few mice in the building and no rats… I think because I have successfully offered an acceptable solution (fingers crossed.) We’ll see if the system works this year.

Great Post!

Thanks auntynini! I’ve never had a mouse problem at the coop, but I did have yellowjackets (a particularly vicious species of wasp) nesting in there for years. Then, by God’s grace, they just stopped; I still don’t know why, but I’m extremely grateful. As for rat issues, I had a rat invasion in the chickenyard years ago, and was finally forced to resort to rat poison, which just killed me because the rats were friendly and personable and never hurt the chickens. There were simply too many of them, and I didn’t want them invading the neighbors’ properties. Now I keep a weather eye out for any sign of them, and make sure I give our chickens no more than they can eat in a day. What’s interesting is that no rats ever returned from the surrounding farms, where the first batch obviously came from. I think a few survivors must have made it back and spread the story of the terrors lurking back at that chicken place!

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