Compost Chronicles | To the coop!

Ready to compost at home but not sure how to get started? Check out Brianne’s compost “bin” that exists in her animal coop! She’s got a system that incorporates everyone in her family including humans and pets.

The Compost Chronicles series highlights families in various circumstances who have all found a way to compost at home that works for their lifestyle. Hopefully, you can be inspired to give it a go and help our planet become a little healthier.

Did you know that composting can transform your trash into new life? And that new life, in the form of microbes, fungi, earthworms, and more, provides the foundation for much of all other healthy life on Earth?

Composting is a great way to create healthy soil to support people and our planet. Healthy soil is also a magical carbon sink that absorbs carbon from our atmosphere and helps cool the planet. While dead dirt has few living organisms, a teaspoon of healthy soil has more living organisms in it than the entire population of humans on Planet Earth!

We need everyone to learn how to compost at home and make it a part of everyday life.

Don’t think you can compost? We’ve got a whole set of resources on Everything To Know About How To Compost At Home, including more Compost Chronicles interviews. All of this information about how to compost at home will hopefully prove that just about anyone can make space and find a system to turn their food scraps into nutrient-rich compost to enrich our soil, feed our food cycle, and limit the food waste that ends up in landfills.

Meet Brianne.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself, where you live, your family, etc…? 

My name is Brianne Krysiak. I’m a Canadian native currently living in the suburbs of Philadelphia with my American husband, four kids (8, 5, 3 & 1), two dogs + chickens, ducks & geese.  My family is my focus, and it certainly keeps me busy.  I also coach my son’s ice hockey team and help coach my daughter’s hockey team as well.

Tell us a little bit about why you decided to start composting. 

In Canada, composting is common.  Most people compost to some degree and have compost bins in their backyards. In my hometown of Aurora, Ontario, growing up we had a “green bin” in addition to garbage and recycling. It was picked up a couple of times a week along with garbage (once a week) and recycling (twice a week).  To me, composting is like putting away your dishes after your meal. It’s just part of the cleanup process. Having animals and attempting to acquire a green thumb also prove composting is important.  

What method or methods of composting do you use or have you used?

We use our discarded fresh fruits & vegetable scraps and give them to our hens, ducks, and geese (along with other compost that is safe for them to consume).  We clean out the coop and put the manure either into our compost bin or directly on some young trees we planted.  We also mix the manure with our garden’s soil when its season is over. 

If you had any methods that didn’t work for you, can you share what happened and why it wasn’t a good fit for you? 

We have a “tea extractor” on our compost bin that we don’t use often because it seems simpler to use a shovel to mix everything around than to wait for small amounts of extract.  Perhaps in the future, we will use it more.

How do you store the scraps until they are taken to your poultry or compost pile?

We have a small compost bin with a lid and filter on it.  Scraps usually get sent out to the coop at least a couple of times a day, so there isn’t much sitting around.  

Have you had any issues with animals or pests getting into your compost pile or your chicken coop?

Snakes sometimes find their way into our compost bin.  Our solution is that I never deal with the compost bin because I don’t do snakes, haha.  We have had [likely] raccoons be able to dig away and free an old cob of corn from the coop, but it wasn’t ever much of an issue.  We simply refill any soil that has been moved.  With our new coop, we haven’t had any problems aside from one of our dogs sometimes getting into their scraps when they are free ranging.  

Do you have any special tools, containers, or products that help make composting easier or more accessible for you? 

I really like the little compost bin we use to keep the scraps.  It is a decent size but isn’t too large to sit on our kitchen island. The location makes it accessible even for our small children to fill.  A wheel barrow is also essential for transporting manure and compost.  We keep it simple. 

Do you have any other supplies that you store until you need to add them to your compost pile?

We use straw for bedding in the coop which we store in our garage/shed.  This gets mixed into their manure which we use and compost.

How does your family feel about composting?

Our family has been quite good about composting.  The animals certainly make it more fun for the kids.  When they clear their plates, they know what food items can and cannot go in the bin for the coop, and they enjoy bringing the animals their delicious scraps. 

Have you experienced any benefits from composting, especially ones that might have surprised you? 

Yes!  We notice the quality and quantity of eggs go up with the addition of scraps (vs when we don’t have as many scraps to offer) and the animals certainly enjoy them. The manure has helped a couple of sad young trees we planted after adding it to their soil.  

Anything else you’d like to share with readers about your composting practices, especially to help beginners gain confidence that they too can compost?

Composting is simple.  I’d recommend having a bin for compost that is easily accessible in your kitchen that can quickly and easily store compost.  Then put this waste into a simple compost bin outside (or even a bucket with a lid).  It could be added as a part of your morning routine: dump the kitchen compost bin into the outside compost bin at the same time you run out for the mail.  Something so simple can make an impact.  You can make an impact. 

Jen Panaro

Jen Panaro, founder and editor-in-chief of Honestly Modern, is a self-proclaimed composting nerd and an advocate for sustainable living for modern families. In her spare time, she’s a serial library book borrower, a messy gardener, and a mom of two boys who spends a lot of time in hockey rinks and on baseball fields.

You can find more of her work at Raising Global Kidizens, an online space to help parents and caregivers raise the next generation of responsible global citizens.

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