Repurposing an Old Structure


Jennifer Quinn

compost in shelter

After losing my geese a couple of months ago, I just shut up their shelter and didn’t go up there for quite a while, since it was up on a hill behind the house where I had no other reason to go.

The shelter was a chain-link enclosure to which I added a corrugated metal roof and covered the sides with tarps and clear plastic. There was already rat wire around the bottom when I inherited it, and I initially planned to house guinea fowl and maybe some chickens in there. But as it turned out, the rat wire didn’t prevent a raccoon and her young from getting the guineas, or chickens from sticking their necks out and getting killed. The enclosure worked fine as a night shelter for the geese, but I didn’t have an enclosed yard for them and they eventually fell prey to daytime coyote attacks.

Then one day I was up there and realized it was full of pine shavings and straw mixed with goose droppings, which would be a valuable addition to my compost. I had been thinking about a location for another compost pile, since I always have piles in different stages of breakdown. Suddenly I thought: Why don’t I just make a pile of this litter in here? It’s the perfect location, since it’s protected from the sun and rain, and I can build a pile without hauling this stuff off somewhere.

So here it is, and for the foreseeable future this structure will serve as a compost hut. The only drawback is that when I want to add new materials — like kitchen scraps, or litter removed from the chicken coop — I have to march it up the hill. But at least it’s only small amounts to carry. There’s plenty of room for turning the pile, and once it’s done I can just go up there when I need some. After a week or so it was already heating up.

Now, my dream is to have a couple of miniature goats to put in there, but on my current budget that just doesn’t seem possible. Maybe I should do a GoFundMe campaign?

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