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E-M:/ more on back yard composting

Enviro-Mich message from "FOLK" <folk@mail.portup.com>

There seems to be alot of discussion these last few weeks on E-M about
In the spring of 96, the Sierra Club "CUP" newlsetter called for letters on
successfull composting. I wrote and sent in the following.....
(So, if you remember reading it their newletter, forgive the repeat.)

Re: "Compost tip" for CUP
I read with interest, the recent CUP news on composting (along with all
the other great articles).  I too have been composting now for some years
near our garden.  We have a small, rather unattended garden in the back
of our rural home. At the edge of the garden, we have a 55 gallon drum
barrel which has been cut in half (we found it on our property). This is
compost bin.
Next to my sink in the house, I keep an old "Cool Whip" container
with a bread sack inside (with the top of the sack pulled around the edge
the container).  We fill this sack with all the kitchen scrapes. Although
we don't eat much meat,  the grease and meat scrapes are put into a metal
soup type can next to the sac.  If you don't cover these containers, they
will not stink if emptied  a couple times a week;  more often in the
The sack is handy because it gives us something to carry the scraps in
out to the garden  (we then throw the old sack away) and the container in
the house stays clean, and ready for another sack.
  The interesting thing, is  that my compost pile actually feeds a
large population of birds, as much as it does my garden!  Within hours of
emptying out a sack full of scraps or setting out  the can of meat/grease,
most of it has been carried away by crows, ravens and bluebirds and some by
resident chipmunks.  I place the can of meat/grease some feet away from
the other scraps but the birds love it, after they have emptied it part
way, they try to carry the can away.  It is great fun to watch the birds
to fly with such a heavy can in their beak!
  After the local open dumps were closed, we noticed many more seagulls
around the water.  But the crows must keep the local seagulls away from
our pile because we have only seen the gulls come near the pile just twice
in a number of years. (Even though there are hundreds of gulls waiting,
within sight, in the summer  to be fed by the Native fishing boats which
appear to be unloading their daily fish wastes into the bay.  With so many
they must eat it all as soon as it hits the water.)
  The birds do leave some scraps for the garden compost such as
banana and orange peels and corn husks etc.  To help these remains compost,
add worms to the compost bin. When we find worms on the sidewalk after a
rain; we pick them up and put them in the compost bin (rather than die when
the water on the sidewalk dries up).
  Several times we hung out  a suet sack with seeds for the birds
(purchased from the grocery) they quickly were disintegrated. One day, 
to our surprise,  we saw what had happened to them; we saw a deer standing
on his hind legs licking it!
  So even though our plans to feed our garden are eaten by the birds,
and our plans to feed the birds were eaten by the deer, our compost efforts
have been great source of entertainment!!

Connie Julien, in the Keweenaw

PS. Today is April 9th (1996) and there is 3 feet of snow under our current
"compost" and since we emptied a sack full out this morning, we have
seen it  nearly disappear with all the birds as I write this!  Even though
there is no other sign of spring in sight, seeing all these birds, makes us
think spring in our heart!!
   I didn't get this sent yet, and today is April 29th (1996) and the the
yard is still at least half covered with snow (with more expected tonight)
can now see we should have put a stake where our compost barrel was so we
wouldn't miss it all winter long when we couldn't see where it was
under all the snow. (As of today, we have had over 317 inches of snow this
year!) Now that I see the mess in the yard, I remember thinking the same
last year-- maybe I'll remember this fall to stake it!

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