Nearly two months ago this small four-foot square garden bed was just a box and some dirt. Today it’s a box full of kale, chard, lettuce, and flowers for beneficial insects. It feeds my family, local bees, our chickens, and adds beauty to the community. It’s small but very valuable.
I believe that being thankful for small things is a necessary prerequisite before one can be thankful for larger things. Being thankful for having a small plot of land, a box of dirt, a packet of seed, being thankful for these things leads to being thankful for the harvest it bears no matter how small it may be.
On our urban homestead, we have three laying hens. Over the weekend I spent a couple of hours mucking out their pen. We’ve been using free leaves from the city for their bedding and in return, the hens have given us nearly a half-yard of well-shredded compost material.
Mucking is often considered a tedious, dirty chore. Yet, there is a direct relationship between pen mucking and building healthy soil. The soil in which we grow food and medicine to nourish and heal ourselves. In addition mucking is physical work, a nourishment unto itself.
Compost sifter built from recycled materials. | Rajab/Spring 1438.
If you have ever sifted compost, the finished, fine material is delightful. It contains life-giving nutrients and microorganisms. It nourishes the garden soil, therefore, it nourishes the gardener.
Before sifting, compost is rough uneven material, often called a heap. It contains the past lives of kitchen scraps, fallen leaves, animal bedding, and less frequently, the carcass of a small animal. The heap heats, decomposition begins, and the microorganisms appear. Compost transforms death into life.