By Brooks Paternotte, Executive Director
As I eagerly await the arrival of winter, I have started with my family to prepare our small farm for winter. This year, I insisted that we try a green spin on each of our fall chores to see if we can be even better stewards of our property.
Like many people, I view the task of disposing of leaves as tedious, time consuming and wasteful. Countless hours are spent blowing and bagging only to throw all of that great organic material into a landfill. The last few years we have decided not to do this and mulch them into the lawn instead. This provides nutrients and can help reduce your need for chemical fertilizers. We now allow the leaves in our flower beds to stay for the winter giving our perennials an added layer of protections and giving cover to all sorts of wintering critters.
The few loads of leaves we do collect go straight into the compost pile with our other yard waste and litter from our chicken coop. We also added the leaves, seeds and other debris from cleaning our gutters – great stuff. From the bottom of our compost pile I harvested several buckets of rich soil and sprinkled some around our azaleas, rhododendrons and young trees like our burr oak, ironwood and fringetree to give them nutrients for the winter.
One of my favorite chores this fall was the construction of a dog house for our three Labradors. We had recently needed to do some serious work on our barn to prevent it from falling down. During the project I insisted that we keep all salvageable materials such as corrugated metal and the character-rich wood siding.
I quickly went to work using the scraps of 2x4s and plywood to cobble together a frame. I moved the frame to the site and leveled it on cinder blocks I had salvaged from an old foundation. Using the red painted wood boards stripped from the barn, I covered the frame. Finally, I tacked few sheets of the old corrugated metal to the plywood roof. I even managed to reuse the nails I had pulled from the boards and metal. It was very satisfying to rescue all of these materials from certain doom in the landfill and give them new life on our little farm.
Most recently, I turned my attention to stocking our woodpile. As much as I love my hydraulic splitter helping me with this chore, I decided to do myself and the environment a favor this fall and try chopping more by hand. Using my ax I managed to spit most of my stockpile of bucked logs, only relying on the gas powered splitter for the toughest and heaviest. Not only did I save on gas and minimize noise and air pollution, I also got some great exercise!
So try a green spin on your chores this fall and let us know how it goes. If your experience is anything like mine, you will have a better looking yard and feel good about doing something for our environment.