Friday, July 29, 2011

Chicken Lover Praises Shredded Paper

   Several weeks ago my personal assistant Handsome agreed to bring me some shredded paper from his office.  I requested it on a whim during one of those Hot Tub Summits, thinking it would spread nicely around plants in need of mulch, etc.  I had been experiencing trouble with weedy straw and needed a fresh approach.

   Two unexpected things happened:  First of all, Handsome brought me not just the one bag I mentioned, but four, all crammed in the hatchback of his two door show car.  That was just the first day.  Then he brought me five another day.  Then a week or so later he drove our pickup to the City in order to surprise me with another seven bags. 

   "That is a lot of shredded paper, Sir."
   "Yes, ma'am."

   That is just how he rolls.

   The second unexpected event was our gradual discovery of exactly how far one bag of Shred can go.  Ummm, FAR is the precise answer.  And it is extremely versatile around the farm too, making it my second favorite supply to keep on hand now, next to heavy cotton drop cloths.  More on that some other time.  Right now I am pretty jazzed up about Shred.

   I could rattle on for pages about its gardening applications, but your imagination can serve you just fine there.  It works, it is cool and different and environmentally friendly, enough said.  Instead, let me tell you about how good Shred is for chickens...

This Tomato with one of his rooster cohorts.
They are so patriotic.

   Yesterday evening I spent a few hours doing clean-up chores in the front paddocks of our place, including sprucing up the chicken yard, pond, and coop.  Cleaning the chicken coop used to be one of my least favorite chores, but now with Shred in my arsenal it is an enjoyable, rewarding task again.  Incredible!!  I feel like I am living a rural infomercial.

   If you keep chickens you MUST try filling their boxes with Shred instead of hay or straw.  Check it:
  • The edges of the paper strips are roughly textured, so it all sticks to itself really well.  It is very grabby.  This allows the soiled Shred to be lifted out in large, unmessy, almost weightless clumps.  I just hooked it with the tine of a small garden fork and Voila!  Clean.  The paper absorbs all of the droppings and even broken yolks, so you have virtually no extra clean up to do before refilling the boxes with more Shred.  AWE-some. 
  • The Shred definitely seems to attract and retain fewer bugs, too.  Even in this crazy heat!  HUGE bonus.
  • The glaring white of Shred is visually cooling in the concrete hen house.  I realize this may benefit only me and not the chickens, but I could have SWORN I heard Red talking to Lucy Loo about the new decor and how sexy it makes her feel.  And even if it only SORT OF feels cooler in there on a 108 degree afternoon, then I am a believer.
  • While handling the mountains of gifted Shred, I noticed that a handful could expand into twice or thrice the volume it appeared to possess.  This makes it not only economical (on top of being free) but also REALLY fun.  It is like playing with dry snow in the middle of an Oklahoma heat wave-slash-drought.
  • The dirty Shred is 100% biodegradable of course and so can still be composted right along with your kitchen scraps, other dry manures, etc.  In fact, it is arguably BETTER for your compost pile becuase it contains no weeds.  Especially if you have clay you'd like to bust up, I think the paper would be a good start.
  • Do you have allergies?  I bet you're less allergic to paper than you are to hay.
   So there you have it, six solid reasons to use Shred in your chicken coop rather than straw or hay.  Chances are you know someone with access to excessive amounts of this office byproduct.  Maybe you have a home shredding machine and a kid laying around with nothing to do; you can keep your kid busy, destroy sensitive financial documents, and keep your flock clean and healthy all in one quick project.

   If you try this, please let me know what you think.  I think it's jazzy.


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