Sunday, December 30, 2018

My Secret for Finishing Compost

Like any other grownup, I have many chores that I do on a regular basis. Dishes, laundry, yard work, bills, etc. The cyclical list goes on and on. As a parent, I often do these things automatically without thinking about having my kids help.

This past weekend, when I had to rotate my compost and chip it up, it was not automatic that I asked my kids to help out. In fact, it was only on a whim that I asked when my wife was heading out with my middle daughter. And I was somewhat surprised that both my oldest daughter and my son enthusiastically agreed to help out.

I rounded up some extra eye protection and hearing protection, pulled out the ever reliable Patriot wood chipper, and we got the party started.

**CAUTION: A wood chipper is a very complex and dangerous piece of equipment. While I use extremely close supervision with my children, a chipper is not a piece of equipment that should be operated by any child.

I realized years ago that running my compost through my chipper breaks up all of the large bits. Mango pits, egg shells, pineapple tops, avocado pits, and everything else gets pulverized, and my compost ends up beautiful. My kids thoroughly enjoyed pouring buckets of compost into the chipper, and Little E loved finding branches to drop in. Additionally, we discovered that the Patriot chipper does a phenomenal job of breaking up wood bark.

I've done a lot of wood cutting over the past few months (blog about that coming soon), and I ended up with a massive bin of bark. Not knowing what to do with it, I have been adding to the bin regularly. With the kids helping with the chipping, we decided to drop some small pieces of bark into the chipper to see how it would handle them. It shredded the bark like a champ. With three of us working, we had enough hands to break up the bark into manageable pieces.

We got in a groove, with Big E pouring buckets of compost into the chipper, Little E breaking up small branches and bark, and daddy shredding branches and supervising. We moved like a well oiled machine, and in no time we had finished the job. And the funny thing is that, for the first time ever with my chipper, we did not overload it to the point of tripping the breaker.

I realized something with this chore. In all of the times that my kids have "helped" with yard work, this was the first time that things seemed to be more efficient. As they have been learning to help, the chores typically go slower as I show them how to do what they need to do. But with the compost this weekend, our efficiency as a team was everything that I have been dreaming of for years.

I had a great time with my kids, they got to play in the dirt and get filthy, we got a chore done that had been hanging over my head for several weeks, and our garden got some well-deserved nutrients. I have a new team to help the next time I fire up the chipper with yard waste.

What new chore can I pull my kids into before they go back to school...

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