Autumn Leaves

In the fall in New England, I rake up the leaves that have fallen in my gardens and yard and move them out to the compost pile. Then I turn the pile, add horse manure, turn the pile, add kitchen scraps (no animal products except egg shells), turn the pile, turn the pile and turn the pile.  So that in a years time I can spread this compost over my gardens and lawn.  Maybe I should just leave them where they fall.


My chickens enjoy the raking.  They don’t get out as much as they use to, so this weekend was a treat for them.  If I was out raking, they were out helping.  They slow it down some because you have to be careful not to hit them with the rake.  Maybe helping isn’t quite right.  But they are good company and talking to the chickens looks better than talking to yourself.  I love watching them scramble for the creepy-crawlies that  I uncover.


Once the leaves are in piles they need to be moved to the compost area.  This has never been fun.  The wheelbarrow doesn’t hold enough leaves and raking them onto a tarp and then dragging this to the compost is way harder than you would think.  So some years back I made a cardboard tube that fits over my wheelbarrow giving it much taller sides.  I am amazed at how many leaves can be stuffed into this and easily wheeled away.


wood strips to support the cardboard sides

wood strips to support the cardboard sides


  1. What a clever idea for a wheelbarrow expansion!

    Are your girls still wearing their saddles? I’m about to get 2 hens and a rooster and I’m wondering if my new girls will need saddles because 2 to 1 ain’t the best of ratios in a hen house!

    • Thank you, it’s just the law of averages, sometimes an idea will work well.

      We have gone from 4 saddles to 1 at this time. Jasmine did a full molt and her new feathers are beautiful and seem to be holding up to Jack alright. Ini has done a partial molt and might have enough feathers for the winter. Mo is still bare of feathers on her back and will be getting a warmer saddle shortly. Mini is the only one wearing a saddle, a new fleece one made by my wife yesterday. My wife is in charge of the saddles, I’m not sure they help much. We both think that Jack has gotten better with his love-making and isn’t as destructive as when he first started.

      I’m glad to hear you are getting chooks. Good luck. My wife is thinking of writing a book on backyard chickens. All she has decided for certain is the title, “Don’t Ever Get a Rooster!!”.


      • What do you do when it rains? Don’t the saddles get wet? Do you take them off to dry or leave the poor chook wearing a wet rag on her back?

        Okay, here’s a big ask, can your wife share her secrets for making saddles? I’d love to make some for my new chickens (arriving in 1 1/2 weeks). I hear one of them is just starting to loose feathers from the rooster’s attentions and I’d like to protect her before she’s bald and bleeding.

    • What do they do in the rain??? They put on their raincoats and wellies just like you would.

      • Right, I’m adding chook wellies to my shopping list.

        Is there no limit to this insanity???? 🙂

  2. I love your wheel barrow idea! I had to make dozens of trips last week from the front yard to the backyard with my wheel barrow to move all my maple leaves. My chickens relished sifting through the leaves, too. I am going to try your cardboard project next fall.

    Thanks for the inspiration.

    • I love to inspire people, sometimes in a good way. This latest cardboard extenders was made from a refrigerate box so it was a double thick cardboard and has lasted 2 seasons so far. I’ve used single layer cardboard in the past but it falls apart too soon or isn’t rigid enough to really stuff the leaves into it.

  3. I’m digging the wheelbarrow extension, Ed. I only wish I had enough leaves to fill something like that. Maybe someday when the trees I planted get a little bigger! all the best, jools

    • I have extra leaves and would gladly share. Remember to be careful what you wish for, the Gods have a sense of humor.

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