Life On Gabriola Island

Chicken Of The Woods

What do you do with the old bedding from your coop?

I used to dump it in the pen for my chickens to scratch through but I found that years of composting leaves, shavings, straw and veggies raised the soil level in my pen. My posts are cedar or metal T-posts and I discovered that the cedar ones were getting covered at the base and starting to prematurely rot.

This summer I screened many wheelbarrows of soil from my pen. The rocks went into the potholes in my long driveway and the amended soil went into the garden.

I also wanted to be proactive in bug control – old shavings provide a habitat for lice and mites and their eggs, so the plan was to remove them as far from the chickens as possible.

For the last year or so, I’ve been dumping the shavings in the woods, choosing spots that have big hollows or around rotting logs – all in the hopes that it will create inviting habitat for mushrooms, especially edibles.

I’ve twice found Morels,  Shaggy Manes and in late September I came across these – fittingly named Chicken-of-the-Woods (Laetiporus Sulphureus) – growing right at the edge of my shavings pile.

I think the reference to chicken (isn’t everything supposed to taste like chicken?) is that they maintain their firm consistency when cooked, so would be a good vegan substitute for chicken breast. And better yet, they stay that fantastic colour. You can eat them fresh, or dry or freeze them for future use.

I thank my chickens for creating such fertile material for these fantastic fungi to flourish.

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