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It took me a while to get my canna lilies into my raised bed—an old, leaky water tank. I didn’t want them out when it was still too cold and when it wasn’t cold, it was raining. To give these tubers a boost, I added some chicken manure to the soil. All I had to do was get a little bucket and shovel some out of our chicken house.

Getting the fertilizer wasn’t a problem. What bugged me was that there was so much more to shovel. Too bad I didn’t need it all for a large garden—this year I have potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, and flowers planted.

I started thinking of all that good chicken manure going to waste and all the work it would take me to haul it out to the field. Of course, the field would benefit.

It was time to let my friends know of the easy availability of this fertilizer. I went to my computer and wrote a blog on my web site: www.susanmanzke.net. After it popped up on my blog, I posted it on Facebook. Here is what I wrote:

"This is an honest offer. Come to our farm with a bucket or bag and you can have free fertilizer. Many should  jump at this offer, at least I hope so.

The free fertilizer is actually chicken manure. It is dry chicken manure, but there is a catch. You have to shovel your own...out of the chicken house.

Some country people would not flinch at this work, especially if they have need of good manure.

Since we only have 8 chickens, the amount in the chicken house has composted over the last six months—I really should clean it out more often. It really doesn't smell...really.

The chickens do not add too much fresh to the mix. These days they mostly make their deposits around the farmyard, just ask Sunny where. He searches the 'chicken treats' out and eats them!

I have used some of the chicken manure in my flower beds, but there's still a lot left.

So if you are in need of a high nitrogen, natural fertilizer contact me. I'll even give you a bucket to take your share home.

I am not Tom Sawyer trying to get you to paint a fence, but this can be fun. Also, you get to take home homegrown fertilizer for FREE."

Guess what? This worked. Nearby friends came with buckets and shovels to get chicken manure for their gardens. First to come was Bridget. This friend was excited to get this fertilizer for her plants—Bridget is a Master Gardener. She raises her flower friends out in the country south of Seymour.

After Bridget filled her buckets, Elizabeth and Gary, from the city of Seymour, came with a bunch of buckets.

Tom Sawyer tricked his friends into painting his aunt’s fence. This is not a trick, except for the shoveling.

I’m happy to help my friend’s gardens. It was so much fun to visit after their cars were filled. We all have a common interest—gardening.

I don’t know if there will much fertilizer left when this column comes out in the newspaper. You can always ask. If there’s any left, we are still willing to share. The chickens are always making more.

Susan and Bob Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165; sunnybook@aol.com; www.susanmanzke.net.

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