While my hens are scratching the soil, I am scratching my head about how to make a more integrated system in my backyard that yields compost. I had been buying fabulous compost from our local dump, but they had to shut down their operations due to some permitting issues. I knew it was cheating with all that shipping of materials from here to there, but it was so well-priced and so high quality that I was going with the flow. Seems universe is calling for a course correction, thus my head scratching. I have a big magnolia tree in my yard and she is generous with her leaves, so I am thinking that is my carbon. I was shipping these leaves to the dump weekly and thinking myself foolish for exporting so much of the bio mass that my soil was busy producing. So a few months ago I bought an electric mulcher (wanted a hand-cranked one, looked around on the internet and in local hardware stores, they don't seem to make them). It's noisy and dusty, but after collecting the fallen leaves for about 3 weeks, I get the monster out and make two beautiful 5 gallon buckets of leaf mulch (leaves are ground down about to about 1/4" square). I use the mulch in my two laying boxes, instead of store-bought straw. No complaints from my girls, I have 4 lovely layers, about laying on the new substrate. So now, how do I most effectively turn this into a hot compost? It's a mixture of urine, poop and magnolia leaves. I am thinking that the chicky waste is mostly nitrogen, yes? I know I can get my hands on unlimited quantities of coffee grounds if that would be helplful. I have about 1-2 gallons of kitchen scraps per week-not sure if they should go to start a worm compost box or to the leaf-poop pile. I also generate a 1 gallon of shredded paper every one or two months. To get the temperature up, I am guessing I need to make stack about 4 feet high and that I should build a re-purposed structure to loosely contain that pile. I guess I have time and human labor (I love to work in the garden and don't mind heavy lifting) and I am trying to reduce the stuff I send away as garbage as much as possible. Thanks for the advice above about when to add carbon and when to add nitrogen! Given my resources, can you off any input on how best to use the leaf-pee-poop resource on the way to making fabulous compost? Also I about 20 miles from the ocean, so have a moderate level of dampness and mild winters. I am hopping to get started now at the end of December. Is that crazy? the leaves keep falling and the chickens keep pumping out their stuff!