1. A chipper/shredder, and
The chipper/shredder turns all those branches and scraps into finely chopped mulch, and the chickens produce manure which, when scooped out of their coop along with the pine shavings I use for bedding, makes a lovely addition to the compost pile. So I layer this stuff in—the chipped garden waste, then the manure, then more chippings, and so forth–and it just turns into black gold in no time, helped along by the chickens themselves, who hop onto the pile, dig around for worms, and generally till up the whole thing.
Today I wheeled 7 or 8 loads of this stuff out to the front yard and spread it in the garden. There’s a bit more still in the bottom of the pile; once it’s all gone, I’ll chip up the latest load of scraps, clean out the coop, and start all over again. Really, I’ve never had such a productive compost pile in my life.
You may wonder what I do with the incidental garden waste that doesn’t get chipped–well, if it’s fresh and green, I toss it into the girls’ run so they have something to munch on when they’re not free ranging. I have found this is a great way to get rid of the more invasive weeds I wouldn’t want in the compost–the girls are welcome to them, and if any sprout, they won’t last long in the run. Otherwise, I usually do keep sort of a separate pile of the bulkier garden trimmings and wait for it to dry out a bit, because the shredder can’t handle wet stuff.