A few years ago I had the pleasure of spending a few days at my wife’s aunt’s farmhouse in Vaour, in the south of
A dovecote? Yes, and in this case, it was actually the recipient of a French government grant for refurbishment. Besides an excuse for sweat-suit ensconced, aging Mafiosi to tend to pigeons on
What is a dovecote? Forgive me if you consider this common knowledge, but it certainly wasn’t to be found anywhere on my school curriculum. A dovecote is a glorified bird house. It would normally house pigeons or some species of dove, but even a bat box accomplishes the same function: it’s a single point of collection for nitrogen-rich bird dropping fertilizer. And that, it turns out, is a very valuable function. A dove or pigeon will produce somewhere in the range of one pound dry weight of droppings a week—roughly the same as what they eat in the form of grains and insects. So a dovecote that houses a hundred doves will produce over the course of one year about 5000 pounds of fertilizer. Maybe these roof-top Mafiosi were on to something?
They can also be quite stylish:
But that said, a more theoretical analysis: dovecotes act as an attractor, channeling already existing natural forces to create an accumulation of energy at a place, and in a form, that is highly useable to small-scale, localized endeavors such as horticulture. In an energy descent environment, large-scale industrial farming just won’t work in the absence of petroleum-based fertilizers. Dovecotes won’t change that. However, when associated with a backyard garden, a food-forest, or similar, they can be enormously powerful. While it is certainly useful to look to our hunter-gatherer ancestors for inspiration and guidance in dealing with an energy descent world, there are still a few hidden gems like this to be found in the much more recent past…
Here's a nice little resource on dovecotes.