Archive for the ‘Around the Homestead’ Category

Egg Incubator

Posted: July 18, 2011 by emphelan in Around the Homestead
Tags: , ,

Egg incubators can be expensive. We made ours using the parts out of one of those cheap Styrofoam ones (that had been crush and a friend gave to us), reclaimed wood, and screws. We purchased the egg turner for around $30.

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Be sure not to seal it until after you have gotten a temp reading. And remember that eggs need oxygen to hatch.

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The green, green grass of home!

Posted: June 7, 2011 by hopejoyandfaithfarm in Around the Homestead

Guess what happens when you don’t mow your yard for awhile, because the riding lawn mower you just paid $150 to fix broke down again?  You get grass up to your knee caps.  So, after hubby mowed the lawn, we had big piles of cut grass, which, if left piled up, will kill all the grass underneath it.  Our orchard gets dry early every summer anyway (we don’t water it), so it doesn’t need any help to speed it along.

This picture does not do the mounds of grass justice.  Imagine this magnified 1000’x.

So, as I was raking, I’m thinking “What do I do with this?” I can’t feed it to the mini-horse (grass cuttings (cut small) are not good for her), but the chickens would like some.

Then, I’ll add some to the composter…

There is still tons left, and I don’t want to throw it over the bank, so… Remember the new beds I showed up, made with discarded bricks.  The weeds were starting to grow up through the center.  I had an idea!

I filled each hole as full as I could with the cut grass.  This will effectively kill the weeds and as it breaks down, I’ll fill the holes with composted manure and I can plant them next year.

The young fruit trees had been taken over by the grass and weeds growing around the base of them.  So, after weeding and cutting it back, I used the grass as a mulch.

Notice the dog in the background, that’s Bella, she’s a camera-hog!

Then, I started gathering up the grass to mulch along the fence rows, hopefully killing the grass growing through the fence, making it easier for hubby to mow and weed-eat.

I’ve done most of this over the last few days and still have probably 15 wheelbarrows or more of grass clippings to rake up.  Our next mower is gonna have  bag on it!

Pig shed from discards!

Posted: May 24, 2011 by hopejoyandfaithfarm in Around the Homestead

It was time… Our piggies needed a new home.

Last year they had done so much damage to the hillside that they were on that the fence was in danger of sliding down the bank.  We only have pigs from March til July (don’t ask me why we had them til October last year, I might scream). So, this year, we decided to put them into our little sheep “corral” (made out of livestock panels) that was about 16’x40′, flat, with a ram-shackled stall to keep them dry.  We strung hot wire hooked to the solar panel and thought we were set.  Well, with the rain this season, that flat area turned into quicksand.  The poor piggies spent all their hours in the stall unless they came out to eat.  When we went to feed them, we had to keep our feet in motion.  If we stood still for 1 second, we were embedded in the mud and couldn’t get out.  It didn’t help that if I was stuck, Lyndsey and Steve were laughing at me, and if they were stuck, I was laughing at them.

So, after the foster horse we were taking care of left, I talked Steve into using the turnout we’d built for him.  It is about 25′ wide by 100′ long, so much more room to run and it had dried out since nothing had been on it for a few weeks.  One problem tho… No shed, and no chance of moving the ramshackle one.  Steve said “Oh, they don’t need one, the weather will be nice…” One thing you need to know about me.  I like to know my animals have shelter.  It doesn’t matter if they use it or not, but I want to know it’s available. A friend of ours said “Just put up a temporary thing…”  Why would I do the work for that if we are going to use it again?

We are broke, flat out! No money to spend for construction materials at all.  So, I got to thinking (watch out) and decided to use one of my favorite things (next to duct tape)~Pallets… Hubby said “That won’t work”.  Boy, don’t tell me that! I drew up a diagram using 8 broken bricks that I had scavenged from my moms,  pallets (for free) and odds and ends of plywood we had around.  I helped him put it together and I am happy.  It’s not square (please don’t comment on the front board at an angle, HE did that!) and it’s not real pretty, but the pigs have more room to sleep than they did, its off the ground thanks to the bricks, so it won’t rot too quickly, and once we get tin on the roof (taken from the neighbors trash pile) it’ll be pretty much weather proof.

The only thing new in this “trash shed” is the screws (and I think some of those we reused also).  Pigs are happy to be out of the mud and it makes chore time so much easier.

The box is one of our tools as well as a repurposed item. Surprisingly enough, it is a relatively inexpensive item to make. Here is the run down.

prepping the seedling box

You will need;
We have very little money into this box, most of the things acquired where given to us, or we had laying about.
3 1/2 sheets of plywood
We had 4 sheets of 3/8 plywood 6 feet tall given to us (one reason for the shape of the box) 1 for the front, 1 for the back and 1/2 for each side, and 1/2 for the top.

2x4s in the corners and across the top

You can use a variety of light sources or heat mats with low light water bed heater, just keep the air moving so you don’t turn your box into an oven. We run 400 watts in ours using a grow light

1x material

reclaimed door hinges, screwshinges

A reclaimed squirrel cage squirrel cageand dryer vent, and metal coffee can help vent out the heat so we don’t scorch our plants. A small fan that can be turned on to regulate any heating issues, and keeps the carbon dioxide levels up by exchange old air for new. The height helps with temp regulations as well.

Mylar or anything reflective is used on the walls and the doors (glossy white house paint works, and is the cheapest of all the materials that could be used unless you have stuff laying about that you could use). The reflective stuff is used for light refraction, keeps the light bouncing around the box, maximizing your lumins.

Drip trays are need for any condensation or over watering.

What to do:

Split one sheet of plywood in 1/2 for the doors. door the 1/2 sheet of plywood for the top. This gets you the basic box. In one side cut a hole that you metal coffee can can sit in. vent with coffee canMount the squirrel cage in the opposite corner, attaching the dryer vent to the cage and to the coffee can. Mount the fan on the same side but different corner of your coffee can.fan

Then use 1x material for the door seem over lap and the hinge mountings on the doors. Attach the doors. Use your reflective material either before you put it together (as in the paint) or after (as in the Mylar). Hang the lamp.

We also use two reclaimed floor vents that have been placed on the bottom sides (either side) to help with air circulation.

Dimensions of our box is 6 foot by 4 feet wide 34 inches deep. and hidden behind our bedroom door (so don’t give me that, I don’t have the room). Using the egg cartons we have 264 seedlings, if we used the seedling flats, we could have close to 500 seedlings in our available space (egg cartons were readily available at this time).

1st day seeds

You can scale the box way down, we just used what we had instead of chopping everything up. 4x2x4 can be accomplished with 2 sheets a plywood, doing seed flats. (they are about 1ft wide 2 ft long)

You can do this in the corner of your garage, just make sure the temperature is regulated, between 80-90 f

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Re-purposing!

Posted: May 10, 2011 by hopejoyandfaithfarm in Around the Homestead, White Trash with a Purpose

Okay, I have something to admit to all of you. If I had the money (and a good farm store) I would like to go out occasionally and buy what I needed. I wouldn’t have to wrap my mind around how to make something that I want out of something that I already have. I love being frugal, but sometimes it gets old. Of course, I’m a wee bit cranky today after trying to work my budget, so I’ll get over that attitude soon.

I do believe it’s okay to re-use something intended for one thing for another use. For example, the paper box shown below (picked up from over a bank after a month of watching it sit there getting dirty and muddy) has been turned into a receptacle in the garden for a holder for gloves, hand tools and odds & ends of gardening paraphernalia.


I would really like to get a regular plastic mailbox with a door on it to hang out in the garden, but that is not something I need.  It’s just something I want.

Next would be this item:

I am a leader of a 4-H livestock club and a couple of years ago I had some boys showing poultry at our local fair.  One of the things that they are supposed to use to show the bird is a show stick.  The ones for sale are $18.99 and we have to order them.  The boys were going to bring small dowels and forgot them.  Of course, no trees around the fairgrounds to break limbs from.  What to do? I sat and thought for a moment, looking around our little “club” area.  Eureka! A lightbulb went off above my head, I swear.  I grabbed this:

borrowed a pocketknife and sawed the bottom off. Voila’ a show stick.  And, if you prefer a different color, just check the closet.

Last but not least, I have been working on our bug-out bags and supplies for tsunami/earthquake preparedness.  I wanted to make sure we had matches to go with the firestarters I made from egg cartons and line.  They are relatively cheap, I found them for $1.95 on-line, and I may order them at some point, just to be sure my matches will stay dry.  But, in the meantime, I used these:

They are prescription bottles with childproof lids.  I am sure they are not 100% waterproof, but will work well in a pinch.  I save all sorts of containers in a cupboard, and had enough saved up to have one for each bag, along with the striker portion of the box.  I miss the “strike-anywhere” matches.  They are hard to find.

There are lots of re-uses for different objects.  What are some of yours?