Simply Resourceful

Simple ways to be more conscious about how we use our resources.

Homemade Chicken Feeder

Somethings just present themselves when you're least expecting it!  Take for instance the god-awful toilet that was in the bathroom in our new house!  I wish I had a picture showing the toilet still hooked up, but the toilet tank was attached to the wall about 8 feet from the floor and you pulled a chain to flush the toilet.  The design was certainly not our style and it used about 3 or so gallons of water each flush and the water ran continuously even after replacing parts.  Finally we decided to get rid of the blasted thing and discovered a new purpose for the box that held the water (of course there was a plastic insert inside the box that was removed).
The box...

The bottom of the box contained holes where the water entered and exited the toilet tank.  We glued boards over the holes to keep mice from entering the box.  

Holes were put in the front so the chicks could access the food. 

Boards were inserted into the box at an angle so the food would flow to the front.  The boards stopped right below the holes. 

A platform was added to the front to catch spillage. 
The feeder is resting on top of a cinder block so it is off the ground and 2 bricks were placed on top to keep the lid from sliding off.  Simple...only 20 minutes to complete, one less thing in the landfill, and money saved from buying a feeder!

Chicken Tractor

At our place, the chickens don't have a secure fenced-in area close to the home so Jon constructed this chicken tractor to give them outdoor access safe from predators.  I looked at many chicken tractor designs but found many of them to be way too elaborate for such a simple purpose.
Dimensions in inches: 36W x 98L x 24H

-three, 2x4's
-scraps of chipped plywood
-chicken wire
-chicken wire staples
-wheels from an old trike or something

Total construction only took about 2 hours.  The box on the end of the coop provides shade and there is also a removable roosting pole so the chickens can get out of the sun.  Both narrow ends of the coop have doors for entry and exit.  The chicks absolutely love this portable coop!  Every few hours I pick up the coop on one end and roll it to a new section of fresh grass.  When I pick up the coop, the chicks willing follow me like I'm the mother hen.  

This picture was taken before we added the door.  The door allows me to back the coop up to the outdoor run without have the handles in the way that are on the other end.

Toilet Water Conservation With a Milk Jug

When I was in fourth grade I had to do a presentation in front of the class on anything I wanted.  I got my presentation idea from this book, 50 Simple Things You Can Do to Save the Earth.  I conducted my presentation on how to conserve toilet water without replacing the toilet.  The process is very simple: you fill an empty milk jug with some rocks and water, (to give it some weight) and place it in your toilet tank.  The milk jug is displacing the water so the toilet uses 1 gallon less water each time it is flushed.

Paul enjoyed putting some rocks in the jug when we played in the creek one day. 

This creek is full of life with fish, crayfish, and salamanders!

Bee Arrival!

This past weekend we picked up a nuc of bees from the Killer Bee Farm about 3 miles away.  I wish I had a camera with me to capture the farm's apiary of 60 hives.  Killer Bee had a pretty impressive operation and he raises bees without using synthetic treatments for disease and parasites.  In the picture above you should see my waxed cardboard nuc box nestled under a tarp, wedged between two cinder blocks with bricks on top.  Of course, the morning after we bring the bees home, we had a thunderstorm and torrential downpours.  I wasn't willing to risk the cardboard holding up in the downpours so I covered everything with a tarp to keep everyone dry!

The variety of bees we received from Killer Bee are a hybrid of course because we never really know who the queen mates with, and she mates with about 15 or so drones.  Twenty years ago when Killer Bee started beekeeping, he had all Starline bees with Russian queens.  Starline bees are not sold in the US anymore (go to Canada) but he thinks the genetics are still found in his apiary.  Starline bees have really good genetics and I've been told have a high resistance to mites.  To keep a diverse apiary, Killer Bee introduced bees that he retrieved from a local bee tree this spring!  Someday I hope to discover a bee tree! 

Two days later I transferred the frames into their hive.  I kept the extra set of cinder blocks in place for resting equipment when I am inspecting the hives and for when I get a second hive.  You will probably notice that I have one deep and one shallow compared to the normal 2 deeps.  There are two reasons for this arrangement.  I didn't harvest the 4 frames of capped and partially capped honey from last year and instead saved them for feedings this spring rather than using sugar water.  I also noticed at the Killer Bee farm that he didn't use two deeps, instead he used one deep and one shallow on all of his hives.  I asked him about this and he said that he's had great success keeping bees over the winter with only that much space; he also receives more excess honey from the bees each year because of this system.  I'm thinking I will try this arrangement and see how quickly the bees consume their winter stores and if I will need to supplemental feed this coming winter. 

At the previous home we enjoyed watching the bees from the back patio; at this home, the bees are up on a flat area overseeing the fruit trees and garden.  From the vantage point of the patio where this picture was taken, I can barely see the bees come and go, but I enjoy watching them pollinate the bushes infront of the porch railing.  The hum is so loud that I keep thinking there is a swarm somewhere!

I have been worried all week because I have only seen a few honeybees on the clover in the yard.  There is clover everywhere and we've been delaying the lawn mowing for the bees.  Well, it only took Jon a few minutes to find the bees....they were in the tulip poplar (aka tulip) tree in the side yard!  From what I found doing a simple Google search, is that the tulip tree produces nectar for only a few days but is a high producer of nectar!  The tree has these beautiful yellow and orange tulip flowers; and a mature tree can yield about 2-2.5 pounds of finished honey which is a lot considering how much nectar that is.  

***With all the thunderstorms we've been having, I was thinking about the beehive and the fact that the roof is metal...what would happen if the hive was struck by lightning?  Thoughts anyone?

About this blog

A weekly update on our adventures of trying to be more self-sufficient by using resources wisely. We explore a variety of topics that most broadly fit in the "Homesteading" category, i.e. beekeeping, organic gardening, edible landscaping/fruit forest, food preservation/canning, woodworking, soap-making, and environmental stewardship.

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