Category Archives: Recomendations

Rabbit watering system for freezing climates

This is our first year with rabbits over winter and we were not sure how to handle the freezing temps and water. We did a little research and most people either used heater bottles, or changed the crocks our 2 times a day. We were not going to spend the money for heated bottles (around $40 each) and the reviews of them were questionable. We were doing the crocks 2 times a day but that meant we HAD to be home and could not travel to our small house project on weekends. I needed something to fit my needs. I stumbled upon a video of a guy who had a similar issue on YouTube. I would love to give the guy credit but after 2 days of searching I cannot find the original video that gave me the idea. If someone else comes across it please let me know in the comments so I can give him credit for the inspiration. He did slightly different setup, but this design came from his concept.

I took the original idea of what he had, and modified it to what I had available as to spend little to no money out of pocket. I had submersible pumps from aquaponics builds. If you do not have one you can get them for under 20 bucks, especially at local stores in fall when they go on clearance. (Aquatic Design and Supplies here locally has this exact one) The tank is an old kitty litter box. The tubing and nipples I got from Amazon. They were pretty cheap as well. The nice thing about the nipples and tubing is they came in a pack of 50 and I have enough tubing to make another complete setup at the new location (V2.0). The heat lamp we had for the chickens in winter so no extra cost there. If you do not have one, you can pick them up lamp and fixture for under $20.

Version 2.0 this was the first design to fix a need at the moment. I am designing some improvements into version 2.0 and some improvements are listed below.

  • I will be using a 55 gal drum for the tank for the reservoir
  • The tank will be filled by rainwater from the roof of the rabbit/chicken barn area (filtered before entering tank with homemade sand/charcoal filter)
  • There will be a heater in the tank. Probably a submersible fish heater unless I find a better alternative before then. I want the water to stay above freezing. The water moving helps keep it from freezing.
  • I will add nipples for the chickens as well. Different type of nipples than the rabbits. Rabbits needed all metal nipples at they can damage the plastic housing of chicken nipples.
  • Version 3.0 may switch over to off grid power and use a solar panel. It may be in V2.0 but time, money, and other projects may prevent that.

Some things I learned. The tubing did not fit tightly enough on some nipples. I added zip ties to make a more snug fit. You may want to go with a slightly smaller ID tube, or just use ties like I did. Not all the nipples leaked where the tubing fit.

If your hose comes out from the circulator, you lose circulation (power out, low water), the tubes, and nipples will freeze solid (if temps are below freezing) and the only way to thaw is wait until the entire thing is above freezing temps. adding warm/hot water MAY work if you have a shorter run of tubing. we had about 30 ft, and not enough pressure to melt the ice in the lines.

Before leaving for any period of time, figure how long it takes your rabbits to drain the tank, and take an average. Some days they drink more than others. Plan accordingly.

You may need to leave both watering systems in place for a few days until they figure it out. Alternatively, letting the old source dry up, and showing water is available through the nipple by pushing the tip, can help train them.

If one rabbit gets it, soon others see and catch on.

Rabbit Nipples

Tubing

Here are some other recommendations of products.

 

Projects and Opportunities

Throughout my travels and networking I learn of opportunities and various projects that some may find interesting or a right fit for their skills or situation. This will be an ever-changing page as new opportunities are found and existing ones are filled.

The page is here that list current and future opportunities

If you are interested use the Contact Us page.

Part 2 of Trees in the Midwest is live

Part two of the trees special with Nathan Hill is now live. We will definitely be having Nathan back on in the future to talk about more topics like grafting trees, root-stock, genetics, when is it time to cut the tree down,  and more.

Part 2 Trees in the Midwest

New Podcast about trees in the Midwest

The latest show for 2 Midwest guys is up. This episode we talk with Nathan Hill from Natural Pattern Systems. We discuss trees of the Midwest and various aspects including trees of permaculture, pruning fruit trees, and places to get more information. Check out the latest podcast.

Nathan Hill and Trees

Brambleberry Farm tour

Recently my co-host of 2 Midwest Guys and I took a trip down to Brambleberry Farms in Paoli IN. Brambleberry is a permaculture nursery and plant farm as well as teaching permaculture, designer, and speaker. Darren was nice enough to show us around and talk to us. What was supposed to be a 1-2 hrs tour and talk turned into over 6 hours and a new found friendship.

Darren and his wife Espri were great hosts, despite us taking so much time away from Darren’s farm duties. We walked and talked about the 6 acres of property they have and how they are using it, now, in the past, and future plans. We will have a whole future podcast dedicated to them over at 2 Midwest Guys.

It was very refreshing to meet someone who also is a certified permaculture designer and is the same mindset. We discussed that there really is no “right” way for permaculture. It is a science, a tool, a design playbook. You take the foundation from your training and build upon it for you selected area, and intention. The people that say you “must” do it this way or that miss the bigger permaculture principle of experimentation. Darren told us about how he has tried different techniques and experiments in the 11 years while at this site. Some things I was looking at trying in the future. He wasn’t afraid to tell us what failed, or didn’t work. He was more interested in the education and learning from these experiments. We all viewed these unexpected results as lessons to learn, improve, and make it better next time.

It was good to learn that Darren thought the same I do as that you do not have to be 100% dedicated to permaculture, green living, and hug a tree daily as some who giver permaculture courses do. Or that you do not have to beat the drum to summon the mother earth wood spirit fairies to bless you before the class begins. Permaculture is about improving what you have, using what you have, and designing using science and logic. Teach others what you have learned through experience and trials.

We didn’t get to see the inside of the house but that was amazing that he and his wife built and are living in a straw bale house they built themselves, collect rainwater for the domestic use, and has a working example of reusing grey water. I was fascinated by the incorporation of class bottles into the structure. Hopefully this will be on the next trip down.

Darren was excited that we drove all the way from Indy to meet him and see his farm. It is a 2+ hr trip one way for me on the Southside of Indy. It was well worth it. Besides finding another like minded person, the education was worth it alone. Add to that a local nursery that sells permaculture plants at a reasonable rate. Darren charges the same for plants as some of the catalogs but he is local, and the plants have been adapted to the climate here in the Midwest. You are not getting them from Florida, Texas, North Carolina or other places. I like to see the plants I am buying vs. a catalog. They are picturesque of what the tree/plant WILL look like eventually. Darren has examples of mature plants and trees on his property. You see the live potted plants, trees and bushes before buying and hoping they live. The icing on the cake, COMFREY. He has comfrey everywhere! I have been searching for permaculture plants and to date only knew of a few places selling it, and there were all online and from faraway places. Darren has comfrey to spare, and good sized portions for the money.

Because of my rules, I was only allowed to buy a few items on this round. I picked up some comfrey (the main reason for my trip) but also elderberry, cold hardy fig, and a Goumi bush. There was so much more I wanted, but I needed to process it all. As an added bonus I got some corkscrew weeping willow. I have never come across this type of willow before and was fascinated. I have a few cutting rooting as we speak. I will be buying more when we go back for the group tour in a month or so.

Daren also sells 100% grass fed beef. I may have to place an order and pit it up as well for our next trip down.

            The farm has a farm incubator project, that if this interests you I would highly recommend. It could be a great opportunity for the right person or persons. I copied from their site, but you can contact them for more details. The site says deadline is Feb, but they are still looking for the right fit future farmer.

 

Farm Incubator Project

Normal0falsefalsefalseEN-USX-NONEX-NONE

Independent farming situation:  

We have about ¾ acre of garden space, 1 acre pasture, and housing available for a couple or individual to rent in exchange for 16 hours of labor/week (8 hr/each for a couple or 16 hrs for an individual).  Minimum stay is one year, with the possibility to extend up to three years.

The living situation is a mobile home that we originally brought onto the property to live in while building a house.  In the six years we lived in the trailer we spent some time making it more sustainable.   We landscaped with vines and edible perennials to help seasonally shade the home, and built a passive solar greenhouse onto the south side to heat the trailer and grow seedlings for our farm.  For water, we set up a rainwater harvesting system collecting off an adjacent workshop.  We started our market garden by building no-till mulch beds around the trailer.

We completed our house, a beautiful and functional straw bale home with attached greenhouse and earthen plasters, rainwater system, and young edible landscaping, in January 2010.  We have also evolved away from growing market produce and are focusing on a fruit/nut/berry nursery, grass-fed beef, handcrafted wooden utensils, and raising three delightful children.

Following the predicted permaculture pattern of use zones, we have not been able to upkeep our old garden beds, even though they are only 200′ away from the new house.  Living in your garden seems the best way to keep it tended and we found that we needed to abandon the old systems to focus on the new ones around our house.

In fall2011, we decided to open up the old home, its gardens and systems to ambitious people, eager to apply their experience from working on other farms but without financial resources to buy or lease land.  The agreement would be that you can use the garden space and house as you like, even re-doing the beds and pathways.  You would be responsible for the electric bill (our was usually around $40/mo) and procuring either propane or wood for winter supplemental heat (there is a woodstove–we used about 2 cords of wood a winter), but your rent would be in the form of work exchange (16 hours a week total) helping us with various projects, mostly farm or homestead related.  The rest of your time it is up to your own ambition to work the land and landscape around you to grow things.  We are happy to lend our experience and advice, but you will be doing your own work and finding your own markets.  This project has been a success so far, with the previous couple staying two full years and creating a solvent and growing produce operation, selling at a co-op and two farmers markets in Bloomington, IN.

Total garden bed space is around 3/4 acre. There is also a one acre pasture area with a 10 x 12 chicken coop which is pretty brushy and un-fenced, but has a number of half-grown fruit trees and good potential.

Brambleberry Farm is exactly one hour south of Bloomington IN and one hour northwest of Louisville KY, both with thriving local food movements and full of outlets for local food (Bloomington Farmers Market ,   Louisville Farmers Markets ). There is also a great farmer’s market 10 min north of us in Orleans,IN and a natural foods coop 5 min away in Paoli (LostRiverMarket & Deli ).

Sorry, but we can’t allow dogs.

Since you will be farming on your own, prior experience is highly recommended. Applicants must submit a resume (can be informal list of work experience), and3 references: 1 former employer, 1 living situation (i.e. roommate/housemate),and one personal reference (such as a mentor or friend).  Send application to mail@brambleberryfarm.org by February 28, 2014.   Applications may be accepted after this time, check brambleberryfarm.org for availability

I want to thank Darren his wife Espri for hosting us, and I want to especially than “V” for being such a great host and new friend to my 3 YO “P”