Category Archives: Self Reliance

DIY goat milker around $100

Recently we were on several facebook groups and a multitude of people asked about our DIY milker. It is easier to write it up and have one central place to point people vs reposting it each time.

Let me start off by saying this is our 2nd year of milking goats. Last year we hand milked just one. So we are fairly new to this. Right, wrong, or indifferent, this is how we are doing it on OUR farm, and not saying you should as well. Just sharing our experience. We do not sell our milk it is for our personal use only.  We now are milking 3 goats a day, and potential for 5 later this year and 8 next year. So we may be moving to version 4.0 as we are currently on 3.0 design of the system.  Some parts we had already, tubing (for maple syrup collecting), fittings (parts cabinet), and T splitters. We have a large supply of jars and lids. If you have to buy everything new or use different parts, your costs may vary.

Version 1.0 was a single food saver rechargeable hand pump, 30 CC syringe, and small oxygen tubing. This may be an option for one goat, but battery life would diminish by goat number two. We milked directly into jars as well, and different fittings. We added a second hand pump to milk longer but just wasn’t efficient.  When we started milking 3 goats we needed an upgrade. Version 2.0 used a more powerful pump, larger lines, but no pulsator. Version 3.0 added the pulsator and the reinforced lure locks on the “teat cups”

This is Version 3.0 of our milker.

We milk directly into large mouth mason jars. This setup allows milking into pint, quart, or 1/2 gallon jars. You can also use pints. We have both configurations to give more options if needed for available clean jars. We milk once a day in the morning, letting the does back with the kids during the day. We do not pasteurize, but straight from milking to a refrigerator. We get about 2 weeks in the refrigerator before needing to give to pigs, dogs, or chickens. We use the milk to drink, make ice cream, cheese, cook etc. We clean the cups, and lines immediately after each use, wash the jars after empty and reuse lids to seal. Only the lids for milking have holes, we use regular jar lids for storage. We also date each jar after milking, using oldest 1st.

Parts

Vacuum pump – Amazon – Pump

Pulsator – Amazon – Must have to not put too much strain on teats, and is more soothing to goat. straight suction without relief can injure them Pulsator

Tubing – Amazon – Tubing

Fittings –  While we didn’t get these from Amazon they are available.  We also had various fittings laying around we scavenged to put it together
Jar fittings

Connectors

Lure lock inserts   We had left over parts from rabbit watering system. The plastic T fittings.

30 CC lure lock syringes (important lure lock) – Amazon – Syringe

Foot switch (V4.0 addition, allows pump to be further from goat/stand and remote operation) – Amazon – Switch

Filters – Amazon -When we do need to filter for hair/etc. Filter

 

Once you remove the plungers from the syringe it fits over most teats. At least on our goats. Some had larger teats, some were so small we have to rest the “teat cup” on the udder vs seal around the teat. We carry everythign out in the tote to keep contained and clean from the house to the barn. There are also spare parts, extra lids, tubing as to not to have to come back to the house once in the barn.

Close up of Jar

Version 2.0 we drilled the canning lids (used ones, because that would be a waste for unused ones) and just screwed the fittings in, with banding rubber bands for a seal. That didn’t give a good seal. Next we took electrical nuts and screwed them down to give a seal with the bands. It worked but started to rust. So, we used kitchen silicone to seal holes and nuts. which sealed and protected the metal. Canning lids will rust once you disturb the coating. Version 4.0 will have a better put together system for the jar lids.

Up close syringe

Version 2.0 the tubing fits over the lure lock and held in place by the clamp. That worked for a month or so but then constant moving and bending of the tubes makes the lure lock fitting soft and tubes keep slipping off. We cut one end of the T barn fitting, pushed into the lure lock and reattached clamp and tubing. This gives the end of the syringe more strength and stability. I leave the plungers in the syringes until just prior to use to keep them clean before milking.

The Farm Boss aka the wife wanted something to hold the teat cups while setting up, or changing out goats that keeps them off the ground and clean. I stumbled upon these broom holders in a pack of 6. This is also nice to hold tubes and cups upright after cleaning so they can drain. This is mounted on the cabinet next to our sink.

We use a shearing stand I modified for milking. The side rails are nice and have a place to mount the teat cup holders.  Ignore all the junk in the background. Pump is not usually on the stand.

If you have any questions use the contact us page or hit us up on Facebook for a quicker response.

Rabbit keeping evolution

Sr. Farm Boss has been commenting on rabbits and kept asking for pictures and examples to share to the group (Women in Ag so, I am not a member). I thought it may be a good post to show the evolution of our rabbit keeping, why we chose the methods, why we abandoned them, pictures and videos.

We started out as most do, with raised cages. when doing our research this seemed like what most people do. Keeps from having to regularly clean cages, away from predators, and easy to harvest manure for gardens.

The construction phase

We live in central Indiana and have freezing temps in winter. Having several rabbit cages and having to deal with freezing water bottles daily, frozen crocks, or broken water dishes due to ice was a pain.  Jr. Farm Boss had a difficult time reaching dishes at 4/5 yo and putting cages lower made it difficult for adults to reach in. Here is a writeup of a solution with materials, to the freezing water issue I came up with. This is when we lived in suburban Indianapolis. We toyed with tractors at this point but it was more get them out during the day, in a small enclosure on the ground. Not a permanent solution, just fresh grass.

Freezing water solution

or just a link to the video

This solution was nice when it worked. If your power went out, the lines froze and it it was difficult to thaw the lines. If your water level got too low no water would circulate and lines freeze. If a rabbit could get to the tubing it would eat holes. All of these could have been managed, but also meant in any of these situations, none of the rabbits got water. When we moved we didn’t have power at the new rabbit home, so circulating water and heat was not an option.

Rabbit feed was another issue so we tried the rabbits on tractor system. I wanted two goals met. No mowing, and no feed for rabbits. The tractor met this goal, but had a negative of we kept losing rabbits despite having ample cover almost every time we have a med-heavy rain. another Negative is Jr. Farm Boss couldn’t move the tractors as they were too heavy. A solution could have been wheels but I wasn’t really happy with the tractor after a year of use.

Read more on the rabbit tractor here. 

Once we moved, and the number of rabbits increased we found that it was taking way too much time to manage all the rabbits.  Especially if using tractors. Too many cages, too many waterers, feeders, and over 1/2 of chore time (we have over 200 animals) was spent on rabbits. Plus it took 2 people (Jr farm boss did water/food and I did moving them) or one adult. One of our end goals is her to be able to manage and take care of ALL the animals without us. We needed a new solution.We looked into central watering, wheels on tractor, but then still feed, freezing temps, and moving them was an issue.  After some researching I found a woman’s setup I liked in the form of a colony. It solved most if not all of our problems.

Link to her video. Credit where credit is due.

We didn’t quite have the same available space/materials in our situation, but I took her idea and adapted to our own.

Here is our version 2.0 of colony. We have since moved to V 3.1.

V 1.0 just had the “home” area and they ate that in no time. I was having to bring in brush, yard clippings, more often than I liked. But it was fencing we had on hand and didn’t cost much at all to make. Most of our solutions take cost into consideration, or what materials do we have on hand that can be repurposed.

V 2.0 added the running tubes and roundabout with portable dog fencing to get more exposure to fresh grass. Again, my goal of never having to mow, and not buy rabbit food. The video was in the middle of winter. Our feed purchased went from one 40lb bag every two weeks to one bag  every two months. We give pellets as a reserve or backup (rainy days, lazy rabbits, mamas) . They also get hay which we get for free. The don’t dig much and any deep holes we fill.  We believe because we give them hiding spots using the drain pipes, and existing nesting boxes their needs are being met and no need to dig. With one tub for water, it is easier to fill, or change.

V 3.0 expanded the home area to the width of this particular grass area available.  100x what they had in V 2.0. We broke down and bought specific fencing for this project. We did use locust poles for fence posts as they were free and we harvested them. We also moved the water tub under the roofline so it is filled and flushed with each rain. We started getting babies once the temps warmed up. This led to another issue. Our barn cats who keep mice population down, now were able to get into and eat/kill new babies. Hence V3.1. Once a mama kids we take mama and her litter in the box to a contained and protected area.

Here is a video of V 3.1

With V3.1 we have had no losses due to rain. We have had no losses to to predator cats. We do have 3 livestock guardian dogs that keep other predators out. It is open top, and we have not lost any to birds of prey. Our feed is down to about one 40 lb bag every 4 months for 20ish rabbits. We do not have to mow any of this hillside. We supplement with weeds, cuttings from the garden, and around orchards. We went from 30+ minutes of rabbit management, to 1 min (checking on grass, food, water) to maybe 10 at most (move mobile area, clean/fill water, tend to mamas in protected area, move new mamas).  Jr. Farm Boss (now 6yo) can do all of this on her own without assistance. The rabbits seem to be healthier and happier.

We have plans to evolve again to V 3.2 where the internal area in the shop/barn is larger, has climbing/jumping area, large door for easier cleaning, and floor to ceiling wire protection.

 

 

Interns and shared learning

When I attended the Indiana Horticulture Congress recently a conversation and discussion came up that wasn’t on the intended schedule but it should have been. Internship, interns and the ups and downs of them.

This topic came up while discussing organic pest management and the study with biochar. The biochar discussion quickly turned over to interns and the benefits. This carried over into the organic pest management and came back up in a later discussion. The majority of small farms speaking indicated that they had previously steered clear of interns and internship believing that they would spend more time having to “babysit” the interns and their involvement with the school would micromanage their normal operations and be more geared to academic study vs growing. This perception was smashed when all the farms involved in the study met monthly and discussed lessons learned, tools, and how to optimize resources. All the farms stated that interns were a valuable asset to their operations. Surveys of both farmers and interns showed for the most part a positive perception change and positive educational experience on both parts as a result of the interns working with the farmers. Some interns have never been on a farm and didn’t know how their food got to the plate. The internships get more people excited and hands on into farming. It also give the farmers a way to pass on their knowledge, and assistance for regular farm chores or the extra set of hands to complete projects that otherwise have been put off for lack of time or manpower.

While we have not looked into the option of an intern we are not at a  production level that we could support that type of involvement. This is why we do have tours. It exposes people to some of the farm operation without a huge time commitment.

Speaking from experience, I somewhat interned at a friends farm who needed some extra help, and in turn I got an education. Interns typically are paid but not always. Sometimes it is a share of crops/products, sometimes it is a wage but lower than a farm had as the education is part of the payment. I personally had never been around a animal based farm production model. I spent about 3 years helping and sometimes working while the owners were otherwise engaged at Simpson Family Farm in Martinsville, IN run by Darby Simpson, and his Family. This experience was extremely valuable in the little things that were learned. What works, what doesn’t, little tricks that aren’t taught in school, but farmers take for granted. I asked a bunch of “dumb” questions that Darby took as just farm life and the way things are done. There isn’t a one size fits all model of what to duplicate. Each situation, each farm, each individual is different and systems that work on one farm for one reason or another may not work on your farm. The key is to learn, and experience what other people are doing and adapt it for your own situation. As an example, Darby is a full time farmer, and income is based on production, so many things going on at once, and volume. 500 meat birds in each cycle, and five cycles is a lot of birds. That is a lot of feed, lot of chicken tractors, having to have a processor lined up, way to transport birds to processing, being able to store the birds after processing, timing of when to get chicks, when to start the next batch. It has taken him years to get a system that works for him. Would this system work for the newbie? Maybe, but his land has been developed over years, his land can support that number of chickens, he has the bugs in the pasture, he has the forage growing.  He has a large flat level area of pasture and cows rotated with the birds, water is already set up, tractors are already build, tractor designs have gone through several rounds. LOTS of stuff I learned by working beside him. Darby, also has a consulting site where if you feel you are ready to go the commercial route he can help advise at DarbySimpson.com. Spending time with him made me realize we needed to work our land for three to five years before we were even to start looking at commercial meat production as an option. I learned a lot from Darby, some things I really liked, some things I liked but modify for our own situation, some things I would stay away from as they were just not right for our operation. The things that we determined were not right, we would have tried on our own farm if we had not experienced them first on theirs. Not that they were bad, but just didn’t fit into our operations. An example would be all his farm operations are geared around single adult operator, say moving chicken tractors. While Brandie can and did move them successfully, Wee One could not, but his system wasn’t designed to have a 5 year old move them nor perform the operations, it was designed with an average adult with enough strength to do the jobs at hand (lifting 5 gallon buckets of grain and water). This is also where I learned a HUGE and valuable lesson, scaling up is NOT just adding more of X, being animals or plants. There usually is a tipping point where the current size system will no longer support more X. You have to have a new system to get bigger. And the same goes true for scaling down, what works on his level of operation, may NOT work for a homesteading model.

Brambleberry Farm down in Paoli had an opportunity for interns and their situation was 16 hrs/week work in exchange for free housing, and access to sections of land to do with as you wanted. Read all about it at the link. It was a separate living space, and the land use had to be approved with their overall farm policy. In past years the interns grew market vegetables and sold at the farm stand and farmers market booth, some grew their own food and had an outside job for income. I have toured Brambleberry several times and incorporated portions of things I learned there into our own operations. It was a tremendous learning experience. Completely different from my experience with Darby who is a meat based operation, Brambleberry was more a plant based operation with animals adding inputs to the farm. Animals were there as meat/protein but not the focus. A more let the land show you what to farm/grow vs change the land to what you are growing. Changing the land isn’t necessarily a bad operation, as an example Darby took a historically GMO traditional crop field and turned it into a lush organic pasture feeding cows, ducks, chickens and turkeys. It’s working with nature, BUT needed man to change it in the right direction for the intended purpose.

Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms one of my mentors and a farming icon has a completely different model of “Fiefdoms” on his farms. He also has internships and apprenticeships, as well as books, tours, videos, documentaries, presentations, speeches, and interviews While not directly intern related, it does allow someone with a specialized knowledge get further into farming without some of the issues on starting from scratch. And I am not even going to summarize, but you can watch a presentation he gave about it.

 

From speaking with other farmers I have heard positive and negative on both sides of internships. There are bad farm managers who don’t know how to manage interns appropriately, and interns who don’t want to work or won’t follow directions and are disastrous for the farmer. My best advise whichever side of the equation you are on is to talk with people who have had real experience with interning, and if possible people who have directly interned in the situation you are looking to get into. If you are a farm, go to markets and talk to other farmers who have had interns before. Go to conferences where other farmers can share their experiences. Learn how to weed out bad interns. One lesson I heard about at the Horticulture Congress, was application, letter about why farming important to them, references, and a 1 day trial period before committing by either side. A try before you buy. Could they do one day labor, could they follow direction, could they put their phones down long enough to work, are you ready to manage an intern, how bad does it mess with daily operations.  Same holds true for interning on a farm. I know of a intern program where the interns have to pay for their internship, and are encouraged to “beg” from friends and family, even GoFundMe pages to get more money pumped into the educational opportunity. They are worked hard for having to pay for education. Just not something I can support. I know of another “internship” where interns are treated like slave labor because they are required a set number of credit hours of working to offset  a regular school education.  Hours are stretched and approval signature is dangled like a carrot. No signature and either tuition is due or kicked out of program.  How do you find interns and intern opportunities. There are programs like Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms, USA (WWOOF-USA) and Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms. I do not have any experience with either one so cannot speak to them. I think we need a better local database/website of connecting local farms, interns, and opportunities. Purdue said they were working on something. But, best way to find opportunities is get out there and start talking to people, farmers, and get connected into your local farming communities.

I highly encourage you to tour as many farms as you can. Do not try to duplicate 100% of what you see and expect identical results Sometimes variables (soil, light, temperature, wind, lifestyle etc.) are not the same on your farm and you may not get the same result. But do experiment, and never stop experimenting, even after you are successful. Do not risk your whole operation on an experiment, but the only way to improve is to continue to evolve. If you are running 200 meat birds at a time, and want to try a 100% pasture/forage type bird try 20 or 40 alongside your regular 200. If it doesn’t work, try to figure out why, and improve. Rather than risk your whole operation failing, you learn one way that did’t exactly work for your operation.

Tours on our farm should begin this spring. If you want an individual/family tour please use the Contact Us page and we will try and work something out.

Mow your lawn? you can have pigs.

We recently added American Guinea Hogs to our list of animals. Until we can build them an enclosure in one of the pastures, they are happy hanging out in one of the barn stalls.  They love grass. Because of their diet there is almost no smell to them. Not what you typically experience with confined pigs. They drop, almost nuggets like horses, cows, and the goats. Not the soupy mess I have experienced from other operations. They talk to us each time we are around, and for the most part very easy going. Back to my point, about lawns. We have a push mower, and bagger. 1-2 strips on the lawn is enough for morning feeding, about 1/2 bag-3/4 loosely packed. Do it again in the evening, and they are good to go. But, but, but my lawn will be uneven….Um, who cares? By the time you NEED to mow again you will be back to your original spot. It is FREE food for pigs, who love it. Granted, not all areas allow pigs. But a 14’x30′ space in the barn is perfect if you don’t have room outside. They get treats, in the form of our universal feed mix, but really prefer the grass to anything else.

DIY Rabbit tracor

To give our buns more open air time, exposure to fresh greens, we decided to make a rabbit tractor. So far, they have all spent time in it and loved being out in the open. This will eventually be used to house the grow outs until freezer camp day. I took several designs I saw and combined what I liked, and used materials I had available. If you click on the images you can enlarge them for more details.

I had a small section of chain-link fence left over from another project. This looked like a good base, and size for the tractor.

We had some extra tubs laying around. This looked good to make a hiding hole, shade for them.

Using a jigsaw I cut a small opening into one side.

Left over 1×3 lumber from the demo of the office (the inside of our tiny house). I chose an A frame to minimize materials needed, and weight. And I only had 2 rolls of wire and didn’t want to go to store. The frame is screwed together with deck screw we had from another project. The base is made of treated 2x4x8. Left over from building the greenhouse attached to the building.  I happen to have 10 feet of chain link fence, and the 2×4 was 8 feet long. Bonus, no cutting.

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2 rolls of left over 1/2″x1″ welded wire. This was going to be a grow out pen in the coop, but we liked the tractor idea better. The wire is stapled to the frame.

Because I was working alone, and needed to stretch the chain-link tipping the tractor on edge was the easiest thing to do.

This is metal fastening tape, found in the plumbing section.  I use this stuff all over the place. Works great. It is woven between the chain-links and secured to the bottom of the tractor frame. This way I can move rabbits and everythign without ever having to get them out. It also prevents them from digging holes, and protection from predators.

I hinged the whole side of the tractor. This allows easier access to the rabbits inside. If I opened from one end, someone (not me) would have to crawl in there to get rabbits.

The door is kept closed with bungee cords connected to the bottom chain links and the wire mesh on the sides. It is tight enough that the rabbits or predators cannot open it. The pet litter box is actually a waterer.  I drilled the bottom and made a shelf for it to sit on.

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The hole in the bottom is connected to rabbit nipples (tubing, connectors, and nipples available though Amazon)

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I had all the materials on hand, and made do with what was available. If I had to make it again and buying materials it would probably cost around $60-80 and that is a high estimate. You can scrounge materials from various places or buy used materials.

 

Lumber can be from used pallets = free

Cubbie can be made from Rubbermaid containers from goodwill  <$3 Goodwill. You can also find hinges at goodwill, Habitat for Humanity Restore. or asset Recycling.

Instead of watering nipples you can use watering dishes/bowls/tupperware/etc. = free

Wire may need to be purchased, but if not overnighting rabbits can use chicken wire. Check craigslist.

Many places like Habitat, and Asset Recycling will have sections of chain-link. you really don’t need it, but we will be overnighting the rabbits in it, and ease of moving them.

 

Home remedies

Here are some remedies we have tried at home. Each recipe has been proven for different applications. Disclaimer we are not doctors or medical practitioners and you should consult your own doctor before using. We can only say we have used these recipes and have worked for us as a family.

 

Skin care – This recipe has been used for a variety of applications such as diaper rash, heat rash, minor burns, cuts, scrapes, abrasions, applied to kids lips who have a habit of licking or sucking top lips.  We used this for raw noses during cold season.

Ingredients

Petroleum jelly

Lavender essential oils

Warm jelly to liquid state about ½ cup jelly

Add lavender essential oil  about 20 drops mix well, place in small containers with tight lid (small Tupperware) and allow to cool. Apply mixture as needed. Do not use on deep wounds or severe burns.

 

Poison Ivy treatment  – Both my wife and I are susceptible to poison ivy. Once afflicted with the rash 1-2 treatments or 2-3 days should clear it right up.

In a pint jar add apple cider vinegar, Lavender oil, tea tree (20 drops each), Shake well, store tight jar away from light, apply with cotton ball or Q-tip 1-2 times a day.

Migraines

Equal parts by wt feverfew, lemon balm, peppermint herbs in pint jar (we filled the jar loosely)

Cover with 100 proof vodka, shake every day for 2 weeks, strain and place in jar away from light

¼ teaspoon in liquid every ½ hr until gone, not exceed 2 teaspoons in one setting, may be habit forming in that if used regularly for long enough, once you stop using it, you may develop a migraine.

Clover as living mulch, rabbit poop, and some lessons learned

Just a couple of topics covered today; Using clover as a living mulch, rabbit poop collection system, automatic watering system, massive rainfall in the Midwest, and some related news.

We have been busy with another site www.townofwingate.org as it is related to our activities we do on our little homestead. Upon moving to this small little rural town of 267 we thought all our practices and livestock would be just fine. After all, our neighbors had chickens, we are miles and miles from urban areas, it is a farming community, there are horses in town, we thought sheep were in town as well. Low and behold the town has an ordinance prohibiting chickens. After offering to help the town write a more updated ordinance, more inclusive (it was written at least 30 years ago), even offering to put together a website, our offers were ignored and the town council seemed to make us public enemy number one. We made it our mission to educate the town’s people who seemed to live in constant fear, who were kept in the dark about ordinances, laws, what was going on in the town, and even what their rights were. We are now publishing town council meetings online, put the ordinances online, put relative information online and made it FREE to the people. Since that wasn’t good enough, we are now also running for town council seats so that the HOA style mentality can be replaced with a more libertarian stance. Not really an excuse for lack of publication here, but does tell you what we have been up to. Try to change the things you can, and if that doesn’t work, be the change you want to happen. We needed to stop complaining and take action. Knowledge is power.

On a more farm note, this year we had some experimental garden beds where we used clover as a cover crop, and living mulch. We used dutch white clover. So far the results have been very positive and I think we are going to expand into larger areas. The clover only grows about 4 inches high, so any plants taller than that have done very well. They are bringing much needed nitrogen into the soil. It appears that the clover has also choked out many of the seeds as it is a thick blanket across the soil. We did till this particular bed as noting had ever been planted in the area and we wanted to break thinks up. This also has been an unusually wet season and normally I would think the think clover would have kept moisture in the soil. I really cannot make that claim as everything has had rain, and cannot really tell a different in the clover bed vs. non clover.

In our current animal enclose we are housing chickens, ducks, and rabbits. The guardian goose seems to think it is a dog or human and refuses to interact with the other birds. She lives inside for the moment. In our rabbit area, our breeders are in cages and are suspended about eye level and are in a U shape. Each rabbit has their own cage, roughly 2 ½’ x 3’. There is 4 foot space between the rabbits and the ground. We have been using deep litter (straw) in their area as well as the duck/chicken area. We are needing grow out pens for a future meat rabbits. The initial idea was to put them under the breeders, but then how to keep the waste off the meat rabbits? I had some old EDPM liner from a pond laying around and fashioned a trough/roof for the meat rabbits. In theory it should have allowed the pellets (poop) to roll off to the back, and same with urine. It didn’t work. Because of the weigh, and I didn’t secure it well enough the poop, urine, un eaten pellets, greens, and hay all dropped into the “diverter” and collected in one pool. That was a stinky nasty mess. Lesson learned, make sure the liner is taught. Once we install the meat rabbit gage, and clean it up a bit I will post a video of how we set everything up.

While still on rabbits, I have a 275 gal auto watering system. It means I do not have to fill bottles every day, they always have a water supply, and I do not have frozen waterers in winter. So I thought. Usually when I go and feed the rabbits I also make sure the water is still flowing by a quick push on one of the rabbit nipples. It has been hot, they have not been eating as much, and my wife fed them for a few days. I never told her about checking the nipples to see if water is still flowing. One day we bring our doe into breed with the buck, and he is just not doing his job. While waiting, and waiting, and waiting I check the nipples, no water! Went to check things out, and started trouble shooting. After about 10 minutes, we figured out the pump that recirculates the water had pulled something into the line and it had become clogged about half way through the 100 ft of tubing. Using the hose we were able to backflow and flush the clog out. Lesson learned, while it may seem intuitive, and repetitive task, always have someone follow you though farm chores. What you say and what you do may be two different things. This lesson was repeated when helping on a friend’s farm. He knows the electric fence is ALWAYS on and well, assumed I did too. NOT the case! Lesson learned there, assume all fences are electrified unless told or tested otherwise.

Seed, seedling and plant exchange-sale

A friend had an idea about how every year he always starts way more seeds than he needs. Just as a precaution to make sure all his vegetable beds are filled. Well, what to do with all the seeds that germinate that you won’t need? Not enough to sell at a farmers market, IF you can get in to sell. no time to sit at home waiting on people to show up to pick up or buy. Hate to throw a way, or compost. What to do?

A plant and seed exchange and sale.  This is the 1st of hopefully an annual event. Idally we would like to have spots set up on the North, South, East, West and Downtown sides of Indy and outlying areas too. If you want to host an event like this contact us.  I thought it would be nice to have one every weekend from mid April to end of May each weekend at a different part of  the area. If you don’t sell out in week one, move to spot two on the opposite side of town.

I will have a “booth” there and talk permaculture, maybe a few plants we have for sale. Stop by and say hi.

More information at the link here.

Here are the details.

Do you start more seeds than you need? Do you hate to just get rid of them? Don’t. Sell them, trade the, exchange them. Are you wanting to market unique plants and seeds but no place to sell them? Do you need to thin your plants, and hate to compost or trash them? Sell them. Do you have a side business selling plants, plant starts, or even seeds? Come out and sell your stock. It is not too late to start seeds for this event. Some people cannot start seeds, some don’t have the space, and some don’t have the materials. Whatever the reason, we are looking for vendors. Only plants, roots, seeds, etc. at this time. No animals or animal products (except maybe manure/compost). Worms, worm casting, and Black Soldier Fly approved for sale.

This is the 1st, but hopefully not the last, Seed, seedling, and plant sale-exchange.  We are meeting in the church parking lot, and there is additional parking at Perry Park (adjacent to the church), and across the street at Douglas MacArthur elementary school. 

Vendors or sellers will pay $20 for a parking lot size space, and if not muddy a lawn space behind the space. All money generated from space sales will go to Cub Scout Pack 120. There will be no power, Wi-Fi, or utilities available. There is a limit of 20 vendors. Contact Rick at wolfbeachfarms@gmail.com 317-997-5554 to get a spot (Paypal, CC, Cash, accepted for spot payment, all payments minus mandatory electronic transaction fees will go to the Pack).

Buyers are Free

Vendors or sellers may charge, collect, trade, exchange, as they see fit for their plants, seeds, trees etc. Some may be able to take Credit and debit cards with their smart devices, some may only take cash. So plan accordingly. 

Sale 10-2pm; setup 9-10am; take-down 2-3pm, so you can setup then go park the car and have more available space. Or, sell out of your trunk.

The Boy Scouts will also be selling food and drinks. Cash only please. 

If you RSVP your are RSVPing as a buyer. Use the email listed to secure your spot as a vendor.

Come on out, support the Scouts, and get your garden going. Buy local.  

The Church and the Pack are not affiliated with any vendor, and are not responsible for any transactions, accidents, or disputes that arise from the plant/seed sale. 

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.

 

Tree Grafting Workshop March 21, 2015 1-5pm

So I can finally publish the workshop details. We are bringing up Darren from Brambleberry Farm to teach a tree grafting workshop. If you haven’t heard about Brambleberry I have some links to past publications with them.

Podcast of tour

Post on tour

Here is the flyer for the workshop

Tree Grafting

Here is the details and how to register

Tree Grafting Workshop

Saturday, Mar 21, 2015, 1:00 PM

Burke Farm
6020 E. Raymond st indianapolis IN 46203 Indianapolis, IN

6 Gardener/Homesteader Attending

Are you intrigued by the ancient art of fusing two trees into one but haven’t been brave enough to give it a try? Do you want to learn a skill that will let you create your own superior fruit trees for $2 or less a tree? Do you have a beloved old family apple tree that you want to start anew in your own backyard? Learn to graft and YOU CAN! This Ma…

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