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Farmette 1769

by Monica Melograna-Ward

Category Archives: Recycle

At some point I realized how crazy (utter madness) it was to be hardcore about frequent blogs within a hectic life (KOYAANISQATSI). So I broke off from them in December 2018, planning to return shortly after the first of the year 2019.

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Part 1 – The Wild, Wild West

It’s suddenly May 2019. Here I am now writing amongst a large pile of other projects awaiting my attention. And that’s the thing. One project (or even five) never seems to be enough. I can’t count how many are in the queue right now.

My lack of sole project focus shows up dramatically in beekeeping. But the bees survived the winter well, with no sugar water syrup support from the onset of freezing weather… and none since.  The hive turned 1 year old on March 17th.

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Now Farmette 1769’s honey bee hive has gone hog wild!

My approach is normally as natural & artistic as possible with everything; no pesticides, no tight plan, no frames, reduce/reuse/recycle and so on. The 55,000+ bees could do anything they wanted to their hearts desire/content. Maybe that helped get our hive going full force.

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Part 2 – 110,000+ More Honey Bees!

I know that the main hive is doing really well since it swarmed at least twice this spring. Neither time was I prepared.

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The first swarm formed on March 26, 2019, about 50 feet from the main hive. I tried to drop the mass of bees (surrounding a new queen) into a bin. That was a hot mess. Then I found a few videos on YouTube and made a temporary hive with one top bar.

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After getting the bees onto a tarp, as shown in many beekeepers’ YouTube videos, they funneled themselves right into the box as soon as I placed it where I thought the queen was.

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I was SO excited that this worked and reveled in the bees going in & out of a cardboard filing box for a solid day and a half. The neighbors then saw them swarm and leave.

Apparently, you must capture & cage the queen, or at least screen the swarm in for a few days (with syrup feeder access). A real wood nuc hive box would have helped too.

I was horribly disappointed, but it was still great fun! A second swarm formed a week or two later, but I was too slamming busy to do anything about it.

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Part 3 – The Empty Honey Super

I obviously like to build and up-cycle wood, etc., but both my time and energy are getting sucked up with contract work (I LOVE working for a major online retailer!), raising a teenager/up & coming rock star, nagging my dear husband, chores and the “never-ending livestock and/or pets trying to get eaten by wild predators or die on us” bonanza.

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Since my homemade honey super with top bars only (no framing) has been a bust,

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I finally broke down and ordered a half stack, fully assembled super, with frames and wax-covered plastic comb. The idea that bees would be forced into rectangles bothered me, but if I hope to get honey from our bees this summer, I must give in to the stricter approach.

They had this lovely super add-on box with frames on Amazon. I hope that it comes mint-colored as shown in the pic, but that is most likely bad lighting. It says “painted wood”, but the color is not stated. It will probably be white (that will change).

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I also ordered a metal queen excluder to keep her from going up into the super and brooding eggs amongst the potential honey. Having started off with an awkward, bendy plastic excluder for my homemade super, I decided to pull out the big guns this time.

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The main hive is a maze that can’t be disturbed at this point. There is one spot that is open and the rest is forever sealed with bee goo. I’ll attach the new excluder onto the bottom of the new super and just pop it all on top of the main hive.

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Right now the cap rests on the base hive. I went ahead and took the old super off before the dawn this morning. That top will end up on the new super and we’ll get the party started. There are three big bags of sugar in the pantry from last year, so I’ll have to break those out to help encourage the bees to make us some honey.

Hopefully, I’ll be able to write regularly, albeit maybe not as often as last year.

See you’all soon!

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Yesterday, on my husband’s day off, he got on a mission to take on the old barn. He started off removing boards for us to cut into sizes for the exterior of the new barnette. He just kept going. I joined in as his assistant (I have gotten more careful about my healing from surgery vs. how far to push my limits). That worked well since today I am not paying for doing too much.

I really should have gotten a pic of Jamie. He was decked out in a very sexy outfit of shorts and rubber boots (LOL). Although not much of a fashion statement, I often wear the same thing in the warmer weather when working outside.

The only thing that went wrong was that this raw enthusiasm happened as rain was coming in. I looked out the window this morning at Big Man (dressed in his raincoat luckily) to see torrential rain with nothing for him to seek shelter in. Luckily, the temperature is in the 60’s on this 7th day of December here in NC.

But, the temperature is going to drop as the day progresses all the way down to 30 degrees. The last pic shows our two car garage with only one thing parked in it until we get those boards up on the new shelter.

YESTERDAY

Just a frame left now

Going down

Bigs is confused. (Also, note the giant hole in Bigs's jacket that Rocky, the grumpy Shetland pony, tore open. Thanx Rocky!)

Getting materials out of the pasture

Back to the garage for sizing...

TODAY

Bigs being a good boy - in the garage.

Luckily, Rocky fits in the fenced back yard nicely with our goats.

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Buy some, Gather some, Re-Use some… Build! Everyone is on a budget, but it should not stop you from have the kind of homestead you want. We all have our priorities. Ours are paying bills. 🙂

But, we do have priorities that diverge from basic living needs. For my husband it is everything music. He is always dreaming of the next piece of equipment or a guitar. Right now, I am trying to work some art supplies into the mix. We want to take our son to some swimming lessons at the YMCA over the Summer and maybe British Soccer Camp for a week (shhhh!). And sometimes we will actually all go out to eat! All these are necessities in my book. Why bother working so hard if you aren’t going to be able to enjoy yourself?

So, back to the dilemma. How do you go about building when materials are so pricey? My motto is “Trash Picking!”. I am always processing uses for things I see along the roadside. Freecycle and craig’s list “Free” section are possibilities too.

Recently, making sure I had time to kill and some energy in pocket, I went to the DIY store (in this case – Lowes). I went back and forth looking at all the edge glued wood pieces. There were paint and premium grades. So, of course, I start looking at the lower priced paint quality boards. There were certainly very different levels of quality to choose from within the pile of boards – all priced the same.

I found (the last time I was shopping) 1′ x 2″ pine that was one price in the trimming board section and less than half that price on the construction side of the lumber section. These strips of wood were not warped and looked fine.

Craig’s list had yielded me an old table a while back. The top was worn and warped, but the leg stand was heavy metal and solid. It has these holes all around the frame edge for screws. I took the old top off.

The following shows the 4 edge glued boards that I purchase for $6.90 each (3 boards were pressure-glued together to make each whole piece). The framing strips were 88 cents each (these will end up on the underside of the table). I have some polyurethane in the garage. Or we could use Old English furniture oil or regular linseed oil from the farm supply store. Again, the base was free.

Old top on floor to the right

New table in progress

My favorite part is that this is an EASY project. A bit of carpenters glue between each of the 4 large pieces that will make up the length of the table, screws for the strips/frame and wood conditioner will complete the task. (PS: Our Ryobi miter saw was cheap and is an extremely handy tool. The stabilizer strips will be cut to size in seconds.)

Hopefully, this big farm table will turn out well – and under $50.00.

Note: If you would rather just buy something, IKEA a great place for basic funiture. We do not get the particle board pieces. If you want something to last a while, go for the solid wood pieces like the BJURSTA dining table.

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I have always been a big fan of recycling. When it was not available curb side, we’d haul all we could to recycling centers. Between the recycling centers and Goodwill, the land fills have been relieved of a lot of stuff.

Lack of funds for supplies and green living go together. Reusing requires more imagination. Since I have all these pictures of structures in my head and no materials, why not expand on the reclaimed wood idea that has been used on some of our animal shelters?

Coming up with ideas that do not take a great amount of physical strength is a challenge. I have to work in short spurts and without heavy lifting due to a medical issue. There is a balance to be held between activity and rest. If I do too little, I will lose muscle. If I do too much, the inflammation takes hold. Holding power tools can also present a problem. So, I have been wracking my brain to come up with solutions for my limitations. I need to create a building style that is easy on the body.

I always liked those candle holders made of little pieces of glass. Tiffany lamps are great also. The thoughts in my head today revolve around reusing glass bottles. I have been saving wine and beer bottles to make into hummingbird feeders, but I may build a chicken shelter with them. There is a great site about glass bottle houses with lots of pics on it: http://popsop.com/6571. I particularly like the Buddhist temple and Artist’s studio. Bottles allow some light through and add color to structures.

I also found how to make filler that is natural: http://www.wikihow.com/Build-an-Adobe-Wall. We have plenty of clay soil available (not sure yet where to get sand without a trip to the beach with a dump truck). Cement may have to be an added ingredient since the area that we live in is not dry like that of regular, adobe, housing locations.

Some sort of basic wooden frame seems necessary. Two by Fours are inexpensive and easy to work with. It would probably help quite a bit to have a skeleton shell to help the project along.

How Big?

Having a barn that is large enough to walk into without bending is my first thought. As I started to draw, I realized that an entrance way would be great. If there were a 45 degree turn, the wind and weather could be kept out while keeping the building door-less. Supplies could be kept in the entry way, up in cabinets.

Shelter Sketch A

Obviously, this is a long term project if it were to be made exclusively from bottles. Maybe just part of it will be glass inspired. Hmm?

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We have tried many different ways to provide fresh water to our fowl. Containers have been purchased at the farm supply stores. Bowls have been made from old pots and buckets.

Either way, there has always been quite a problem with the birds getting their drinking supply dirty. I have been trying to come up with a good, low cost solution that is not too difficult to set up.

I recently discovered that you need to put a little money into a specialized part. Then you can recycle household items (2 liter soda containers, wire/twine) for the rest of the project.

The part was probably, originally designed for use in higher volume PVC pipe type watering systems. If you poke around the net, you will find some information about their use for back yard flock waterers. I purchased a dozen push in watering nipples from Meyer Hatchery’s web site (McMurray Hatchery – similar name but no drinkers for sale).

Large Soda Bottle with Nipple

Getting this together is a bit harder than it looks. You must have a good drill and a bit that is about 23/64″. The hole that you drill needs to be as small as possible so that the nipple fits tightly and does not leak.

The crucial pivot point of my neck is damaged, so I have to commandeer my husband for tasks that require arm strength and pressure derived from the upper body. Even as a really big guy, he struggled to push the nipple (including 1/2 of the rubber washer) through the hole. I may try to find a drill bit that is just a touch wider.

Drilling can be a challenge since the soda bottle cap wants to spin with the drill bit. I have a solution in my head that would make the task easier if one were to make a lot of these drinkers. You need to use a 2″ x 4″ board under the cap to drill through it and not into the floor. But, I think if you were to attach two pieces of wood to this board in a V-like shape, you could slid the cap into the spot where it was snug for drilling.

The next step is to construct something in order to to hang the bottle up at bird head level – so that they can drink comfortably. We drilled a small hole on either side towards the base of each bottle. Wire or rope slides right through the middle and creates a handy hanger when tied or twisted at the ends.

Hanger and Filler Door

You also need a way to fill the bottle up with water. I wanted the watering system to be EASY to manage. Not wanting to have to take the bottles out of the coop, take off the cap, fill and put back, I decided on a hole at the base near the holes for the hanger.

After several tries, I came up with a good solution. A “Fish Mouth” shape was the winner. So that the least amount of contaminants would enter the bottle, a flap was a necessity. It was also important that an average size hose would fit in for filling. I followed the contour of one of the 5 bubbles in the bottle design that make up the standing base. PERFECT!

These were tested before I wrote this Blog entry. They work great! So far, the new drinkers are in the standard chicken, guinea, bantam chicken and quail pens. A few drops of water and shiny steel parts attracted the birds to the nipples. By the next day they were all drinking readily from the hanging pop bottles.

Water in the drinkers lasts several days. You can add a little apple cider vinegar or a drop of bleach to help keep them clean. I am guessing that periodically, the bottles will have to be replaced. The caps with nipples can be re-used over and over again.

Final Product

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There is no way to count the ways in which all of us can do this. You have to be practical, since it all takes time, energy and some space. Every bit helps both our little piece of the planet and the whole world.

Ideas run a muck when you visit others with a similar approach to the day. Old buckets can be used as nesting boxes and tin tomato sauce cans can be used to start seedlings.

Our main chicken coop began with newly purchased wood, but the continuation has been produced with reclaimed wood. This is a great way to save money and the environment. If you’d like a consistent look, a bit of brick colored barn paint is low cost and does add its flair to your barnyard.

Our food is not wasted – ever. What does not go into the chicken coops, goes to the compost bins. Although the ducks are vegetarians, the chickens, turkey and guinea fowl are like vultures on just about anything that comes their way. After seeing them in action, I have no doubt that they are closely related to dinosaurs.

So, you can turn your table scraps into eggs. Many residential areas allow a small number of hens, but no roosters.

Fact

The great thing about chickens is that you don’t need a male chicken to motivate your hens to lay. Roosters are sperm donors only. The exception to that rule – we have one little guy (the smallest yet most aggressive to humans) that enjoys raising chicks.

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A quick note ending the normal work week (our work continues over the weekend). Posts resume on Monday.

Manure is great natural fertilizer for your garden. This is good news to us, since when we have enough for our own garden, a craigslist follower gets free growth enhancement and we get free farm help. Nothing like a “Free”  Farm and Garden Ad to clear out the pasture. BYOPF – Bring your own pitch fork!

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