I have 30 chicks coming by mail in one week and I figured I would just find a livestock water tank or maybe a large cardboard box. The problem was a livestock tank used (and very used) were still quite expensive and the cardboard box was pretty flimsy and not re-usable. So, my lovely husband offered up the idea to use some of the pallets that we have been getting for the past two weekends and make our own re-usable baby chick (poultry) pen. Yea! Great idea. Fortunately for me, he loves to build stuff! Yes, Kristopher, you love to build stuff...all summer long :) The size is 2'8" X 4'4" X 2'8". I will put a strip of cardboard in the middle while my 30 chicks need the extra warmth and after a week or two will open it all up to them. Check out the pics below to see the process!
So, I am obsessed with pallets right now! I am trying to come up with new solutions to my chicken house, garden shed, mini barn, compost bins, and anything else that can be built with wood and it all points to one thing, EXPENSIVE. We need to install a new heating system (see other post about Geothermal) and believe it to be critical to saving serious dough in the future. We are currently running all propane and an expensive outdated a/c unit in the summer. Uh, at a stand still because I still want to build my cute chicken house and garden shed. Started researching more in depth after I got some pallets for cute decorating projects and Wallah! Pallet chicken house!! Which can also be made into a garden shed and possibly a larger shed/mini barn. I am just thrilled to still be able to keep my self-reliant goals going. We are ripping off barn wood from a friend's old grainery to side the chicken coop and garden shed and building the inerds with the pallets. For the chicken coop we plan to insulate between the slats of pallet boards and plywood the inside. So in my quest for pallets, I found lots of places that just want them out and off their property. And I would love to!.....con my cute husband into helping me yet again with the heavy stuff :) Last trip we scored lumber, not just pallets actual 2x4x8's made into long pallets. Not only am I, ahem ... we going to build this chicken coop, but I am going to do it for darn near free! Trust my, its not going to be some crazy mix of wood and look like a heap of junk- it will be cute! I also picked up six, 4 pane windows from a 1929 house remodel. 6 windows for $40. Not bad. Now I am looking for the perfect door for the garden shed and chicken coop. I wanted to build them in the garage/shop while it was cold outside but they will be much too heavy to ensure not breaking when transporting so I am gathering all the necessary items for when the ground thaws. It makes it so much more fun when you can do something just as cool if not cooler and spend very little doing it. Repurposing makes me very happy! As for the compost bin- yes, pallets. Super simple, easy, effective design! You will have to stay tuned to see how these projects unfold.
The incredible kernel of corn. Our country has taken it to a whole new level. So much so, it's controversial. The agricultural business has taken corn and widened its uses EVERYWHERE- animal feed, fuel, most crackers, soda, cereal, dairy products, processed fruits and vegetables, barbecue sauce, ketchup, spaghetti sauce, training fish to eat corn and the list goes on. If we take a look at WHY corn is fed to animals, it is simply because it fattens them up quickly making them ready to slaughter that much sooner. Consumers are purchasing more fat than they used to because corn fed animals (meat you buy from the grocery store unless marked grass fed) put on weight in terms of fat. This also translates to higher PSA levels in humans that consume this type of meat. Which also enhances the possibilities of getting cancer (s). I'm not taking on the corn industry but as a country, we are a bit used to going overboard. If we take a moment to reflect why America and her citizens are getting larger, aren't we just like the corn fed cattle? The things we grab at the grocery store are just by-products of corn. Sure, as individuals we are to blame somewhat by what we put in our mouths but when the packaging has a beautiful picture of a small farm that makes it appear to be healthy and the first ingredient is corn or a chemical breakdown of it -it does seem a little unfair. How many people look at the nutritional value of each item they buy and actually KNOW what that long, strange word is? The best tool the food industry uses is trickery. A multi-billion dollar industry that tricks its customers into buying their corn products. So why corn? Its relatively cheap to produce. Look at the statistics on farming in the past 50 years. We have moved from small dairy farms, local fruits and vegetables, and buying local meats at the butcher shop to using four major companies to supply most our food needs. Imports coming from Chile, Mexico, Argentina, and all over the world to supply us with 'organic' and regular foods. Therefore, corn is cheap and why not mix it in everything. It makes customers feel full and the industry makes more money on top of it. They use trickery to make us believe what we are eating is healthy. Many people think corn IS healthy. Yes, in its most natural state, but otherwise it's really just a lump of starch. Our bodies are not meant to run on such a high percentage of starch so it just stores it as fat. We pretend like we don't know why disease and gastric problems are on the rise. We blame it on things like people living longer yet think it is amazing when farmers and their spouses have been living "the good life" at 93. It's not because they are lucky. They have eaten closest to nature their entire lives. And yes, also because it is cheaper to produce your own vegetables, meat and fruit. Followed by storing it fresh by freezing or canning. Growing your own fruits and vegetables and canning them for winter months is the most healthy and best thing you can do for your body. You know what ingredients have gone into it and can pronounce all of them. Its up to us to take care of our families and with the shortage of farmers in the U.S., we will see more corn products on the shelves to fill the need of 'new' industrialized products to purchase. In addition, we will continue to see fruits and vegetables sprayed with chemicals to keep bugs off of them and also to make them ripen pre-maturely. Not enough people are asking what this does to our bodies and more importantly, children. The answer is, like a chemically enhanced tomato or growth hormone given to dairy cattle, it ripens a child early the same way. Our children are the future, and without teaching them how a garden grows or where our food really comes from, they will be in a world of hurt - financially and economically. My children mean the world to me, like most parents feel about their children. So take a moment to ask yourself what you can do to eat healthier by growing your own or supporting local markets that sell homegrown. If given the choice, I believe most people would purchase closest to nature and would opt to buy the NON corn filled products. Some ideas to get closer to nature: 1. Go to farmer's markets - load up for the week. If anything, they are FUN! 2. Hunt- wild game is SO good for you and very little fat. 3. Buy meat as grass fed from a local small farmer. Store in your freezer (you can get 1/4 cow up to a whole - same for pork). If you don't have a chest freezer, get one. Super cheap on Craigslist. 4. Buy fruits and vegetables in their season and if you know its good buy a lot and can it. 5. Grow a garden, even if its small! Don't forget a berry patch, super high in anti-oxidants and don't take up much room. 6. Look for free range chicken eggs- TRUST me, backyard chickens are on the rise- you can find these literally down the road from you from someone cheaper than the grocery store even if you live in the city. 7. Be on the prowl and keep your ears open for local products, ie honey, pork, beef, chicken, duck, apples, etc. Closest to home is best for your body. The more you put your feelers out, the more you will find. People that raise products like these LOVE to talk about it and the resources will start pouring out.
Truth be told, I have not had much luck starting seeds indoors. It could be because whenever I got the idea to buy a "complete" mini greenhouse in a 24" X 36" planting tray, I just poured water on the dirt disks, threw the seeds in them about 2" too deep, lost the tags that went with each seed (which never really mattered because only 1% of them made it to sunlight), and killed the seeds that finally germinated because I just put them straight outside in my planting pots I had not allowing them to 'harden off.' So, after spending time in botany prison researching correctly how to plant indoor seeds, I feel that I am going to be wildly successful this time around. Besides, the only vegetable and flowers you can typically buy that are ready-to-plant plants are the run of the mill standard varities. Boring. After purchasing and receiving my seeds for 2013, I went through them all and categorized when I need to start each one. I wrote the date on each packet (according to the directions on the packet) when to start indoors by checking when my frost-free date is for my location and counting back however many weeks to sow indoors. After I completed that, I wanted to be prepared for all my seedlings and a place to start them all. I started researching best methods for starting seeds indoors and came across the following site put out by the Univeristy of Minnesota's horticulture extension: http://www.extension.umn.edu/distribution/horticulture/m1245.html Great article about starting seeds indoors. In my set-up, I used this as my template to follow and will show you my step by step process that I took to make a complete indoor greenhouse ready for indoor planting. Supplies 48" long shelving unit with 5 shelves $42 Small chain link $2.97 4 - 48" long fluorescent shop lights (for 2 T8 lightsbulbs 32 watt) meant to hang with chain $9.99 each 4 lightbulbs that fit the shop lights in DAYLIGHT $7.98 each (pack of 2) 4 lightbulbs that fit the shop light in COOL WHITE $7.98 each (pack of 2) Needle nose pliers 8 standard black planting trays $1 each 8 Medium/small S hooks $1.99 pack of 8 Drill with drill bit (bit a little larger than the S hook to hang from) Potting Mix $3.45 each 2 Spray bottles $1.99 each Liquid or powder fertilizer $4.97 Segmented planting trays (6 spots) $.45 Plug-in 24 hour timer $6.97 Heating blanket or gardening heating mat $15 for heating mat - I had an unused heating blanket Directions 1. Put together shelving unit. My husband put the shelves upside down so that the side with a lip would be where your planting trays sit. 2. On both ends of the shelving unit, each shelf needs a hole drilled in it for the S hook to go in to. Shelving units have holes thoughout the ends of them to hang things from, so in order to get the S hook in, find a hole in the center of each shelf end. Stick the S hook through it to make sure it fits and mark where the end of the S hook is and drill a hole there for the S hook to hang from. See pictures for clarification. 3. Take your lights out of boxes (some come with chains but in case they don't you'll have extra) and locate the pre-drilled holes on the ends to hang with chain. Attach chain to S hook. Leave 2-4" above black planting trays with segmented trays also or 4" pots inside. Remove the chainlink with the pliers and leave the link open. Put the open hooked end into the hanging holes on the light fixture and do so for the other side as well. The first light is now hung. Do the other 3 lights as the first. 4. Put 1 daylight lightbulb and 1 cool white lightbulb in all 4 light fixtures. 5. Plug all electrical cords for the lights into a multiple plug in. Plug the multiple plug-in into the timer and set the hours you want to have your lights on the seeds. Recommended 12-14 hours a day. I set mine from 7am-9pm the lights will be on. Nice to have the automatic timer so you can set it and forget it. 6. Fold the heating blanket a little larger than the base of the shelving unit. Put the blanket or heating mat under the base. See pictures for clarification. Plug the blanket into the outlet above the outlet that is is being used for the timer. It is important to leave the heating source on constant even when the lights are out. If using a blanket, keep on the lowest setting and if you can't feel it, move the temp setting up from there. Not too warm just warm to the touch. 7. Put your potting soil, fertilizer, trays, and water bottles (be sure to label one that will have fertilizer in it) on top of shelving unit until ready for use. 8. Fertilize 1/4 ratio what you should for regular plants. Mix with water. Fertilize the seeds that need it 9. Be sure the seeds that benefit from bottom heat are closest to the bottom (ie tomatoes). Try to group the plants that need fertilizer in the same area so when you spray them with the fertilizer water bottle you aren't getting it on others that are not supposed to have it. You can also hang clear plastic around the shelving unit if you want your temps to be higher inside but a minimum of 60 degrees F is sufficient for most indoors seedlings. And lastly, do not put your plants by the window! Night time temps are so cold in March/April that it can be hard on seedlings. And there you go! Your inexpensive, re-usable, lighted indoor plant stand!