Friday, March 6, 2015

Making My Own Rain Barrels

This rain barrel is for sale for $300
I'd love to make a similar one - but I may need to hire someone to paint it.  

I needed to draw up a plan for my rain barrel project, and I decided I might as well put it right here - that will enable anyone with experience to comment and give input.  I'll update as I progress - right now the barrels are frozen to the ground in half a foot or more of snow, but with the temps in the 40s all  next week, I expect to be able to get them to the garage to work on them soon.

The Barrels - 
I have 55 gallon white barrels that my husband got from someone last year when I  first started talking about wanting to make my own.  After reading a LOT of websites, I think I decided I want two barrels by the garage, and one off the corner of the house.  (There's really not room for two at the corner).  Eventually I want a whole row of them up at the upper shed, but I'm starting with the backyard first - where I keep my raised garden beds.  

Ask around, someone is likely to know where to get food grade barrels.  Apparently many places have to pay to dispose of them, because they are plastic, so they are often cheap or free.

The Base
I will most likely elevate them off the ground with pallets, or some sort of wooden structure built from scrap our rough cut lumber.

I found this information at the Rain Barrel Man site - I'm thinking 2 feet of the ground, approximately.  (But after reading more, closer to 3 feet might be better)
The higher the elevation the greater the water pressure will be at the lower point. Each foot of elevation change is equal to 0.433 PSI (pounds per square inch) of water pressure or every 2.3 feet in elevation you will get 1 lbs of pressure. So if you place your Rain Barrel on a 2 ft. stand you would have 2.165 pounds of water pressure. To give you an idea as to how low that is, is to tell you that the plumbing in your house is between 40-80 PSI and you would not want that in your Rain Barrel because it would be empty in seconds! 2 to 3 PSI is a good operating mode especially if you connect a drip irrigation kit to it.

Getting the Water IN the Barrel

I really like this for getting the water from the downspout to the barrel - but I want to see if I can find a cheaper version.  ($32 for that???)  I'll take the photo into our local hardware store and see what they recommend.

I love the river rocks on top of the barrel.  My plan is to cut a large hole into the top of the barrel, cover it in screen, then in river rocks as shown here

Then I want to cut (drill) two small holes (one inch diameter? ) at the top of the barrel for overflow.

I love this site - one of the things I learned there was this- 
Don’t get bugged. Mosquitoes are naturally drawn to stagnant water and rain barrels provide the ideal breeding ground. Screens will stop some of that, but not all. One year, I had mosquitoes crawling in through my overflow pipe.  Adding several drops of baby oil to each rain barrel will create an oily film in the water, and should stop mosquitoes from laying eggs in your rain barrel.

This site suggested a food grade oil, which is probably wise - but also mentioned that some people use goldfish in them.  Huh.  I like that idea...  no oil with the fish, and you have to make sure they always have water.. and of course there is the added concern of how big will they get, where will I keep them over winter if they are huge...  maybe I'll use olive oil

I also loved that he just tossed an old window screen over the top of the barrel.  :-)  I also noticed that his gutters appear to just be shortened. the piece that is already on the bottom of mine, at the ground, is now above the barrel.  If I can shorten my spouting like this, it would save needing that "rain saver" part above.  He notes "Your downspout might not quite hit the sweet spot on the rain barrel.  A little extra piece of aluminum downspout is probably the simplest solution. I used a piece of Plexiglas, which also does the job nicely."  - You can see that more clearly on his site.

The Spigot

Isn't that cute?  It's also $46.  So no thanks.  :-)

This Youtube video helped me A LOT.  I needed to see how the spigot actually is attached.  I made this materials list after watching it, I have a small town hardware store with helpful staff, so this basic list should work for me, they will make sure I get the right sizes.

At the instructables site, I read this comment - 
"skip the garden faucet, get a 1/4 turn 3/4" ball valve. 
Compare water flow with regular garden faucet and 1/4 turn ball valve 
(both screw into same size hole and fit a garden hose): 

Ok, I am not sure, after watching the video, that I need that much additional pressure, but I sort of love how the water comes through the stand, not the barrel.  I'm envisioning some sort of hose out of the bottom of the barrel, enabling you to completely empty it, which is awesome.  But I will probably settle for a spout near the bottom of the barrel

This site has two spigots - one at watering can height.  Something to consider...

Painting The Barrel
Do a google image search on painted rain barrels, and the results are pretty awesome.

With all of the plastic paints (like krylon) out there, it shouldn't be too difficult either...  not that I could paint the more intricate designs, those are beyond my skill set, but I can probably come up with something I have fun doing.  And maybe I can hire a friend to make me that peacock one...

This site shows entries from a rain barrel painting contest - what a great idea!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Around the Farm This Week - March 5 2015

While everyone else is shouting "come on spring!" I'm walking around thinking we need 6 more weeks of winter to save up for, and prepare for, all the work spring will bring.  The rain barrels are not done, the shed roof needs repaired, spouting is missing off the back of the shed, fences all need repaired, at least two shelters need completely rebuilt...  and that's not even a real start of a list.  I need to start our spring project list, list the materials needed, adjust our budget, and plan to get some of this taken care of.  But oh vey, this spring will bring a LOT of work.  (I'm still blaming my son's fall wedding for being so far behind - but some - perhaps a lot -  of it was laziness too.)

How Not To Catch A Peacock:

 1. Drive car to location. Shine spot light on peacock, who has roosted on a neighbors truck for the past few days, but tonight is up in a tree.
 2. Repeat the phrase "he'll be a sleep, he'll be easy to catch" as the not sleeping peacock looks down at you. 
3. Drive home, get truck & extension ladder, leaving others behind to sing lullabies to the peacock, & tell him it's past his bedtime, he should be sleeping. 
4. Listen to female (ie "mom" or "wife") list all the reasons using an extension ladder in the dark, on a hill, after an ice storm, may not be a good idea. 
5. Ignore female. Extend ladder on icy hill. 
6. Find that the ladder does not reach the branch. 
7. Attempt to lift ladder in the air & use it to scare peacock, so that he will fly down to ground.
 8. Watch peacock fly to another tree, 10 feet higher than his original perch.
 9. Plan To repeat.

Eggs all washed. smile emoticon Each winter we line the inside of the coop with old feed bags, to help stop drafts. The hens have all done well all winter - we're getting 10 eggs a day now. For some reason, our hens only lay if we feed them one feed from clarks (true value). Although other feed labels look comparable, & friends & neighbors have no issues with other feed (we'd prefer to buy local feed from Norms farm store) if we switch to any other feed, they stop laying.

Since we're getting 10 eggs a day, I'm making a lot of egg recipes.  This puff oven pancake was a hit this week - it's an old recipe I've used often, but I added a lot more stuff, like an omelet, this week -

On The Internet This Week - 

 I have had this posted on my facebook page by well meaning friends so many times in the past week - everyone thinks I "need" these.  But the two pictures do not go together.  

"The black eggs are boiled eggs in sulphuric springs. The chicken is a Ayam Cemani rooster a rooster and a Hen together are known to sell for $2500 - $5000 for the pair. They come from Indonesia."The birds are completely black: black plumage with a greenish shine, black legs and toe nails, black beak and tongue, black comb and wattles; even their meat, bones and organs appear black. " "The hens lay cream-colored eggs with a slight pink tint" - from the backyard chickens forum

Where those black eggs came from -
Ōwakudani (大涌谷 lit. "Great Boiling Valley"?) is a volcanic valley with active sulphur vents and hot springs in Hakone, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan. It is a popular tourist site for its scenic views, volcanic activity, and especially, Kuro-tamago (黒卵 lit. "black egg"?) — a local specialty of eggs hard-boiled in the hot springs. The boiled eggs turn black and smell slightly sulphuric; consuming the eggs is said to increase longevity. Eating one is said to add seven years to your life. You may eat up to two and a half for up to seventeen and a half years, but eating a whole third is said to be highly unadvised.

We have 2 black angus cows that could be bred this spring. But we can't keep them in the fence.   I don't know how many times we have been called, or I have hollered out "the cows are in the middle of the road" just this week.  Too many.  Way too many.

 We already sold one because she would not stay fenced, I think we may need to sell a second one - the 3rd stays in the fence when the other cow isn't in the same pasture to lead the way out.  But do we really want just ONE cow to have a baby this year?  What will it cost to have just one cow inseminated?  Add to the list of things we need to figure out.  The two babies in the back pen are ready to move up to the middle pen, they are off milk and on just grain and hay now.  It's too icy to move them just yet, but I need to get them out of that pen before I can get more babies.

Goats - 
Doing well.  We found a new home for Uggie this week - that was hard.  

If you have visited the farm, or petted the goats at heritage days, you have probably met Uggie - she is one of the friendliest, and oldest, goats I have had. (She's the one you all ask "what happened to her ears?" - She's a LaMancha, they don't have regular ears) This winter we had to move her out from the goat pen - I can't risk her getting pregnant, so she had to be on her own in a separate pen. She wasn't happy - goats are herd animals. They hate being alone. She had the opportunity to be a companion to another older goat, both pets. I know it's what is best for her - but I hated seeing her go. She's been here 7 or 8 years, since she was a baby.

I'm pretty excited about this garden calendar, although so far all I have done is download it.  I used to have a printable one that worked like this, but this is a spreadsheet that does all the work for you :
Garden planning calculator. Tell it what you want to plant, it will tell you when to start the seeds, & when to plant outdoors -

I think that pretty much sums up this weeks chaos & interests - I'm hoping to do this each week, so I have a diary of what life is really like here on the "peaceful" farm in central PA.  :-)

The Self Sufficient HomeAcre

Recipe - Puff Oven Pancake

6 eggs beaten, 
1.5 cups flour, 
1.5 cups milk,
 1.5 tsp salt.
 Melt 6 T butter in a 9x13 pan, mix then mix the other ingredients & pour on top

This morning I added sausage & cheese. It's also good with sliced apples & a little brown sugar.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Tackle It Tuesday - Jewelry Storage

In February I'm working through storage & Organization for all appearance related items.  Last week was make up.  This week was jewelery.  I still have my closet, dressers, and nail care to go.
This is all of my jewelry, gathered up from no less than 4 rooms and 8 locations around the house.  I know, I know.  But when there is no good system for storage, things can get out of hand quickly.  I've tried a few systems over the years. One of the large jewelry cabinets hidden behind a full length mirror, craft boxes to sort earrings, regular jewelry boxes...  so far nothing has worked well for me. 

After sorting it all out, getting rid of about half, and putting the items I'd like to save, but know I will not wear right now (gold hoops will come back in favor eventually - but for now, I really only wear the silver ones..) in that white craft box to pack away, I came up with this solution:

The key to the success here is location, location, location.  :-)  All of my jewelry is now stored beside the mirror I use to get ready each day. I tackled this project last Tuesday  - and although it's only been a week - I am in love with this.  Before I would set jewelry on the cabinet right outside this door, all the time.  I'd take off earrings while sitting on the couch and let them on a stand, etc.. but this is so conveniently located that I haven't set jewelry anywhere but away where it belongs for the past week.  Awesome.

I don't wear the pins frequently - but to keep it easy to access them, the burlap is hung on picture hooks.  (Cup hooks would work too) so I can pull the entire thing down, remove the pin I want, and put the entire thing back up there.

The necklaces hang on a $3 tie hanger (belt hanger?  I don't know for sure what it is!) that I removed the hanger from.  I found it at Dollar General.

My earrings are on an old chain that is broken and tarnished.
Then in the little flip down drawer on our medicine cabinet, I added some scrapbook paper to the back, then inspired by the bottom photo of this post, I found mini cupcake liners in my pantry and used them for holding the earrings that will not hang over a chain well.  While in the pantry, I noticed a thread holder - a very old metal one - on my sewing desk, and I stuck that in here to hold rings.

Photos that inspired me:
I love all the old frames re-purposed to frame jewelry.  

Right now my bracelets are stored in two small baskets hanging on the wall - but I might eventually do this.  

I think I'm in love with the luxury of this much space just for accessories.  I love all the different containers here.

I doubt this would be too practical - but I've always loved metal graters, so it amused me

If you had the space, this would be a pretty cheap and quick option.  

Another take on the frame idea - She has a silver one on her site too, and she shows you the thrift store dog photo she started with.  :-)  I love that she used a kitchen towel from the Dollar Store for her backing material!

Valentines Project - Button Heart on Canvas

Decorating For Valentines Day 2015

The inspiration piece came from here:

I had all the materials on hand, but I did buy some extra red buttons, because I didn't want to use up all the red ones in my button collection.

It would probably be best to paint the canvas white first, but I was using an old canvas and the black covered what was already on there.  :-)
To evenly space the lines, I covered the top with painters tape, then removed every other strip.

Because it is painters tape, it peeled right off without hurting the paint underneath at all.  
It really made this super quick and simple

Then I used a cut out of a heart and outlined it in glue, to form the heart
On the original she used a red burlap heart behind the buttons - but I didn't have red burlap on hand, and I was ok with some of the background peeking through.