Archive | July, 2015

Tiltall Impulse Sprinkler

30 Jul


I’ve had this impulse sprinkler for a few years now.  Nothing fancy, but it gets the job done.


Except for that spike. You can never get that darn spike to hold the sprinkler in place very well. Plus it’d be nice to get the body of the sprinkler a bit higher off the ground to water a larger area. I’ve eyed those rainbird sprinklers in the store that come attached to a chintzy tripod, but they didn’t seem like they’d be worth the money. This is a farm, and chintzy aluminum tripods won’t last very long around livestock. As I often do, I got myself an idea.




This is a 1/2″ FPT elbow fitting (cast brass), a few 1/2″ copper fittings and a hose. Oh, and a 3.5″ puck cut out of a 2×6, pressure-treated of course.




Just about any impact sprinkler head will thread into the 1/2″ threads up top, and the bottom is graced with this 1/4″ T-nut. As luck would have it, 1/4″ is the same size as a standard tripod thread.





Add a Leitz Tiltall tripod (or Davidson Star-D as the case may be), one of the classic heavy-duty professional tripods, and you’ve got a farm-worthy sprinkler.



The newly-seeded grass around the chicken coop is getting all the water it needs. And the best part is that no Tiltalls were harmed in the making of this sprinkler. If you get the urge to photographize, just detach the sprinkler head and get shooting!

Cheap Chicken Nipple Waterers

28 Jul


OK, I’ll admit it, I’m pretty cheap sometimes.

It comes in handy when you’ve chosen an extremely lucrative profession like farming.


But sometimes frugality leads me astray.  The first iterations of our chicken waterers were built with some very nice poultry nipple waterers from QC Supply.  They’re fantastic and they’re $1.95 each.   When it came time to buy more I fell prey to the smoking deal on Amazon/Ebay/wherever for the type of nipple pictured above.  They’re quite a deal at $0.05 each. Or are they? I thought they’d be a step-up because they can be disassembled for cleaning.


Little did I know that they’d require dissasembly and cleaning at least four times per season.   So take that five cents and tack on the cost of slowed poultry growth when the nipples clog, a ruined pocketknife from prying out the little plungers and several hours of labor per year.

Those QC supply nipples are looking better all the time.  They’ve never once clogged or given me any trouble in the 2.5 years I’ve been using them.

Turkeys: take two

21 Jul


Earlier this month, against our better judgement we got a few turkeys.  We’ve been (understandably) gun-shy about getting more turkeys after our big disaster with them the first time.


But we sure didn’t like having to go buy a turkey for Thanksgiving last year either.  So turkeys it is.

Twenty Bourbon Reds.  Just enough to have a couple for the big fall feast.  They’re awfully expensive little guys.  It’s already $11 for each chick (poult if you want to get all technically-correct) and another $10 for butchering when the time comes.  Add in all the time and feed we’ll put in them in the next 5 months and they’re gonna cost a bit more than you’re average butterball.

This is your pasture on chickens.

13 Jul


Meat chickens aren’t exactly the most fun animals to raise.  Sure, they’re easy and fast, but they’re pretty gross critters, especially the cornish cross.   Add to that the fact that we don’t make much money off of the chickens and they’d seem like something we’d get rid of.

The other day I decided that I’d keep the chickens around even if they didn’t make us any money.  Why?

Because they can do amazing things for our pastures.

Have a good look at this picture of our worst pasture from 2 years ago.

2013-05-18 17.06.46 

And then compare it to the same spot this year.


See a bit of difference?

Yep, that’s the difference that a bit of strategically-placed hay and chicken poop can make.

Let’s take a closer look, shall we?

2013-05-18 17.07.01

This is the state of the pasture when we first acquired the farm. It looks great if you like sand, lichen and a few dead plants. But compare it to this spring, two years of pastured-chickens later.


Can’t quite see the ground through all the grass and clover.


Dig at it a bit and you can get a bit closer to the dirt. Funny thing, the dirt is completely covered with organic matter and is surprisingly damp given the near 100% sand that’s underneath.


To be sure, there are a few places where the pasture hasn’t improved much, but it’s mainly confined to the areas that were dug up last summer when we installed our water lines.  You can see the pasture-plant secession going left to right.

And then you’ve got big swaths of the pasture that look totally different, completely covered in red clover, white clover and birdsfoot-trefoil.


So there it is.
Two years of pastured chickens, spreading old hay, and feeding hay-bales in the winter.
No seed, no fertilizer, no lime, no problem.

Surprise chicks

6 Jul


We’ve been seeing a rogue Ameraucana hen hanging around the barn instead of being out in the Winebeggo on pasture with the other hens.  She’s clearly a wily one because we’ve been unable to track her down, despite many attempts.

The other day I managed to track her down by following the peeping of a lost chick.

She managed to take up residence in our old livestock waterer and hatch out 8 chicks in her spare time.

Can’t be too mad about that; they sure are cute.

Chicken Prison

5 Jul


After all the Winebeggo construction had wound down I had a fair bit of extra lumber laying about.

I decided we finally needed a dedicated chicken prison.


Chicken prison is where the bad hens end up. They may be suspected of eating eggs, they may have wandered away from the Winnebeggo, they may have started to go broody.
Either way, they need a secure spot to cool their heels for a few days while we get everything sorted out. The broody hens in particular, benefit from plenty of light and air circulation.

The 1/4″ hardware cloth we used for the floor lets manure fall through and should do nicely for breaking the broody hens of their sitting habit.

At the behest of the toddler, the chicken prison was first tested on the heeler.


Bullit was a good sport about it all.


The finished product, installed outside the chicken coop with it’s first inmate.