Tag Archives: DIY

Winnebeggo v2.0

13 Jun

Well, it took us two years, but we outgrew the Winnebeggo v1.0.  Ok, we really outgrew it last year, but I needed a winter to come up with the next iteration.  So, everyone, it is with great anticipation that I introduce the Winnebeggo v2.0.

We start the whole thing off with the same base frame as the Winnebeggo 1.0, a 10′ x 20′ frame bolted to the top of an old running gear. The top structure is going to be made of 10′ hoops of 3/4″ conduit that we made with our hoop bending jig.  Hoops (and their accompanying crossbeam on the base) are spaced every 4′.

 

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After all the hoops and their uprights are witness marked and labeled(zoom in on the pic to see them where the upright 2×4’s meet the base), the whole upright and hoop part can be taken back down.  Through the middle you may notice that smaller crossbeams have been added every 16″ where the walkway will be.  Oh, and you’ll also have noticed all the boards running lengthwise that we added to the base; those are some 1×3 furring strips (which are really cheap) that will serve to distribute the weight a little bit.

Notice that we’ve left a nice wide, well-supported aisle down through the middle of the Winnebeggo.  That ought to let us walk down the length of the whole contraption to get access to all the nooks and crannies.  Believe me, you’ll need to eventually and sooner than you think.

So after that little carpentry project, we’ll take all the uprights down, stripping it all back down to the base.

No really, take them all down, because that’ll make the next part much easier.

 

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We took delivery of this lovely 200-plus pound roll of wire mesh.  This stuff is 1″x1″ mesh that is 5′ wide.

Roll it up onto the wagon using a ramp made of extra boards and get ready to staple.

 

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Two passes is all it should take, for a total of 40′ of mesh.

After it’s all down you can go back and cut out the holes where the uprights will need to go back in.  This is where all the witness marks and labeling will come in real handy.

 

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Skin the whole contraption in sheet metal and it really starts to look like something.

 

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Next up, add in a whole lot of roosting bars.  Ideally this shelter will accommodate 250 hens, so at 1.1′ of roost bar space per hen you’ll need 275 linear feet of roosting bars, or just under fourteen 2″x4″x10′ boards that have been ripped in half.

 

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Last year we ran into trouble with the Winnebeggo v1.0 when we tried to put out all our hens on pasture.  While we had plenty of roost bars for everyone, but lots of our hens were not going into the Winnebeggo at night.  We figured out that the problem was that the hens were feeling a bit cramped.  Everything started working a lot better when we removed about half the hens.

As with most things I build, I try to look online for the correct values to tell me what size to build things.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the information I was looking for.  Turns out there aren’t a whole lot of pastured-roost builders out there, and fewer still who put all the technical details online.

So here you go internet, here’s my hard-earned research on the subject.

Winnebeggo v1.0

Volume – 660ft³

Hen capacity – 220

Volume/hen – 3ft³

Winnebeggo v2.0

Volume – 800ft³

Hen capacity – 250

Volume/hen – 3.2ft³

 

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So we’ve been using the new Winnebeggo v2.0 for just over a month now, and other than a little nestbox-training that was necessary, we’ve been really happy with it.  I cannot emphasize how nice it is to be able to have a full-size human walkway through the length of the Winnebeggo.  It is inevetable that one will need to access some seldom-used corner of the Winnebeggo, so it’s nice not to have to crab-walk awkwardly through a confined space to do so.  The chickens seem pretty happy in the new Winnebeggo too.  And in a final measure of improvement, the percentage of chickens who have trouble figureing out how to go in at night has dropped, from 10% with the Winnebeggo v1.0 down to a mere 3% with the new version.

What about the nestboxes though?  We got rid of the integrated nestboxes of the Winnebeggo v1.0, so we had to figure out something a little different.  Stay tuned for that riveting saga…

 

Chicken Cafeteria v1.0

3 Oct

Features:

60# feed capacity (two 5-gallon buckets) accommodates 125 pastured layers.

Weatherproof and resistant to other species of livestock.

Dual tow-points for easy moving by hand, ATV, truck, tractor or unicycle.

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Materials list:

1x    2″x6″x 12′ pressure treated board

1x    12′ pro-rib panel (steel roof panel)

1x    24″x 10′ section of 2″x 4″ horse fence

2x    2″x4″x 12′ pressure treated board

2x    5″x 10′ steel K-gutter

4x    2-hole 3/4″ EMT conduit straps

4x    5″ K-gutter end caps (two left, two right)

6x    3/4″x 10′ EMT conduit

6x    1/4″x 4″ carriage bolts

8x    1/4″x 3″ carriage bolts

12x    Gutter hangers

 

All that ought to run you just about $115 nowadays.

So now that we’ve got all the stuff we need, lets build one, shall we?

 

Step one:  lay out 4 sticks of conduit along side your trusty tape measure and mark them at the following points  6″ 20″ 22″ 24″ 36″ 48″ 72″ 106″ 114″

Step two: fetch your 3/4″ EMT conduit bender and get bending as follows

1 – @6″ bend 90º+

2 – @7″ increase bend to 110º-115º

3 – @24″ bend 90º

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4 – @36″ bend 75º  (you’ll need to get the piece up on a workbench to make this bend, so be careful up there)

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5 – @48″ rotate conduit 90º and bend 90º  (bend two of them one direction, and two of them the opposite direction, you’ll see why in step 5)

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6 – @72″ bend 45º

7 – @106″ bend 30º from opposite direction

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Step three: fetch your 5/16″ drill and drill holes at 20″ & 22″

Step four: mark out and drill holes in each end of your 2×6 as follows

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Step five: bolt your noodly-looking conduit to your 2×6 with the 4″ carriage bolts

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Step six: drill holes in the conduit at 36″ and drill corresponding holes in your 2×4’s and bolt them all together with a few 3″ carriage bolts while you’re at it

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Step seven: drill holes in the big fat middle of the foot rail (should roughly correspond to the 114″ mark on the conduit) and bolt it together with a 4″ carriage bolts.

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Step seven and a half: Make a little brace to help hold up the middle of the foot rail.  Just a 24″(ish) bit of conduit bent at about 90º in the middle ought to do it.  Hammer the ends flat, drill some 5/16″ holes and attach the middle of the brace to the 2×6 with a conduit strap.

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Step eight: attach gutters flush to the top of the 2×6 with all those lovely gutter hanger screws, don’t forget to wedge that bit of 2×4 wire fence in there too.

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Step nine: Slip a 1.5″ length of 1/2″ EMT conduit into the 3/4″ hole in each end of the 2×6 and loop some #9 wire through there.

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Step ten: Make the roof.  Bend three (approximately) 24″ pieces of 3/4 conduit in the middle so that they roughly match the angle of the feeder base.  Attach the bend bits to a full length stick of conduit with conduit straps.  Attach this conduit “skeleton” to the sheet of steel roofing and you’ve got yourself a feeder roof.

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Step eleven: Attach the roof.  Two bolts for hinges, two bolts for “stops” and a bit of chain to keep it all from flopping about.  You get the idea.

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And now you’ve got yourself a genuine Chicken Cafeteria v1.0

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Earlier this summer as I was in the midst of refining this design I happened across a mention of a similar feeder in Lucie Amundson’s book.  She talked, in passing, about a chicken feeder made out of rain gutters that they’d learned how to make from a farmer in Delaware(?).  That immediately sent me looking about on the internet for more information, which was a frustratingly fruitless endeavor.

This brings me to a quote from another recent read: The Secret of Our Success: how culture is driving human evolution, domesticating our species and making us smarter by Joseph Henrich.

“With the spread of the internet, our collective brains have the potential to expand dramatically, although differences in languages will still prevent a truly global collective brain.  The other challenge to expanding our collective brains on the internet is the same one that we’ve always faced: the cooperative dilemma of sharing information.  Without social norms or some sort of institutions, self-interest will favor individuals who cream off all the good ideas and insights from the web without posting their own good ideas and novel recombinations for others to use. Right now, there seem to be sufficient incentives, often based on acquiring prestige, but that may change as new strategies spread that allow people to get the informational benefits without paying the costs. A key issue will be the degree to which prosocial norms for information sharing can be sustained on the internet over the long run.”

 

So go share some information on the internet or sumthin’

Evolution of a chicken feeder

30 Aug

We’ve been searching for a good chicken feeder solution while the chickens are out on pasture.  Sure, we’ve been using the regular 30 or 40 pound tube feeders, but they need a roof over them and that makes them impractical for pasture use.  We tried a big homemade hopper feeder on the Chuck Wagon earlier this year, but that was a dismal failure.  What we needed was a feeder that was weather proof, had lots of linear inches of feeder space and was easily moved to a new pasture.  Bonus points were awarded for keeping the chicken feed inaccessible to cows or pigs, since pasture co-habitation is an occasional reality (intentional or not).

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Chicken Cafeteria v0.1 (proof of concept)

Version Notes: lots of linear inches of feeder space, easily moved.

 

 

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Chicken Cafeteria v0.2

Changelog: added hinged roof

Version Notes: quite weather resistant, chickens prefer to perch on the gutters while they eat.

 

 

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Chicken Cafeteria v0.5

Changelog:

fixed floppy-gutter, switched from vinyl to aluminum gutter

improved foot-rail usage by implementing a flat rail

added anti-perch roller

added tow points

Version Notes: foot-rail usage much improved, anti-perch roller ineffective, potential runner wear issues.

 

 

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Chicken Cafeteria v1.0

Changelog:

improved foot-rail & gutter height to reduce feed waste

modified runners to improve towing performance/wear

lowered roof height to reduce non-poultry feed access

added anti-scratch/anti-perch screen

Version Notes: This is it! Detailed DIY instructions coming soon…

Chuck Wagon

29 May

We recently refitted the Winnebeggo to include a lot of new roost bars that were needed to accommodate all the new hens that will be calling the Winnebeggo home this summer.

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All the new roost bars made it necessary to remove the 55 gallon barrel that was the heart of the winnebeggo’s watering system.  Couple this with the fact that accessing the 30 pound hanging feeders under the sides of the Winnebeggo was becoming a pain in the neck, and we began to dream up a different solution to keeping the chickens fed and watered out on pasture.

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And so the Chuck Wagon was born.  We acquired an extra running gear last year for a good price, so we promptly added a few 4×4’s to form a solid base and strapped on the single biggest water container that we have.

The chickens now enjoy a massive 325 gallon water reservoir in the form of a big IBC tote that we intended to use this past winter for the Mega-Waterer 2.0

As with anything that’s going to be bumping around the pasture, keeping things in their place is always a concern.  We (probably) addressed this well enough with a big handful of conduit clamps.

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The water distribution is pretty simple given the relatively compact layout of the chuck wagon.  The IBC tote feeds two waterers, each housing 10 nipples each.

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There is also a hose with it’s own valve.  The hose has the Plasson quick-connect fitting that allows us to fill the tote with water from any of our pasture water fittings.  This also allows us a hose to fill up the dog’s water bowl, or give something a quick rinsing-off out in the pasture.

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And that brings us to the other half of the chuck wagon equation, the feed.  Bedecking the chuck wagon in a dozen or so hanging feeders didn’t sound like a great idea, so we had to come up with another kind of feeder.

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We ended up with a pair of big hoppers made out of 1/2″ pressure-treated plywood.  The hoppers are 4′ wide, 21″ across the top and 3″ wide at the bottom.

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Oh, and each hopper has a bottom that’s made out of a 1″x10″ on the bottom and 1″x6″ sides.   To keep it all upright during it’s pasture travels, both hoppers are braced together and to the 4×4 beams.

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After adding a few bits of roof to the feeders, it was nearly time to fill them up with feed to see how much they’d hold.

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The answer we got was 21 buckets, or about 650# of feed in each feeder, for a total of 1300 pounds.  Between the 1300# of feed and the 325 gallons of water, we’ve cut down our labor in feeding and watering chickens significantly.

The Chuck Wagon was not without it’s shortcomings. The first few days of use saw several intense rainstorms, which pointed to a need for more protection for the bottom of  the feeders.

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We quickly sorted it all out with a few extra scraps of metal roofing.

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The chickens approve.

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All 450 of them have been out on pasture for nearly a week now and they appear to be quite happy.

Pastured Poultry Pen v3.0

11 Apr

As our farm continues to grow we find ourselves outgrowing some of the equipment that we started with.  This time it’s the pastured poultry pens.

The old model (v2.1) is still a great bit of equipment if you’ve got lots of time and not a lot of money.  After all, the coroplast election signs are free and the rest of the materials only add up to about $50 per pen.

The downside is that the old pens aren’t the sturdiest things around.  After a two years of wind, snow and the incessant meddling of wayward cattle, the coroplast pens were in need of major refitting if they were to see another year of service.

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Witness the exquisite condition of the old pen (on the right) compared to the new v3.0 pen (on the left).

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We started with the same base as the old v2.1 pen.  A pair of 2″x6″x12’s for the runners and three 2″x4″x8’s to tie it all together. The footprint is 8’x12′ and we’ve been pretty happy with that size.  It’ll house about 50 full grown broilers when moved daily.  If you’re hurting for space you can get 75 birds in a pen, but you’ll have to move it twice a day.

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Once you’ve got the base squared away it’s time to dust off that hoop-bender you built.

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Get 14 or so sticks of 3/4″ EMT conduit and mark them at 12″

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and at 87.25″ then make like Bender Bending Rodríguez and, well, bend them.  The bend should start at the 12″ mark and continue to (or a bit past) the 87.25″ mark.  

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After bending, cut the hoops at the 87.25″ mark and you should have something like this.

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Now take two of those hoop-halves, connect them with a 3/4″ conduit union and set them arrange them on the base thusly.

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Cover the structure with 4 sheets of 12′ steel roofing and fill in the gap with chicken wire.  No need for additional bracing, the EMT and steel roofing provide ample rigidity.

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One big change for the v3.0 pen is that there is no chicken wire down at pig, predator & dog height which ought to help keep the chickens a bit safer.  It should also keep them more comfortable as the young broilers benefit from having a solid windbreak, and the older broilers like to have plenty of shade.

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Now to fill in those ends.  They get the same treatment, sheet metal on the bottom, chicken wire on the top, but there is the small matter of providing a structure by which to attach said material.

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I like 2×2’s for this purpose, really 2×4’s that I’ve ripped in half because that’s cheaper.

And have I mentioned copious bracing?  Bracing is awesome.

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While one end is almost frighteningly easy, one end has a door in it, which takes more time than anything else to get put together.

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The door is going to be quite a bit bigger on the v3.0 pens, witness the old v2.0 door sitting on the new v3.0 frame.  The center height of the new pens is right about 5’6″ which is a marked improvement over the old pens which required a lot of stooping and crouching to get inside.

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Building an odd-shaped door is always lots of fun.  But at least the rigid metal skin on the bottom half makes it a lot easier.

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The top half of the door will be chicken wire, so I decided to use a spare bit of 1/2″ EMT conduit to make the top curve of the door.

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Braced copiously of course.

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And then find a nice spot to mount the door latch.

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And the strike.

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And suddenly you’ve got a door.  A nice big door.  Good for carrying those big 4′ chicken feeders through.

The best part is that the chickens can no longer see you (the farmer) through the door.  When broiler chickens, which are bred to have voracious appetites, see you coming they quickly pile up against the door that you’re approaching.  The new door should stop all that sillyness and let me get through the door without so many chickens underfoot.

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A bigger door also allows us to move the water bucket inside, which means that the cows can no longer continue their campaign of water thefts and waterer sabotage that they’ve been waging against the chickens.  The cows will now have to walk an extra 100 feet to drink from their water tank, the poor dears.

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After the first pen was completed it went out in the barnyard for torture testing.  The pigs and cows quickly put it through it’s paces as a scratching post.  It has survived without any damage whatsoever, which is a huge improvement.

The new pens are equal parts more expensive and heavier than the old pens.  The expense is now something like $150-175 per pen.  That’s still eminently reasonable given the huge increase in durability, but if you’re bootstrapping yourself into a new farming venture the v2.1 pen is still a good option at less than $50.  Just be aware that the v2.1 pens are not going to last long, especially in a mixed-livestock situation.

The biggest downside to the new pens is that they’re significantly heavier.  All that extra metal means that it’s no longer feasible to drag these pens around by hand without a little help.  I think one of the Salatin-style dolleys might be in order.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hoop Bender

10 Mar

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If you’ve spent much time online looking at sustainable ag and/or garden-y type stuff then you’ve probably ventured upon a myriad of uses for bent-up pieces of metal tubing.  Hoops they call them.

Hoops are made into all kinds of fun stuff like row covers, high tunnels, livestock shelters and the like. You can find some commercially-made hoop benders out there, but a hoop bender is pretty simple.  For being so simple, there should be a plethora of how-to’s out there on the internet showing how to make one, right?  Nope.

So here you go: make yourself a hoop bender.

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Step 1: Math.

Figure out what size hoop you need.  In my case I wanted a hoop with an 8′ diameter.  You may assume that you can build a hoop bender to a nice 4′ radius and that the resulting hoops will be 8′ diameter.  But you would be wrong.  How do I know?  Well, just trust me, it won’t turn out like that.  It will make a dandy 10′ diameter hoop though.

So if a 48′ radius = a 10′ hoop (48/10=4.8)

To get the correct size for an 8′ hoop, you just take 8*4.8=38.4

38.5″ seems like it ought to be just the ticket for a 8′ hoop.

Now, with all the math out of the way, get a nice sheet of something.  Maybe OSB, it’s cheap and strong.  Oh, and while you’re at it round up some scraps of 2″ scrap lumber.  I used a bunch of 2×6 scraps.

A photo posted by Andrew (@greenmachinefarm) on

Trace out an arc of the proscribed diameter (38.5″ in our case) on a half sheet of OSB, and start laying out your scraps of 2″ lumber to cover up said arc.

Draw another arc of the appropriate size on top of the 2″ lumber and start cutting away the excess.

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Place all the little 2″ peices back on the OSB in the right order and get to gluing and screwing them down.  My operating assumption is that glue and screws should be strong enough for bending 1.375″ chain-link top rail.  It does a bang-up job bending 3/4″ EMT conduit.

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The last order of business is having something on one end to hold the tube as it’s bent.  I opted to cut a small slot near the end and thread a large hose clamp through.  Good enough, I’ll double it up later if it looks like the top-rail might need more to hold it.

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Secure your brand-new hoop bender to the work surface of your choosing (clamps or screws ought to do the trick) and get bending.

Farmhouse Chandelier

25 Feb

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Every winter we get hit with a stretch of really cold weather in which I look for a project that will keep me indoors.  One of my little projects this year was to make up a new light for our dining room to replace the 1970’s monstrosity that was there when we moved in.

I’ve had an idea for a new light that I’ve been batting around for a while now, but I was waiting until I found the perfect lightbulb.  And then I found it.

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An Edison-style LED bulb.  All the style (well, at least 95% of the style) of the old-school Edison-style bulbs, without all the energy-wasting incandescent filament.  It seems like every restaurant you go into these days is just filthy with the vintage Edison-style lightbulbs, and for good reason.  They look really cool.

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So with a few cool lightbulbs in hand, I grabbed the old yoke I found in the barn and got busy.  The yoke needed a good pressure-washing and oiling, but after that it all went together pretty easy.

It looked pretty good, but it was still missing something. The light was pretty harsh and the whole thing looked a bit spindly and insubstantial.

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Fortunately, I had just discovered the cheap and easy light shade. After installing a LED compatible dimmer switch it’s all done.
Much to my annoyance the LED bulb + LED dimmer combo still buzzes audibly. Apparently this is an industry-wide problem and I’ve got to live with a little buzzing until somebody figures it all out.

Community Nest Boxes

18 Feb

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So the sharp-eyed among you may have noticed some new nest boxes gracing the walls of our chicken coop this winter.  After trying some larger community nest boxes in the Winebeggo this year we’ve decided that we like the community boxes are far more than the individual nest boxes.

They’re easier to build, it takes less lumber to build them and they accommodate more hens.

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Building them is pretty straight forward, just make a series of boxes to the appropriate dimensions.  In our case we’re using boxes that are 48″ wide, 18″ tall and 16″ deep.  I get about one bank of 4 boxes out of 2.5 sheets of OSB and about three 8′ 2×4’s.  One bank should be good for about 200 hens.  (200 may be pushing it, but it’s workable)

 

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Most of the front of the box (48″x12″) folds down for egg collection. It’s best to double down on the magnetic latches to keep the doors shut, doors flapping open unbidden are annoying at best.

The entry/exit hole for the hens is 8″x8″ and covered with a flap of dark fabric.  This helps keep the nests nice and dark, which reduces egg-eating.  There’s room in the bottom of the nestbox for a good 6″ of bedding to cushion the eggs.

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We tried running the boxes all together (in each bank) making two 8′ long nests, but the hens are much happier, and fewer eggs are broken, when the nests are divided up into 4′ lengths.  It seems that most hens want a corner nest, so the 4′ nest seems to keep most of them happy.

These commercially made rollaway community boxes have definitely caught our eye.  Maybe someday.

Cowhide Rug

3 Nov

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If you are blessed with a better memory than mine then you may recall that I started to make a cowhide rug a little over a year ago.

I may not have such a good memory, but my lovely wife is on the case.  She has made certain that I never forgot the cowhide rug that I promised her.  Much to her chagrin, I have my own timetable for dealing with such things.

But ever since the garage/shop has been filled with new welding projects the space occupied by the salted cowhide is desired for other purposes.

So I finally decided to go about procuring all the ingredients called for in the tanning recipe.  Since the recipe is for somewhat smaller hides, I decided to double it just to be safe.

4 boxes of bran flakes: check.

20 pounds of salt: check.

7 cups of battery acid: check and then some.

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The auto-parts store only had one of the smaller 750ml bottles of battery acid (I needed three).  So I had to settle for the next biggest size, 5 gallons. What am I going to do with the remaining 4.5 gallons of battery acid?  I have no idea, although I know some folks with a bunch of huge batteries in their basement, maybe they’ll be able to use it eventually.

After a good soak and several good rinses, the cowhide was ready to dry (again).  This time it only took a week. Then comes the fun part, getting the last of the gunky bits off of the back. 

There were a few remaining bits that had to be cut off with a knife.  I attempted to use a drawknife as a fleshing knife, but it’s not exactly ideal. I ended up doing it the old-fashioned way, with my fingers and a pocket knife.  The acids and salt left in the cowhide were none to kind to my fingertips afterward.  If I were to ever do another hide I’d invest a few dollars in a fleshing knife and make up a fleshing beam.

Instead of manually wire-brushing the back of the hide, I decided to speed the process up a bit and use the big angle grinder with a 4′ wire cup brush to do the job.  It worked out just fine, although I’d be hesitant to use it on a thinner hide.

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After the wire brushing I was tired of working on the cowhide and decided that I was ready to call it finished. I dragged it in the house and put it in place to await the final verdict from my wife.

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It showed up on her Instagram feed less than 24 hours later, a sure sign of a high WAF.  Now there’s just the small matter of flattening it out a bit.

Tiltall Impulse Sprinkler

30 Jul

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

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

 

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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.

 

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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!