- Homemade electric fence brackets made of PT 2X4
- Screw-in plastic insulators for wood posts
- Nylon wire tensioners (not the steel type for high tensile fence)
- 18 Gauge Aluminum Fence Wire (recycled from my goat fence project)
- 2’ and 4’ sections of rebar for tricky areas
- Rebar electric fence insulators
- ½” Black HDPE irrigation pipe (to insulate wire that needs to snake through another fence) and zip ties
- Electric fence gate handles and anchors
- Assorted hardware including 3” galvanized wood screws
here. This is still a good page to get the basics. However, I have migrated away from fully electric fence for the goats. The fence worked just fine for them, however, the thick brush was impossible to keep clear of the fence lines and periodic flooding also occurred so the fence continually grounded out. Ironically, my main “brush clearing” employees (the goats) were so afraid of the electric fence, they wouldn’t go near it. As such, the weeds quickly grow up and shorted it out. I briefly gave up on electric fence and instead I switched to 4 foot welded wire on T-posts. However, the goats quickly learned to “climb” this fence to reach tasty branches on the other side and thus collapsed it, so I needed to retain one electric wire to keep them off and away from the fence. However, I am able to keep this hot wire high enough off the ground to reduce some of the pressure from weeds. In the really swampy area, I have a few knife switch cut-offs, so I can shut this section off during high weed season, the cattails and phragmites grow tall enough to put heavy pressure on the fence. I did however, find a new purpose to expand my electric fencing project. I have converted a half acre plot into a small orchard and this is also a nice place to have my chickens free range in the grassy area. I have a five foot tall welded wire fence enclosing this area completely, but the foxes very soon figured out it was easy to dig underneath to start grabbing the hens. I quickly grew tired of plugging all their holes as it was a never ending task and the thought of extending the fence underground along its entire length was just too daunting (particularly with all the tree roots and fieldstones everywhere). As such, I put one hot wire very close to the ground to stop any digging activities. I was a little nervous about it shorting out (as per above), but this area of the farm is a little shadier along the fence line (under a heavy tree canopy) and thus the weed pressure is a lighter, also since it doesn’t go through the swampiest areas, it is easier to maintain once in awhile with a weed whacker. So far it seems to be working. The materials I needed to do this are as follows:Over the past couple of years I have made some major changes and improvements to my electric fencing projects. You can see my original, more modest efforts
Homemade Chicken Nipple Waterer I have spent alot of time perfecting my rainwater chicken watering system which you can find here.However, the time has come for me to get rid of my traditional “open water” chicken waterer and convert to something more professional. Firstly, I wanted to make a cover for my 150 gallon water reservoir. I am still a big fan of using stock tanks as a water tank/reservoir for various reasons. These include ease of cleaning, relative cheap cost, multiple different heaters available for the winter, etc. However, without a cover it is impossible to keep clean (leaves, etc.) and they quickly become mosquito breeding ponds. Next, I am trying to move away from any type of “open water” drinking area. No matter how much I try, the chickens continually foul the water and thus the actual drinking area is also difficult to keep clean. So, I decided to give poultry nipple waterers a try to see if that could remedy that issue. So basically, I am rebuilding my entire system. First step was to make a cover for stock tank. I opted for ½” plywood. Simply cutting off the last three feet of a standard sheet will yield a 5’ by 4” foot piece that is just a bit larger than a 150 gallon Rubbermaid stock tank. I wanted to make the lid a bit larger to act as its own rain catching area as well as funneling rainwater from the gutters. Next step was to cut a 21/8” hole through the center of the board and a lined it with a double layer of nylon window screening stapled to the back to keep out the leaves and other debris. I am a bit nervous the hole may be too small, but that is the largest hole saw I happened to have! At any rate, I can always enlarge later if it looks like it is backing up. Next, I wanted to build up the sides a bit to catch the water and give it time to percolate through the screen. For this I used standard 2X4 lumber. I put polyurethane construction adhesive down prior to screwing this together. My hope was that would help waterproof the joints. I also caulked the inside with silicone. This should make the water catching area relatively water tight. Next, I wanted to redesign the spigot on my tank. I am trying to move away from using garden hose components as they are constantly kinking up. Instead, I am using all PVC with a standard brass boiler spigot. My Rubbermaid tank has a 11/4” bulkhead fitting. I am pretty sure they are all the same size, but if I were you I would take the factory plug out of the fitting and take it with you to the plumbing department to ensure you get the right size. The parts I used were as follows:
- 11/4” PVC Male Adapter
- 11/4” to ½” Reducer Coupling
- Small section of ½” pipe
- ½” female adapter
- ½” brass boiler spigot
- PVC Piper Primer and PVC Pipe Glue
- Teflon tape
- One ¾” male adapter
- One ¾” to ½” reducer bushing
- Two 6” pieces of ½” pipe
- One ½” elbow
- Five 1’ sections of ½” pipe
- Five PVC “Tee” sections
- One 1/2'” female adapter
- One ½” brass boiler spigot
- PVC Pipe Primer and PVC Pipe Glue
- Teflon tape
- 5 Nipples
In this post, I will explain about my latest fieldstone wall project and how anyone with basic skills can build a rustic fieldstone wall!The vegetable garden area of the farm is on a slope (an area maybe 50 feet x 70 feet) and one end was in dire need of a retaining wall. I had originally used some bales of straw I had lying around as a makeshift retaining wall. This actually worked pretty well for about two years until the straw really started rotting and the turkeys tore it apart. So the edges of the garden were spilling over and hard to maintain. So it was time to build something a bit more permanent. So I decided on fieldstones for a number of reasons
- Relatively easy to build
- Doesn’t need a footing
- Can find stones for free
- Basically lasts forever
- Does not leach any chemicals (I know new pressure treated lumber is supposed to be okay for gardens, but I am not chancing it)
- It’s a lot of work and I’m lazy! (primary reason)
- This is a short wall (only 3 feet tall max, most of it is about 2 feet), slopes backwards, and is relatively thick (about 2 feet)
- I don’t care about widening gaps due to frost heaves.
- If a few stones fall out here or there, or even if the whole thing collapses it will be easy to fix.
- I have built about 300 feet of wall like this previously. That has been standing for nearly 5 years and no sections have ever collapsed and only about three stones have popped out in all that time (easy to pop back in)
- There is about 500 feet of stone wall on the farm dating back to the 1700 and 1800s. I am willing to bet the builders didn’t put a footing under these walls, yet they are still standing just fine!
- The largest, flattest stones should be saved for the top
- The largest, roundest or irregular shaped stones should be on saved for the bottom
- The smallest stones should be saved for the middle between the two wall courses (also called “hearting”)
- Medium sized stones should be making up the bulk of the wall.
bird cage covers or anything else bird related, I just really like wood bird houses. I also drilled some drainage holes in the floor (important!).I predrilled all the holes and began assembly with 2.5” galvanized screws. Net result was very good. I did get a family of Nuthatches to move in (seem to have a pair every year in this same spot) and the house has held up very well to the weather and squirrel attacks.I got tired of rebuilding pine birdhouses every few years as they rotted out and I also read that PT pine isn’t safe for the birds (not sure about that, but I will ere on the side of caution) so I investigated using Trex lumber. Usually reserved for decks, this material is weather and rot resistant and would seem to me to be an ideal material to build a bird house. I selected a nice brown color Trex board. I was a bit worried about a darker color overheating the chicks inside, but I plan to hang this in relatively deep shade in a grove of big white pine trees. First step was to measure out the pieces. You can make two birdhouses from a single board. There is a plethora of websites that will explain the exact dimensions and size of the hole for attracting specific birds, so I won’t go into that. Since I am trying to attract Nuthatches, this particular birdhouse will have 8” sides, a 10” top (for some overhang rain protection) a 14” back (to make space for a hanging hole), and the floor is 4.5”. After cutting all the boards, I next started to work on the entrance hole. Nuthatches like a hole exactly 1.25” in diameter and it should be about 6” from the floor. I carefully measured and centered before cutting. I selected a spade bit for the hole. Be prepared for the Trex board to cut in huge ribbons unlike wood. I also opted for a copper “Predator Guard” as I a squirrel had completely chewed through my last Trex birdhouse that didn’t have this extra protection. Lastly, I used a hot melt glue gun to make some baby bird “foot hold” the inside. I read somewhere that if it is too slippery the baby birds will not be able to climb out. I figure this will give them some needed traction. I know it seems like I know a lot about birds, but trust me I'm not who you should ask about
I used to buy cheap patio tables from local discount stores. However, I had to constantly keep buying these due to the fact that they invariably rust or fall apart in a only a few years. Another problem is that these cheesy tables are so light… a strong wind will occasionally tip them over (even if the umbrella is down). So, I was looking for something “built to last” that would be heavy enough to resist tipping in a strong breeze. I finally gave up and had to build my own out of PT lumber. I built my first table in 2003, out of ACQ lumber and “DeckMate” lifetime screws (both purchased at Home Depot). Since I was lazy, I just stained this table and left it outside all year ‘round. However, by 2014, this table had significantly deteriorated. I figured PT wood and “lifetime screws” would last a long time. I guess I was wrong…. This rotted out in a bit more than a decade.Curiously its twin table (also built in 2003) still seems to be in relatively good shape. Maybe I got a bad batch of PT lumber? Also, I was a little pissed that many of my “lifetime” DeckMate screws dissolved in only 10 years. Some of them did seem in good shape, some okay, and some just literally dissolved in the wood and broke apart when I tried to unscrew them. I contacted Home Depot (via the website) and despite the fact I had no receipt, and purchased them 10 years ago… they gave me a new box with no questions asked! ( I did bring in a sample of my severely rusted screws as “proof” though). The clerk at Home Depot said he has never seen these screws rust before. Hmmm, I can tell you, I have seen these rust quite a bit, but only in PT lumber. Well at any rate, I decided to rebuild my table with micronized copper azole PT (which is reported to be less corrosive to fasteners and longer lasting than ACQ PT), and stainless steel screws this time. While at Home Depot I picked up a few boxes of “Grip Rite” stainless steel screws. They were about $14 a pound if you buy by the pound, but if you buy a 5 pound box, it come out to $12 a pound. Not too bad for stainless steel I suppose. However, I think Home Depot needs to tell the Chinese factory that makes these to increase the quality control a bit. One box had an empty bag where the “free” drive bit was supposed to be, this one also had a piece of a Chinese newspaper in it. Another box had a big paper clip in addition to the screws… oh well… you get what you pay for. First step in the new table was to cut 4x4 legs. In order to match the other table, I made these 27” tall. If you are going to make one, make sure you can push your existing chairs underneath (i.e. the arms of your deck chairs can clear this height!). Next, I cut some 2X4s about 24” long to frame the table. I screwed these in at an angle, not very strong, but the table “decking” will stiffen this up considerably. The completed table is heavy and awkward to carry… with wet PT, I don’t even think I can lift it. As such, I moved the project outside at this point. I cut 2X6 lumber to make the “decking”. I decided to cut the boards straight instead of at an angle (as with the original table). Although not as decorative, I was hoping that it would help keep water from seeping into the corners of the table (where the other one rotted profusely), and it was easier to cut to boot. Next, I cut some 2X6s for the sides and mitered these together. I held the whole thing together with the stainless steel screws (carefully pre-drilling holes for the decking part to avoid splitting as they are close to the edge). Here we have the completed table, ready to go. If this one rots out, I will report back, but I am hoping this is the last time I need to rebuild this.
There was a rare find at Swampy Acres this month via Craigslist. It seems one of our fellow New Hampshirites had purchased tons of dried Lupini beans for a pittance. The story goes that this man's friend was in the Lupini Bean wholesale business and decided to get out. So, this gentleman bought the whole stock at 4 dollars for each 25 kilogram bag. Now, you might think the average New Hampshire resident can easily use 4,000 pounds of dried beans..... but surprisingly....you would be wrong! Even the typical New Hampshire resident can't possibly use this many.... So Swampy Acres bought the excess. We got just about 2,000 pounds of Lupini beans for $160 dollars! What do we want a ton of Lupini Beans for? Well, they are 40% protein and make excellent goat food.Now the first problem is where to store 2,000 pounds of dried beans. First we tried our "shed in a box." However, we were worried about mice, so we moved the whole mess to the basement. Now the next problem is how to feed them to the goats. The beans are hard as a rock. So, I ended up soaking them overnight. Here is a tip, Lupini beans expand about 3 or 4 times if you soak them.. so get a big bucket. And the verdict is... the goats love them!!!
Well, I have been a bit behind on blog posts. Most of the time we have been busy getting the garden going. This should be the best garden year yet... there will be alot of posts in the coming weeks. The electric fence A hundred steel posts, 2 miles of wire and a 2 joule charger and solar panel allowed us to fence in another 3 acres of scrub for the goats. 3) The tractor 3 point hitch carry-all.With this kit, we can use the John Deere's 3 point hitch to carry a thousand pounds of firewood and other sundries. 4) The new goat/chicken watering system.Old man winter finally wiped out my old rain barrels, so I had to replace them with a 150 gallon watering trough and piping system.In addition to the garden, we had a ton of separate projects going on that will soon appear on the website. These projects include the following: 1) A new goat pasture.We finally finished clearing about an acre of trees and planted a mixture of orchard and timothy grass, meadow brome, and clovers. 2)