Sunday, May 27, 2007

Lazy Scavenger Challenge

Reduce, reuse, recycle. Show of hands - who's with me?

Ok, good. Let's have some fun with it.

Here's the deal... We've got a variety of materials - mostly project leftovers - that are cluttering up our property. Most of them, I don't have any particular use for. Rather than sending them off to a landfill or waiting for them to rot away, I'd love to do something with them. I have general ideas for some things, and for others, ideas that are just half-baked. I'm not committed to anything I've thought of myself.

That's where you come in. If you can come up with something clever, something useful, or something interesting to do with any combinaiton of the items listed below, I'll reward you with something useful in return.


Alright. The winning suggestion will be rewarded with your choice of one of the following:
- Keeping Food Fresh by Claude Aubert, et al.
- How to Make a Forest Garden by Patrick Whitefield
- The Post-Petroleum Survival Guide and Cookbook by Albert Bates
- Some seeds from just about anything listed here or here
- A selection of size 3 toddler clothes.

The criteria are as follow:
- Ideas which reduce the need for electricity, propane, gasoline, or other non-renewable resources will be strongly favored. I love stuff like this, or the projects found here.
- Extra credit for creativity - but at the same time, the end result needs to actually be functional
- Your idea can include commonly available small hardware items (nails, screws, etc.)
- Your idea shouldn't require any specialized tools or skills that I don't have (e.g. welding, drill press, etc.)
- Your idea may include other items not listed below, so long as I have them on hand, I can obtain them via Freecycle, or I can obtain them for under $10 (total)
(I might be persuaded to bend the rules a tiny bit if your idea is good enough.)

Available materials:
- Ribbed sheet metal (black), approximately 3 feet by 13 feet
- Ribbed sheet metal (white), approximately 3 feet by 8 feet, as well as scraps of various sizes
- A couple 4x4 pressure treated posts (10 feet), plus a few 4x6 pressure treated scraps (2 feet or less)
- Several standard cinder blocks, some filled with concrete, most not
- 55 gallon barrel (food grade)
- A wide variety of smallish untreated lumber scraps: 1/4 inch plywood, 1/2 inch plywood, 2x2, 2x4, etc.
- chicken wire scraps, hardware cloth scraps
- numerous 4-foot rebar rods
- 2-inch diameter PVC pipe - 8 foot length and 12 foot length.
- 4-inch diameter PVC pipe - 8 foot length
- Two wooden pallets, mediocre condition
- The casing from an old propane firelplace, and a few bits of duct
- Probably some other stuff that I'm forgetting about

Feel free to ask questions if you need to.

Those of you who read my personal blog regularly may use whatever knowledge you've gained about our homestead to your advantage. Briefly, we are a typical newbie homestead, with a some goats, some chickens, a good-sized garden, a small pole barn, and a pond.

You can be as vague or as detailed as you like. Obviously, my materials list is pretty vague. I'm not looking for blueprints or anything. If your idea is Top Secret, you can send it to me via email. If I'm not sold on any of the ideas, I'll come up with a different challenge.

And last but not least, please feel free to steal this concept. Reduce, reuse, recycle can apply to materials, prizes, and ideas too, eh?

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At 5/27/2007 9:32 PM, Blogger Wendy said...

How about a solar, outdoor shower? You could capture rainwater in your food-grade bucket, which you could suspended about five feet off the ground. Using the black sheet metal, and some old windows (which you could definitely get from freecycle) you could rig a solar water heater. Using the PVC pipes, you could have the greywater from your shower run off into your garden.

Sounds like a fun project! Happy recyclling, reducing and reusing ;).

At 5/29/2007 10:02 AM, Blogger e4 said...

Wendy - Interesting idea. It's actaully a 55-gallon barrel, not a bucket though. I wouldn't want to stand under a quarter-ton of water. :)

But I'm sure there's a bucket around here somewhere. I'll take the idea into consideration.

Thanks for playing along!

At 5/29/2007 10:05 AM, Blogger e4 said...

"Actaully"? Nice typing, e4...

At 5/29/2007 3:25 PM, Blogger maggie said...

That barrel could be used to capture rain water to use in your garden instead of pulling out the hose huh? We have one that captures gutter water. It would also make a great composter. You probably have a large composting bin though. Maybe I am thinking too "city".

At 5/29/2007 3:31 PM, Blogger e4 said...

Maggie - We've got 2 of those barrels collecting rainwater already. :) I do have a big compost pile too, but I could see where making one of those "tumbler" types might be cool for quick compost.

I've gotten a couple suggestions via email too. Keep 'em coming. This is fun...

At 5/30/2007 7:35 AM, Blogger fatguyonalittlebike said...

Hey man-

Why not use the PVC pipe with slits down one side to collect rain water from the chicken tractors and fill up a bucket that is attached to the tractor. Then you would have water for the chickens right on their house instead of carrying it or dragging out a hose. You could also just use guttering for this or the fireplace ducting.

Also-I know that you're trying to get clover to grow in your garden paths, so why not use the metal roofing and cement filled bricks as "flooring" to kill the grass that is there and then plant clover after you remove the "flooring"? Might need to wait for fall but this might help the clover take off faster.

And, you could take the black roofing material and put it behind your heat loving plants to act as a heat sink to suck up heat and radiate it back to the plants to help them grow.

At 5/30/2007 9:54 AM, Blogger network_weasel said...

It seems like you ought to be able to do some sort of windmill type of thing. You could use it turn a simple pucket pump to fill the water barrel from your pond or just call it "Yard "Art" and hope no one complains. The roofing material, if rigid enough, would be the blades. Nesting the smaller pvc pipe withing the larger gives you a very rudimentary axle. Beyond that, my inspiration sort of trickles off.
Check out:

At 6/01/2007 9:26 PM, Blogger Will said...

how's about cutting the 55 gal drum horizontally into 2 water basins (or food buckets) for the livestock. I have no doubt that the roofing/siding along with 4X4's and scrap lumber could be made into a decent (if smallish) shelter for said livestock. I like the previous suggestion of arranging gutters to auto fill water bucket for the critters. The pallets are do darned handy for storing stuff off of the ground, like tractor attachments and such, to reduce rusting.

Sounds like a fun challenge!
Best of luck...

At 6/04/2007 5:46 AM, Anonymous kate said...

You could use the barrel for making liquid compost (although it's a shame to waste a food grade container).

Put all your invasive weeds in the barrel (anything you are not using for mulch or putting in your regular compost). Cover with water. Put a lid on it. Let sit for several months (depending on how warm it is, maybe 4 months).

Then comes the fun part ;-) Toss a coin for this job as it is really smelly. Put on some rubber glovers. You want to bucket out (or tip out, this needs two people) the liquid, into containers. This liquid can then be watered down and used as a liquid fertiliser.

The left over gunk can be used as mulch, or wet compost, in the garden (far away from anywhere you will be visiting often or sitting near), or add it to the regular compost.

This is a great way to deal with large amounts of invasive weeds eg blackberry, chicory, docks (you can chop big or gnarly things like blackberry to make it easier to handle).

If you want to get really fancy, you could set this up better. Get a tap, and have someone drill a suitable sized hole for the tap to screw into. Put it a few inches above the bottom of the barrel.

Use some of your timber, or mayeb the blocks, to raise the barrel off the ground far enough so you can get a bucket under the tap.

You could rig up some of the chicken wire so that it sits higher in the barrel and traps anything big that doesn't break down as well. That way you'll get sludge on the very bottom below the tap level, and the bigger sticks held above so they won't block the tap. You'll still have to empty the barrel occasionally, but mostly after the first few months you could start to get liquid compost out of the tap.

I usually do my liquid composting in buckets when I have a batch of one kind of weed, but with the barrel you could probably just keep adding weeds over time.

You can put anything in the barrel really eg comfrey. Or even animal manure I think (I haven't tried that).

If you did the basic version, you could maybe use some of the roofing iron and pipes to decant the liquid out. Set up the barrel somewhere close to where you will use the liquid or sludge, so that you can empty it out in specific places (getting a bit vague here as I'm not sure of your set up).

Hope that is some inspiration. I've just found your blog - really good and I'm looking forward to have a look around.

At 6/05/2007 1:25 AM, Anonymous kate said...

I had another idea. Permaculture places alot of emphasis on aquaculture, so you could use the barrel for growing water plants. Cut it in half (either axis) and plant in water whatever is useful to you and works in your climate.

You could even rig up the roofing iron to add rain water to your water garden. The timber and blocks etc being useful for raising it, or making it stable (if you cut it lengthwise).

Or you could sink it into the ground.

Myself, I'd grow watercress. But I'd also be really tempted to set up something that frogs can live in and be safe from predators. Maybe you could plant around the tubs and also wall off some of it, maybe use the chicken wire. Frogs are awesome, I wouldn't even want to eat them.

I still haven't had a proper look at your blog, so don't know if these ideas are redundant.

At 6/05/2007 1:27 PM, Blogger gtr said...

Make a "sideways" wind turbine out of the barrel! A Savonious turbine, I believe.

I can't find much online, but I've seen one in person at the MW Renewable Energy Fair. Not sure how you'd harness the power, but I'm not an engineer. Anyone?

Here's a similar idea:

At 6/05/2007 9:42 PM, Blogger Beo said...

Here are some random thoughts:

I am with the consensus that the barrel should store water for either plants or livestock. However, I'd cut the top off to actually encourage mosquito's to larvae there. To harvest that resource put some fish, preferable a few panfish (catch them small with the kids) that might just get big enough to eat-if not put them in the pond in October to harvest next year. You could also grow waterplants at the same like Kate suggested.

I can't get past the far fetched idea of making a small water wheel out of your scrap lumber to harness the power of the water falling from the roof. I have zero idea of what you would do with that kinetic energy, but it would be cool even if it only turned a wind chime-which you could make out of some scrap metal as a project with the kids.

Another option for some of the wood chunks is to use them as slug traps in the veggie garden (slugs are decimating my strawberries). Lay the board down in the garden, and then turn it over each morning to scrape off the resting slugs into a small bucket and then feed them to the chickens for a high protein snack!

At 6/05/2007 9:50 PM, Blogger e4 said...

Thanks to everybody for the great ideas. I can't tell you what a kick I'm getting out of this. But I'm weird that way.

I'm leaving this open for a bit longer as suggestions are still rolling in.

I'll make a decision later this week. I appreciate everybody who has participated.

At 6/07/2007 9:35 PM, Blogger Robbyn said...

I've tried to write a description and I can't seem to describe what I'm envisioning. Call it silly, and it might not work, but I was thinking of a very simple rolling chicken tractor.

I'm not a builder, so this might be cockamamey...bear with :)

I'm thinking of a chicken tractor that sits on the ground (of course) and is shaped like a roof, with the peak right in the middle and the barrel (both sides cut out and hollow) positioned right under the peak. The peak rests right on the barrel ('re smarter than I am as to how...but the idea is that when you move the cage, the barrel IS your roller). This might not work if the barrel can't accomodate the weight of the frame. I was thinking the frame could be from your excess lumber strips and sided with chicken wire. It would be wide enough that there would be a foot either side of the barrel for the chickens to enter the barrel to get out of the sun (or would the plastic bake 'em? eek) yet they could come and go from either side and snack along the length of the interior of the cage in the grass. Imagine a rooflike chicken wire shape rolling along on the barrel "roller" that is also their interior shelter whenever it needs to be moved, and the area outside the barrel is the chicken yard. it doesn't have to be big...only a bit wider than the barrel and high enough for the triangle peak to rest on the sideways barrel.

Arggghhh...dont know if I described it well!

For a door you could have the left or right top slope (chicken wire) of the roof shape hinged to be a door to place the chickens in...or cut one in the side. The cut out ends of the barrel could be moved or wired somehow to be bases for a waterer.

Oh, bother...this is why diagrams are so much better...ha!


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