Farming on a Shoestring Budget.

If you follow me often, you know that this year I’ve started a small suburban farm, Collingwood Farm. I love it. I tell people I am more content than I have ever been. And I am. But this year, things are a little slow going, as expected. I’m still working my “real” job, so I can afford to run the farm. Time is a little tight, and so is money. But, we expected the first year to be the investment year. Next year will be better.

But how are you making it work?” you ask. The answer is simple. RECYCLING!

One of the unspoken mission statements of the farm is to reduce waste, and utilize as much “trash” as we can. In turn, we end up saving on expenses. So, I wanted to share some of our more recent projects, because I think they’re pretty darn cool. ūüôā

THE $50-ish CHICKEN COOP

My husband and I made this coop kind of on the fly, back in February. We inherited some chickens, (and then bought 3 more), but really didn’t have adequate housing for the poor girls. It houses the 6 girls comfortably, and they have plenty of space in the pen while we’re at work. And it all cost about $50 bucks!

The base of the coop is some shipping pallets I got free from craigslist. The frame and pen were made from lumbar we got free from a local business that just threw it away after using it for shipping materials. The inside was lined with pressed board that came free from craigslist, and given a good coat of paint from left-overs from painting some rooms in our house. The roof is pieces of plastic awning that shaded the windows on our house when we first moved in. We took them down when we replaced the windows, and my brilliant husband saved them! The fencing and other doo-dads were all things we already had acquired somewhere along the way.

The main investments were:

  1. (2) Plywood for the outside and roof- $16
  2. Hardware (screw, nails, brackets, hinges)- $25 **We got these from the Habitat for Humanity Restore, so they were also recycled!
  3. Red paint- $15 (The guy at the paint counter liked what we were doing so much, he gave us a discount!)

GRAND TOTAL: $56.00

 

There you have it! Check back soon for a “Part 2”!

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We’re gettin’ Chickens!

Firstly, I’d like to say Happy New Year to all. I know I haven’t posted in some time, but 2012 started off with a real bang. I spent the first 4 days of the year in bed, sick. Then on the 8th day, I had surgery. BANG! But, all is well now, and as you may have guessed from the title…WE’RE GETTING CHICKENS!¬† And I may be just a hair excited about it.

I’ve been half-heartedly¬†pestering my husband for about a year to get some chickens. But, then we worked out a barter system with a fellow my husband works with. We gave him fresh veggies and home canned goods, and he gave us fresh eggs from his flock. So the desire for our own chickens kind of waned. Then, last week our egg supplier confided in my husband that he’d fallen on some hard times and had to sell his chickens because he was moving. Two immediate thoughts:

1. we gotta help this poor guy

2. our essentially free farm fresh egg supply will be no longer ¬†(selfish? Yes, but we’re being realistic here….)

Now, I just happened to be reading about chickens for a few weeks. (I got a few books on backyard chickens and poultry for Christmas.) So the idea of inheriting this guys 9 chickens sounded super awesome to me! When it comes to farming, I’m of the “Let’s do it, and see how it goes” mind-set. My husband on the other hand is the realist, devil’s advocate kind. So we talked about it, and slept on it, and craigslisted for cheap chicken coops, and after coming to the conclusion that my husband was not ready for the commitment, we dropped it….for about an hour.

It must have finally hit my husband that if we didn’t inherit some of the chickens, we’d have to go back to eating fat laden, bland,¬†watery, sad looking eggs from the grocery store. (If you haven’t had fresh farm eggs, there is a major difference in appearance and taste that you quickly look forward to…Maybe I’ll do a comparison post some day.) So, off we went! We bought a small coop, large enough to hold 3 chickens temporarily, that we found on craigslist.

We decided we weren’t ready for a whole flock of 9 chickens, because, well, we’re chicken. (HA! Had to…) So we’re getting 3 of “the best layers.” I haven’t seen them yet, but they are apparently of the Jersey Giant breed.

Pretty, don’t you think? I definitely would have picked these girls if I’d had an option. According¬†to my readings, they’re calm, decent layers, and good for meat (although I doubt I could stand that.)

We should be bringing our girls home in the next week or so, so I took advantage of this FANTASTIC January weather, and spent the morning raking pine needles for their bedding, breathing fresh air and getting some sun on my face.

I even made them a little roost out of sticks from the yard. Now I just have to give the coop a good cleaning, buy some feed, and make a nesting box and¬†run for them. The more I do, the more excited I am! We’re going to have fresh eggs, but even more exciting, I’m going to get the best composted fertilizer from their bedding for my garden. OH, I can’t wait.¬† I’ll be sure to keep you updated on how this little adventure goes.

Happy Nesting!