Monday, September 23, 2013

Re-purposing and Recycling

The Making of a Cackleberry Castle

Cackleberry Castles are not found at Wal-mart® down the lego® aisle.  They can be enormously expensive and much harder than lego's® to put together.  We believe that to be truly sustainable a project cannot cost more than it will be able to repay before natural termination.  Most chickens slow down at laying eggs into their 2nd and 3rd year.  They really need to pay for themselves before the end of year one.  So, that means housing cannot cost an arm and a leg.  We put on our creative caps and came up with a Cackleberry Castle of wonderful dimensions that (only) cost us (LOTS) of time, two 2x4's, equipment fuel, and a roll of chicken wire.  Here's how it worked.

I know there’s a daunting amount of words but the pictures will come.  Promise.  Stick with me for a show and tell involving two tractors.  Yes, we used tractors on our Cackleberry Castle!

One of the most important premises to any successful renewable farming project is re-purposing and recycling.  What is the difference? 

Are you still with me or did you totally lose focus and head for Krispy Kreme?  That's totally sounding good to me too.  Remember, those doughnuts are not good for you.  Avoid making it a habit, okay?

ANYWAY, let's drag ourselves back to the subject at hand,

Definition of repurpose according to Cambridge :  to use something for a different purpose to the one for which it was originally intended:

Google’s definition (because Cambridge reads like a professor) of recycle: convert (waste) into reusable material.

On Cackleberry Farm in Modesto (Find us on Facebook with that title) we do both and are proud of our efforts! 

Example of recycling on our farm:

Jeremy brought home a bundle of old redwood fencing that he had removed for a customer.  He built me a raised bed then he had the children help.  Wow, does that ever take time – letting children help!  They built me three 3 x 12 beds for the garden.  We still have some material left for another project.  

We took trash (unbelievable what people will throw away) and made something wonderful.
Hard at work
How things grow inside my recycled redwood beds.
I’ll admit, now I’m just bragging!

The trouble with chicks is that they grow and lay eggs.  All this requires planning on the part of their humans.  What are they going to live in and where shall they lay their eggs?

For starters, we use an inherited hen house (from my maternal grandfather who never called an egg anything less than a cackleberry his entire life).  It’s our broody house and cannot properly house more than six adult hens.  A broody house, by the way, is not a place for moody birds.  It’s where a structure and people take the place of a broody (momma) hen and raise chicks to a viable age.

Bright idea!  Offer to haul away someone else's unwanted item.  Then re-purpose said item to fill your need.

We asked for an old, unused cherry hut that belonged to my paternal grandparents.  We have repurposed it into a cackleberry castle.  Here is the chronicle of that adventure!

First, the building had to be loaded onto Jeremy’s trailer for hauling.  I wasn’t there for this part.  Then the tractors had to be roaded to our house – via as many canal banks as possible.  Since this was exactly one week before our new baby’s arrival; I wasn’t there for this part either.  

The part I got to see -
At 13'8" this is just 4" inside legal height limits.  Moving an 8 x 12 building intact requires serious ingenuity!

Placing boards for lifting the building.

Our 13 year old helper, Nolan.  He did a super job, many adults can't run a tractor with his finesse!  Yes, his eyebrow is taped shut.  He ran into a semi-trailer with his bike.  The man spent weeks fixing his trailer with a welding torch.

Daddy giving instruction to a very nervous boy!  Afraid he'll do something wrong.

The bucket is using aforementioned boards as leverage.  Daddy is instructing the proper angle of bucket here.

Why we needed our son to help.  Goes better with two tractors -
and I can't do the job he can, even if I could fit inside the cab!

Jeremy hops out of the bobcat, pulls the truck forward and Nolan (see his body language) takes a breather.

This is a trick you don't see every day!

Scooting into place.

And if that doesn't work, have your son haul it into place.  (Joke people, it's a joke!)
Oh, that mess in the background is where new countries are invented.

A load of chickens in a re-purposed ice-chest, being introduced to their new home.  We use this ice-chest for many different animal related chores.  I don't know how many times it has been sterilized and re-used!  It is integral to our project as it's what we use when our chicks are brand new.  It makes a heat lamp super-efficient at keeping babies warm!
I should have gotten a picture of the girls.  They cleaned this building out. It had been empty - except for spiders - for years.  What a dirty job!  But they tackled it beautifully.  Once we had straw on the floor we started moving birds. 

A few weeks after moving in - happy pullets!  No eggs yet
We are in no way done with the cackleberry castle.  It still needs laying boxes.  More on how we re-purpose 5-gallon buckets into a lovely tier of egg boxes - another day!

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