Sunday, January 25, 2009
Sheep Feeder Project
"Anything worth doing is worth doing badly"
When not plowing snow, chopping ice, and cutting firewood, Winter can be a good time to work on homestead carpentry projects. Since we reconfigured the barn, we needed new sheep feeders. When we had a big commercial sheep flock, the feeders were permanently installed They were solid, but the inflexibility of the system made it hard to adjust pen size for lambing, catch pens, moving manure and hay storage. The barn now has only two small permanent pens in the back corner. The rest of the barn has pens made of livestock panels that can be easily adjusted. The new feeders need to be portable too.
We gave serious consideration to buying new metal bunk feeders. However, for our small flock this would have cost us about $900. The metal feeders are really nice, but just not economically feasible. I researched a number of different designs for portable homemade wooden feeders and settled on this one from Canada.
I ended up building it for about $18-$20.
I cannot give you a step by step guide to how I built it, because most of the materials were scrounged. With any project I do, I seldom am able to follow plans to the letter because that would require new materials. I worked with a bunch of free waste lumber I got from a local doctor who was remodeling his office. The boards still had drywall screws in them and some had wiring holes. The other lumber was mostly odd pieces left from other projects.
It takes me much longer to do things this way. I root through piles of wood and try fitting them like a puzzle. I use screws first, before I nail anything, because I may need to take it apart and re-adapt. One adaption with this project was changing some of the width of the lumber to fit the length of a large box of screws I got at a yard sale for $3.00.
The screws only work with one inch stock, so I had to use more one inch stock and consequently more braces to make it sturdy. Here is a castoff clamp that can no longer be used for fine woodworking because the end broke and it mars the wood. I wonder if the sheep will notice?
I thought at this point it looked like weird church pew. The 2x10 on the bottom of the feed trough part and the 2x6 in front are the only pieces of new wood in the picture. I have no idea where the plywood back came from.
Here is a view of the complete feeder. I installed it by skidding it from the workshop to the barn across the ice.
I don't think I will ever be nominated for the fine woodworking hall of fame. However, I was able to save a considerable amount of money and end up with a serviceable feeder that should last for years, even if it was done badly. There is some pride in using castoffs to build something nice. It is also essential to a true agrarian economy.