Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sheep Feeder Project

"Anything worth doing is worth doing badly"

-GK Chesterton

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.


Anonymous said...

That was a well spent $20.


In the Pasture said...

Nice looking feeder. My husband builds our feeders from cast off materials. Actually, most of our stalls are build that way, too. It saves us money, and it helps put old wood that was destined to be dumped in a land fill or burned to good use.

I am glad to see we are not the only ones re-using lumber.

Dan said...

KUDOS my friend! Looks good, you went 'sustainable' with materials, and I don't think the sheep will mind at all!

Lellie said...

Nice work! Thanks for the links to all the plans. Good Blog.

Lellie said...

Good work! Thanks for the links to all the plans. Good Blog.

The Midland Agrarian said...

Thanks to all for the kind words.
Sorry for the double publish on your comment Lellie.

A second feeder was built--in part with beautiful custom Cherry flooring left from our remodeling. I hope the sheep appreciate the rich lok of genuine hardwood!

Dan said...

Genuine Hardwood sheep feeder! Oh man, that's rich..LOL. Good for a laugh!

Hey, just wanted to see how you're doing? Weather is breaking here for a week or so... 44 degrees right now and the snow's melting and sun shining - PTL!

The Midland Agrarian said...

Hey Danman,
looks like some of that weather is headed our way. About 22 today with sunshine, Thanks be to God!

Dan said...

Hey friend,

How are you doing? Hangin in there? We had a beautiful reprieve from winter last week. Temps got up to 60 and the sun shone... Thank Heaven!

Saw that you like Celtic music. Me too! Who're your favorites?

The Midland Agrarian said...

Thanks for asking, we had a reprieve too, though a bad windstorm yesterday.... Hope this finds you doing good as well.

Celtic Music................
I like everything from Planxty, Battlefield Band, Sands Family, Sillie Wizard, etc from the 80's to Old Blind Dogs among younger bands.

I especially like English music.
I am a big fan of Eliza Carthy, Waterson Family, John Kirkpatrick. June Tabor and Maddy Prior, the High Level Ranters.

I also like a lot of the stuff most people don't like-field recording of the old original singers and fiddlers, unaccompanied singing etc.

I play a little fiddle and Mandolin though, not as much as in my youth. I know a lot of the old border ballads and folk songs by heart, and like to sing while I drive a car or tractor.

What do you like?

Kaira said...

I am always really impressed and proud of my husband when he makes something good and useful out of what many see as waste. I'm sure you wife and animals are appreciative of your skills :)

The Midland Agrarian said...

Thank you for the kind words Kaira

Unknown said...

That's really cool that you built your own bunk feeders. I've been trying to tell my husband that he either needs to build a new one or he needs to buy one because our feeder was broken by an angry ram who decided to throw a fit a couple of months ago.

The Midland Agrarian said...

This design is strong, but it is heavy. I also made a feeder with a simpler lighter design. Sometime I will try to post it.