Country Living & Penny Pinching

Getting back to "Little House on the Prairie" living

Tag: making do

Stages of the Duck Pond

If your husband is anything like mine than all you need to do is get ducklings and he will jump on the farming band wagon. We started with two Muscovy ducks. This breed was chosen because they do not need a pond, it would be great but they wouldn’t suffer if there was not a permanent pond in place. So plans were never made for one, but since the Hubby was smitten he declared they must have water since they really did love playing in it. That brought us to the 1st stage of the duck pond. A Pie Tin!!!


Two little ducklings sitting in a tin, S-P-L-A-S-H-!

Yep, this was a throw away pie tin in my cupboards from a certain restaurant that sold Calendar’s (haha I crack myself up, Marie Calendar’s). It was the right size for them to sit together, splash around, and still left plenty of room for them to walk around the cage.

Once the ducklings moved to the pen with the chickens on the deck we quickly learned the pie tin was now too small and the chickens would try to sit on the edge and dump it over immediately. This is where the 2nd stage came in. It was brought on by the Hubby’s love for the ducks and not knowing which dishes were the expensive ones.

a Pyrex Baking Dish

That’s right, one of my glass Pyrex baking dishes. in his defense there really wasn’t anything better to choose from in the cupboards and this worked out really really well. Heavy enough to not flip, deep enough to dunk their heads in, and really easy to clean. So props went to the Hubby after I had a couple of breaths and thought it through. Also I happened to have a weird size and he thankfully used that one, which is one I do not use regularly.  So I definitely recommend this to others as one of the stages to use for growing ducklings.

our lovely ladies

After the ducks were in the coop we realized they were getting way to big for the baking dish and needed something bigger that would not break the bank, easy to clean, store, and move around. Thus moving us into the 3rd stage of the duck pond. We went to Walmart and found the $4.88 kiddie pools! The Littles got a blue one and the lady ducks got pink. It took some coaxing but the ducks eventually learned that this bright pink thing was something fun and they would only go in when we weren’t watching. By the time we could get the camera they would have jumped out and ran back into the coop.

can you even imagine what this animal conversation was?

Word of caution! Baby chicks and duck ponds do not mix very well. Our dog was acting weird so we went out to see what was wrong and there she was with this hen staring at one of our Leghorn chicks who had fallen into the pool…I mean pond and couldn’t get out.

Eventually we would love to make a real pond but seeing as we are penny-pinching, our kiddie pool will suffice for now. Have you ever had a duck pond? What was it like? Pictures are always great too!!

Attempting the DIY Brooder

When bringing the chicks home the Hubby said they must have a  home before entering the house. With little to no money to spend on the brooder I attacked our moving boxes, grabbed some leftover duct tape from labeling those moving boxes and started making a Frankenstein brooder.

a little bit of elbow grease and duct tape

Knowing that each chick needed SOOOO much space in order to be healthy I duct taped all those moving boxes together. These boxes ended up being bigger than my dining room table. Let me add that I have a huge dining room table (we thought we lived in a mansion when we bought it for our tiny newlywed apartment). We were expecting about twenty chicks overall and they are supposed to grow really fast so I made enough space for about 100 chicks.

These chicks did not needs so much space. Do not let these fancy books tell you otherwise. For the first few weeks they only need the size of a storage tub. maybe an extra long one. Next time the brooder will be about a tenth of the size.

Despite the size, I was determined to have everything be D.I.Y. (do it yourself) This would be saving money AND recycling. Here are the waterer and feeder…

Waterer and Feeder

The feeder worked great, the chickens could of course scratch some of it out but I feel like almost all DIY feeders wont be perfect. I used scissors to make the holes and hot glued the juice bottle bottom to the 8 oz baby cereal container.

The waterer was not so great. I hot glued the fancy plastic water bottle to a jar lid, made holes with scissors at the bottom of the bottle and it took me days to figure out why it wasn’t working that well. Every time I tried to fill it, it would overflow.

The holes are just above the lip of the lid…yep! The holes need to be lower than the top of the bottom piece (in my case a tiny jar lid). None of the instructions I read ever said that REALLY IMPORTANT piece of information. So the 2nd generation waterer was cat food cans. These worked and were cheap and of course got spilled but that’s why we had four to five cans in at one time. I didn’t have any more bottles and bottoms to try and make another proper waterer that did not leak.

this is only half of the brooder

Besides the basics we added fun toys. Roosts were in the corner poking through the sides or dangling in the wire. We added a floating wire top because the cat kept jumping in. The roosts really did help them stay distracted and they started roosting at about one week old.

Diamond sitting on his/her roost

There was also a mirror from the 99 Cent Store which had a handle that could be tied to the side or top. Ours leaned against the side since the walls weren’t very sturdy and kept getting knocked over. But boy oh boy those chicks loved coming up to it and seeing themselves.

pink mirror for the self absorbed chickens LOL

We had this set up for eleven days. That was all I could take of the heat lamp near the cardboard. So I kicked all of the chicks outside in a dog cage on our deck. But more on that set up next week 🙂

Have you ever made a brooder?

Ways to Start Seedlings

2015.2.18 5 seed startingStarting seeds inside is not as easy as everyone makes it sound. Unless you have a designated spot and tray and lamp and an easy method for watering. Most beginners do not have any of these…just like me!

So after pinterest-ing and pinterest-ing I finally came up with a few homemade ideas for starting our seeds. Now don’t get me wrong, I am all for going and getting the pre-made seed starters, especially if you have the money and do not want to store the materials for months leading up to it. We were not in a position to go out and buy those items and a sun light for growth.

2015.2.18 4 seed starting

So we went with orange peels, tuna cans, egg shells, crushed egg shells and an egg carton. This is where we started the experiment and started taking notes so we would know what to NOT do next year. My theory was that “If I used different containers, then the oranges will do the best.” My rational for this was because oranges are biodegradable and would become food for the plants…or so I thought.
2015.2.18 2 seed starting

The experiment went as follows, all of the factors were the same, the only thing different was the containers. I watered them all from the top and kept them all together. Eventually the tomatoes came up, a few lettuce, none of the bell peppers (bad batch of seeds), a spinach, and no peas (next time I will soak them first).  We also used a heating pad under them during the night because our house has awful windows and it’s practically like we are sleeping outside. The make shift green house was made out of tape and Ziploc for the two on the left, and Saran wrap for the box on the right.

all bagged up ready to grow

all bagged up ready to grow

Conclusion, the orange peels grew moldy and rotten within days (this became a well duh moment for me after I realized I watered them and then wrapped them up with heat), the tuna cans should have had a hole in the bottom for water to drain, there was no real difference between crushed egg shells and just the carton. For the half an egg-shell I felt there should have also been a hole in it to drain water and after a couple of days of growth it seemed way to small.

Next year I will not try any of these methods again. I will attempt the toilet paper rolls and newspaper cups. Hey, I have the rest of my life to figure out which method works best for me.  Also another note about the egg carton…it turned to mush every time I watered and it would steal all the water from the soil. I’m assuming the same will happen with the toilet paper rolls and newspaper so I will be using thick rolls and doubling up on newspaper.

What has been your favorite way to start seeds indoors?