Did it myself

2014-04-27 16.02.32

This is one of our new mineral feeders for the cows. We were looking at purchasing one, but they run about $150 or more for a decent one. My reaction? There must be plans out there to build your own, and for much cheaper. And – I was right!

Don’t be afraid to ask around to see if people have stuff lying around that they want to get rid of for free or cheap – I called our local tire repair place to ask about the tires (fully expecting to pay for them), and he said come take as many as I wanted for free. He has to pay to have them hauled off, so that was money he would save. That sure beats $30 each on Craigslist – and having to drive to Ft. Loramie!

Moral of the story? If you even think there might be a way to do it yourself – there probably is. Do the research to see if you have the time, skills, tools to make it, and compare that to what it would cost to go buy the same thing. Sometimes you’ll make it yourself, and sometimes it’s more economical to go buy it (I bought my beehives, because I don’t have the woodworking skills yet to build them).

COST BREAKDOWN:

Blue barrel – $10 off Craigslist (plus driving to Englewood)

24.5″ semi tire – free (plus driving to Covington)

4 bolts/4 nuts/8 washers – about $15 (plus driving to Menard’s, buying the wrong bolts, and stopping by the hardware store in Covington on my way home from teaching)

Labor – about 1 hour for 2 feeders

A little bit of electricity to drill 4 holes in each barrel, and to cut out the 18″ hole

Instructions – YouTube

 

Some thoughts on the future of agriculture

Yesterday on Facebook, I posted a link to an article on Grist about urban farming. The point of the article was that urban farming is not a panacea for our food production ills, and I made the argument that there … Continue reading

Yesterday on Facebook, I posted a link to an article on Grist about urban farming. The point of the article was that urban farming is not a panacea for our food production ills, and I made the argument that there is no one solution to those ills.

Something I did not touch on in those thoughts is something that too few people trying to reform agriculture in the 21st century talk about: how the consumer needs to change habits as part of a broader effort to improve the food we grow while reducing its impact.

Far too many reform efforts focus on the supply side–that is, on the farmer–while ignoring the consumer. People tend to ignore things like rampant food waste–as much as 60 percent of all food produced ends up in landfills–or over-consumption–the reason so many people are fat. They tend to ignore the massive impact out-of-season eating has on the environment and the economic impact massive box groceries have on local communities.

What I find interesting is that the concept of urban gardens addresses these sorts of problems too. It’s a psychological trick, but people tend to waste less food if they’ve produced it themselves, food harvested from gardens is of higher quality and nutrition, and gardening of any kind is fantastic exercise. Urban gardens can help reduce the transportation network required to keep box stores stocked with out-of-season foods and by definition keep food buying dollars local.

It is an old adage that how we spend is more powerful than how we vote. We affect the future of agriculture with our spending more than any other thing. As consumers, investing in urban gardens speaks volumes promises a brighter future.

DLH