Neccessity isthe Mother of Invention : LUSENET : Freedom! self reliance : One Thread

As a bunch of self reliant country folk here, I bet theer are some real creative folks who make useful products out of junk laying around the place or the backroads. One person's junk is another person's treasure. What are some of the "free stuff" that you've put together around your place?

I made a chickie brooder out of a salvaged Lil Chief smoker and my henhouse is made from an old bunkbed.

Oh yeah, I just got a bunch of books I ordered from Lehmans. My new favorite is HANDY FARM DEVICES AND HOW TO MAKE THEM by Rolfe Cobleigh. While nothing can replace my Dad and Grandpa for farm know how, this book and its illustrations help my Dear Spouse to understand what I am talking about.

My dream machine would be treadmill for my daughter's horse that could produce energy/electricity to pump the well, but that would take a little more engineering (math) than I am capable of. Does anybody have ideas to offer?

-- Laura (, November 08, 2001


An old rusted stock tank left here by the previous owners couldn't hold water, but makes a very nice place to brood chicks. We moved it into the garage, put in newspapers and pine shavings and hung a heat lamp on the side. It's perfect. I've also made chick waterers with plastic peanut butter jars and old dishes.

-- mary (, November 08, 2001.

I've made a few barbeque pits, or fire pits on stands, whatever, out of the bottoms of pressure tanks. The rest I've used for burn barrels

I've also reused "dead" electric water heaters for the tank in several different solar water heating setups.

Scrap steel for bullet proof mail box.

All i can think of off hand, but I've been a practicing "junkie" for 26 years.


-- joj (jump@off.c), November 08, 2001.

Got real ambitious one year and wove some netting for a trellis out of bailing twine that came off of square bales. Didn't take as long as I figured it would, and worked out real well actually.

I build a chicken feeder out of a plastic gallon juice container, a plastic plant saucer, a 1/4" bolt, nut, 2 fender washers, and a wire coat hanger.

Wife takes old roof slates, and paints them up and puts a name on them (like "The Stones", etc.), threads a piece of leather between the holes to hang them, and gives them out as gifts. Built a "shed" to store my fuel cans in, and used an old swing set frame this year too.

And I use scrap wood all the time for various projects. Even built my son a play house / fort outta scraps. And sided a rabbit hutch with scraps as well.

Recycled a lot of woven wire and welded wire fencing. Have used it for critter pens, bird transport cages, etc., and even stretched some of the woven wire between some posts and got grapes climbing it now. Wife has a basket made from welded wire fencing, a 12" circle of 1" lumber, and an old wood spindle of some sort for a handle. Wish I could take credit for that one.

-- Eric in TN (, November 08, 2001.

Hello Laura, I take scrap wood and make doll furniture out of it and sell it on Ebay! Sincerely, Ernest

-- (, November 08, 2001.

I drove 30 miles for a free, double compartment stainless steel sink, complete with disposal (gave it away), and a Moen Faucet (worth 10 to 20 used if I can't use it). Once home, Ann eyed the defunct (now waste) propane gas grill on the patio. She correcrly guessed that it would hold the sink!!!!! We used it ( with 2, 5 gallon buckets to accept the water from the drains ) during the east coast drought of 2000. We are going to take it to our homestead tomorrow.

-- rick K (, November 08, 2001.

Hi Laura, re the treadmill..

I think a treadmill would be quite difficult to make in the farm workshop but I am sure you could manage a 1 horse power machine made from an old truck or car axle.

Remove one half shaft from the axle housing then block up the axle housing on that side as close as possible to the diff housing.

Use a welder to 'lock' the small pinion gears so that they cant turn.

Dig a hole in the ground and bury the empty axle so that the diff housing is just above ground level. The remaining axle will be pointing straight up in the air.

Mount a good strong pole across the wheel studs so that the horse can walk around the contraption turning the axle shaft.

As the axle turns the diff pinnion will turn at about 3 or so timesthe rate the horse walks around. Now this will be real slow 'horse power' so will need a few belts and pullies to get up to a useful speed.

Devices like this were once used to power stationary threshing and baling machines usually with a spinning shaft coming out from the centre that the horse(s) stepped over.

An interesting project so dont forget to tell us how it works out!

-- john hill (, November 08, 2001.

I made my brooder box out of discarded pallets. I use old window air conditioner covers for additional brooders, rabbit hutches, temporary dog houses, etc. Old plastic buckets that have broken at the top make rabbit nest boxes or laying boxes for chickens. Use feed sack string for many things, including tying the legs of chickens for roasting, tying up plants to stakes, anything that needs string. My former mother-in-law used to crochet dish washing rags from the feed sack string. I use the meat packing trays I get at Walmart for watering dishes for dogs, cats, and chickens. The rabbits eat them. Use old oven racks and/or grill racks to cook over an open fire or in a fireplace, or use them wired together to make a support fence for plants. Also use them to block off the openings under buidlings to keep out skunks, etc., but still allow for ventilation. Old heating/cooling vent pipe will also do for small animal shelter if you can fix it so rainwater doesn't run into it. Otherwise, it will stay dry and holds hay bedding well.

-- Green (, November 13, 2001.

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