When sourcing items for my farm, I typically try and get them locally. Aside from agriculture and hardware stores, there is not much selection in my area. Even so there are some items I have had bad luck with locally (cattle water trough floats for example). Having used reward-based sites in the past that paid in amazon gift-cards, I have fallen in love with their review system and I feel entirely confident that I get a fair assessment of the products I am shopping for. They are my go-to source for anything I cannot find locally!
Here is a tip: I have found that to get the best information, check out 3-star reviews. Usually I find that these reviews are the most objective as they are not as emotionally charged negatively like 1 and 2 star reviews but they aren’t gushingly emotional like 5 star reviews.
Now in interest of transparency and replicability, I decided to list all of my farm purchases thus far except seeds which I will save for specialized post.
100W Solar Starter kit with panel, charger adapter and mounting kit: $185
Used to capture solar energy in deep cycle batteries that can then be moved to power electric fending, pumps etc.
Solar/DC Water Pump: $114
Used to move collected rainwater from barrels to elevated tanks in order to gravity feed the garden, trailer tanks, and chicken processing area.
Automatic (mechanical) cattle float filler. $42
I have had bad luck with locally procured fillers that either deteriorated or succumbed to curious bovines. This one works like a float filler in your toilet tank, I can mount it out of the reach of cattle and a customer review shared my woes of curious but ungraceful bovine.
1/2″ 19 Gauge Galvanized Hardware Cloth, 4 ft x 100 ft: $161
I’ve only been able to find flimsy chicken wire locally. This stuff is sturdy enough that raccoon can’t bend it or rip it apart. The opening are large enough to let manure and debris fall through but small enough to prevent rats and large snakes in. Any snake that does fit will learn the omnivorous nature of chickens in a hurry! I ordered more than my henmobile requires to be able to predator proof brooding chambers and winter chicken housing.
Acres USA Magazine description: $29
My favorite eco-agriculture publications. Honestly ordered from amazon as I get credit card rewards! Irrelevant note to anyone with an interest in homesteading: Backwoods Magazine was found randomly at an airport newsstand and is the coolest magazine I have ever read.
Poultry Saddle-style watering nipples: $5
I got these to build a pvc watering system for my layers. The idea is to keep them from pooping on their water supply by using these. If it is successful, I’ll probably try them on the broilers as well as bulk packs are available for just under $1/nipple. I like saddle style as they seem to seal better. If you are putting them in the bottom of buckets, try normal nipples from 25 @$6 to 50 @ $10
Digital Temperature controller: $14
Dual purpose for brooding chamber and sweet potato curing. Controls heating elements based on temperature probe reading.
Low Wattage fan: $25
I wanted a simple solar powered fan to use in the brooding chamber or the greenhouse that serves as the winter home for laying hens.
Last time I used one of those ^ the fan sounded like a jet engine, used more power than necessary and had vibration issues. One of these controllers solved the issue (and also served great as a stir plate controller for making yeast starters!)
Red Wiggler Worms: $30
These will be the backbone of composting on the farm. They will provide chicken feed, help compost the garden layers and maybe provide a bit of income when sold as fishing bait or composting kits.
50 count Chicken Plucker Rubber Fingers: $29
For a DIY chicken plucker I am dabbling with.
Hot water heating element 120V: $9
I loved this so much for a home brewing setup that I ordered another to make a chicken scalder. Don’t forget your hardware/plumbing fittings! I can post these if anyone desires but will also include a post on my scalder build when it is complete.
I am starting with one of these to supplement various discarded items in the barn that I will also try in the brooding box.
Root Barriers 18″ x 100′ or 24″ x 100′: $100 or $137
Originally intended to keep my hops plants from escaping their designation growing area, I have another experiment in mind… (future post!)
200 count Receipt book and mileage log: $6 each
Both serve for tax and expense-tracking reasons. I also ordered a small 50 count receipt book ($3) to keep in the truck just to always have one with me.
Locally sourced in future:
Poultry Feed from the local feed mills
I will start with whatever unmediated broiler feed the local mills provide. Once I get the operation up where I require bulk quantities for delivery, I will design my own mix. The laying hens are on their own to forage!
Locust fence posts
There is a local guy who operates a sawmill and makes beautiful fence posts out of locust trees for $5 each.
Electric fencing components
A local agricultural store has experts on electric fencing. Even if they cost more than online sources I want to support them with large fencing purchases. The only thing I may order online is a AC/DC energizer as they don’t seem to have many solar-based items.
Water Tanks ($380 so far)
Have purchased 1300 gallons of capacity thus far.
Trailer for water tank ($Unknown)
I am currently watching local classifieds for an on-farm only trailer to haul water or feed around as needed. I have found one without a price that is made of a car axle and homemade platform that I will inquire about.
Lumber milled on farm: $Free
About a decade ago my uncle brought over a friend with a portable sawmill and we made thousands of oak, ash and cedar boards. The only compensation was they got to chose the choicest bits of lumber for furniture-making. As a result I still have a very large stockpile of milled lumber that I will use to build raised garden beds, chicken coops, frames for chicken plucker and anything else the DIY drive determines.
Organic waste: $Free
All local coffee shops will be solicited for their spent grounds and I have had success picking up produce that grocery stores are required to discard daily. For the latter, you just have to agree that the produce will not be used for human consumption. I addition to being the only nutrition my plants receive (through composting), at every farmers market I attend I plan on selling some compost tea to adults and red-wiggler kits to kids. Rather than a source of income, I want to use this as a market tool to build relationships. It helps me target like-minded customers who may be interested in ordering my produce or poultry. The latter has to be sold on-farm as far as I know so building relationships is what will secure my customer base and set them apart from those who patronize conventionally raised meat/produce. Marketing will definitely require some future posts!
Anything else useful that craigslist has to offer!
As you can determine, my investment so far is about $1100. Keep in mind that I am trying to keep everything movable in interest of renting land or expanding to a more marketable area. The exception of course is the barn-specific water catchment. The remaining large purchases in the first year will be gutters to complete the rain catchment system, an on-farm-only-use trailer and electric fencing. However I am going to forgo cattle for the first year which removes most requirements for fencing (surprise surprise, look for my explanation in future posts!)