Skip to main content

Keeping a hay or straw bale dry in the great outdoors...

I have just noticed that the last few posts have been chicken related - I guess that's because with new baby chicks in the pen, I am spending a bit more time than usual with them.

Getting bigger! Man, they eat a lot!

I needed some more bedding straw - which I use in their nests only, its too expensive at $14 a bale for them to scratch around in - and although you can buy a plastic bagful, it works out to be much more expensive. So, I bought the bale and took it home.

I lugged it into the pen and broke off what I needed for the various nesting boxes and that left me with a, well, almost full bale of straw to store. If you have chooks, you are gonna have rats and/or mice. Its all part of the game. Our neighbours have chooks that back onto our chooks - so there is no way that we will be rat or mouse free (where are those carpet snakes when you need 'em??) So I'm not allowed to put the bale in the garage and move any potential rats/mice condominiums into the house.


If I leave it outside, even though we are having a mini drought, its definitely going to rain on my expensive bale of straw - Murphy's Law is strong in my world. I didn't have a spare tarp to put over it, and then I spotted the perfect item in our "to be thrown out" pile...

Here's what I did...

Yup! - I popped an old umbrella with a broken handle over the top!
The air is able to circulate underneath so hopefully the mould wont grow so quickly in the sticky Queensland summers...


The water should just run off the brolly and stay off the straw bale.


With the break below the catch, its never going to open and be used the way it was intended. As an aside, I turned the last dead umbrella skin into pennants to hang in the garden for parties and BBQ's. Very colourful and last a long time as they are nylon - also the are already a triangle shape. My mathematically minded husband worked out a way for me to get a whole bunch of triangles out of each panel... maybe I should have blogged that...

I put the bale up against the fence where there is some overhanging branches to give it all the protection that I could muster and then poked the broken handle into the bale. Its not going to stand up to a really big storm but should protect the bale for a lot longer than if it was just left outside all the time. The chickens still have a bit of a peck at the edges of it - but over all, don't seem to like the colours or texture of the brolly or something and so leave it alone.

I don't use sugar cane mulch in my pens at all. I find it harbours or encourages leg mites which look terrible and must really hurt the chickens. I was for ever treating my chickens (tea tree oil applied with a small paintbrush to the legs) until I read somewhere that sugarcane, although cheap, was probably where my leg mites were coming from. Since I swapped to leaves of any description, grass clippings and roof sweepings (We sweep the leaves and stuff off the roof into the chook pen) they have had no leg mite at all!

Score card:
Green-ness: 5/5 for not using something new.
Frugal-ness: 5/5 for not spending a cent and reusing an item that was going to the dump!
Time cost: Ohhh about 15 seconds! (10 minutes of looking for something to do the trick doesn't count does it?)
Skill level: I'm not sure there is one!
Fun -ness: Looks really funky in the chook pen!!!

Comments

Anonymous said…
I have been seeing a lot of ideas for old umbrellas, but this is a good one. Hope it works the way you hope.
Kathryn Ray said…
Whoa, that's some expensive straw... about the same as we paid for 75-lb bales of hay this year.

I generally don't buy straw, but just use the hay the alpacas don't eat... last time I looked at the price it was only $2-3 per 90-lb bale at the farm supply store... which is usually more expensive than the feed store.
Practical Frog said…
Wow! You wanna send me one over??? I think you must live near a grain growing area where it is a waste product that they can sell. I can get sugar cane bales (waste from the sugar crush) for around $8 - thats the cheapest as Queensland has plenty due to the sugarcane industry. If I get a huge bale, its not much more in cost. Its mainly a transport cost issue I think here in Australia. Everything is soooooo far away. And Im buying barley straw and its from the suburbian produce place as well - hence I want to keep it dry. I came home at 12.30am last night (from work!) and my hay bale was dry but my bubby chickies were a bit damp as the husband was well and truly asleep and didnt know it was lightly raining and to cover their pen with the tarp - and I'd rather replace hay than chickens! - Kara xx
Kathryn Ray said…
There is a lot of hay, alfalfa and wheat grown around here... so I think you're right about the waste. Transportation is certainly the biggest cost.

Hope your chookies are dried out. ;-)
Anonymous said…
I found straw bales before Halloween. At the local Meijer's they were $4.98. Being a new farmer I made the mistake of letting a couple of the bales get wet. Now I need to know how to get them dry.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Popular posts from this blog

Killing cockroaches with boric acid v borax!

We live in Queensland. We have cockroaches. Lots of cockroaches! Why the NSW rugby team is called the Cockroaches is a mystery to me - surely ours are not only bigger but more plentiful??? At any rate, I don't like living with them (and I'm quite sure they  are not so fond of me at the moment!!) and I have been going through the usual gauntlet of sprays, solutions and bombs to get rid of them...

But I'm not so keen on the chemical aspect of all this spraying and bombing. I hate the smell and can almost feel disease and cancer growing in me every time I spray. I'm OK with the resident cockies getting a lungful of chemicals and then keeling over but I feel its impolite (and probably illegal) if my guests and family members do the same thing!!!

We went through a faze of killing them by hand (and flyswatter and rolled up newspaper and underfoot) but its hard and frustrating work and it probably was only culling the dumb and slow ones - leaving the smart fast ones to breed!!!

What to do when your cat attacks a bird... and doesn't kill it.

We have an eight year old cat who we got as a stray about six years ago. The vet reckoned she was about two when we got her and we did all the right things and got her spayed and vaccinated and all that stuff. She loves people and no matter where you are in the house or garden, she will not be far away. She really good with kids and will put up with the squishiest cuddles and a far bit of toddler tail fascination before bolting out the door to escape. She is well fed (despite the look she is giving me and the empty bowl below...) but not fat - but still the  urge to hunt and subsequently kill still seems to be quite strong.


Last weekend, she pounced out of nowhere on a rainbow lorrikeet - thankfully my husband and a band of teenage boys were also there and managed to grab the bird before the cat had done more than pounce. Now we have a slightly mangled still alive but obviously unwell bird on our hands - what do you do?

Here's what we did...

We found a box - popped an old towel in t…

Refilling old candle holders with new home made candles!

I had a number of nice wee candles that had burnt down to the bottom of their containers. They were too nice to throw away and I decided that I might be able to refill them with some more wax that I had lying around and use them again. Jumping straight in as I am apt to do.... I learnt a bit about candle making the hard way!

Here's what I did...


First I gathered up all my old wax. I scooped the wax out of old candles by either melting it for popping the whole container in the freezer for 10 minutes or so - most of the wax just popped out of its container after that!
I bought a length of candle wick from my local handcraft store. This was 6 meters and cost me $4.
I used the double boiler method of melting all my wax together. I used an old tuna can as I was only planning on filling four small candles. Don't let any water boil over into your wax. It will make your candles go funny...
I gently stirred the wax as it melted.
I measured the depth of the candle holders and then doub…