A friend of Andrew's told us that there was a place not too far from us that sold used metal barrels in good condition for cheap. When he told us how much, I thought he was kidding. Turns out, he wasn't.
We knew of the place, in fact, we'd been there before. It's a digger's heaven! They sell everything from marked-down food, yard sale items, those cheap-o tools you find at flea markets, furniture from salvation army with the sale tags still on-- the price crossed off and an even cheaper price written in, and boxes of stuff outside, under a roof that you are free to dig into and get your hands dirty. Beware, though, we found out the hard way, there is only a port-o-potty and no place to wash your hands, so better bring wipes with you!
Anyway, he told us they sold barrels for $7.50 each. Really? No, really??? I envisioned rusty, dirty barrels with films of grease or oil, all dented and banged up. I imagined I'd be half inside scraping out stuck-on bits of black tar and trying to figure out where to dump the chemicals. These barrels were nothing like that. They were clean, in good shape with minimal dings, and once contained fruit juice concentrates. Labels still on them ranged from lemon, lime and apple concentrates. Food grade metal barrels with lids and bands for $7.50? And clean?? What a bargain! We paid and then walked across the street and picked out 4.
We are giddy with excitement at all the possibilities these barrels give us. There's so much we can do with them! We picked these green ones because they are creamy white inside and easier to see if they are dirty and if we decide to use these for food storage, we can see better if there are bugs or rodents in them. The lady we bought them from said she uses them for rain barrels, but I'm kind of hesitant to use metal barrels as rain barrels. We do have a plastic barrel that we plan to use as a rain barrel and sure would be nice to have a 2nd rain barrel but not metal.
I want to go to the local grain mill and see if they will make a custom chicken feed for me and usually to do that, most mills need to make it in batches of 500 pounds or higher. These barrels would be perfect to store all the chicken feed in and that would mean no more almost weekly trips to the farm store for chicken feed.
They would also make good dry food storage barrels for surplus bags of flour, sugar, or rice. Keeping them in the basement in a dry, cool area and we'd have plenty of food to last awhile if the sh!t ever hits the fan.
With some of the less-than-perfect barrels, they could be used in the pole barn for holding farm tools or as garbage cans. They're better than those cheap-o plastic garbage bins. Bigger and sturdier and no worries about cats or other animals getting into them. You could even cut into one and turn it into an outdoor wood stove.
We're already planning to go and get a few more-- we want to replace our cheap-o plastic trash cans and I'm thinking I can take one of the sturdier plastic ones and use that for a rain barrel. No sense in tossing a still good trash can, even if it is cheap-o! The trash can-turned-rain barrel can be the one we use for garden water and I can cut out part of the lid and replace it with a screen to keep out debris and mosquito larvae. I'll use the other plastic barrel by the house for watering the herbs and rhubarb patch, also for refilling the water bowls for the cats and chickens.
My mind is just going crazy with all the possibilities of these barrels!! They had 2 colors-- the green with the white interiors or all blue inside and out. To keep them from mixing, I think we'll get blue for trash and pole barn/farm use and save the green ones for food/grain/storage use. The lady at the store said they go fast in the summer and hard to keep in stock, so we'd best go back soon while there were still plenty to choose from and we can afford to be picky.
Any other suggestions on what we can do with these barrels??