Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Endless Possibilities

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??


Cheyenne said...

We used to be able to burn trash here and those are the barrels we used. Of course, a new ordinance put an end to trash burning. My husband used to get the barrels free from his customers on his truck route. But let me tell you, if you can't get them free, $7.50 is a bargain these days!

Ron said...

I know the feeling, when you discover new materials and all the possibilities it brings. I've thought about getting a couple to make a wood burning stove out of for my shop. They take up quite a bit of floorspace for that, though.

Kevin said...

What a find! And tops to go with them too? Endless possibilities. A word of caution if I may??? Barrels are great fun for little kids to play in. We used to get in them and roll down the little hill out back. It was a blast! But, the lids with those lock bands and your little ones are a bad combo... just sayin'...
Cool find!

jenny said...

Cheyenne-- We have a burn barrel already. Where we are, you can burn after 4 on weekdays and all day on weekends, unless there is a burn ban for dry weather. We sort out our trash and throw paper stuff in a separate bin and burn papers, so our trash doesn't pile up so fast. Not only is 7.50 a bargain but it's CLEAN!! we paid $5 for one once and it was filthy and rusted and dinged.

Ron-- Andrew wants to turn one into a woodstove. He does a lot of splitting in the pole barn on cold days and it sure would be nice to have a heat source. There's room to spare in the pole barn, but I can see how they'd take up a lot of space in a workshop.

Kevin-- You used to roll down hills in barrels?? Fearless! I don't think we'd let our kids do that here.. the end of our hill stops at the road-- too risky. The bands that came with our barrels are not the spring type ones with the lock-down latch, they are the ones where you need a bolt and every turn of the screw makes it tighter. Apparently when they get the barrels, they are locked so many of the bands got cut, but the ones with bolts, they just cut the bolt so the band is intact. We need to replace the bolts so we are able to lock the bands on.

Keri said...

Great deal! Two words of caution, though. Chicken feed is not meant to keep develops mold rather quickly. A friend advised that it can go stale in a week or so.

The second thing, I learned that rain barrel water should not be used on edible plants, i.e. your veggie garden. The reason is because a shingled roof contains harmful chemicals and it runs off with the rain water. If you have a metal roof with no rust, then the water should be fine.

jenny said...

Hi Keri-- In the two years I've kept chickens, the chicken feed has never gone bad, except for one time, when the bag of feed got left out in the rain and water soaked through and resulted in a clumpy, moldy mess. I've asked around, and no one said that their feed has gone bad. As long as the feed is kept dry and clean, feed should last awhile.

As for the rain water-- it's a good thing my pole barn has a metal roof where I collect the rain water from!