Brag-share: Ingenious ways you are saving $ around the barn
Not incredibly ingenious, but it helps save a few bucks --
Each week DH brings home trash bags full of shredded medical records from the hospital. These are teeny tiny shreds the size of rice grains. We mix them with our Equine Pine pelleted bedding to help bulk it up on cold wintry days. Its consistency is compatible (unlike shavings) and we chortle at the ultimate re-cycling when it all ends up in the compost pile.
In these tough economic times, surely the endlessly resourceful COTH community can pass along some invaluable tips and advice to the rest of us...
Not so much a barn thing, but I do something similar to extend the life of litter for my cats. I mix pine pellets I've "prepared" (add water, stir to fluff and break up, let dry) with regular scoop litter. The litter still clumps and is easily scoopable and the cheap pine pellets means I don't have to use as much litter to fill the boxes. It also cuts the ammonia smell a lot better than the litter. Unfortunately the kitties aren't too fond of straight pine or I would have gone that route.
There's a local dairy farm that uses paper shreds to augment the bedding of their cows in a similar way you do, MediaMD -- it's a very good idea as long as the animals don't eat it.
Over where it's HI in the middle and round on both ends.
I always wanted to try this but how do you make sure there are no staples or plastic in the shreds?
I buy my sawdust from the amish when they log nearby properties. Cost $30 to fill a dump trailer. If it is muddy or they are far away I buy from the mill at $350 a large load.
I used to bag my own shavings free from a local company that made cabinets.
I also buy most of my equipment at local tack swaps or auctions. I bought most of my racing tack from people going out of business. My saddle towels, buckets and stall guards are all different colors but my horses don't mind.
I was thrifty when thrifty wasn't cool. I look forward to learning about more money saving ideas.
I haven't bought a garbage bag in 5 years! I use any plastic shopping bag (grocery store, walmart, etc) as my garbage bags in my kitchen and bathroom. When they are full I tie them shut and put them in empty feed grain bags I keep in garbage cans outside. When those are full I take them to the dump.
If I have plenty of plastic bags from previous shopping trips I then use my fabric bags next time I go shopping to prevent wasting plastic.
It works perfect for me as it prevents me from keeping a lot of trash in my kitchen that can attract farm rodents and bugs.
I also use my empty dog food bags (50lb) as where I put my recyclables. The bags are lined with plastic paper and prevent any leakage of stuff out of the bags.
I was going to start a thread about my dollar store haul last week. I go to one that is attached to a local drugstore & it is full of delightful stuff.
this list includes only what I got for the barn, that I remember.
applicators for car wax are the best thing, ever, for applying oil to tack
lots of microfiber cloths for cleaning horse & tack
package of toothbrushes for tack (not horse)
tack cleaning bucket thingy
sealable plastic containers to organize small stuff in tack locker
spray detangler for mane/tail
triple antibiotic ointment
saline for rinsing wounds
paint brush & container for Keratex hoof gel
yarn for braids
peppermints (packages of candy canes after Xmas go down to 90% off)
extra hair elastics to keep at barn (for me)
extra stocking cap to keep at barn in case I forgot mine
visor for same reason as above
and lots of other stuff that I forgot (not to mention the candy I bought for myself).
Oooooooooo I may have to go back to the Dollar store. That's quite a haul Hippolyta!
Regarding the concern about plastic or staples in the shredded records, I'm not sure why, but there aren't any. Trust me, I sift through every bag with my fingers and they have been consistently soft as clouds. If anything, the biggest problem has been its lack of weight--it would billow in the air if not mixed with the Equine Pine bedding. Maybe they only shred the papers and not the actual files..
We're a huge fan of the multi-use plastic bags too Blume Farm--especially because we go to Aldi's for groceries and can use them there. Fancy That, how do you get free mulch/wood chips brought in? That's a great deal...We live in the Land of Perpetual Mud and that would be lovely to help dry things up a bit.
I like that comment Ipcutter--thrifty before thrifty was cool. It sure is in style now!
We use a lot of your tips. My own greatest savings was to re-home the unemployed member of our yard. No feed, wormers, shoeing, vets, teeth,
emergencies, etc. I bask in his success and how he is loved.
Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique
Fancy That, how do you get free mulch/wood chips brought in? That's a great deal...We live in the Land of Perpetual Mud and that would be lovely to help dry things up a bit.
One of the private barns I boarded at got free mulch – there was a company contracted to come around and clear the roadways / power line right of ways. She stopped and asked them if she could get their mulch – and they agreed! And dropped it off for free – several hauls of it.
Now, when the rains were light, the mulch was great. Made walk ways, the area around the shelter in the pasture etc much nicer.
But when the rains became heavy, oh no – that same mulch kept moisture trapped, didn’t allow the ground to dry under it between rains – and created some horrible mud pit areas. It was horrible, and all of the areas that did not get mulch, recovered and dried out much quicker.
In my experience mulch is not the greatest (unless you have never ending truck loads to use) as with most organic matter, it traps moisture, and can actually make the mud worse.
Gravel, while expensive and a PTA, does a much better job with mud.
to go along with Appsolute's warning-as well as the shredded medical record concern for staples- I remember reading a story many years ago about a huge facility (in VA?) who contracted for mulch on trails all over their huge farm- and after the fact it was discovered that the mulch was shredded pallettes! There were nails mixed in all of it and the farm was basicly ruined.
Also- just a note to be careful when getting shavings and sawdust that it doesn't contain WALNUT woodshavings. Low end wood plants (like pallette making sawmills) use low end woods and wouldn't ever have walnut- but a fine cabinet maker might- so always ask!
My biggest money-savers by far are not stuff, but management choices.
I keep my horses out as much as possible. It saves me about $300/month in reduced bedding costs to keep them out 24/7, as opposed to 12 out/12 in which I will do but only if the weather is extremely nasty. I spend about $500/year on recycled concrete to reduce mud issues, so keeping them out 24/7 does not lead to scratches, muck or other such problems.
I only blanket the ones in work. This year the entire herd is naked, since I'm pregnant and barely riding at all. The blankets last longer and the horses are happy as clams with their big fluffy teddy bear coats. No body clips for them this year.
I only shoe the one who needs it for navicular management, the rest are barefoot. Navicular horse only has fronts. In the summer, the horses I ride get shoes as needed.
I use Nibblenets and Cinchchix nets outside and in the stalls. Outside I feed hay in the covered areas to reduce waste. My annual hay bill is half what it used to be when I fed the same hay in piles on the ground (I have picky horses so if a morsel was wet, touched dirt or was otherwise unpristine they would not touch it). If yours clean up their hay then you might not save a thing.
As for the rest, I haven't needed much of anything in years so I'm not a good source of tips for grooming supplies, etc. I buy those apple wafer treats in 50 pound bags for 412.99. That lasts so long I can't imagine making them myself for less once I factored in time and aggravation.
I agree that the last thing in the world I would want to put in my muddy paddock areas is mulch. Anything biodegradable will degrade -- and degrade = more mud in the long run. I try to pick out all biodegradable stuff from my paddock areas because if I keep it out, I notice the "barn smell" stays to a minimum. However, the mulch might be nice for walkways/trailer areas like FancyThat uses it -- I can see that working a lot better.
We just have the mulch nice and thick in our trailer turnaround area/stable area. YOu can call all the tree service places in the yellow pages and ask for mulch - they just dump it at your place. Best to get the good kind though (chipped wood) Some loads are better than others.
For the high-traffic-horsie-areas - rock is best. Our paddocks are done in base rock with sand on top. And lots of stall mats in and outside the stall shelters
The mulch is great for where we have it though.
Another tip - free carpet remnants to use as geotextile fabric to save your expensive rock (crushed/fines) from sinking into the earth
A word of caution RE: ground up tree trimmings for mulch. The trees can be infested with termites, and they are small enough to survive the mulcher. Also, the trees can have poison ivy on them and that can really make you itch when ground up in the mulch.
I reuse the feed bags for garbage bags. Ours are plasticized bags, and in the barn no real wet stuff goes in them. I also use them at home in the kitchen - wet stuff goes in the can, but all the other stuff goes in the feed bag. I use the shopping plastic bags for the small trash cans in the bath and bedrooms. No purchasing trash bags in this household!!
...I am now at the stage of wine-surfing COTH
IO agree about the comments about mulch and surprised that people put that down outdoors. Just the spots where hay is put down become inordinately muddy - anything that decomposes will create mud, and I always dig the mud out to the hard ground beneath and remove it. I then take care to always remove leftoever hay and always remove manure, and my muddy areas stay hard and dry. A little crushed stone over the hard ground doesn't hurt, but doesn't work if you don't dig the mud out first. But never, ever, ever, put down mulch or anything biodgradable. Its like growing mud! I remember one barn I rented, the mud in front of the barn was knee deep. It took me an entire three seasons to dig that mud out by hand and dump it in the manure pile. However, when done, the barn area around the barn was clean and dry. The owner was gob-smacked! How'd you do that, she asked, I told her, no degradables and dug away the mud. Keep it clean and free of manure, and there you go! So no mulch for me, by gum! Saves you mulch money, right there, heh heh heh
...I am now at the stage of wine-surfing COTH