Since I am still relatively new to farming, I never know what supplies I need until I need them.
To help me learn more about all things farm and gain experience to one day own horses, I volunteer from time to time out at Reins to Recovery Inc. Therapeutic Riding Center. The first time I was in their barn a couple of years ago, I couldn’t quite figure out why they had a full-size freezer in their stable area.
Being very naïve at the time, I figured it was because they needed storage for vaccines, etc. for the horses.
Then during a Saturday feeding, another volunteer who was with me offered to corral the herd into the feeding area, and I offered to fill the feed buckets. Easy, right?
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I walked into the barn and start searching for either feed bags or something that was what I thought a traditional animal feed storage bin. Nothing. I continued my search hoping that somehow horse feed would materialize before the other volunteer, a gal who was well seasoned in all things equestrian, thought I was completely incompetent.
After several minutes, the other gal had walked back into the barn and asked where the filled buckets were. I replied incredulously, “I don’t know where the feed is. They must be out.”
I really think I could have heard the eyeroll of the other gal, but she smiled gently as she walked toward me.
You longtime farming folk out there are most likely snickering by now because you know the secret to storing animal feed without having mice and other rodents get into it.
You guessed, it, an old freezer.
The other gal lifted the lid to the freezer, and instead of ice crystals, I saw a large amount of feed that covered almost half of the interior of the freezer — a freezer that had long passed its electric life and now was used to protect the expensive feed from rodents and anything that would be lurking for a free meal in the barn.
It makes perfect sense. It’s big, made of steel and/or aluminum and seals like any other expensive storage container. You can fit multiple bags of feed at a time in it, so there is no chance that other bags that haven’t been opened yet can be gnawed.
Reins to Recovery identifies all of their folks associated with the facility as their “barn family,” and I love that shortly after my snafu with the barn freezer, I started getting advice that I needed to get a used, no longer working freezer for my chickens’ feed.
I put the ask on Facebook one Saturday afternoon, and it’s amazing how many folks are clamoring to unload a freezer on an unsuspecting, still somewhat green farmer. Some didn’t understand that the freezer was not going to be used to keep anything cold, and others didn’t understand that I really didn’t need a body-size freezer in my small barn.
I have a flock of under 100 chickens. I’m not going to be purchasing a pallet of feed any time soon.
I did finally find an appliance that will serve my needs quite well, and I’m anxious to try it out. Between the pseudo barn cat (that’s a story for another day), the traps and this new freezer, I should not have much problem controlling freeloading rodents.
Had you told me years ago that I would need a nonworking freezer for my barn, I would have absolutely laughed at you. Now, I realize I can’t live without it.
Stephanie Strothmann owns Purple Shamrock Farm LLC in rural Seymour. Read her blog at whattheclucker.blogspot.com. Send comments to [email protected].