24 Carrot Rabbitry

City-fied Self-Sufficiency

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Category : Mission

Installing rain barrels

My tagline is “City-fied Self-Sufficiency”, and one of the necessities of life is water. If you don’t have alternative access to water, and your service is interrupted for some reason, then things could get pretty desperate for you rather quickly.

Now, you can’t just gather a bunch of water from your roof and go drinking it. Well, I suppose you could, but it wouldn’t be very wise. That water has been on your roof… you know, along with the birds and squirrels. You drink the water straight, and you could end up with some really fun illness.

The main use for collected roof water would be the garden, and that’s how we plan to use it. However, in an emergency, the roof water could be distilled, or put through a ceramic water filter to make it suitable for drinking.

Our city had a community sale of rain barrels and compost bins, and we decided to take advantage of it. So we stood in line for a good while, in the hot sun, for the chance to buy four rain barrels and two compost bins.

Four rain barrels and two compost bins wait to be installed.

You may recall that I posted about making your own compost bin. Yes, it works, and yes, I’m using it. It’s also full, and I need more compost space. Shay could build more, but we thought we’d try these bins as a quick, cheaper way to greatly increase our compost capacity.

Shay and my uncle finally got a weekend that was not scorching hot, and decided to install the rain barrels. Shay went out and bought some lengths of gutter, gutter clips, and some spray paint that matched the gutters we have.  He and my uncle placed the barrels, and then Shay carefully rerouted the gutters to the barrels.

One gutter now snakes along the wall to get to the rain barrels, while missing a window.

Shay cut and bent the end of the gutter to help force the water down if it should flow very quickly. Here, you see a steady trickle of rainwater, in spite of the fact that the rain was long over, and it was just sprinkling. The mesh screen in the lid of the barrel has caught some leaves and other tree stuff. The mesh also keeps mosquitoes out.

Two of the rain barrels, sitting in the sprinkling rain. Once the first barrel (on the right) fills up, the water flows through a short connecting hose to the other barrel. Once that is full, there is an overflow hose at left that will discharge the excess water into the yard.

The other gutter swings around and into the carport.

The gutter enters the carport, turns, and abruptly ends above a rain barrel. The second barrel has an overflow that leads right back out through this space into the back yard.

Bicycles temporarily block the rain barrels (which, thankfully, don't need attention at the moment). We were having a rash of car break-ins, and I was concerned that the bikes would be way too easy a target.

A few days ago, we had a severe weather system move through here.  The two barrels outside cover more roof area, and are full to overflowing already.  The two under shelter in the carport are almost full, as well.  So now I will start using this water in the garden.

It’s amazing how dirty roof water is.  All that dust and pollen gives you brown water.  If we ever have to drink this water, it will need good filtering, to be sure!

Raising Catfish in a Barrel

Yeah, really, apparently.  There isn’t much record on the internet of lots and lots of people doing this, but we’re planning to give it a try!  From what I’ve read, you can actually raise 40 channel catfish from fingerlings to 1 – 1 1/2 lbs in a 55-gallon drum.

It isn’t easy, and it requires dedication.  For starters, you have to be willing to pull 15 gallons of water from the bottom of the barrel EVERY DAY, and replace it with fresh, dechlorinated water.  This is water you have drawn the day before and allowed to sit for 24 hours, in a place that gets sun in the daytime.  So you have to have something to do with the water you pull out (garden?) and a container to allow 15 gallons of water (per barrel) to dechlorinate.

You also need to make the catfish barrel mobile, so that you can put it in the sun or in the shade, depending on the temperature.  You also need something to oxygenate the water — a bubbler, or sprayer, or something.

You need something to feed to the catfish.  Dog food will foul the water.  But you can feed fish pellets or earthworms.  You can raise the earthworms yourself in worm bins.

Picture this:

  • Our rabbits eat (eventually) greens and such from the garden
  • We take the rabbit manure (bunny berries) and put it into the worm bin
  • We take the rabbit urine and dilute it and water the garden (think NITROGEN)
  • The worms eat the bunny berries and reproduce
  • We feed the worms to the catfish
  • We change 15 gallons of fish water per day, and water the garden (more NITROGEN)
  • We eat the fish
  • The fish water and bunny urine water make the garden go crazy
  • Our rabbits eat greens and such from the garden

Here’s where we’re getting our ideas:

http://www.stevequayle.com/News.alert/06_Prep_tips/Raising.Catfish.in.Barrel.pdf

http://yardstead.com/Urban-Homesteading/raising-catfish-in-a-barrel.html (same page, but not in .pdf format)

http://www.ehow.com/how_4474959_raise-catfish-barrel.html

And for some warning about what happens if something unexpected comes up (like an early baby!) and you can’t take care of the barrel:  http://www.freewebs.com/clarkshomestead2/catfishinabarrel.htm

So we’ll be giving it a shot.  Barrels need to be food-safe, and I hear you can get them from the local dairy.

It’s all about being a little more self-sufficient in uncertain times.  The weak link is the availability of catfish fingerlings.  No fingerlings, no fish to fry.  Or bake.

And, of course, there’s the fact that I don’t yet have a garden from which the rabbits can eat greens… and the fact that I probably don’t have enough yard here to grow all the food the rabbits need, PLUS enough for us.  Not sure on that one.  But I do need to get the garden going.

A 24-Carrot Post

Well, I’m up and running now!

Welcome to 24 Carrot Rabbitry!  My husband, children, and I raise meat rabbits.  In an uncertain world, looking to become even more uncertain, it’s a step in the direction of self-sufficiency.  With less than an acre of land, there may be a lot we cannot do, but there is a surprising amount that we can do.

Another step will be when we get a garden up and running.

Every family that is more self-sufficient than average is one less family that will need a lot of help in hard times.  Then we can help others.  :)