Using the can for feed storage.
Growing up, I remember scooping goat feed from the barrel with a tall plastic container, which once served to hold supplements for the horses. We would often wash out these durable containers, and give them use all over the farm. Fast forward to our own homestead today, and we are big time coffee drinkers. Some of you may know the feeling of taking your first sip of hot coffee in the morning, waking up with the sun and getting your chores started. Whether you’ve got the coffee pot plugged in, or the percolator bubbling on your wood stove, there’s a few good uses for your leftover coffee can when it’s emptied out.
Firstly, there are two types of cans I recommend saving- metal, and plastic. You’ll want a durable container that can stand up to whatever project you’ll assign it to. Depending on what you’ll use it for, keep in mind that metal cans will eventually rust. Give the can a good washing after you’ve emptied it out, and make sure they’re dry before using. I’ve included some personal use ideas from around our homestead, but with a bit of ingenuity there are so many great ways to re-purpose those cans.
Over time, we’ve reduced our flock numbers to only having a handful of chickens and ducks. Considering we don’t go through as much feed, we use our cans to scoop feed and disperse it for our feathered friends. In the past, it was important to always save the lid when carrying grain to our goats, as putting the lid back on helped to make sure they wouldn’t nudge the container and spill the pellet everywhere while going through the gate! For anyone who has experienced mice chewing through your feed bags, this is a good way to keep small portions safe from being nibbled on. It’s also a great way to transport a pet kibble when traveling.
Watering our tomato plants.
This is an instance where I would not recommend using a metal coffee can, because water is quick to rust them. Whether you’re carrying water to your plants on the porch, or refilling the chicken’s waterer, these are handy containers for getting the job done. Again, the lid is valuable in preventing the water from splashing you if you have a bit of a walk while carrying the full can.
Craft Materials and Knick-Knacks
Deer hooves and scrap buckskin saved for future projects.
We have a lot of scrap twine, buckskin, feathers, craft wire, and such that I use to make crafts with that help support the homestead. Often times, I cut a little too much twine or have a few deer hooves around, and I keep them in these containers to help organize them and keep them away from those mischievous mice. If you have random items laying around that you’d like to reorganize, here’s a simple way to do it.
Nails, Screws, and Drill Bits
Keeping screws organized in this coffee can at the workshop.
Have you ever picked up a box of nails at the hardware store, only to later pick it up and have the entire bottom fall out? Are you having a hard time keeping up with your drill bits in the workshop? Here’s a great solution, similar to how we mentioned organizing your random household items. I’ve started to move smaller tools and necessities in our outbuilding to coffee cans and label them accordingly.
Keeping salt for hide tanning in coffee cans.
This one is a bit more of a narrow category, but for anyone who may tan animal hides, I recommend saving plastic coffee cans. I have found that each can allows us to hold five pounds of salt for use in the tanning and preserving process- it makes for a great way to keep your salt portioned out and measured. If you buy your salt at the grocery store, a big issue with leaving your salt in individual containers is moisture. Too many times I’ve forgotten to put the salt into a container, and had the entire thing absorb moisture and harden into a block. The salt will rust out a metal can, so this is again why I recommend plastic.
While these may be just a few simple ideas to put those old coffee cans, there are many different ways to use them outside of just storage or feed and water. Folks who enjoy backyard birding can make a simple house for their feathered friends, or you can roll up your leather belts inside of them for easy storage. You can turn them into miniature planters, or let your children decorate them for a pencil holder. Are there any interesting storage or crafting projects you’ve made with your coffee cans? With a little homestead creativity, you’re bound to find a use for them!
Fala Burnette is a homesteader with her husband at Wolf Branch Homestead in Alabama. They are currently building their own log cabin and milling their own lumber, along with raising heirloom crops in the Spring and tanning furs during the Winter. Read all of Fala’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.
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