The past few winters have been brutally cold on our homestead in northeastern Pennsylvania. The frigid temperatures have caused my goats’ water buckets to freeze solid in just a few hours. I don’t have electricity in the pasture to supply heated buckets for the animals, so I needed a low-tech, inexpensive way to keep the water from freezing so fast.
My husband stacked two 14-inch tires together, drilled holes through the sidewalls, and connected them with bolts. He used large washers to prevent the bolts from pulling through. We had some leftover spray foam insulation from a previous project, so we used it to fill the tires to the edge of the top bead. After the foam cured, we trimmed it flush to allow our 4-1⁄2-gallon water bucket to sit securely inside the protective tires. The rim of the water bucket, being a little wider than the tire opening, allowed the bucket to stay suspended within the tires. A small amount of space remained between the ground and the bucket, so I filled it with a piece of leftover Styrofoam packing material for additional insulation.
The insulated tires have worked wonderfully. The black tires and bucket absorb the sun’s warmth during the day. Even on frigid days, only a thin layer of ice forms on top of the water, which isn’t enough to prevent the goats (or birds!) from drinking. This season, I plan to place a buoyant object into the bucket — such as some kind of thick ball that the goats won’t be able to bite — to cause enough agitation on the water’s surface to prevent ice from forming altogether.
Zion Grove, Pennsylvania
Whether you want to learn how to grow and raise your own food, build your own root cellar, or create a green dream home, come out and learn everything you need to know — and then some!LEARN MORE
At MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet's natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.95 (USA only).
You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.