Reusing and recycling children’s toys and equipment to do new tasks around a hobby farm requires a creative spirit and really only a little bit of know-how. Here are some ways my family put an old bicycle, trampoline frame and sandbox to use that save a lot of money and work well for both humans and livestock.


My kids loved their turtle sandbox when they were young but once they outgrew it, we stored it in the backyard, where it collected water after every rainstorm. When my daughter bought her first two sheep, my husband had the idea to put the turtle to work as a water trough. Initially, we figured it wouldn’t last long. We had our sights on a “real” livestock trough. But after a few weeks we saw how well the old turtle worked and decided we didn’t need to spend the money. The turtle was just the right size for providing our small flock with water through the hot summer days when they drink a lot more than usual. In the winter, we add a heat element (set on a wood stand so it won’t burn the plastic bottom) to ensure the turtle doesn’t freeze. Once our friends found out how we had repurposed the old sandbox, they gave us another turtle as a second trough for another part of the yard.


We raise Cornish Cross chickens for meat every summer. We started with 12 birds in a small chicken tractor my husband made out of wood and scrap chicken wire. The “tractor” is merely an enclosure for the birds that does not have a bottom so they can eat the bugs in the grass. We move it around the yard every few days to give the birds fresh pasture and a clean space (meat birds poop a lot more than egg layers!). When we decided to raise more than a dozen birds at a time, we needed a second chicken tractor. The kids hadn’t used the trampoline in our yard for a couple of seasons, so we decided the frame would serve us well as a base for a new enclosure. We wrapped the frame in fencing wire, securing it on the posts as well as the top and base of the frame. We put a tarp on the top at night and when it’s in the sun. A couple of wheels on one side make the lightweight aluminum frame easy for one person to move.


We have an “island” of trees in our front yard that we decided to wrap in fencing to house our goats (and sometimes chickens) for a summertime pen. To save money on posts, we used some of the trees to anchor the fencing. A large gap between trees for the entrance required a customized gate. We built one out of fallen saplings but found the large gate was really heavy to move. So my husband cut an old bicycle in half and secured the wheel and handle bar to the end of the gate. He hung the hinges higher on the other side to compensate for the wheel height, which keeps stress off the hinges because we aren’t lifting the gate into position, just rolling it open and closed. This easy movement is especially helpful when the goats make a run for it at feeding time.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Do you have your own story of re-use on the farm? Did you turn an old pogo stick into a fence post? Salvage old tires to hold a tarp down? (But please do better than that!) Share them on Instagram, hashtagged #pressherald2015 or email them with a description to, and we may use them in a future story.

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