Thursday, January 24, 2013

Rich's "Life Changing Device"

by Meredith Chilson

Once upon a time there was a man who loved his granddaughters…
 Rich lives in Live Oak, Florida and has two enterprising granddaughters.  About five years ago, when the girls were only 7 and 5 years old, they told their grandfather their dreams: one little girl had plans to go to Harvard, and the other had aspirations to become a veterinarian.  Rich believes in his girls.  He knew if they wanted to accomplish their dreams, they’d need money to do so, and so he encouraged them to “get a job”.

The little girls took him seriously.  With their father and grandfather’s help, a portable College Fund Store was set up. At first they sold vegetables and flowers to neighbors, then they began to expand.  They re-invested some of their money and bought commercial hot dog and coffee machines and a refrigerator. They began to take their cart to local fairs and events.  According to an archived article in the Suwannee Valley Times, by late 2012 the girls (now 10 and 12) had a checking account, decided what products would go in their store, and in which venues they would sell.

I’ve read that these young entrepreneurs have gone to their city’s chamber of commerce to encourage the establishment of a junior chamber. I’ve also read that while they’ve expanded what’s available from their cart, they’ve only attended events and shows within their own area.  Besides dollars, their ambitions require good grades, so they do not travel while they are in school. They are active in junior girl scouts and their church, as well as making honor roll grades. But…as terrific as these young women are, this story is about their grandfather.

You see, in addition to the College Fund Store, Rich’s granddaughters have a Thursday egg route.  Rich told me that they have about 38 hens and 2 roosters, and the girls peddle the fresh brown, green and white eggs to neighbors and townspeople. Most of the time, now, his granddaughters take care of the chickens, but when they first started, with 13 Jersey Giants, the girls were only 8 and 6.

Rich says, “I kind of pick up the slack. I am basically a very lazy person, and it was not long before I realized I did not enjoy carrying water on a daily basis. I also did not relish the thought of cleaning the poop out of the waterers every day.”

The Life Changing Device was invented.  In Rich’s words:

            We did a bath renovation, and my first thought was TANK. (3 ½ gallon = 3 days not to carry water.) My second thought was this thing stays full. (3 ½ gallon tank always full = never carry water). Basically the rest just came together.
            This is the best watering system ever.  I have had this working for two years now, and I’ve never had a problem, I’ve never had to clean the system, and the water is as pure as day one!

            Here is a list of the parts and directions:
                        Used toilet tank—free from local plumber, trash day or renovation                                     
                        Two ¾” PVC Slip to garden hose
One washing machine feed hose—often free from local appliance repair shop or trash day
PVC fittings to reduce the flush outlet to ¾”
One stick ¾” PVC
¾” slip to ½” thread tee (reducing couplings—as many as you want watering nipples)
One cap
Reducers from ½” to 1/8 pipe thread (as many as you have nipples)
Nipple waterers

            This is a gravity fed system, so the tank has to be hung above the nipples.

1. Connect the feed to the fill float valve in the tank.
2. Reduce the flush outlet to ¾”. The sizes do vary, so you may have to hunt for exact fittings you need.  I made two washers and just sandwiched a slip to thread in mine.
3. Connect the washer hose from the tank to the stick of ¾” PVC.
4. Install the tee as needed.
5. Put the reducers in and install the nipples.
6. Close off the end of the run with the cap.
That’s it—a life-changing device! Never water your girls again!

Reducers connected, nipples installed

Line set up
Chickens demonstrating use of device


As you can see from the photos Rich provided, the watering system runs along one end of the 24’ x 16’ coop. 

There’s also a commercial feeder that holds 50 pounds of feed and a 2 gallon oyster shell feeder.

Rich told me if he had to do it again, he would make two changes. First, he noticed that the vertical watering nipples seem to leak.  He has ordered, from England, horizontal spring loaded nipples, and he thinks this should take care of that problem.  Also, he found saddle PVC fittings that go from either ½” or ¾” to 1/8” thread. They cost less than the PVC tees and adapters that he used and would eliminate both tees and adapters.

I asked Rich if he thought his system could be used in cooler climates.  I like his idea, but this week in Western New York, the temperatures have been hovering right around zero. He suggested using a birdbath heater in the tank.  A small circulation pump run out through the hole where the flush handle comes out, and connected to the end of the nipple run, should keep the system from freezing.

I suppose now that Rich has invented this life changing device, he is able to recline in his lawn chair while his granddaughters let the chickens out every day for an hour or so to roam around while the eggs are gathered.  I imagine him as bronzed from the sun, lazing away the time he’s saved, living happily ever after…

The thing is, this is not a fairy tale.  Rich, like a lot of other grandfathers I know, would do nearly anything for his grandchildren.  While encouraging them with their dreams, he’s also taught them responsibility and good values. It’s anyone’s guess if they live “happily ever after”, but it’s my firm opinion that Rich will do all he can to make that possibility a reality.

The College Store today

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