Obviously, we can’t use an electric stock tank heater. Propane heaters are expensive to buy — and to run! Will remembered his dad telling him about his chore, as a kid, of having to fill his grandpa’s wood-fired stock tank heater every day and that got Will to thinking. We have two big tanks for the horses that we fill with hoses, chopping ice out in-between. But, sooner or later, the ice gets thicker and thicker until there’s only a five-gallon basin left unfrozen in the top. Will looked online at some wood-fired heaters and thought he could manufacture one. A trip to the dump brought back a couple of small hot water heaters, which he dismantled for the tank inside. Then he welded an air vent pipe on (square one in photo), cutting a hole in the lower side and putting a chimney on top to vent the smoke. Then he added a piece of 8-inch pipe, welded on top to load the wood, with a flat swinging cap to close after the fire is going.
He tried it yesterday, first in the cow’s tank, which was also frozen pretty badly. By evening, the tank was half unthawed! So this morning, he took it down to the horse pasture and set it in a chopped basin on top of the ice, and fired it up. Now, two hours later, there is a wide basin of water around the heater and all the afternoon to go. (And because it’s forty degrees today, that should help a lot!)
It’s amazing what can be done with very little money to make homesteading on a shoestring much more enjoyable! Thank you, Will! — Jackie