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*this* John W. Hays’ take on things and experiences

Making Prototypes

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Despite the time squeeze of trying to be in two places at once, filling in for two different vacationing people, I found a way to occupy Delilah by taking her to the shop for a distraction while I tinkered on prototyping a design for grates that I can use for slow feeder boxes in the barn stalls.

IMG_iP0910eShe seemed to appreciate the chance to be out of the house with me, despite the confines of her leash. I decided that while Cyndie is away, I will only allow Delilah off leash if I am able to give her my undivided attention, like when I am throwing discs for her to make spectacular diving leaps toward, or flinging squeaky tennis balls great distances for her to sprint after.

Before Cyndie left for the coast, she picked up some fence panels from Tractor Supply for me to make my own grates. As nice as the ones are that I had a local welder make for the two full-size boxes I built, they were a bit pricey.

The first challenge I am facing is finding a way to add some weight to the grates. The custom welded ones are made of heavier rod and also have side plates that give it a desirable heft, so it lays firmly against the bale. The horses can pretty much ignore it and concentrate on nibbling the hay between the squares. The weight helps the grate to keep dropping as the hay is consumed.

The fence panel is made of lighter gauge wire and I fear without added weight it wouldn’t tend to fall as naturally, and the horses might become inclined to mess with it when it got hung up. They have a knack for eating down on one side at a time so that the grate can end up tilted dramatically.

One thing I am considering for the stalls is that there will be no sharing. It will be one horse only that will be grazing hay, so there won’t be mixed behavior. Whatever eating tendency each horse has will define how the slow feeder works in each case.

My first shot at adding something akin to the side plates on the welded grates, was to attach a section of an old T-post that I cut to length on the band saw. By snipping off a section of fence panel so there were end wires extending beyond the area that will cover the hay, I was able to bend them over to capture the post.

In terms of weight, I think it will work adequately for what I want it to do, but I didn’t end up with the exact dimensions I had in mind. Turns out the fence panel wasn’t welded to exacting specifications. The dimension between squares varies, so I will cut another one a whole square larger and take a second stab at a method of bending the sides around a section of post.

I want it to cover an area as wide as a bale, to make it easy to fill the box with full flakes and then drop on the grate and secure it. Speaking of easy, the horses will mainly be in the barn when it is below-zero, so I’m trying to design the box so it will be possible to fill it when wearing big mittens.

That is, in case we ever again experience any below-zero days, what with the planet simmering away at a record pace now days.

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Written by johnwhays

September 17, 2015 at 6:00 am

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