Recycling feed bags into cute items, like this tote bag

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Awhile back, I read an article about how in the early 1900s or so, a lot of packaging for items was designed to be what was now refer to as “upcycled,” so that pretty much everything someone bought, even the packaging, would go to some use.

For example, some companies used to print dolls on feed bags and these “dolls” would be cut out and played with by kids, which I think is such a simple, sweet and fun idea and it makes me sorry that we don’t see more of this today.

So, I recently bought some chicken feed and noticed an announcement on the back of the bag that said the bag could be upcycled. As you can see in the picture below, it shows that you can upcycle the empty feedbag into a wallet, a planter, an apron or a tote bag. I’ve been doing a lot of painting lately, so I was excited about the idea of creating an apron for that and gardening.

Upcycling image from feed bag

I waited a couple of weeks and, finally, all the chicken feed was used up, so I washed out the bag and went to the website address — all ready to make my apron.

Unfortunately, Kalmbach feeds no longer has the upcycle instructions on its site. I even did a Google search to see if it was maybe in a different location, but couldn’t find anything.

I was all hyped up to make something, but had no instructions, so I started to think I was going to need to change my plan. I can’t sew and don’t have a lot of craft supplies, so I would need to make something fairly simple, but I also wanted to make something I would use. At that point, I switched to a tote bag because I was doing some searching online and found some really cute tote bags that had been created from feed bags on etsy and pinterest. There were also a lot of tutorials on youtube.

As you can see in this picture, the package actually has really adorable artwork. Thinking about it now, I could have even cut it out and framed it or made some kind of sign for the chicken coop. But, anyway, I decided in the moment that I really wanted to make a tote bag that would display the artwork and the green and blue color pattern.


Kalmbach Feed package

Here are my very general directions on how I made my bag. I’m not being too specific because it was a first attempt and I kind of think people might have more fun adding their own touches. And, if you can sew, You can probably make something a little more durable.

But, here’s what I did:

I started by cutting some of the extra string off the sewn part of the bottom and pulling off the ingredients tag. Then, I folded the bag down the sides and pushed in the bottom of the bag so it would be flat. I put two pieces of cardcoard on the inside bottom of the bag, so it would help it to stay flat and give it a little more strength.

cardboard in bottom of bag

I cut off the top part of the bag all in one big loop above where the artwork started and I kept that loop for the handles and the smaller bit of decoration you can see holding the handles together. I did that so I can hang it. I plan to use this one to store plastic bags in, in the kitchen.

I folded over the top so that it was down to where I wanted it and used a glue gun in a few spots so that it would stay folded (although being able to sew it would have likely looked better and would be more durable). I cut small holes in the bag and the handles loops, which I doubled up, and used baggie ties to attach the first handle. But, then, I decided that string would be easier, so I used that for the second handle. I thought about using a glue gun, but didn’t know if that would hold. I also thought about using a stapler, but I have a pet peeve about getting scratched by loose staples, so sturdy string seemed best. The handles look pretty good, but again, ones that were sewn on would probably look best.

Overall, I really like how the bag came out and think the more practice, the nicer ones I can make.

Tote bag

Finished tote bag.

Acutally, I’m excited. This opens up a whole new world to me. As a dog, cat and chicken person, who knows how many bags I have thrown out at this point. But, now, I plan to start making all kinds of items with the help of some youtube tutorials and just some more creative imaginings about what I can make. Plus, I can always use more tote bags for storing pet supplies in a cute way. And, I love the idea of keeping usable items out of landfills.

The cat food usually comes in paper, and I’m not sure if the dog food bags might have too much of that “oil” from the dog food on it to effectively wash them out and re-use. But, even if that’s the case, I will still have plenty of bags to experiment with, thanks to the chickens.

I hope this inspires others to upcycle. And if you do, please share some of your creations!

Update: After I wrote this article, my mother emailed me the following, which was really cool to find out.

Your great grandmothers, Grace Cofield and Alice Pittard, both sewed dresses, aprons, and quilts and many more household items from flour and feed sacks!! In the 1920’s, 30’s and early 40’s the fabric from the empty sacks was a good source of material in rural areas. Simplicity and McCalls sold patterns to help create dresses for women and children.”


Making a chicken feeder from a recycled soda bottle

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Today, I’m re-running a story originally published on Oct. 8, 2018. Looking back, I can’t believe how much the grandbaby has grown. The chickens have pretty much stayed the same size, however. LOL.

boy with chickens

The grandbaby out playing with his glider airplane near the chickens, who are free-ranging in the background.




Anyway, I had forgotten about this story until I went back into older posts and then I remembered how much fun it was to put together. I also think it’s timely now because, around here anyway, it’s been raining cats and dogs. Not literally; the chickens wouldn’t like that! But, if you have chickens and a lot of rain, you might appreciate this inexpensive way to keep your chicken’s feed fresh and dry.

Making a Chicken Feeder from a Recycled Soda Bottle
Soda Bottle Birdfeeder

We found this Soda Bottle Feeder for $3.50 at the Gift Shop at River Park North in Greenville, North Carolina, although we noticed you can also find it on for $5.99 and similar items for what we paid and upward.

Although it looked like it was for regular birds, we thought maybe it would work for our chickens, who are in the market for new bird feeders, so we decided to try it out. After all, the price was right.

To assemble:

We washed out an empty soda bottle and then waited to make sure it was all dry inside so they chicken feed wouldn’t clump and go bad.

The outer part of the black plastic shown above in the photo snaps off very easily.

We then poked two small holes in either side of the bottle, which was not as easy as we thought it would be because bottles are a lot more flimsy nowadays.

Once we got the “handle” inserted into the bottom of the bottle, we went on to filling the bottle with the feed. Our chickens prefer crumbles to pellets. We kind of expected getting the crumbles into the small bottle opening to be a laborious process, but, it was really simple.

We used a plastic pitcher (shown below) and poured the feed into the bottle while holding it over the bag of feed. It only took a couple of minutes to do this part.

plastic pitcher and bottle

Grandbaby helping with filling feed bottle

Our grandbaby, pre-bath, helping with the last few crumbles.

Then we just screwed the feed part onto our bottle and viola!

Finished bottle feeder

Time to test it out!

Our final step was to find a place to hang it up (we used an old shoelace).

Then, we waited to see if it would work…

You can see below, it takes Roo, our rooster, a few seconds to figure out how the feeder works. But, once he gets the hang of it, everybody starts getting in on the act.

We’re really happy with this experiment, especially given the fact that we it only cost us $3.50 and we recycled a bottle in the process!

chickens with feeder

What can you do with chicken feathers?

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Someone in a backyard chicken group we below to on social media posed the question, “What does everyone do with their chicken feathers?

We definitely took an interest since we have baskets, tins cans, and a few vases with loose feathers we’ve picked up over time and have been planning to put to use.

Below are some of the answers, but first on the list is one of the projects were were inspired to create as a result of finally putting some of those feathers to use other than collecting dust.

1. Cat toy.

This was pretty easy to make. It just took feathers and a rubber band to wind them together. Then we used some elastic string to attach a few bells. We tied on a ribbon and secured it with decorative duct tape. Motor, who is shown below, loves this toy! I think the fact that there is probably a scent from the chickens on the feathers caught her attention, and the bells and ribbons also help to make it very irresistable.

cat toy made from chicken feathers

cat playing with chicken feather toy

2. Dreamcatchers.

A few people responded that they make dreamcatchers with the feathers. Some sell theirs on Etsy, perhaps making a small profit or perhaps just being able to afford more chicken feed.

We haven’t tried this yet, although, as you can see, we do own a dream catcher (which was a gift from a former student).


But, if you’re interested in making your own (let us know if you want to borrow some feathers, lol) we do recommend the following youtube video, which shows how to make a dream catcher for beginners:


3. Feather jewelry.

More than a couple of people responded that they make jewelry with their feathers. We went to Etsy to check out the chicken feather jewelry scene and were surprised not only by the incredible assortment of earrings, necklaces and more, but to see quite a few pieces of chicken feather jewelry we wouldn’t mind owning. Here’s one example of a piece that definitely caught our eye.

4. Fishing lures.

Yet another response was fishing lures. One of our family members is an avid fisher and says feathered lures can be very good for reeling in some fish. Here’s a how-to link:


5. Feather Christmas tree ornaments and trees.

Some said they make them to give as gifts as holiday time, which we think is a great idea. Some people simply take feathers and place them inside those round, clear plastic ornament balls that you can open and put anything inside before hanging on your tree.

Here’s a video that, although it’s still a bit early, may get you in the Christmas spirit.


While we were looking for feather ornament examples, we stumbled across instructions for how to make feather Christmas trees. Below is one how-to video. These are really pretty, but even with what we have collected from our Silkie Chickens, we’d probably have to buy more feathers to have enough for the project.


6. Wreaths.

This was a popular answer too, and, again, some make theirs to sell on sites like Etsy. But others keep theirs. One person mentioned that they have their wreath hanging up in their living room and simply add feathers to it as they accumulate new ones — an egg-cellent idea (yeah, we went there). We found this beautiful feather wreath at Hobby Lobby and took a picture to help inspire us to make our own (hopefully, somewhere near as nice) creation when we have enough feathers (maybe we need more Silkies!).

feather wreath

And, if that puts you in the mood to get crafty, here’s a how-to video for a pretty feather wreath:


So, we covered a lot of ground! From dream catchers to fishing lures, and from ornaments to jewelry. Do you have any other ideas or photos of what you’ve done with your chicken feathers? We’d love it if you’d share them with us.

What can you do with your pet photos?

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Just think of all the photos you have clicked of your fluffy or scaly or feathery friend that you have stored away that you aren’t looking at, even though you really do plan to at some point. And that number is growing by the day.

Like most pet owners with a pet photo collection, you probably have shared some photos social media, saved others on your cellphone and computer. Others may be in a shoe box. The list goes on…

So, how can you bring them all together into a collection fairly easily and then what can you do with that collection?

One suggestion is putting all your digital pet photos on a site like Flickr.

Screenshot of flickr with pet photos

Flickr lets you save your photos in one Photostream or into separate albums.

As you accumulate your pet photos in one main place, you’ll likely find it’s fun to go back and see how your pet has changed with time or relive memories that you had forgotten. It’s also nice to have all your pet photos in one place so you don’t have to search your computer, Facebook, email, etc., when trying to find a certain photo you took awhile back.

You can also easily download your photos from Flickr if you want to have a copy somewhere else. You can also email your photos, share them on Facebook, Tumbler, Pinterest and Twitter, and embed them in websites (all we had to do was copy and paste the web address of the photo of our cat, Buffy, to get it to show up directly below).



Another cool feature is the option to set your photos under a number of licenses. The default license is All Rights Reserved, meaning your photo is Copyright Protected, so others can’t use it without your permission (well, they can, but you can sue them). But, you can choose other options, including Public Domain, meaning that essentially anyone can use the photo without your permission for any reason.

types of licenses

Making your photos accessible under Public Domain or for use with Attribution in various forms makes your photos searchable to anyone on Flickr and other photo sites. If you set it to Attribution, this means that someone can use your photo for commercial or noncommercial purposes, but they have to give you credit. (For more on what the other licenses mean, go to

Instead of a friend of yours stifling a yawn as you attempt to share more pics of your furry friend, someone might be extremely grateful to see the twenty-five pictures of your dog getting a bath, or the dozen shots of your cat watching television, or whatever else you’ve posted. In fact, it might be exactly what they have been searching for.

Your photo(s) could potentially be used by a reporter looking for a photo to go with their article for a newspaper or magazine or website on a pet-related topic, a student working on a report about animals, a non-profit putting together a pamphlet about animal care, someone in need of graphics for a book about pet training, or for other useful purposes.

In return, if you go with the Attribution option, you could have the cool experience of having your name mentioned and photo(s) used in a publication or website.

Finally, Flickr makes it easy to upload photos from a desktop or laptop computer and caption the photos during the process if you choose. If you are uploading to Flickr from an Android, you can download a special app that lets you upload multiple photos at once.

Related articles:

More stuff you can do with your pet photos

Yet more stuff you can do with your pet photos

Five tips for capturing purr-fect pictures of your cat



Dog treat gift bottles: make homemade dog treats and recycle bottles into beautiful gifts!

Reading Time: 4 minutes

This post started with us wondering what to do with the massive amount of Starbucks Frappuccino bottles we have collected. They are very nice bottles, so we don’t really want to throw them out, but they’ve been sitting on our shelves for awhile and we feel guilty whenever we get a new one.

So, we decided to combine two projects we’ve been thinking about — decorating the bottles and making doggie treats.

First, we’ll show you the end result.

Homemade doggie treats ready to give as a gift! (And in a recycled bottle.)


We also want to create labels for the bottles that we’re going to print out with the words “Dog Treats” and probably a cute little logo that we make up or some other artwork. We’ll place those over where we removed the Starbucks label because, no matter how well we washed the bottle, the glue where the old labels used to be is still really sticky.

You can use pretty much any kind of empty and clean food container that you have a lot of. (We also have empty Folger’s Instant Coffee bottles, for example, for holding larger treats.)

Next, we’ll tell you how we did it:

Like we mentioned, we peeled the labels from the bottle.

We then washed the bottle well and let it dry well.

We used some ribbon that we had to wrap around the neck of the bottle and some more to make a bow.

For the future, we’d like to get some round stickers that we can simply put over the Starbucks logo on the top of the bottle lid, but, for this one, we cut out a round piece of shiny green wrapping paper and glued that on. We used a glue gun to glue the thinner (dotted) ribbon around the edges of the lid of the bottle.

After that, we made the dog treats.

The recipe:

1 can of pureed pumpkin

1 jar of peanut butter (we used chunky for some extra crunch)


2 eggs

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Mix 3/4 can of the pumpkin (if you have chickens, you can give the leftover contents of the can to them; they will love it!) with two eggs, 3/4 cup peanut butter, 3 1/2 cups flour in a medium bowl.

You can use a blender, but we were able to easily mix the ingredients by hand.

dog treat batter


Spoon the mixture onto baking sheet in rounded balls approximately 3/4 of an inch apart. Cook for approximately 20 minutes, depending on how large the treats are. We made snack-sized treats so they would fit in the bottle.

Note: If you want to use a cookie cutter to cut the mixture into shapes, you will likely need to add more flour and also let the dough chill in the refrigerator for a few hours at least before cooking.

treats on cooking sheet

We cooked two batches of treats. The first batch was smaller and we let them cook hard all the way through, like a round biscuit.

For the second batch, we made the balls a little rounder and bigger and didn’t cook them as long, so that they stayed soft, like a cookie.

After letting both batches cool down, we let the dogs try them. All five dogs liked them a lot and seemed to really appreciate getting something that was freshly baked. In fact, within a very short period of time, almost both trays of the treats, except for a few we set aside, and the ones we put in the sample jar, had been consumed.

Here’s Terra, our older chihuahua, sampling one of the soft-baked treats:

Fortunately, the recipe yields a lot of treats if you make them in smaller balls or small-sized like we did. We made four tray-fulls all together.

The next day we made more treats and we did use one of the empty bottles from instant coffee to make a treat bottle to send to our sister, brother-in-law and nephew, who recently adopted a dog named Meadow from a shelter on Long Island.

Instant coffee bottle recycled as dog treat holder.

Soon after, Meadow got our treats in the mail and loved them! Plus she has a keepsake bottle for treats from now on. 🙂

Meadow eating a biscuit

Yet more stuff you can do with your pet photos

Reading Time: 3 minutes
cat in front of computer screen

Our cat, Motor, approves of this post.

In an earlier post, we talked about how it’s a good idea to get all your pet photos together in one place, such as Flickr.

Once you’ve done that, you’ll probably notice that you have some favorite photos of your pet. You might also have some of your pet misbehaving or acting silly or funny or otherwise making you say, “Wow, I can’t believe my pet did THAT!” If that’s the case, feel free to submit a copy of your photo to us. We’d love to add it to our Wow My Pet Did That! gallery. Just visit our About page for info about where to submit.

Awkard Family Photos:

And, there are other places you can share you pet’s photo with the world. If you’ve caught a moment involving your pet and family that is somewhat less than spectacular consider submitting it to the hilarious site From oddly placed pets in family portraits to dogs looking less than lovingly toward their owner, this site shows moments that probably shouldn’t have been captured, but will make you laugh because they were. Just don’t tell Fido or Fluffy you submitted his or her photo there!

Local news:

If you have a more flattering photo, check out your local TV news station and newspaper websites. Many have opportunities to submit photos that they sometimes use on the air or at least feature in a compilation on their website. in Seattle, for example, has “Pick My Pet: Submit your pet photo”. Pets are shown on the site’s pet photo gallery and some are also shown during the morning weather forecast.


If you have an especially stellar pic of your photo, you might want to enter a pet photo contest. The best are usually ones that capture your pet’s unique personality and/or look while also being overall good quality photography-wise (for example, not blurry and doesn’t show stained carpet or something else embarrassing in the background).

There are plenty of legitimate pet photo contests out there, with both big and small prizes.

However, be wary of scams when searching for contests to enter. For example, you shouldn’t have to pay to promote your pet in the contest.

The exception is when legitimate pet charities hold pet photo contests that actually raise money when people can increase votes for a pet pic if you and/or friends contribute money and vote for the pet’s pic.

If you are asked for money when entering a contest, be wary unless your know it’s a legitimate nonprofit. lets you type in a nonprofit and find out more about it.

Another scam to watch out for involving photo contests is when the contest holder emails you saying they would love to include your pet’s photo in a book they are putting together — if you pay them. You might send them money and get an overpriced book that very few people will actually ever see, or you might send them money and end up with nothing at all.

One tip is to look for contests run by major magazines or companies, as they tend to offer good prizes. Dog and cat food companies, pet store chains and pet toy companies have pet photo contests. But busisesses you might not think about do as well, including wine and beverage companies. We even found a property maintenance and repair company holding a contest looking for cute pics of damage pets have done to homes or yards. 


And, if your pet is a little on the odd side, don’t despair. Just look through your photo collection and enter the next round of Ripley’s 99 Strange Days of Summer $5,000 Photo Contest!

cat on chair

Motor says, “Good luck with the contest hunting!”

More stuff you can do with your pet photos

Reading Time: < 1 minute

If you have a collection of pet photos but aren’t sure what to do with them, we have another way to put them to great use. Previously we posted about uploading your pet photos to Flickr.

You can also try an online photo collage maker, such as Postermywall.

At Postermywall, you can select from tons of different templates (for ours shown below, we chose a “romantic” style template because it had the option put in a number of photos whereas some templates just had a photo or two in the design). Then you can upload a photo or photos your pet from your computer, or from Google Drive, Dropbox Photos or Facebook.

You can also use the wording and font choices provided with the template or customize it.

We kept the font style, but customized the wording for ours:

Copy of Romantic Collage Template - Made with PosterMyWall

After you save your design, you can easily share it via Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and a number of other places, along with the option to print from you computer.

And, if you really end up falling in love with what you have created, you can buy prints in a variety of sizes. For example, a 20 by 30″ print on premium quality photo paper with matte finish is $17.95.

You can also order photo cards with envelopes or window clings.


Like to sketch your cat? Here’s a fun link to try

Reading Time: 2 minutes

If you like to sketch you cats and you also like playing around with new technology, this quick and free online application might be just right for you!

Edges2cats created by Christopher Hesse converts quick sketches of your cats into pictures.

As Hesse notes on the website, some of the creations come out a little “creepy,” since they eyes don’t always come out quite right and the auto edges don’t always auto detect correctly. But, as as it turns out, that’s part of the fun. You never know exactly what you’re going to get after entering your cat sketch.

Some are, indeed, creepy. Some are pretty cute. And some are downright hilarious.

Here’s one of our best tries:

furry cat created on sketch site

This was our second runner up:

yet another edges2cats cat sketch to photo

Here’s one that didn’t turn out so well. And, yes, we found it a little creepy, although maybe kind of a·vant-garde:

We liked the face and body on this one, but it came out with a little something extra on its back:

edges 2 cat creation


So, if this all sounds intriguing, give it a try. Or two, or twenty… And definitely feel free to share your best results with us!


Creating a free pet portrait online

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Commissioning an artist to paint your beloved pet can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars — more than the average pet owner might be able to pay.

There are some great artists out there who will create your pet’s picture in a variety of styles for much less though. Check out as one site where numerous uber talented digital artists can be found, many of whom are offering their services at budget prices.

But, we wondered if those on no budget or who just want a trial portrait could get a free one using one of the online photo-to-painting apps. So, we tried some out using the picture of Trent and Sweat Pea below:

white peahen and turquoise peacock


The results:

1. Photo to Painting Converter (our best result from this site is shown below) was quick and easy to use. It allowed for changing the hue, saturation, brightness and contrast and for strengthening/softening as well as boosting the colors with easy to use sliders.

We weren’t overly impressed with the results, but, hey, it was free.


2. The Antique Oil Painting was super quick and didn’t require any input other than uploading the photo. We’re not thrilled about the photo mark in the lower corner, but, other than that, it came out pretty neat.

antique oil version of peacock painting


3. is a great place to go to experiment with your pet photos or other photos. Besides photo to painting, you can also get photo to pencil sketch, photo to drawing, and some other options. You can also customize each one somewhat. Just be sure to read the directions at the bottom for best results. We got two different painting versions at this site:

peacock painting from Snapstouch

second peacocks painting from Snapstouch

4. But we had the absolute most fun with Fotor, which lets you turn your photo into artwork similar to a variety of famous artists, including VanGogh, and styles, such as Cubism. The first (below) is in the Magic Cube style, the second is Metaphisics, the third is Realistic, and the fourth is Color Fantasy.

Generated for free online or not, the results are actually all images we wouldn’t mind having real prints of and framing!

peacock artwork

peacock impressionism painting

peacock realistic painting effect

peacock painting Color Fantasy effect

For more cool things you can do with photos of your pets, check out this post:

How to make a swing for a chicken

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Our finished chicken swing.

We have seen chicken swings for sale for $30 and up on online pet stores and ebay.

We love our chickens, but that seemed a bit pricey. So we made our own. Given that we already had everything we needed except the rope, it ended up costing us about $4. And that leaves us enough rope to make swings for more of our chickens and any future chickens we get, and maybe even our neighbors’ chickens.

So, here’s how we did it:

We started with the rope. First, we got some rope from Ollie’s for a couple of bucks, but then we decided to get the yellow rope (braided utility line), which was also a couple of bucks, from Walmart because it lets us do this cool trick that you are about to see.



regular rope and the rope we used
First, measure the length of the rope that you want it based on how high up you want to swing to be and where you are hanging it from. Or, just guess.
Then, cut two pieces of rope in that same length.
Next, you need to burn the ends of the rope so that it gets hard and won’t unravel.

Then, once the end cools and is hard, you need to make a loop by threading the hard end through the rope as shown in the video:

The coolest part is that, once you have the loop created, the more you pull on it, the more firm is gets, so that you don’t have to worry about coming undone.
Next, we cut a branch down the size we wanted it. We cut it longer than the the length of the chicken swings you usually see for sale because we wanted it to be long enough for the chicken and a peacock or two to hang out on.
We originally cut two branches (one for a spreader), but then we decided to do two different ropes on either end of the swing, so we ended up not needing the spreader.

We then drilled hole through either end of the branch for the swing.
Then, we put the non-looped ends of the rope through the holes and tied the ends of the rope into knots.
Finally, we hung up a couple of screws and attached the loops.

hanging the loop from screw

hanging the loop from screw

And then we were done. Unfortunately, by the time we finished, it was almost dark, and the chickens and peacocks were settling in for the night. But, hopefully, we will have pics of them on the swing soon.