>The 3 R’s of waste management take on extra signifigance when the consequences of following them affect the bottom line. And when you are employed in a profession which promises to make financial survival a challenge, reducing expenses takes on a new importance.
Out here on the West Coast lumber practically grows on trees, there’s so much of it. Yet, for some reason, the lumber yard still charges ungodly sums for it. So whenever something needs to be built, my instinct is to scrounge around to see what is already on the farm property, at our home in Vesuvius or is otherwise free somewhere near.
Our ailing sandwich board (let half of it rest in pieces), is an example of repurposed junk. It had recently resided in the farmhouse’s main floor bathroom as faux maple “wood” panelling over the better-looking 150 year old fir boards which, if I am to believe the story I was told, were themselves likely salvaged from ancient rail car floors. Mary and Blair wisely ripped the panelling out and tossed it outside where her boys turned one of the two 4X8 sheets into a ping pong table. The other full sheet was neatly stored by the tractor shack (the tractor shack was a chicken coup in its previous life). A few weeks ago we contemplated cutting the panelling into a countertop for the new kitchen island.
Good thing Mary doesn’t have the internet at her Ontario summer cottage else she would be wondering island? in the kitchen? WTF?!. Happily, she and the boys will get to appreciate the results of their two-month while you were out when they return just before school starts.
The island is actually a hacked-down Home Depot DIY work bench Pauline picked up at a Channel Ridge estate sale (I specify Channel Ridge because, had it been any other neighbourhood, it would have been either a home-made workbench or, at best, a cheesy Mastercraft workbench, made out of plastic and good intentions). We ripped off the backsplash thingy and cut down its two 2X6 uprights flush with the table top and then surfaced it with an old 3/4″ sheet of plywood lying around the tractor shack. It took me about an hour with my garage sale belt sander to remove its black paint. Our counter height stools fit under its 14″ overhang so that we can sit at it.
Forgive me for I have digressed. We decided that the sanded off black plywood looked a lot nicer as a countertop than the panelling so the panelling remained unused until the sandwich board application. After some yahoo (I have to believe it was a tourist) crunched the board Friday, I spent a half hour Saturday morning cutting another piece from the sheet’s remainder to replace the one damaged side. The hard shiny finish acts as a whiteboard. Using hardware I already had from yardsales past, the sandwich cost no more than my time. And that is worth practically nothing these days!
Five pallets resided on the north side of the tractor shack when we arrived in May. They are now arranged so as to contain our compost piles for the cost of some screws. I lined them with compostable SSC burlap coffee sacks to keep the compost from spilling out yet allowing it to breathe.
The roof of our market stand came from discarded galvanized roofing lying amongst a Scotch Broom plantation on the property. Almost completely overgrown near the roofing is an enormous coil of 1/2″ steel cable. Not that I need another enormous coil of that. Just sayin’.
Again, the gold mine of the tractor shack area recently yielded a couple of steel ladder-like structures that we are now using to bridge a couple of workstands to create plant start stands. The laying boxes for the property’s long gone chickens are now hung on a wall in the tractor shack and used as cubbies.
The current project is to reuse a bunch of lumber to make a solar dryer. The lumber for this project was previously used to build a frame for our polyethylene garden cover for our balcony garden in Vesuvius. The lumber’s original use (as far as I know) was as framing material used with steel strapping to hold a bundle of drain pipe in Windsor Plywood’s backyard. It was the perfect size for the mini chicken coup I built last September. That stuff plus some distressed OSB and a few discontinued asphalt shingles found their way off their property for a small donation to the staff Christmas party.
And one final example. On Friday I learned that when a lot of water drips off a cookie sheet onto an electric oven element, it first creates a fireworks show before the element breaks. Further, I learned that the local hardware store has a surprising assortment of replacement parts for appliances. Fortunately I had forgotten my wallet at home so I was unable to pay its $43 +HST price. Fortunately, because I had a few moments at home to lament the fact that my teachable moment was going to wipe out half of the day’s sales and most of its profit. And then I remembered the scrap metal place up the road. Dad and I drove up there, made some enquiries and left 10 minutes later with a free (no tip accepted) replacement element. They agreed to accept my scrap roofing material as payback.
Unless I think of something else to build with it first. In which case, they can have the broken fridge … or the old concrete truck bumper … or the big metal box … or the steel rim …or…