Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Call Me A Scrounger

Call me a scrounge for that's what I am. See these wooden frames covered in plastic. They came off a construction site yesterday. A new fire hall to house the fire department is under construction and these wooden and plastic frames were covering the window, then cast aside headed for the dump. Kirk saw the potential of making them into cold frames for the garden. Teasingly, he told me to put on my begging face and go to it. The site foreman was happy to get rid of them for it was one less thing they have to haul off when their done. Yup, we're finding construction sites a great place to find scraps for projects. I'm just kicking myself for not asking if they have any lumber they also want to get rid of . Now I'll have to go back. We've a big wooden box in the backyard that Kirk got from the coal mine that we were going to build a small chicken coop for the garden and we need some more lumber to complete the simple design I have in mind. Yup, Kirk's learned to put on his best begging face too. The large wooden box once held a piece of heavy machinery for shipping. I'd feel bad asking but the things we approach other for are either going to be trashed or have sat unused for a very long time. The ticket to asking is being very polite and with companies be brief for you're taking the boss away from their work.

"May I please have ____ if it is going to the garbage dump. I want to
use it for _________. I really appreciate this. Thank you. I'll hall it off right away."

Then be prepared to remove it immediately or very soon so it doesn't sit around and they wonder if your word is good, meanwhile an opportunity for them goes by when they could of gotten rid of it so they aren't real happy with you. Remember he might be the one ahead of the next construction site you want to scrounge from.

I think this scrounging mentality began when I was growing up, the youngest of four. My mother and father divorced and that placed us on a very limited budget. Hand me downs or second hand clothes made up the bulk of my wardrobe. Before school started mom would buy me a few new things and then again on Christmas I had something new but all my dresses were passed down from my sisters. You can guess that they weren't always the style or the color that I liked and in part that is why I learned to sew on my grandmothers old Singer sewing machine. The one she once sewed my mother's baby clothes on. I still have that machine all 45 pounds of it.

Because of medical bills, money was always a bit tight when we were raising our children. Cooking, sewing and gardening were a way of life and I made everything from their underwear on out when they were little while learning to cook from scratch and can or freeze food from the garden. The kids are raised and Kirk and I aren't poor like I was as a kid but stretching his hard earned money is part of what I see as my job. It's how I show my appreciation for all his hard work. Kirk's knives bring in a little income that allows him to buy a few extras but is really just an artistical passion that he pursues.

Something that you spend hours at does not necessarily have to have great financial benefits. His knives fulfill a longing to create -- something that is inherit in us all. We express that differently but everyone needs to be creative whether it is with fabric, food, garden, scrap booking, or whatever. God is creative and we in his image have the same desire. So Kirk pursues his talents, I pursue mine, and we work together on joint projects. Because we don't have a money tree producing an abundance of funds we become even more creative. Kirk builds or revamps machinery for his knives and we gather inexpensive materials or scrounge items for our projects. I think it's better this way. Not easier mind you but better. Because we don't have lots of money to spend we naturally recycle items, and become more appreciative of what we have., Creativity blossoms for necessity is the mother of invention. I'll show you a few things in the barnyard that were once scrounged and because they were they have lots of character and memories.

The A-framed chicken coop was once a blasting shed on the Jacob's Ranch Coal Mine. When it had served its purpose and it was headed for the dump Kirk hauled it home. The wood floor is is bad shape but some black heavy rubber belting from the mine now covers it up plus warms the floor. (Wish you could still get some of that stuff but the mines now sell their junk to companies for recycling.) The tin on the outside of the old frame is new something kind of rare in the old barnyard. There is a funny story behind it, I'll have to tell you someday.The two nests in the coop are a friend's old 4-wheeler tires that went flat. The hay shed is an old, now antique, loaf stacker for hay that has the floor removed. It once sat discarded on a ranch and having watched it sit unused year after year I asked about it, looked it over, and made an offer of $200. It was all we could afford at the time. We stack small square hay bales inside. The vents you can see on top don't make the shed exactly waterproof but we live in an arid climate and a covering of plastic over the hay keeps everything dry saving us lots of money we would normally have lost from weather exposed moldy hay we couldn't feed.
Part of the plastic is recycled and used in the springtime in the garden.
This shed was originally built for one of the first town parades for the judges to sit in and tally their votes. We've won categories in every local town parade we entered. Come summer I'll have to pull out the photos and show you some of our hilarious floats and costumes. The first parade we were in we did Beach Bums. Two, two month old bum lambs dressed in tank tops and shorts with sun visors on their heads trailed along side our kids dressed in shorts carrying cardboard surf boards. Our youngest, our son, was about three years old. They walked along as I held a tape recorder blaring music of the Beach Boys.

Sorry, my mind trailed off down memory lane for Halloween, Christmas caroling, parades, just about everything thing we did usually involved the animals and it was a fun time. If you want to check out Christmas caroling with reingoats. Clink on the underlined word reingoats if you want to read this past post.
We added a front and door to the shed, put it on skids, insulated it, and added a rubber belting floor making it easy to clean and much warmer. It has housed the goats for years.

When our neighbor quit raising hogs, I asked to buythe shed and received it for free. Sorry, no picture. We in turn have given a shed, feeders etc. that we no longer use to others for we appreciate the things given to us. Oh, I almost forgot the cow panels that fence in the animasl that we were given from a job site for free. Then there is the chain link fence that FEMA gave us after the tornado. They were going to haul it to the dump and called me instead. We put it inside the cow panels around the goat pen to keep the kids in. I almost forgot the round bale feeder that Kirk cut the good parts off and modified into a corner beef feeder. It worked great for one beef but when we put two in the pen there jostling competition for feed tore it up. Our son has agreed to modify it again and rebuild it in May in exchange for all the weeks I've babysat his hyperactive bird dog.

Yup, barter, ask for, and modify, to your use is something I think we will all need to perfect in the difficult days that will be ahead. I'm glad were already learning how.

I'm curious. What has been your best scrounged item. I'm always looking for ideas on how to convert one thing into another.

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