Monday, March 01, 2004

Garbage Pickin'

It's almost time to build my greehouse, cold frames, compost heap and chicken coop. This past week, I decided that I was going to make them sturdy, attractive structures that I wouldn't be ashamed to show off to those wanting to see the effects of diatomaceous earth or sonic bloom. I had pretty much resigned myself to the idea that I would have to go out and buy all new lumber and building materials. But, as fate would have it, I found a good bit of materials in a construction dumpster.
Now, I could glamorize my find by saying that I am recycling some building materials, but the truth is that I did some dumpster diving to get the stuff. The first thing I found was well-constructed trusses. They are made with double 2x4s and are extremely rugged. I can't imagine why they were thrown out, except that maybe they made too many, but hey - it will sure help me out. Now I won't have to build my own and it is the perfect size for my chicken coop. The next treasure was not recovered by me, but someone else who salvaged some industrial double-pane windows from a construction site and then posted them in an online classified ad. These windows BIG and are ideal for the greenhouse or cold frames. I bought 20 big frames for a total of $75. These frames would easily have retailed for $400 each and are far superior to what I would have used. Next, I got a couple of pallets. I intend to use the pallets to make a movable ark for the chickens. This way, I can move them to fresh grass and have them fertilize as they go without completely destroying one section of grass and ignoring another. I find that if you leave them in one spot for too long, they turn the area into a desert in a hurry.
Another idea for "garbage" as a building material is the "fertilizer-bag" ark. I got the idea from John Seymour's "The NEW Complete Book of Self-Sufficiency", which is my bible for my hobby farm projects. If you do not yet have this book or one of the earlier versions, get one. If I could only have one book for my journey toward self-reliance, this would be the book. I will not be making the "fertilizer-bag" ark myself, but it is dead simple and a great idea, so I will pass on to you how to do it. On your pallet, use rebar and PVC or flexible tree branches to make arches. Then, take horizontal rods of hazel, willow, or PVC and attach them to the arches. These will support your bags. Next, lay your "fertilizer-bags" over the top, being sure to overlap them to keep moisture out. Put a layer of chicken wire netting over the overlapping bags to keep them from flapping. An inspection door for nesting boxes can be made by hanging up fertilizer bags weighted with a heavy batten across their bottoms.
Next thing I will make from "garbage" is a self-feed hopper. These are easy. Take a large old can and punch holes in it, then take the base from a larger can and place it underneath the first. Drill holes in the larger one so that you can hang this new feeder up out of reach of rats, but so that the chidkens can get to it.
Next, I am going to see if I can "salvage" or "recycle" some fence posts and rails. Happy dumpster diving.

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