Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘recycle

Trail Inspirations

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After a second visit on Saturday for pure maple syrup and pancakes, Cyndie enlisted the artistic energies of visiting Williams girls, Ella and Sarah, to decorate some of the new blocks before we placed them on the trail.

It’s a bit of a shame that their designs will all too quickly be subject to the abuses of plodding muddy boots and paws, but that won’t stop the creative exclamations from still offering glimpses of inspiration to passersby.

The 60 new blocks paved another 8.5 feet of sloppy trail, but we’re still going to need a lot more pallets if we want to cover the length of perpetually wet ground down there.

The picture I used yesterday to show the blocks on the trail was from October of 2016. Yesterday, Cyndie took a picture with the newest blocks in the foreground, which is actually viewing in the opposite direction from the first image.

It’s not an exact comparison, but I like seeing one next to the other.

Can you see how far in the distance the old blocks run in the picture on the right?

2016

2018

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Reminds me a little of the yellow brick road. Oh my!

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Written by johnwhays

April 30, 2018 at 6:00 am

Pallet Reuse

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You may recall that I built our chicken coop using wood predominantly gathered from pallets I salvaged at my workplace. Even though our coop is complete, the pallets keep coming. At the day-job, equipment arrives mounted to brand new pallets that the manufacturer doesn’t want returned.

I hate to imagine the wood pallets getting discarded after just one short shipping journey, so I continue to look for ways we can use them on the ranch.

One immediate need is in improving the footing on our trails where the surface is frequently such a muddy mess that you could lose a shoe if not careful.

The pallets I bring home from work have four blocks nailed on top which make it difficult to stack things on them, like bales of hay. Since that is a primary use for the pallets, my first project in reuse involves removing the blocks.

The pallets almost always arrive in sets of three, and my knack for procrastination plays out in a tendency to wait to remove the top blocks until some later time. Yesterday, being warm and sunny, turned out to be one of those later times.

Turns out our collection of pallets had grown to 15. That just so happens to mean 60 blocks, all power-nailed to the planks on the pallets. My right arm got a decent workout swinging the 3-pound hammer against the pry bar.

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Today we hope to extend the “paved” portion of muddy trail with the newly harvested blocks.

After that, the plan is to put up the temporary protective fenced courtyard around the chicken coop in preparation for the chicks first ventures out on real earth.

I wonder if a certain fox will be spying on us while we work…

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Written by johnwhays

April 29, 2018 at 10:09 am

Beyond Me

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For me, building our chicken coop was a stretch. I’d never tried any construction project of that magnitude before, and I was choosing to work from found materials and without a blueprint. It was a small miracle it turned out as well as it did.

Now, Cyndie is telling me we need to modify it to have a divider that will allow us to introduce unfamiliar birds to the existing flock of three. Today, a functional version of her vision is completely beyond me. I have no idea how I will secure all the nooks and crannies with chicken wire to a point where two unfamiliar flocks of birds will co-exist for a while in that one coop.

On to something I can do. Yesterday, I put the old F150 to work doing double duty. First, it was a road trip to the cities to pick up a load of unwanted used pavers from a staff member at the day-job. Drew was nice enough to offer them up for free if I would go to his place and make them disappear.

I had a plan to use them on one of the muddy spots on our trail through the woods. Before I could get to that step, I needed to reclaim a pile of rock that I had stumbled upon when creating a path to the new chicken coop last year. There was an old rusty box stove in the woods that I believe was used to boil syrup. It looked to be generations old, and the area around it had some old busted cinder blocks and a pile of landscape rocks.

Those rocks would serve nicely to fill a spot in the trail that tends to puddle, so before setting the new paver pieces in place, I wanted to transfer the rocks.

The chickens showed up to help, but were almost too eager to get after the creepy crawling creatures revealed when I scooped a shovel-full. They were more interference than they were helpers, but they sure are cute to have as company.

While the hours of the day vanished, one after the other, I hustled to get the pavers moved out of the truck. We had an appointment to pick up a load of hay around dinner time.

Hoping to minimize the handling, I wanted to transfer from the truck to the ATV trailer so I could deliver pavers directly to the path in the woods.

After a cursory two trips of distributing pavers, I had a good start on the trail, but needed to stack the rest up by the shop for use at a later time. The appointed hay hour was fast approaching.

Given this morning’s new assignment with the chicken coop, I am thoroughly enjoying the mental ease and physical feasibility of yesterday’s projects. New hay is stacked in the shed and pavers cover the muddy trail.

Next time it rains I’ll be excited to walk the enhanced surface of the trail at the bottom of the hill.

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Written by johnwhays

July 8, 2017 at 9:31 am

Just Below the Surface

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There are plenty of aspects of our lives, of society and its variety of traditions available to be unwrapped at this time of year. More than I can do justice to explore in the limited time I can reserve to actually compose in words the wide variety of thoughts I experience. It is much easier to just go with the flow; to play the superficial role of a smiling, happy consumer, member of my community and member of my family.

I truly believe there is a wealth of valuable raw material available in the thoughts and feelings that exist just below the surface of our activities and experiences when November and December events and holidays arrive. Choosing to actually recognize them and even take conscious action to mine them for purposeful application is one step further than I think most people feel they have signed up for.

But the reality is that we tend to find we are dealing with life challenges whether we want to or not. Some are simple. It’s not that everything needs to be at a level that determines life-long commitments or vows of loyalty or questions of spiritual faith and moral value. Some involve choosing to be less wasteful.

For most of my life, I have been inclined to want to wrap presents in old Sunday newspaper comics pages. It was born more out of a contrarian attitude to be counter to the culture that produced and marketed wrapping paper. Now it is becoming more renowned as a “green” choice. Whatever. Save the planet, or avoid contributing to the over-commercialization of the season. Consider wrapping your gifts in something that you didn’t purchase to wrap a gift with this year. I think it’s fun.

Written by johnwhays

December 20, 2009 at 11:48 am

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The Stuff of Goals

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Sometimes it feels easier to try to change those around us than change ourselves. I think the route to affecting change in the ones we love is through changing our own thoughts and behaviors. It can upset the balance of an ingrained, often times dysfunctional pattern, when we do finally change our behaviors, and that new imbalance can be disorienting at first. Difficult, even. But long term success is a reward for those who follow through. We become healthier, and over time, our improving health influences those around us in a positive way. Good things are worth waiting for.

Of value to someone, or trash?
Of value to someone, or trash?

Since I’ve returned from my trek in Nepal, I’m feeling even more motivated than before to follow through on a goal that I’ve been struggling with for quite a while. I want to distribute possessions that I’ve accumulated but no longer use. Aha! This reminds me of another of those messages that I heard once and it stuck with me ever since. I think it was a friend, Soma, that I met through the Twin Cities FreeNet, who told me she was distributing books from her collection to release the ‘energy’ of them back into the world. I love that thought and have considered it ever since. I like to think about the original author, obviously, composing the information with visions of a future audience receiving value from it, but also of the editors who worked on it, and the printer and binders who handled it. Even the people who cut trees or produced the paper. They all put their energy into creating that book. If it gets read once and then stored on the shelf, that energy becomes stagnant; trapped.

For some reason, I find myself thinking about returning the energy of stuff gathering dust in my house and garage, back into the world, an awful lot more than I find myself doing anything about it. I can consider my writing about it here another small step beyond just thinking about it; my first actual action toward doing something. Well, maybe that’s not entirely accurate. Last fall we signed on with a pest control service and were required to pull all the crap out of the garage to clean and assess the related pest issues. I put my hands on a lot of once perfectly useful stuff that now hasn’t been used in many years. It was a pretty good motivator. I cleaned up old stuff. I took pictures of stuff. I talked about listing it on eBay or Craigslist. Most impressively, I successfully placed what was more accurately identified as ‘trash’ into the proper receptacle; the one that gets dumped into a big truck each week.

Surely of value to someone. Now if I could only remember where I put it.

Surely of value to someone. Now if I could only remember where I put it.

For a week or two after that, I even made good on a goal of finding something each week that was just taking up space here and deserved a ride in the big truck that comes through our neighborhood every Thursday. But that didn’t provide the feel-good result that is the reward of returning the energy force of those who produce products, back into the world. I want to decide if freecycle.org is a group for me and finish what I started toward posting ads on craigslist.org. I want to possess less stuff and I want to release the stagnant energy back into the world. I want to move from thinking and writing about it, to doing it. A worthy and deserving goal. Am I up to it? Sure. I’ve seen one of my sisters successfully disperse the majority of her accumulated possessions. Although, she had the added incentive of having sold their house to spend retirement living in a 5th-wheel trailer. I know it is possible. I’m just not clear yet on what time table I will finally make it happen for me.

Written by johnwhays

May 20, 2009 at 6:30 am

Posted in Chronicle

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