Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘reuse

Neglected Properties

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It’s a shame that the neighboring houses around ours have fallen to such neglect. It reflects badly on the value of our property. I wish those responsible would put in a little effort to maintain the integrity of their homes.

I think maybe birch bark isn’t the most durable choice for roofing material. That unit is probably a little drafty.

I’m going to light a fire under the owners to inspire them to make some repairs to those houses before the tenants start spreading bad rumors about our neighborhood.

After Sunday’s initial excitement of making progress on the garden terrace using reclaimed fence posts, Cyndie pointed out the creosote smell of the wood posts. It reminded her of the railroad tracks by her grandma’s house.

A little research has us both feeling disinclined to proceed with burying the chemically treated posts in the same dirt we plan to grow our future food.

It will be a lot more work, but I’ve suggested making a low retaining wall of rocks. A more feasible alternative that holds promise would be to use the cedar planks we removed from the deck last fall. Although much of the ends of those boards were rotting, there is probably enough solid wood to serve our purposes.

Whatever we end up choosing, I hope it will look classy enough to offset the derelict birdhouses around here that threaten to give this place a bad reputation.

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Written by johnwhays

April 21, 2020 at 6:00 am

New Garden

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Sunday afternoon launched our effort to create a new produce garden at Wintervale on the slope at the end of the driveway.

We plan to use old reclaimed wooden fence posts for a retaining wall that will create a terrace for a flat garden plot. There is space below it to add a second level farther downslope but we are going to start small. If all goes well, next year we can expand.

After my first challenge of devising a way to connect and secure all the posts, the more complicated next step involves installation of barriers to the local wildlife who are known garden pests. Cyndie wants me to bury hardware cloth to block burrowing critters. Great idea, in theory. A hassle to accomplish in reality.

I’m recommending Cyndie put in a giant hasta spread nearby to offer deer a more enticing alternative to leaping over the fence I plan to build. Then I can make that barrier primarily designed with rabbits in mind.

Cyndie got right to work breaking up the turf and confirming how much of our soil is clay. There will be a fair effort to doctor the soil toward maximizing the plant growth potential. Of course, there is a handy resource of composted manure available a short distance away, but she is talking about also adding some sand, too.

I’m just the muscle on this project. I’ll leave those decisions up to her for now.

Before calling it a day and heading in to shower, I snuck down to hook up the come-along winch to the pine tree stump to see if it would stand up straight.

Close enough for my purposes, of which I currently have none. Just seemed like something to do. I have a high suspicion it will tip again at the first trigger of high wind or excess moisture since the roots have all been thusly stressed and held for months in that previous lean.

That fact has me hesitant to plot any significant artistic endeavor for the stump until it has had time to settle in the upright position.

It is located beside Cyndie’s perennial garden, so carving it into a gnome seems like a great idea. Unfortunately, I don’t have any plan to learn how to carve a gnome out of a tree stump, so that most likely won’t happen.

If it stays standing for a year or so, I’ll have had plenty of time for inspiration to strike.

I’ll likely be busy fixing garden fencing in the meantime.

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Special Report

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How many times do we have to hear the “special” announcements before we grow numb? I can’t answer that because I wasn’t counting last week when the numbness began to set in. During these “uncertain times” affecting everyone in the world, businesses that are scrambling to adjust are all issuing announcements of what they are doing to be safe, stay safe, help you, help others, unfortunately, to the point of becoming downright annoying.

It is my civic duty to assure all readers that Relative Something is striving to do everything possible to assure that all posts are maintaining a proper social distance and avoiding going to restaurants or concerts until this crisis is over. Epidemiologists are confident that reading blog posts is unlikely to pose unreasonable risks of transfer of the coronavirus, so feel free to spend extra time during your sheltering at home to visit the “Previous Somethings” archive to rediscover what the world was like before 2020.

Yesterday, in effort to clean up some of the mud-saster around here, Delilah and I –well, mostly me, she just sat nearby and stared toward the chickens in the woods– dismantled six pallets to reclaim enough lumber for extending the boardwalk on one of our trails by about seven rows.

You can see a difference one day makes when it comes to spring snow. The white stuff has melted, but that leaves behind a wet, muddy mess for trail conditions.

Actually, it was frozen this morning due to low overnight temperatures, so we hauled a wheelbarrow full of the blocks down into the woods before breakfast. The reward for that effort resulted in a special condition on Delilah’s hairy legs that I call “mudcicles.”

The doggie towels we keep at the front door for drying her feet when we come in from a walk aren’t able to wipe off all the frozen mud stuck in the long hairs on the back of her legs. That tends to slowly melt off around the house over the following hour after we come in.

Luckily, since I am home alone and am not able to host any guests during the pandemic crisis, I simply pretend not to notice how gross the house is becoming. When I try communicating with others in the world via Zoom or FaceTime, I just make sure to keep the camera pointing well above the floor.

Rest assured, despite the thin coating of silt covering every flat surface of the house, the risk of transmission of the coronavirus continues to remain unlikely.

Stay safe while washing your hands everyone!

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Written by johnwhays

April 5, 2020 at 9:56 am

Keep Going

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I’m on a roll and enjoying the fact that momentum from my recent decluttering success has me suddenly expanding the effort to reach items that have sat untouched for almost six years.

With my closet in the bedroom clean, and the drawers in my dresser unstuffed, I went on to tackle the pile of papers and odd collection of pocket leftovers that get dumped on the inviting flat expanse of the dresser top.

Included in the stack was the form for renewing my passport that I had filled out four months ago. That form was awaiting a headshot photo that met the specific requirements for dimensions and quality. It took a little while for Cyndie and me to find the right background to take the photo ourselves. Once that was done, I needed to print it on photo paper. That provided another easy opportunity for delay.

Friday, that renewal form finally made it to the post office and all that dresser top debris has now been dispatched to logical organized locations.

That accomplishment helped to fuel continued momentum that took me back out into the shop where there is now a glorious new open space where the foosball table top once stood. On the right side of the image above, there is a box against the wall that has been sitting there since we settled in here back in 2012.

We had removed three hanging light fixtures from the basement and I packaged them up to sell or give away. It’s just one of those things I didn’t get around to finishing that the box sat there untouched all this time.

Yesterday, I opened up the box, removed all the mouse-chewed bits of cardboard and packing paper, threw away the stash of acorns the rodents stowed, and laid out the light fixtures to take pictures for an ad.

They’re out there in the Craigslist universe now, hoping to find a new home.

And I am going to keep going.

I think I will finally throw out that old tattered seat I replaced on the lawn tractor that sold last month. I had placed the ripped vinyl seat back into the same box the new had come in. The tractor is gone, but I still have the throw-away seat left over from it. Really?

Boy, I gotta say, this decluttering progress is a real feel-good endeavor.

No wonder I’ve become so inspired to keep going.

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Written by johnwhays

October 7, 2018 at 9:50 am

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

Stacking Wood

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I’m a little behind where I prefer to be with staging firewood for a year away, so today we took a hint from the snowy weather and gave the shed some overdue attention. First, we started by stocking the wood rack on our deck with this year’s firewood, which cleared out the last of the space on the left side of the wood shed.

That allowed me to put new pallets in for a floor where I had previously used wood blocks. After digging out the old blocks, and pulling similar ones off the new pallets, we hauled them down to the woods to use on our trail.

As far as projects go, these were pretty small steps, but accomplishing them provided a large psychological boost. It paves the way for me to focus exclusively on splitting and stacking firewood to fill the rest of the shed.

Achieving that is a goal I’d like to complete in November.

Somebody remind me in about a month that I wrote this here.

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Written by johnwhays

October 30, 2017 at 6:00 am