Archive for January, 2012

I never would have figured myself for a garbage picker but it’s become quite the habit. So much so that I look forward to our visits to the transfer site, and I know the pick up schedule so I can time my trips. We hardly generate any real waste to dispose of so we almost always leave with more than we drop off.

What we’ve really lucked out on is wood- lots and lots of wood- which amazes me on the prairie but works for me. We’ve got quite the stockpile going already and still haven’t finished retrieving the last pile of fence posts. Other recent finds include a working Bosch saw of some kind, a butcher’s table that just needs a little cleaning up, a little sled (that I needed for hauling compost!), a funny little fridge that I like the look of but am not sure what I’ll do with yet, a nice new firewood holder (still had the sticker on it), and some stainless steel pots.

I don’t always have a plan for the things that we collect. Sometimes I just like the look of something and I put it aside in case I figure out a use for it. Other things, like motors, we’ll no doubt use for any of the multitude of projects we have on the go. Still other things are simply oddities that I wouldn’t come across in a regular store, like the brown jug I plan on polishing up to use as a vase. And I’ll have to clean up and repaint some things, like the outdoor fireplace.

If you have enough time and patience, a lot of building materials can be had for free from scavenging. We’ve collected windows, screens, doors, good 2 x 4s, plywood, glass bricks, insulation… I’ve also been collecting a good amount of paper and cardboard for sheet mulching, papercrete, and some projects I would like to eventually get to when the building is complete.

It may have been outside of my comfort zone just a few years back but I’m not afraid to admit it today- I’m a scrounger. A dedicated one at that. 🙂



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Okay- it’s been a while. Long time friends and readers are patient with me and don’t seem to think much of the delay between articles and I appreciate that, immensely. I’m introverted. I sometimes take long periods of ‘alone-time’ to recover my energy. Let’s just say I think it’s time to reconsider holiday commitments as they’re taking longer and longer to recover from.

I haven’t been unproductive though. Planning continues for the build and I think we’re pretty close to finalizing our drawings. The extension will include workspaces for both Shane and myself, an ‘expandable’ spare bedroom, the main entrance, and the battery room. We got an amazing deal of windows at Gienow ($4,200 dollars worth of windows for $300) and one window will cover the entire workspace area nicely. We’ll save the other window for a separate library that I plan to build down the road.

1 of 2 fabulous windows

My ‘water layout’ is pretty much complete with one major component left to deal with- how to pump greywater to our filtering pond. Apart from that, we’ve settled on a 1,000 gallon rainwater holding tank and two 250 gallon well water holding tanks that will be housed in the (still to be built) room attached to the back of the kitchen. Water heating will be ‘rustic’ for the first year in, using the soon-to-be-ordered Pioneer Princess. While future plans include solar hot water heating, it’s simply not feasible at this stage of the game.

Ben & me

Other building plans remain on target with an alcove to be finished at the back of the living room that will house our woodpile. Neither of us has any idea how much wood we’ll go through in a winter but we’ve agreed it would be nice to have a pile inside, easily accessible during the worst of the weather. The only ‘surprise’ addition to plans is that we will need to build a dog house, having recently adopted a puppy. I tend to go a little overboard- our farm cats have a double insulated house to sleep in but also a large indoor carpeted area so that they don’t frost-burn their little feet in the winter. Hopefully the dog doesn’t need anything larger than a studio apartment.

I’m not sure if I mentioned that we already bought solar panels and a power system. We have nine REC 230 Watt panels and the Outback Flexpower One system. We’re currently leaning towards HUP Solar One batteries for a 24 Volt system. I like the Surrettes too, especially being a Canadian product, but the HUPs have an impressive warranty (7 year full replacement plus 3 years prorated) at 2100 cycles to 80% DOD. We’ll have to make a final decision pretty quick here as delivery time can be pretty lengthy from time of order.

Outback Flexpower One

Ma new table saw

Ah, and in other news Shane bought me a table saw for my latest foray. Our rooms being round it is rather difficult to fit things while making the best possible use of space so I’ve decided to learn enough about wood working to make our own cabinets. I’ll be starting with a very basic shaker style. We milled our own wood on the weekend and I’m pretty excited by the results. Having never done any woodworking before I’m sure my initial attempts will be a little rough but I’m confident that determination will win the day and at any rate we’ll have cabinets that are exactly the specs that I want without wasting any space.

So yep, lots of stuff on the go. I have a really good feeling about this year. 🙂

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