Archive for free

new home for a baby chicken

“Do you want a baby chicken?” asks the Mexican boy that lives across the street from me. I am not surprised by the question as my frontyard chickens are well-known in the neighborhood. He originally had two chicks but since the cat ate one  he is not allowed to keep the other. “Yes! Yes!” I answer emphatically as I had promised my French friend Olivia (who recently lost her Bantam hen) to find her a new chicken. I give the thirsty “poussin” (which is French for “chick”) some fresh water and Olivia gives it a new name: pous-pous.

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taming a swarm of honey girls

Dan the man called me @ work in just the right moment with long anticipated news. We had been waiting weeks for this opportunity – tens of thousands of beautiful girls with wings landed high-up in a tree in front of Dan’s house on S M Street. Three urban farm boys (Dan, his friend, and me) eventually managed to charm these feisty ladies into a wooden box, called nucleus or nuc. This felt like being alive … especially each of the 4 stings. After living like the “Na’vi” for two hours we had some well-deserved beers on Dan’s porch.  The next day at night I moved the nuc into my backyard.

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refinishing a butcher block

before heading to culebra (actually on the way to the airport) i picked up another craigslist freebie: an old butcher block. after two hours of work (sanding off the top and treating it with bleach) it looks like new. a great addition to my kitchen.

ps: the nice guy who gave away the butcher block also rents out his cabin in arnold.

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the weaver of culebra

An unusual 12 foot swell was washing away significant amounts of Caribbean sand on Playa Flamenco, thereby uncovering many years of trash that had become part of the dunes and that we would be collecting several hours each day. The ocean did reward us for our efforts: we found around $35, two pairs of chacos, a flotation noodle, and other treasures (including a 14K gold earring and a glow-in-the-dark rosary). Among our bounty was also a large coil of old and tangled rope that I felt would be useful for something. Sure enough: the next day I came across some camping chairs with ripped fabric that beach goers had left leaning against a garbage can. After 2 hours of untangling the Gordian knot in the old rope I start weaving new seats. The result is some sturdy beach furniture that I hope to still find here when I return next year.

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building raised beds

Before dad returns to Germany I use his help to build raised beds. All the materials are recycled and free. They are:

  • four reused pressure-treated 2 by 8 boards of 12 and 13 foot in length (free off craigslist)
  • several old and weathered beams of various size and length (found next to the curb)

Putting the frames together was easy. The harder part was leveling the ground and filling the beds. The excess top soil in my yard is sandy and full of stones but I hope mixing in enough horse poop will give decent soil. At the ranch where Karleen keeps her horse we load up my Vibe with as many buckets and boxes of horse manure as fit. After two trips (each time being literally “full of shit”) we have a solid 5 inch layer of poop. The rest gets filled with excess top soil. Next? Picking out the stones, covering the beds with straw, and planting a cover crop (Fava beans?) to prepare the soil for planting in spring.

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building a chicken coop from reused materials

I collected the following items for building a chicken tractor with a detachable chicken run:

  • a frame of a wooden coffee table (Karleen found it on the curb)
  • 20 recycled 5 foot 1×8 redwood boards (bought from a fencing company)
  • a stack of nail and screw prodded 2 by 4s (used to hold drywalls inside my garage)
  • the leftover semi-gloss latex paint (from painting my interior doors and windows)

The design of the tractor is determined by the coffee table that is the base of the chicken tractor. The size of the run is determined by the length of the 2 by 4s. Since dad is visiting I am taking a few days off work so we can build the coop together:

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craigslist treasures

Last night i picked up 4 wooden planks in san ramon that someone was giving away for free on craigslist. Eventually those will become the sides of my raised beds. To fit the 13 foot planks into my vibe I had to leave the back window open. I attached my headlamp in red-blinking-mode to the end of the planks because there was a 4 foot overhang. Fortunately it was late and there was little traffic on I-580. Craigslist is such an amazing resource for finding recycled materials.

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