Monday, July 2, 2012

Re-Claiming My House and Land

So now I bring your attention to  This is a website, also a little old and I don't know when it was last updated, about a guy who essentially is like the MacGyver we all want to be in, and around, our own homes.  He has gardens that could apparently feed a small army.  He makes awesome-looking wall shelves out of old desk parts--and these shelves have great-looking and handy drawers, too!  He uses types of paints I've never heard of, and he uses metal pieces to kill weeds in his gardens.  He makes his own honey and jams and things, and he only uses a stove to heat his house.  He sort of comes across as a survivalist, big-government hating kind of guy, but whatever--the point is that he knows how to really take care of his home and land.

Now, I'm never going to be this guy, and aspiring to be this guy is useless.  I'm just not that handy.  But after viewing his site, I decided that I needed to take control of my own home and land.  He has his son (maybe sons) and his wife to help him, and I don't, but I can still do some things.  And, believe me, some things need to be done.

So the first thing I wanted to tackle today, in the second straight day of 95+ degree heat, is clearing away this nice shed/patio area I have (basically it's a much smaller version of my house).  This thing has a large-ish storage shed, with electricity and plug outlets, no less, and a large sitting area that's completely in the shade, with blinds that I could maybe use, but that also may be a bit of an eyesore.  We'll have to see about those.

Anyway, I used to sit in this area and a) watch my father work very hard; b) watch gales or hurricanes; and c) drink a beer with my father after I'd exhausted myself sitting in the shade watching him work very hard.  When I bought this place after he died, I would sit in the same area, on comfortable chairs, and just kind of chill.  Which I don't do very often.  I guess I would also reminisce, and read a little, and enjoy the outside.  It's as country as I get.

But now I can't do that.  For some reason, I thought it would be wise to store large, and small, pieces of wood against the stone wall in the back.  This ended up taking more room than I thought it would, and I also now have to walk through the entire area, which is also full of other things, to get to this wood, which is now inconvenient, which defeats the whole purpose.  (Though the wood was kept dry over the winter, without having to cover it.)  For some reason, a mostly-hollow door also found its way to this porch area connected to the shed, and there's a grill there, and boxes and barrels of kindling and smaller pieces of wood and sticks, and some broom handles, and lots of plastic barrels, and...and beside this shed is another area of wood--a pallet that is now empty because I used up all the wood that was on it, and a box-spring from a neighbor that I have flipped over and stored more pieces of wood, of various shapes, sizes, and thickness.  (I have a little bit of a wood/fireplace/firepit problem.)  So now I can't get into the sitting area, and the land between this area and the fence is crowded with a pallet and a box-spring of wood.  And, oh yeah, I also have a very old glider, with no cushions (though the thing still works very well, I think, but I wouldn't ever sit on it again), that has some very old wood on it--wood that goes back to when my father was still alive, when he would pile his wood on that.  (My father would jury-rig things like that all the time.)

That whole part of my backyard, in short, is a mess.  And I also have wood stacked haphazardly on the other side of the fence, on my side-yard.

Now this is obviously a multi-day, perhaps multi-week task.  What to do first?

Well, here's where I impressed myself with my slight MacGyver-ism.  I took this door, and I quickly but carefully tore off all the cheap, weak plywood, or whatever it is, and I broke that up into little pieces to use for the firepit.  (I told you, I have a firepit, firewood problem.)  I also took off most of the round cardboard thingies on the inside, and I threw that into the same barrel for the same purpose.  These will make good kindling.  (The barrel is weakening on the bottom, so I'm not using one of the good ones for this.  And it's just for storage, so I'm not worrying too much about moving the thing and having the bottom fall out on me.)  Then I noticed that some of the nails I took out to do this were really good, long, strong nails.  So I took these, and I hammered them into the wooden boards of the lower walkway in the backyard, as these pieces were coming loose because the wood had warped, or the screws and nails in it already had given way (Yes, screws and nails; as I mentioned, my father would jury-rig things--but they always worked when he did!), or whatever.

So the point here is that by tearing up this door, I a) re-used the plywood, or the wood panel, or whatever, and the round cardboard thingies for the firepit, so there was no waste or more junk for the landfill; b) I re-used the nails as needed for my wooden walkway; and c) I'm going to re-use the solid, good pieces of wood of the door for other projects around the land, as the wood is still good; and d) I'll re-use the wood I can't use for other projects by burning it in the firepit or fireplace.  And I cleared some much-needed space off the shed patio, so I can sit and reminisce again about how I used to exhaust myself watching my father work very hard!

And now there's only a dozen more hours of work to do there before I can really relax there again, as opposed to the fourteen or fifteen total hours that there had been.  I also spent some time in the sun--with constant breaks for water and central air; we're not stupid here.  Well, not all the time--and I exercised, got a tan (or a slight burn?), and enjoyed working on my own land to try and re-claim it.

Not the Deliberate Agrarian, maybe, but not bad--for me.  And I will put a garden around here, too.


  1. There's lots to be said for making the effort to re-claim your land. That's half the battle, I say. You may discover along the way you do have some talents as a handyman or gardener. I definitely think a garden will spruce it up and make relaxing out there even more enjoyable. As a city girl who has to visit the NY Botanical Garden in order to really be around flowers and greenery, I almost envy this project you have ahead of you. I say almost because I know it entails a lot of work!

    1. Lots of work staves off idle hands. Keeps me out of trouble!