the way out here

Weathered wood

Posted 6/10/20

Take a drive through the countryside; see the blossoming apple trees, the fresh green foliage and the beauty of the wildlife.

On my drive to work this morning, I was blessed with seeing three …

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the way out here

Weathered wood


Take a drive through the countryside; see the blossoming apple trees, the fresh green foliage and the beauty of the wildlife.

On my drive to work this morning, I was blessed with seeing three large black bears in a field together. Right after that, I saw a buck with half of his velvety antlers grown in, standing beside the asphalt with a mouth full of vegetation.

My drive to work is typically filled with rural backdrops of old farms and wooded canopies, populated by both predictable and random critters ranging from turkeys and deer to bears, eagles and even an emu once (see my column titled “Birds of a feather”).

Alongside the nature I love so much is another kind of character: humankind. And with the humans come the human things. Some blend naturally like an aging Farmall tractor sinking into the earth with acclimating patina, as though it were transforming itself to rejoin the dust from whence it came. Other items appear somewhat less natural amongst the landscape, like stacks of wood pallets left over from deliveries of yet more stuff we humans accumulate. But even these have their place in the surrounding aesthetics.

My wife recently received a horseradish plant from a family friend and was warned it needed a somewhat restricted place to grow because it could take over an area. Prompted by those specifications, it was determined that it needed its own planter. We did not have a planter that could accommodate this plant; however, we did have a small stack of unsightly wood pallets taking up space on our property. As if I didn’t have enough projects already, I boldly volunteered to my wife to provide her the planter she desired using the wood from our pallets: cleaning the up the junk and turning it into something useful, two birds with one stone.

Being that I was, and still am, in the middle of our chicken hut expansion project, my shed was already filled with tools and debris. So, with crowbar in hand and a carpet of sawdust below, I began the chore of disassembling the pallets without damaging them so much that they couldn’t be used. Obviously the lumber wasn’t premium grade, but all it had to do was hold dirt, so as I peeled off each board and removed the rusty nails, I soon found myself with a fair stack of boards. For the frame, I had an old pair of kiln-dried two-by-fours that had been nailed together by their former owner for a support beam of some sort. In keeping with my recycling theme, I pried them apart and cut them down to form the legs and bottom edges of the planter. The bottom and sides of the planter then went on using the thinner boards from the pallets. Due to varying degrees of strength in the boards, I pre-drilled each one before nailing them in one by one. Even the nails in this project were recycled. (I received several buckets of them from a fellow who had built his own cabin, but opted for different nails than he received with the kit.) With the cutoffs from the sideboards, I trimmed the damaged pieces and finished the top of the planter by arranging them flush across the rim of the planter. Standing up from my project—I hadn’t been wearing my watch—I checked the time only to realize I had been occupied for about four and a half hours.

The way out here isn’t measured by time, but rather by the fruits of our labors and the investment of ourselves into the land. My wife now has a new planter to grow horseradish in, and I, of course, will reap the benefits when we get to put some of it on our deli sandwiches. The way out here uses what we have available. I happened to recycle some old wood just waiting to rot; perhaps someone else takes a pile of scrap iron and makes tools or garden decorations. There’s an old adage: if you’re not going forward, you’re going backward. I prefer to move forward and make the most of my resources before they’re lost.


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