Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Wednesday Wisdom week 3 - Repair or Replace?

Frugality was considered a virtue during the Depression of the 1930's and WW2, yet today it's seen as an absurd waste of time and effort because we live in a time of plenty. But the idea that recycling, upcycling and reusing things is passé is frankly one of the many things wrong with society. Long gone are the days of darning socks, putting new heels and soles on shoes, or turning flour sacks into clothing. Most of us just wouldn't even consider it today. It's so easy to pop down to walmart and buy the things we want in the latest colours. In less than a century we've forgotten or dismissed thrifty ways of living as being old fashioned and miserly. But as a homesteader I'd like you to consider how much you could save in time, dollars and fuel if you fix up a few things at home instead of driving to town every time you need something. 

DIY Supplies A well stocked tool box or cupboard with hand tools, washers, screws and nails in various sizes, repair tape, oil, clamps and wire will save you time looking for hardware and trips to the store. Keep track of the things you use commonly and make sure to have a small supply on hand. Include household repair items too, glasses repair kit if you wear glasses and a sewing kit. We keep extra matches and a few tea light candles in ours plus a bar of hard sunlight soap. A pencil and measuring tape can also be very useful. 

Buttons How many times have you tossed away a shirt because the cuffs frayed or you lost a button? If you look inside the lower side seam you'll often find two shirt buttons sewn to the label for replacing buttons you lose. If you're not lucky enough to have them, and there are no exact matches in your button jar, then the best thing to do is put all the matching buttons at the top of the shirt and sew a same sized but non matching one to the bottom button or buttons. It'll be tucked in and nobody will see it. If your long sleeved shirt has a good collar but frayed wrists you can make it into a short sleeved shirt. Once both the neck and wrists are both worn it can be remade into an apron, painting shirt for children, dusting rags or cleaning rags. Don't forget to remove and keep the buttons in a jar once it's beyond use. 

Handles Brooms, garden tools, snow shovels, they all have handles and sticks that can break. Sometimes a repair is as simple as placing a screw in to keep pieces together or putting a jubilee clip over. Oh, there's my British-ness coming out again. Wikipedia says this "Jubilee Clip is a circular metal band or strip combined with a worm gear fixed to one end. It is designed to hold a soft, pliable hose onto a rigid circular pipe, or sometimes a solid spigot, of smaller diameter.

Jubilee Clips are generally made of stainless steel or galvanised or electro-plated steel. Rotating the screw has the effect of changing the diameter of the circle formed by the band. Jubilee Clips are available in a range of sizes (diameters). Larger-diameter Jubilee Clips tend to have wider bands.

In many countries, Jubilee Clips tend to be known almost exclusively by their brand name, but elsewhere (where the brand is not so well known for example), they are known by generic names such as worm drive hose clip or hose clamp or hose clip

Thank you Wikipedia.

I love these adjustable clips, they work well repairing hoses and all sorts of things. They're very handy to have around in a variety of sizes. 

Having replacement wooden handles that fit the shafts of your tools is also a good idea if your tools are of mid to high quality. They're generally forged and meant to last many years with occasional replacement of handles, regular sharpening, and oiling of the metal parts. Spending more on tools initially or buying good quality used tools will save you money in the long run. 

Sewing and Darning Learning the fine art of darning with a needle and yarn will extend the life of your good wool socks. Darning isn't simply sewing the hole edges together, that would create a seam that can give you blisters. Darning is more like weaving to fill in the hole in the sock. You should have on hand some sock yarn (usually a wool/nylon blend) a darning needle and a darning mushroom. If you don't have one, a hard ball or old lightbulb will work in a pinch to work over. I used an orange once but that's another story. There's lots of info on how to do this on the internet including videos. 

Sewing and patching knees and elbows can extend the life of your outer clothes, even of it means your favourite jeans now become work pants. If you're looking for work clothes for homesteading you can even buy used clothing that fits well and reinforce the knees and pockets to make them durable. It's not about looks when homesteading, it's about practicality and durability. The chickens don't care what you look like, they just care if you've got food for them. 

Footwear Shoes, sandals and particularly boots are crucial for homesteaders. They protect your feet from the elements and sharp objects. Sandals provide a cool environment for hot summer feet while protecting you from rocks. I also love my crocs but experience has taught me that these comfy foam shoes are fine for the house and greenhouse but lousy for regular farm use because it's simply so easy to step on something sharp and have it pass right through into your foot. Yes, this is the voice of experience. Pulling a bail out of your foot and sandal at the same time is much harder than you'd think, especially if it's essentially nailed the shoe tightly to your foot. Can we say OUCH?!? Podiatrists, trainers and many doctors will emphasize the importance of foot health. Investing in long lasting quality shoes and rubber boots will help prevent fatigue, plantar fasciitis, and keep you more comfortable. I would recommend buying good footwear on sale at the end of the season or during promotions. Get yourself properly fitted if you can too. 

Buckets Pails, scoops and buckets are used every day at our farm. From carrying water to collecting eggs, we use a variety of shapes and sizes to complete our daily tasks. Our buckets include store bought livestock pails in colourful plastic and some flexible rubber, to recycled 2, 3 and 5 gallon pails. We can get those at local restaurants for cheap or free and although they are broken more easily than livestock pails, the price is right. Livestock pails are often made of more UV resistant plastic than food pails which spend most of their time indoors. Buckets can often have the handles replaced by a piece of stiff wire if they break. If the handle bracket itself breaks you can drill 2 holes through the more rigid upper part of the bucket and put a rope handle through, leaving some slack and securely tying off the ends.  Holes and cracks can be patched with a fibre reinforced tape such as duct tape inside and out. Broken buckets get used for planters, dog water, compost pails if they don't leak, buckets with leaks can still hold rocks and dry goods or large veggies from the garden, it really depends. Buckets with a broken top can be cut down to make feed dishes. Use your imagination! At the end of their life we put them out for recycling. 

Food During WW2 rationing was essential to feed the troops and the home population. Wasting food simply would not be tolerated, or wise. Peelings were thin slivers, scraps were fed to pigs, and people realized that everyone was going to have to work together to get through from farmers to consumers. The top two ways were not wasting food in the first place and growing their own gardens to supplement what they could buy. Food isn't something homesteaders worry about all the time. We get into habits of preserving and growing food, but if you had to support yourself for 40 days without a trip to the store could you do it? What would you miss? What would you run short of? Careful menu planning and not wasting food could save the planet millions of tonnes of agricultural waste and pollution each year as well as feeding more hungry people. Something to think about isn't it?

So there you have it. Frugality. Bred into me from my Scottish ancestors and adapted for 2017. That's my Wednesday Wisdom for this week. Happy homesteading!

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