One of the problems with projects around the home and in the backyard is that the materials required can be costly or require several trips to the hardware store.
Fortunately, with a bit of imagination and a rummage through the recycling bin, you can construct many backyard projects that are functional while looking good.
Old Tire Planters
When the tires of our cars and trucks need replacing, it is tempting to have the tire shop take them off our hands, but there are a couple of ways to repurpose them in the backyard as planters.
Old tires can be placed on the ground and filled with dirt to be used as a simple planter. Alternatively, an old tire can be hung from the wall or fence and have plants planted inside it to make a more unique and decorative planter.
Soda bottles are often returned for a few cents, but they can also see new life in your backyard.
Related: Survival Uses For Soda Cans
Building a full-scale greenhouse requires a lot of space and materials and is often not appropriate for the average suburban backyard. However, there is another option that may not be as efficient as a full-scale greenhouse, but can replicate the effect of a large greenhouse on a much smaller scale.
You can turn a standard soda bottle into a mini greenhouse by simply cutting the bottom off the bottle and placing it over a plant that you want to house in your new mini-greenhouse. Be sure to thoroughly clean the inside of the bottle and remove the label.
You can create an insect trap by cutting the top off a soda bottle and turning it upside down into the bottom. Then, all you need to do is place bait in the bottom of the trap, which can be apple cider vinegar and dish soap, brown sugar and yeast, or dish soap and a light source.
Then, all you need to do is hang it in an area where you have a flying insect problem and leave it for the insects to fly into and become trapped.
Milk Jug Bird Feeder
Empty gallon milk jugs can make lovely hanging bird feeders and an excellent project for children to build. There are as many variations as your imagination can come up with, and this basic design can be modified and improved to suit the size and type of birds you want to feed.
Moreover, building a basic milk jug bird feeder is a very straightforward project, and all you need is a milk jug, some wire, dowels, and birdseed.
1. Firstly, thoroughly clean the inside of the milk jug with soap and water.
2. Cut openings in the sides of the jug large enough for the birds to access the birdseed inside.
You can cut one hole or four holes. It’s up to you.
3. Cut or drill holes large enough to fit the wood dowels just underneath the large openings that you cut.
4. Pass lengths of dowel through the hole and the hole on the other side, leaving enough sticking out for the birds to perch on comfortably.
5. Make two holes in the top and pass some wire through to make a hanger.
6. Fill with birdseed and hang in an area where birds are likely to feed.
You can use your imagination to develop different designs for this style of DIY bird feeder.
There are many different ways to repurpose old pallets in the backyard for innovative projects. What I am about to detail below are only a few ways that old pallets can be given new life.
Related: How To Build A Cheap Bunker In Your Backyard
As Wall-mounted Storage
There are many ways to repurpose pallets, but one that you are not likely to have thought of is to hang a pallet from a wall and use the slats to hang garden tools on.
You can also disassemble some of the boards on a pallet to make shelves and cubbies. Your imagination is the only limiting factor in what you can do with a pallet mounted to a wall.
With a bit of DIY know-how, you can make furniture by either disassembling the pallets and repurposing the wood or joining the pallets together to make tables, chairs, benches, or storage units.
Make sure to take the time to sand and adequately protect the wood if you want to use pallets as furniture.
If you have access to many pallets, you can stand them up on their side and join them together to make an effective garden fence. They are especially good for creating a fence around a garden area or an enclosure for some animals.
Rubber Boots into Planters
Rubber boots will inevitably succumb to the abuse inflicted upon them and begin to leak, leaving us with soggy feet. So instead of discarding these worn-out items of footwear into the nearest trash can, take them out to the garden to be used as a unique planter idea.
All you need to do is fill them with potting soil and plant whatever seeds you wish inside them. The leaks that make the boot no longer appropriate for keeping our feet dry will allow for drainage of the plants’ soil.
Related: How to Make Your Boots Last Longer
Dresser as Planters
Another unique planter idea is to use an old dresser as a garden planter. All that’s required is to open the drawers so they resemble a staircase, installing some boards inside so that you can only place the dirt in the area protruding from the body of the dresser.
Be sure to line the bottom of the dresser drawers with landscape fabric to help keep the dirt in while allowing for drainage.
You can repurpose milk crates in all sorts of ways in the backyard or the garden. Of course, one of the more obvious uses is to use them as storage boxes, but you can also use them to make seats, tables, and planters.
With a few components such as a couple of axles and wheels and a makeshift handle, you could also turn a milk crate into a DIY wagon.
Securing milk crates to a wall or fence with the open end facing out will create a good and sturdy shelving unit.
Finally, there are many more ways to repurpose old household items to make new and creative projects in your backyard.
Once you complete a few repurposed backyard projects, you will definitely find yourself having second thoughts before throwing anything away again.
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I try and repurpose just about everything I can. There is something in so may things. You just have to use your imagination.
The list is endless.
Milk creates, are the best. They can hold so many things. I use mine to hold can goods, they hold 32 regular cans and 18, 28 oz cans. They make having a very large amount of can goods on hand that are stacked up very nicly.
I found horses buckets, some one was giving them away for free. Yes I tried to get them all but could not get them all in my car. I did manage to stuff 13 or 14 of them in there. lol
All ways looking for anything that can be used for something else.
Out here we call it junking, but I think in town they call it receiving used items that can be reused. Sounds fancier. I guess…
Recycling is good but let’s be realistic. Gallon Milk jugs after you wash them and all that are ugly and last but a few months before sunshine destroys them. That and around here squirrels will have ALL that Expensive Birdseed scattered across the yard. Goodwill and yard sales GIVE Bird Feeders away around here. Just wash them first.
Pallets for “Effective Garden Fencing”? Effective against WHAT? If you add the needed welded fencing wire to keep out rabbits and such it would almost be cheaper to BUY Fencing Posts and do that fence RIGHT. Time and Money are two thing I have not enough of.
Also using Pallets for Animal “Fencing” it’s not reliably strong enough to keep them IN Nor safe enough with plenty of VET BILL creating hazards like UNKNOWN Chemical Spills ON the “Free Pallets” as well as easily broken cheap boards for various injuries to animals and people.
Yes, I HAVE disassembled pallets from KNOWN people clean from chemical hazards and used the rough lumber to build stuff. Mostly I use clean pallets as biscuit firewood and kindling. Buring Treated Pallets is a Lung Hazard.
Using old dressers as planters? Cute for the next few rainstorms as they fall apart from excess weight and not being built to deal with outside weather. This ASSUMES they are NOT made of nearly toxic particle board and such.
I’ll stop here. Intelligent recycling of stuff IS a survival idea BUT ALL Ideas Require THOUGHT. Recycling some unknown materials from industrial scrap will expose you and yours to chemicals of unknown nature.
Holy moly Micheal have you got anything positive to contribute.
Anything positive to say at all?
Dang, man! Throw us a bone, here! Have you got *anything* to say that’s just a little bit positive for those of us that could use it? <
Good point about chemically treated recycled wood. Your health can become. compromised
Also good to be aware that pallets are made with the lowest possible quality of wood so expect the possiblity of quick rotting.
It is absolutely true that many plastics are subject to UV degradation, become brittle and shatter.
Old tires are reusable as frost guards (stack them around your tomato plants to protect from frost, for example); and used as wall-hung planters is a great idea.
Most pallets measure around 4×4 feet and have wide spaces between the boards so they’re not going to keep out small critters, probably including raccoons because if they can’t squeeze through they’ll simply climb over the top, and I know the misfortune of planting greens and finding it harvested by raccoons while still a seedling. But on the other hand I have kept raccoons out by buying a few 2x4s and a few concrete blocks to make a 5 ft wire circle around the garden held in place by a concrete block opposite each other in about 5 locations around the fence;that’s on block on each of three sides and a pair at each side of the human entry which is supported by two 2x4s,then attack a 2×4 to the opening side of the gate and put a latch or two on it. Of course a four foot fence will not exclude deer. Some people say that deer will not enter if humans pee around the fence, has to be a continuous circle and renewed often.
It’s amazing to see what’s put out on the street on trash day in Manhattan. When folks bailed out of their condominiums with the onset of the pandemic, they simply discarded the entire contents of their homes. One could have very stylishly and comfortably furnished an entire house in the best of designer goods at no cost. The only thing needed was a pickup truck!
I have heard the same about the dumpsters at college dorms at the end of the school year. Parents have purchased the items so the student’s didn’t work for them so they just dump it all.
Many years ago, I lived in an apartment building and someone tossed out a very nice baby crib. That was repurposed, with some additional lumber on the seat area, into a nice garden bench. I don’t remember what I did with the extra crib side but It was very sturdy as I used 2 x 4’s for the the support frame. I covered it all with a coat of paint. I gave it away when I moved but at my current home I made another garden bench from a single bed frame. The headboard became the back and footboard was cut in half and became arms for the bench.
Reuse, repurpose, recycle – I do that, but as much as I don’t like waste, I don’t like junk and I’m not about to base my preps on junk nor waste my time in making them out of things that do not work well or bring lasting value. Even in a dire situation, I suspect one would be in a worse situation with a yard full of junk falling apart and wasting away. Not my style.
Things of low quality that just fall apart after a season, create more to clean up and makes the yard not feel like a peaceful refuge. In my area, anything left on the ground become a hiding place for earwigs or pill bugs. Anything that could collect water becomes a place for mosquitos.
I do see value in people starting out making lower quality items because it is a good thing for everyone to learn to use their hands and figure out various options for whatever they have around. If they experiment with lower quality items, then when they have higher end lumber and such, they can make something worth keeping.
But, I still am keeping that little clay dish that a grandchild made a few years ago in a place of honor in my living room.
When I was in the Army, if we had a deployment or extended field training exercise ( More than 14 days ) I would use milk crates.
Put 2 in each duffle bag for a total of 4 open side facing the back straps ( For comfort, think hard plastic vs soft clothes ). They would not only stretch out the bag, protect any items that needed extra protection ( Think medication, shaving cream etc), I would have a cubby / shelving system when we got to our destination, but also it made it extra easy to ID my bags from 1000’s of others, to grab in an instant.
Still use milk crates now, perfect fit for a propane tank.
Sagebrush Lin – That hand made pottery dish is priceless! I have a hand made painted plaster figure of Disney’s Pluto sitting in my dining room china closet myself which is in my book, irreplaceable!
How about offering some positive ways to Repurpose items?
There is a nice way and a crappy way to comment.
A.E. how about reading a little more carefully? Left Coast Chuck already answered most of the above folks. I guess I’m HONORED that KAY actually addressed me. LOL
Bad ideas are bad ideas. If you don’t know better they sound like good enough ideas.
PLEASE let me know WHAT of this articles ideas you plan to do because they sounded good.
I don’t have extra time nor enough money to take a perfectly good dresser and turn it into a very short-term yard art before weathering destroys it. I DO have a little “Hippie Chic” in my yard as we speak. Along with about 30 pallets awaiting re-use.
I DID mention that CLEAN from contamination pallets make good firewood, and wood for small projects. But do I assume you missed that?
I salvage a lot of things but also know from bad experiences how some idea like the Pallet Fencing can become a LARGE VET BILL. Yeah, I had to PAY for that. I’d prefer YOU don’t have too.
Tires can be reused for planters. I do suggest you look carefully at removing the side walls as (From MY Earlier Errors) found that water tends to collect in those sidewalls harming your plantings. Turning them inside out was a Mid 70’s thing that also worked BUT I never figured out how to turn them inside out easily.
If you really want to impress me show me how to turn an old storm door with still good glass into a hot house for the garden A. E. I BTW have three of them right now in the snow of NH growing me cold weather Bok Choy and Beets. One of the reasons I have friends in the home repair business, a few beers gets me a good storm door or shower glass door now and then for such useful projects.
HINT the ability to OPEN the Glass to the screen part is NICE even in winter to prevent overheating. All Green Houses-hotbeds and such require venting as solar gain can get your plants roasted like the HOT Seats in your car in an otherwise icy cold day.
OK, A.E. YOUR TURN. Please TELL ME a few Positive Ways to Repurpose items.
I’m listening, always willing to learn new ideas.
BTW if you want Crappy ways to reply look to Kay, she’s a Master, or should I say Mistress.
Michael… Thank you for information. You are right about alot of the things you spoke of. I appreciate your take on this article. Merry Christmas to you Sir! 🙂
I Know Michael from a different site and he is one of the smartest, most been there done that kind of guys around. I tend to agree that I don’t have much time for many of these ideas either, but he did offer some other uses for the materials.
I know I went off on yesterday’s article, so have no room to talk, but, let’s be a little nicer to each other, hmm?
I know we ALL are feeling very tense about the state of the world right now, and it’s easy to lose it. Again, yesterday’s comments made by myself.
Take a breath and a break and let’s all try to make it through.
Madfab I wish you were in my MAG. Your attitude is excellent in times of stress.
Peace and health to you and yours.
BTW you figured out like OH I am not at the other site.
Glass does not make good greenhouses, as it filters out the beneficial long wave ultraviolet, and allows through hard UV radiation.
This has been clinically proven. As has the fact that so-called sun screen only screens out the beneficial long wave UV but has zero effect in stopping the hard , short wave UV.
Plants grown under glass will sprout, but will not thrive.
Dear Calvin, glass doesn’t make WHAT? A good Green House??
PLEASE don’t tell my plants, they’ll fail to THRIVE or something. 🙂 Chuckling as I harvested some nice Bok Choy during a snow flurry yesterday. Sauté with a bit of sausage I processed from no doubt my incorrectly raised critters. Was a tasty dinner.
A few of the more modern (Usually double paned) window glass DOES have specialty filtering elements in them to “Prevent” UV fading of expensive indoor furniture and such. Those don’t do so well as a Green House Glass for your plants.
I saw a meme that had a green traffic style sign. it said:
“Consequences just ahead”
Get your rule of threes IMPORTANT stuff done and secured ASAP. This internet and those smart phones will not feed you when Fiat money becomes less valued that toilet paper.
When ya got to start a fire & there aren’t matches & the wood is wet, try using a 20 minute road flare – works like a charm. My neighbors thought I was crazy when polishing the vehicle with lemon oil & olive oil, so I changed to a cheaper oil and it worked just as good. I have at least 6 penny cans and they do come in handy now and then. but to just heat the vehicle when broken down a simple candle works great just remember to crack the window a bit.
I agree, nothing like a road flare to start wet wood or anything remotely flammable. The problem with road flares here in sunny SoCal is too much of a good thing. Road flares have ignited the brush and trash along the road which ignited the chaparral a little further up the hillside which ignited the big trees further up the mountain side etc etc.
I carry six road flares in my trunk at all times. Used in a timely manner they will discourage all but the most determined mugger. Tossed strategically they can cause a sheltering shooter to decide to seek shelter elsewhere. If you have a bottle with a big enough mouth you can make an impressive Molotov cocktail that is sure to ignite. Just make sure you don’t hang on to it too long admiring your handiwork.
Road flares should be in every preppers trunk with his get home bag. Road flares. Don’t leave home without them. On that bad Karl Malden impression I will close for tonight.
John, Have you become stuck in cold weather and tried a candle in your car? It just has never occurred to me that it a possibility. About 5 years ago, I was stuck overnight in a rest stop in the mountains because the highway was shut down when a serious blizzard whipped through. I had a blanket and even a pillow in the car plus enough gas to run the engine for a bit every few hours so I was uncomfortable but just fine. But, putting a candle or two in my winter car kit is a new idea for me.
A.E. :: I think Michael is a close relative of the Illini Weirdo.They
just can’t help it.Sort of like being a life long bed wetter.
Do you recall the third grade teacher that loved to correct everything and everyone just for the fun of it?
Christmas spirit to Kay >>> hope you plan on saving something for your usual “family special” to all your relatives …
and remember to take your street sign from your neck >>> nobody needs to see your daily special – “Big Black Dicks Done Cheap”
For Christmas I wish Santa to bring Kay a happier outlook on life. Life is so short, even for someone as old as I. I have so many things that I want to learn, so many places in this great country I want to visit, so many place in Japan I want to visit with my wife, it seems so wasteful to fritter away one’s precious time on such hateful vituperation. It’s truly a shame that Kay can only use her precious time on earth for spewing forth hateful comments. What a narrow twisted life. She is more to be pitied than censured, however tempting a caustic reply might be
I hope you have a Joyous Christmas, Kay and in the New Year May you find some useful comments to add to the general prepper knowledge most of us on this list seek.
I don’t know what people’s problems with Michael are. I enjoy the hell out of his posts, almost as much as LCC. Illini can be a little negative but many of his observations are spot on. Kay, you’re just nasty.
My first thought upon reading the chest of drawers into a planter was the same as Michael’s. Unless it is very old furniture, hardly any furniture made in the last 50 years is solid wood. If it is solid wood it probably was quite expensive to begin with and its value as an antique should be explored before destroying it as a planter.
Next, if is veneer over particle board as so much modern furniture is, the first decent rain storm is going to turn it into a pile of crumbled wood particles and your work at building a planter will have gone to waste. As old as I am, not having that much time left, I don’t want to waste a minute if I can avoid it.
I use plastic gallon milk jugs to season and store fuel for my rocket stoves. As someone else pointed out, periodically I have to empty a deteriorating plastic milk jug and replace it with a new one. That’s okay, the time involved is minimal to do the transfer and in the event of an emergency, I have a significant amount of wood already cut and dried ready to fuel my rocket stoves to boil water or cook or even to distill salt water. I will be able to hit the ground running as far as wood fuel. All at zero cost except for the initial work of cutting the wood small enough to fit the jugs which is an on-going project.
Any time I trim a bush or a tree, I keep all the twigs and branches. They get cut into pieces thin enough if stout and short enough to fit in the jug. Small twigs go in a separate jug/jugs to act as kindling. As long as they fit in, I don’t worry about them coming back out. By the time (if it ever arises) I am forced to use the contents, the jug will either fall apart on its own or be very easy to open with a knife.
Speaking of the end of the world, we have had two M class solar eruptions and one G class solar eruption in the past week, the latest being about midnight PST last night. The eruptions are probably from the 350,000 km long chain of sun spots across the southern portion of the sun. Which, coincidentally appeared as our solar probe entered the outer mantle of the sun.
In the Old Corps we had a saying, “Don’t mess around outside your MOS” meaning if you don’t know what you are doing, don’t mess with it.
When one considers how important the sun is to the existence of absolutely every living thing on earth and what the consequences would be for all those billions of living things should the sun get tweaked out it usual pattern it is my opinion, not knowing with any amount of certainty how the sun might react to a rocket dropping on its surface — yes, I am aware that interplanetary objects impact the sun’s surface constantly, perhaps every second of every day, that has been happening for eons. However having a space rocket within the sun’s mantle is a new phenomenon. While one may extrapolate that a space craft is miniscule compared to some of the celestial bodies that impact the sun’s surface, no one can say with any absolute reliability that shooting rockets to the sun will have zero impact.
So a very large, highly unusual chain of sunspots according to the folks who comprise the scientific community behind spaceweather dot com appears just as the rocket is supposedly circumnavigating the sun in relative proximity to its surface. Tandem coincidence? I have not a clue one way or another. But I do wonder.
This morning, the 23rd, my relative who lives about 300 miles inland off the east coast saw what looked like a slow moving meteor going across the sky. This was 5 in the morning, east coast time and the window she saw it through was a high up on the wall, a short and wide window. It was short lived enough that there wasn’t time enough to go outside. It was very bright but seemed to be larger than the average meteor.
It’s been showing up near to the evening star for over a week. Much brighter than Venus. niio
I once got my hands on 29 pallets. Using 14 pallets I built a 3 sided shelter, under which to store my lawn mowers and garden tools. I used another 14 to build a shelter for my three dairy goats. I used the last one for a milking platform in the goat pen. For the shelters, I stacked the pallets two high and I nailed everything together with long nails. I roofed the structures with some old tin that I had salvaged from a a dillapidated and partially burned out building. After more than 15 years my structures were still standing when I sold my property and moved to my present location.
On the inside of a chicken pen on my current property, I have used several nailed together pallets to support and reinforce the chicken wire along the bottom half of the pen.
I use several dozen of the heavier plastic two litre pop bottles to store water. I wash them well and disinfect them with a little bleach, and have found that the water stored in them is still good a decade later. I keep the water bottles stacked (like people do with wine bottles) on shelves in dark, relatively cool and dry storage spaces. I also rotate them as needed. Plastic 2 litre bottles can be made into funnels too, by cutting off the bottoms at the desired height. I use these in making jelly, as they make it easier to pour the hot jelly into canning jars.
Good article, and mostly good comments. According to a book on building houses out of old tires (U New Mexico Press) bottles and soda cans are great if filled with dirt, capped and used to make arches inside the house. One word on modern plastic, they’re made with a time limit so they self-destruct even buried in landfills.
We have furniture built in the 50s and earlier. Ain’t gonna use that for planters! Pallets are junk waiting to become something valuable. niio
Back in the 70s I did a little work on a crazy project built in Dallas by one of the wealthiest developers in the world. The majority of the construction was done by a father and son, two semi literate small town Texas rednecks who were top notch cabinet makers and almost as proficient in every other trade known to man. The project was a 2 level open concept shopping mall made completely from recycled pallets. I worked a couple weeks helping Dad and Son break down, clean up, and mill the wood from the pallets, all the boards run through a planer and fitted with a jointer. It took them several years to finish but it ended up unique and very well down, all the spaces filled by arts and crafts shops, antique dealers, little Mom and Pop cafes and shops. Called The Olla Podrida. People would go nuts over it today but it was less than ten years before it shut down. A lot of pallets back in olden times were made from rough sawn oak lumber and it was great source for cheap or free boards. You can probably find pallets even now that are worth breaking down to get affordable wood for all kinds of projects.
When I was going to school and working with a wife and two kids money was tight. For those who say they haven’t a spare dime to spend on preps, even then we save $10 a week , 10% of my take home pay. To save money I rode a bike most places and walked to the grocery store, the same distance I drive to the grocery store today. I used one of those wire baskets with two wheels to haul the groceries. But I digress.
I worked at a factory that used Ford in-line six and V-8 engines in their products. The engines came bolted to really nice pallets. I spent part on my lunch hour and other down time tearing the pallets down. It looked a little weird getting on the bus after work at 2130 with a couple of lengths of pallet wood under my arm but pretty soon the drivers didn’t even raise an eyebrow.
This many years later I don’t remember what all I made for our household. I didn’t have a car so my apartment’s garage space was my work space. I made a couple of benches to work on and probably a stool. I can picture me sitting on something in the garage but can’t remember 60 years later what it was. I did make a cutting board from a nice piece of yellow pine — can you imagine making a pallet out of yellow pine these days? It was 2 x12 and full size as it was rough cut. We used it for many decades. I wonder if it is still buried in some closet?
I still have a couple of coffee cans full of the 1/2 x 4 carriage bolts and half inch cut washers the engine came bolted to the pallets with. Not a whole lot of call around the household for such massive fastening devices.
LCC if you were closer, I’d trade you for those bolts. I like to build underground structures and carriage style bolts are my main fastener.
Some of the older pallets had really GOOD Lumber in them. But like everything else they are going as cheap as possible. Back in the 70’s I used to use the teak boxes Japanese Motorcycles came in for many projects. Now you’re lucky to get heavy duty cardboard.
Reminds me back in the 60s the only way to get an official Harley Davidson Tee shirt was to buy a factory engine, they shipped on a small pallet wrapped up in a black Tee with Harley Davidson printed across the front.
I know they have had satellite missions to the sun over the decades, some that have plunged right into the solar mass, but danged if I can find any info on them. A couple have actually returned samples of the solar wind to Earth. Elon Musk tried to launch his classic Corvette into the sun a few years ago but it went off course. That might have done some real damage. I was reading about Musk’s approach to engineering, he says the mistake engineers make is trying to anticipate everything that could possibly go wrong, causing the final product to be overly complex and often of less than optimal function. His preference is to design simply and test until failure, then correct the design and test again until something else fails. This is cheaper than over design from the start and results in a better product. Fascinating, not relevant to the discussion, but fascinating that a trillionaire individual leads all governments in actually getting into space. An old friend of mine was a custom furniture maker, he said, Measure twice, cut once, then pound the blankety blank out of it until it fits.
Judge: your cabinet maker sounds like my kind of woodworker, especially the pounding to make it fit part. It never ceases to amaze me how a simple task such as measuring a dimension, even multiple times can go so wrong.
Michael: If you were closer you could have the hardware. At my age I hope I will not need to start some project requiring such heavy duty hRdware.
Madfab: that wasn’t Kay that gave you the thumbs down. It was me. Trying to eat donner, watch the evening news and post here is just more than I can handle. Old enough that I should know better than to triple task. A man has got to know his limits. Sorry about that. My apologies. I will try to pay better attention but no promises.
If that is the worse thing that happens to me today, I’ll be thrilled, LOL.
I can barely double task much less triple.
Wishing you and your DW a blessed Christmas filled with love and happiness.
Ha ha, auto correct changed eat dinner to eat donner, I’ll pass on that.
That would be a first for me. I have never knowingly eaten reindeer. I have no moral compunction against munching on Santa’s team although as much work as they have purportedly done, circumnavigating the globe in a single night for as many years as rumored, I would suspect that they would be mighty tough chewing.
I understand the natives who raise reindeer. raise them not only for transportation, but for consumption as dinner. I suspect they don’t eat the reindeer that dies of old age but keep him or her to feed the dogs. I suspect they like younger animals which might be more tender.
Most of this post is in the speculative tense simply because my knowledge of the animals is that they have four legs and antlers and typically inhabit the far northern regions the world. I think that exhausts my data banks on reindeer.
Funny!! Love quick witted wird play!
Judge: Must have been a Freudian slip made by someone in Kali-fornia.
A cousin sent me a good one, Hannibal Lector saying “Don’t worry. If the food runs out, we have each other.” niio
The idea of a bird feeder is a fun point of interest in the yard. If you’re thinking about luring certain eatable birds to your yard, a milk jug might inadvertently work. The design above will attract sparrows, starlings and such. What will most likely happen is that those smaller birds might hesitate climbing inside such a closed in structure but the mourning doves will do their best to get at the food no matter what. In the process they will knock most of it on the ground, where they prefer to eat. Quail also like to eat off the ground. Both types of birds like bare ground under the feeder to scratch at for bugs. Both quail and doves like broken sunflower seeds the best and they both would theoretically make a nice meal. Starlings are a problem because they converge in such large numbers that every other bird is moved out but they also scare more readily so if you want to lure dinner to your yard, you just have to be diligent out there waving your arms to scare the starlings away. The old English poem has people eating starlings but I really don’t know how that would work. If a person could figure that out, I suppose it would be a source as starlings nest twice a year versus the others nest only once a year.
If you decide to make the milk jug feeder, add some water drain holes in the bottom, otherwise the seeds will get moldy and be aware of jagged edges where birds might want to land. Sometimes running a red hot nail across the edge will smooth it all out.
I did a lot of testing with birds feeders for awhile but the starlings and red-winged blackbirds always seemed to ruin the party. I no longer have feeders for practical birds. I just have one terrifically ugly one now but it’s the only one I could find that the tiny yellow finches can use and be left alone.
This year I might have had some sort of a fungus on my echinacea blossoms. It’s a plant way in the back so I didn’t get around to dealing with it. Hopefully, that doesn’t mean that it became an incubator for more fungus next year.
How exactly did you treat your plants with zinc? Did you use a commercial product or a concoction of your own making?
Sage: I don’t know much about fungal infections in plants, but the Bordeaux mixture works for grapes. But, Echinacea is a prairie weed, and needs full sun and lots of air. 1 tablespoon of backing soda in a gallon of warm water and sprayed on cucurbit leaves is supposed to kill powdery mildew.
I bought a bucket of chelated zinc. This is used for fertilizer on pecans and citrus. It’s not for human use, and isn’t cheap, but it’s used a 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon per gallon of water. I’m trying to find out if viral infections in plants is a sign of poor zinc in the soil. Most farmland is depleted of micronutrients. Old tires are high in zinc. niio
Red, Thank you for sharing your experience with various plant cures. I have added soil to the veggie garden area and other mild amenities but the story is that this part of the state is one big pile of sand full of ants. They are tiny but they do nip. It could be that before my house was built, this area was for growing alfalfa. I am sure that they used artificial fertilizer plus some sort of herbicide to clean up the field.
Your thought about shade is most likely right. The echinacea is shadowed by some my neighbor’s trees. Maybe I will dig it up and move it.
Lucky you to have pecans!
Sage: No pecans, yet! I’d like a Western Schley, but really don’t have room. Dates, mesquites (for shade, beans, and nitrogen), cherries, jujube, grapes, and garden all take up a lot of room. I still have 1/3 of the backyard, but a lot of prickly pear are there.
Make your own soil. Wood, brush, leaves, grass clippings, cover crops (cabbage family roots as deep as 8 feet, same with other things–watch Gabe Brown on YouTube). The only dirt I want is a few tone of adobe to make blocks 🙂
I changed the soil, sandy clay, using Southwest hugel kultur a la Tohono Indians. Each bed was dug 3 feet deep, three wide. Caliche went one way, and dirt the other. Packed them each with brush, grass, weeds, even junk mail, then backfilled with the dirt. It takes 6 months for it all to settle, but once it does, you have a high-carbon garden. niio
Sagebrush Lin, what type of “terrifically ugly” feeder for little yellow finches is the one you use? Did you make it or buy it? (Love those tiny yellow guys!)
Kathy, The bird feeder came with a bag of thistle, which finches love. It looks like I have hung a dirty tube sock in my tree, as the thistle seeds have stained the originally white fabric. The fabric looks a bit like the old fashioned fish net stockings we wore some decades ago, though a bit thicker yarn and with smaller openings. As it is unstable, bigger birds can’t get a foothold plus the bigger birds’ beaks do not fit in the openings. I move it to a different branch every once in awhile because the empty seed shells create a little mound in the grass below. I put it in my hawthorn tree so that larger birds can not land between the huge thorns and cats can’t climb it either. I haven’t disguised the “dirty tube sock” in any way because any more attractive solution I can think of will make it easier for bigger birds to land there and to harass and chase away the finches.
You are so right. Those little birds are fun to watch and it amazing to me that such tiny little things survive out there with the cold winds.
Yes alot of folks no longer there. Seems like the host has decided to let many go who do not lock step with his ideas.
I read more than reply these days.
Really miss TMAC but some are still in contact with him, so I get an update.
Glad you are here. I know you will bring your life experiences here also.
Wishing you and your DW a very Merry Christmas.
Hope FIL is doing as well as can be expected.
Peace to all of us.
How is TMAC doing? I really MISS His viewpoints. He gave me many a useful search engine data about what was going on in the pre-Biden crisis situation.
Pass on for me a Merry Christmas please. Praying that Good Health, Good Spirits and Wisdom flood ALL of our homes this coming year of THE CHANGE.
The article was good but for ONE thing. Bird feeders. All you are doing with ANY bird feeder is creating a “welfare recipient”. Look around your feeders and all you see is bird poop and wasted bird seed. You are making birds dependent on YOU for their food and that’s NOT how you treat wild things. Plus if you lived in bear country it attracts bears. And you do NOT want that happening. Both for your safety and that of the bear. NEVER feed a bear even by accident with a bird feeder. Then there is the “welfare” I speak of. Once you feed them for a while they become dependent on you so that you can watch them. Is that a good thing? NO!! Try an experiment and put a feeder up for a month or 2. Then don’t fill it and watch what happens. In fact watch what happens the days you forget to fill it or don’t fill it “on time” for the birds. They will raise holy h*** because you forgot to give them their “free stuff”:. They will sit at the feeder or nearby waiting yelling and pooping until you show up with their “welfare cheese”. Then you have the big birds chasing off the little ones and the ones who scrape out the seed they DON’T want to get at the stuff they do leaving a lot of seed on the ground to go to waste or to grow as the plants or weeds they came from. And that will invade your garden in some cases. Wild animals including birds are SUPPOSED to forage for their food and you do them a disservice by feeding them.Want to watch them — get binoculars and stop calling them TO YOU with feed. Want to give them a treat once in a while that’s fine. Make it suet with SOME seed embedded in it so they at least have to work a little for it. But hang it out of bear reach. Again it should be a treat about 3 or 4 times a YEAR not every day. I don’t put out feed and nstill have tons of birds to watch including hawks,owls, finches you name it. And while I am in the country I can see my local grocery store through the trees so I am not in the boonies. If you ARE in the boonies all the more reason to NOT feed them. And don’t get me started on squirrels and what they do to a feeder.
Bubba, I understand that in most areas your thoughts regarding feeding birds makes sense. Unfortunately, where I live the natural balance has been changed because the starlings and similar birds have the farmer’s fields to ravage. Their population has become extremely large. Starlings were brought over to the U.S. about 100 years ago and are not indigenous to the U.S. They are pushy and can cause a real mess. I noticed that they were pushing out the little finches in my yard so I found a feeder that only finches can use. No other birds can negotiate it. I am very faithful about filling the feeder during cold winter days. During the summer, they can forage for themselves in flower beds and such so they aren’t as interested in the feeder when there are flower seeds to eat..
The other thoughts I had about feeding larger birds was in the most desperate situation when people are hungry and need to lure larger birds in for human sustenance. Of course, this would be in the most horrible desperate situation.
Sage: While I agree with you both, I do feed, but feed chicken scratch. The yard is ‘wild flowers’ like herbal plants and purslane. This year, because the soil is a richer, lots of sorghum. But, it caught dwarf maize mosaic and barely got knee high (same with the rye and sweet corn). But, this is a great because I got to see if zinc, which kills viral infections in us works on plants, as well. There’s a major difference between treated and untreated. While all show sign of DMM (I started late) those that were treated are some taller and the seedheads heavy. Untreated, skimpy, many did not bloom at all. This is on thin soil, sandy clay over packed caliche. niio
I started bird watching and feeding the birds in 1970 and have never stopped. Never had a problem with birds becoming welfare cases. The feeders are just one stop for them during a busy day. During a hard winter a lot of northern song birds will drift down to Texas and spend a lot of time at feeders, American Goldfinch the most notable. Other winter birds that crowd the feeders are common grackles and Brewers Blackbird, bronze headed cowbirds, they have become adapted to gleaning leftover grain from farms and there is usually about a 4 week period in mid-winter when there is nothing in the fields, they will eat a lot of sunflower seeds so I feed a reduced amount by day, then put seed out for the other birds that feed early and late. If you know your birds you’ll find while hiking in the woods you can tell when you are approaching a farm or home by the different bird calls, there is a very distinct set of birds that have adapted to living close to people. These are the birds that come to feeders, that also will feed on all the coneflowers, daisies, zinnias, and sunflowers you plant on your property.
Commercial bird seed mixes are crap, they are heavy with millet and hemp seed, wild birds don’t eat that if they have a choice so they fling it out on the ground. I feed black oil sunflower seed,, costs about .40 a pound. Some still ends up on the ground but the ground feeding birds eat most of that.
Squirrels used to piss me off until I figured out their behavior. When a squirrel first encounters a feeder full of sunflower seed they freak out and instinctively eat every bit they can. After a few days they learn that it is a steady rather than an ephemeral food source and they go back to their regular feeding patterns and become much less of a pest.
If you really want to see some birds find a wild mulberry tree seedling and plant it on your property, every kind of bird there is likes to eat wild mulberries in the spring, seedeaters as well as the flycatchers, insectivorous species, and the vermivora. Course, you end up with mulberry sprouts everywhere.
Judge, That is very true about bird seed mixes. Fortunately, I have a local garden store that has been owned by the same family since the 1930’s or so. They sell some nice seed mixtures because they have studied the local birds but I also have gone the route of buying cheap mixes from Walmart and such. When I did have other bird feeders, the cheap mixes were often left behind and I had much of a clean up project cleaning the corners of the feeders.
That is interesting regarding a mulberry tree. It sounds like an easy tree to grow if it’s sending out sprouts.
Judge: One sister had problems with squirrels and bears. They wrecked a lot of birdfeeders, so I told her, all birds like berries, so add a cheap tube of red pepper flakes. She did and 1st, squirrels abandoned raiding, then the bear. He decided to go for the garbage, but a little hot peppers there stopped that and he sticks to the compost pile. Bird seed, I buy chicken scratch. niio
Sage: take some cutting from a female mulberry and stick in a pot of good soil. They usually root very easy. There’s a Pakistan out back that was barely inching along till the drought broke and drowned all the brush fires. Then it shot up over 10 feet in a few months. Cuttings will bloom years sooner than seedlings. niio
Thank you for the possibility of getting a cutting from a mulberry tree. I will have to look around for a female tree in the area.
I had some chicken scratch left over and tried it in a bird feeder a few years ago. The quail and the mourning doves refused to eat it. They would only eat the sunflower seeds. I guess the birds in my area are more pampered. The starlings eat everything. The chicken scratch wasn’t old so, that wasn’t the reason.
In addition, Bubba, while I haven’t read the exact section of the CA fish and game regulations, I think in the PDRK it is a violation of the F&G regulations to maintain a regular feeder for any wildlife, including finches. It is not a strictly enforced section of the F&G regs., but on complaint the F&G will assure a warrant and the unhappy bird feeder will have to show up in municipal court.
A few years ago someone in our neighborhood was feeding seagulls every day. I know somebody complained about the huge numbers of seagulls showing up every morning about 10:00 a.m. Suddenly the seagulls disappeared not to show up again so far. I wasn’t involved at all. The feeder was the next block over from me. I could see them swarming around the house in question and I wondered how long it would be before someone whose car had the gelcoat removed by seagull droppings would drop a dime to the Dept of F&G.
Bubba is correct. Feeding wildlife is actually bad for the wildlife. It makes them dependent on your willingness to put out stuff that they like to eat. Because so many of one species congregate together unnaturally, it causes animal disease to reach contagious stage whereas if they were each seeking out their own individual plot of food they wouldn’t all be around each other as with a feeder. It makes also makes them susceptible to attacks from predators who know where the McBirds are. This is especially true of domestic cats who might be roaming the neighborhood.
I fully understand that the seagull situation by your house was way overboard. There are several public parks in the area that have a serious health problem with geese overwintering there, probably the same level as your seagulls.
I get a total of 4 or, at the most 5, little finches at a time. The birds come to a piece of land with no chemical additives instead of the highly chemicalized commercial fields near by. Not exactly a situation for the jack-booted control freaks to be interested in.
Recycling is such a way of life for this boy who grew up on a farm in the 1950s that it can become a destructive habit. Still,. I recycle….everything possible. I don’t recycle items for a specific purpose. Instead, I recycle knowing someday a purpose will arise and when it does, I most likely will have what I need on hand. The destructive part of this is in having the room available to store all I have put aside to be recycled. People often refer to my collection as stacks of junk. Granted, that is what most of it is…. until I need one certain bolt, screw or piece of plastic or rubber. I go to that stack and can usually find something that will work. It may not be exactly what I need but with some imagination, I can make it work. I’ve saved thousands of miles over the years in not having to make a trip into town to buy such items. Not to mention the money saved. Keeping an inventory of recyclable items is critical to the success of such a habit/process.
In today’s world, I find it increasingly difficult to repair items. Products produced today are not meant to last. Not meant to be repaired. Rather, they are intended to be discarded so one has to buy a new product again. I absolutely hate modern products that cannot be worked on. I find it particularly enjoyable to find a piece of vintage equipment that was broken and discarded from the past and with a little work, be able to bring it to life again. Once repaired, those products will last another lifetime. For repair items, I visit my recyclable storage bins/boxes/drawers etc. in search of components that could bring about a needed repair. One box may contain various old wheels while another may contain bolts/nuts/washers. One box is for junk plastic pieces. One box contains odd and end rubber pieces. Another contains assorted lengths of wire while another is a collection of assorted wooden dowels. Anyway, you get the picture. There doesn’t have to be an immediate need for something to be recycled. Having such items in inventory, however, can allow for quick and sometimes, easy repairs for items or even newly designed projects.
I worked for eight years for a wooden pallet recycling company. 100% of the pallets we dealt with were recycled/repaired pallets. It was amazing to see all the uses used pallets could be put to use in. Usually only certain sized pallets held any value as those sizes could be repaired and resold to companies not requiring newly built pallets. Those falling outside of these desired sizes were deemed of no value and discarded. There were always people wanting “free” pallets for various projects and our company was happy to give them away. Those remaining, sadly, were loaded onto a trailer and burned by the thousands as there was no demand for them. Clearly there is need for creative people to develop uses for discarded wooden pallets.
One fellow I can recall would visit our facility once a week to dig through our discarded pallet pile in search of a specific type of wooden pallet. After several weeks of scavenging through our pile he came back one day and presented the owner of the company with this beautiful hand-made wall clock. The wood used to make the clock came from those pallets he had taken from our scrap pile. The pallet wood used was mahogany which was a plentiful type wood in Southeast Asia where the pallet originated. They were used to ship rubber components to a Bridgestone Tire facility for whom we provided the service of hauling away their discarded pallets. To Bridgestone and to our company, these pallets were junk as they were of an odd size that no other company could use. We discarded and burned them. To this clock maker, they were worth their weight in gold. So, yes, one person’s junk is another’s treasure.
I’ve been a subscriber to this website for several years now and have opted to be a reader instead of a commenter. The subject of this article was too close to my heart for me to remain silent. I wish for all of you a wonderful holiday season ahead regardless of your faith, beliefs, or whatever agenda you pursue. We are all in this together and the exchange and sharing of ideas offer us the best opportunity for success in whatever challenges might lie ahead. May whatever God you believe in bless you and keep you safe in the days that follow.
The contemporary word for what you do is hoarding. Before retiring I was an electrician and I would save excess supplies for use on the next job. I can’t tell you hjow many times I was able to bill a client a thousand dollars for material I would have had to purchase instead of simply clearing space in my garage. On the other hand still have a sizeable amount of ‘stuff’ that my kids will need to dispose of when I die. I have a friend who mentioned to her daughter that some period clothes and art pieces would be hers when she died, daughter said “Mom its all going into debris boxes”
Could I haul it in one truck or should I bring two? 🙂
Great article to prime our creative ideas! There are a lot of sources for diy up cycling projects online and free books to download from Kindle and other free eBook cites if you want more information.
Three more uses for old plastic soda bottles:
-Use as a hot water bottle, especially as a foot warmer in bed. Obviously, make sure the cap is screwed on securely and use hot tap water rather than boiling water from the kettle which might melt the plastic.
-Use to store potable water for emergencies. Clean thoroughly and rotate. These are good for taking drinking water “on the road” too as they are lightweight and don’t leak.
-Use for freezing water to use as a cheap cold pack for keeping food chilled in an insulated bag. Great for shopping in hot weather or for a lunch pack. You can also use them as ice blocks in a diy “ice house” if you live in an area where you will get freezing weather in the winter but don’t want to fool around with cutting blocks of ice from a pond. More sanitary, too – no duck droppings or potentially harmful parasites as long as your “fill” source is clean. Since the water is contained you don’t have to empty the drip tray in your ice box or have water get into your food, either. And as long as you use potable water and it stays frozen, you can safely drink it after it thaws, provided you do so within a few days. You can treat it as you would for emergency water storage if you choose. Be sure to leave room for the ice to expand. Soda bottles are good for this as they are made to withstand the pressure of the carbonization and wash well.
Miz Kitty: Soda and juice jugs/bottles are somewhat acid resistant, as well. If used for freezing, they shouldn’t start to dissolve in the water or juice. Merry Christmas!
Excellent point about acidity interacting with the plastic. Many other bottles may not be as good/safe.
Merry Christmas to you and your family, too!🎄
My sister-in-law believed everything that could be thrown out would eventually find a purpose if she saved it instead of tossing it. Once her husband left her, largely due to her mental illness, she moved into a place of her own that she filled from floor to ceiling with boxes of things she hoped to one day repurpose.
I visited her home only once. There was a narrow walkway leading from room to room with stacked boxes on both sides and in every spare space. Inside of the boxes I saw milk jug tops, soda can tabs, bottle caps, bread bags & ties, old pens, pencil nubs, candle pieces, crayon bits, socks with holes…I could bore you to tears with an extensive list of what was in those boxes, but the point is that when Kathy died, all of the junk she tried to keep out of the landfill eventually ended up there anyway when her family had it all hauled off.
Kathy’s junk kept her from being able to entertain in her own home. It made her a prisoner in her beautiful Florida home.
The lesson I learned from watching that sad situation unfold was to take on just as many repurposing projects as I can reasonably handle at one time, otherwise, they’re not so much projects as junk collecting.
By the way, love the contributing ideas from some who have commented. This is an awesome place to spend time. I plan on sticking around.
Yes, exactly. My grandmothers did not like knick-knacks, but did some collecting. Me, I collect bail jars and so on, but also can with them (waterbath). Old furniture, which gets refurbished and so on.
I’ve been accused of being a hoarder, but a lot of the stuff winds up in other people’s homes, not in a box in the garage. One day the living room and kitchen might be chin-deep in boxes, the next all cleaned up, the stuff gone to those who can use it, or outback waiting trash day. I taught the kids to be wise in collecting because hoarding will make a person a target. niio
Red, sounds like you have a good system. I just became interested in plastic fusing, which uses up a lot of bags and plastics and repurposes them into greenhouse pots which eventually go home with customers and eliminate the need to buy pots. So many fun things to do with junk!
Rose: that’s a great idea! Do you shred the plastic, first?
We had to make temporary rope from grocery bags once. And the bags are OK for a growbag, but the sun eats them up. Tread off of tires is good to bond and use for mats. If good, the strips can be used for roof mats, but should be covered to keep the sun off. The problem here is, people ride tires till they’re nearly down to the wire. niio
All too easy to look at something and think “I’ll need that someday” or “It still has some use in it – it’s too good to toss and not good enough to donate, so I’ll keep it”, especially clothing and household items. I actually have two small boxes of stuff to leave in my building’s exchange area, just haven’t had time to run them downstairs yet. There’s more that I could get rid of, and I plan to start weeding through after the first of the year, but I am a great one for not wanting to get rid of stuff. Not quite hoarder territory yet, but I could easily tip that way. We did have hoarders in my family, not to the entire rooms filled with old coolwhip bowl extent, but I need to be aware of the tendency.
Had water well problems the past few days. Bad timing with the holidays. It gave me a chance to use some of those 2 liter soda bottles I had “hoarded” to put away emergency drinking and utility water. Sure glad I had them. Not the first time to use them as our well is shallow and about once every six months it runs dry. I once made a flat bottom boat from 186 two-liter bottles. Worked like a charm. Built a frame to contain them and kept them in place with wire screening. Held up for about three years before the elements deteriorated it. Would use rust-proof screening if I ever make one again and would keep it under a tarp or cover of some type when not being used.
Have you seen those ads for Flex Seal where the guy builds an air boat out of the goop and an old screen door? Granted, it’s largely a fantasy geared towards selling the product, but perhaps you could adapt the idea, maybe for a fishing or swimming platform.
No, I haven’t seen the Flex Seal ad but I can see where it would have application for such a project. There is much that needs sealing when building a boat like this. As I recall, I used clear silicone caulking for this task but it deteriorates over time when left outside. Perhaps Flex Seal would survive the elements a bit longer. Will look into this. I used my little boat to paddle around a pond with. The idea might also be employed to make a boat ramp as well. The bottles (with very tightened caps) kept the boat afloat several years. It could serve as an emergency craft were ever there be need for a simple boat or to make fishing efforts more productive if on a pond or lake. Thanks for the tip about Flex Seal.
Miz Kitty: I like that, and thanks for aiming me at the Flex Seal.
BTW, there’s 12 quarts of new beer from the last batch. I don’t make it very often, and added a little too much hops. Not quite Porter or Yuengling, but still more than I like, but good-tasting. This is corn beer, sprouted and brewed, with a few pounds of honey in it. Also, plenty of pork and summer kraut for New Year’s Eve. If you show up, you’ll have to bring your own potatoes, I’m not much for them and what is here is seed for planting after New Years.
May the ew Year be one of prosperity for you. niio
And a blessed and fruitful New Year to you too, Red.
Just a caveat – I’ve never actually used Flex Seal, but they have been running these commercials for years now, and if the product is half as good as they claim, you can have all sorts of fun with different projects and repairs. I’ve been thinking about getting a can myself and seeing if you can use it to re-sole old sneakers, or put an indoor/outdoor tread on slippers. Now there’s a topic for AAP – 20 diy prepper projects with Flex Seal and other As Seen On TV products!😁