Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Scavenging Again

It's late. I'm tired but can't sleep. The coyotes are after something just outside the window above the desk. And I'm hoping staring at the computer awhile will make my eyes heavy.

So...thought I'd enlighten you all about how we scavenge. Like most successes, it's a mixture of working a plan - based on keen observation - and getting lucky.

Today we had to bring the tent we found at the boat ramp up to my son who's going camping. He'll be joined by his girlfriend and her daughter, his sister and her three daughters and his niece. At least he thought that was the plan. Turns out the kids each wanted to invite a friend along. Being the good sport and favorite uncle that he is, he asked to borrow our "new" tent for the overflow of giggly, eager young ladies. Did I mention that my son will be the only male in the bunch?

It so happens that today was garbage pick up day for most of the route to my son's. The trick is to drive the route either the evening before or very early the day of pick up. So bleary eyed and coffee deprived, we took off at 6:30 a.m. Our first stop was the row of cottages immediately to our north where there is always remodeling or tearing down going on. The first cottage had a twin bed frame and two plastic buckets. In the truck they went. Next, we picked up another white plastic lawn chair, a case of glass canning jars (some with rings) and an inflatable black whale water toy with a pinhole leak (electrical tape repaired it). Our third stop had a 2-gallon plastic gas can missing the cap and a metal tackle box. Finally, within a block of my son's house, some more chicken wire.

Eleven miles and we were quite proud of our finds. At my son's we discovered a fishing net in his garage and more scrap pieces for our wood stove. Last week, when a big northern pike got away from Sweetie, a net would have saved his catch. Today's find is an old smelting net but in a pinch, and being cheapskates, we'll use it - until we come across another fishing net.

Any trip, no matter the distance or destination, is an opportunity to scavenge. Along the way, keep your eyes open for piles of junk, lumber, "leftovers" from yard sales, and people remodeling homes. Many times people will just give things to you to be rid of it. Often, when we've stopped and asked about something, we've been told to "take it all." Good thing we have a pickup truck.

Once home, we sort through things, keep what interests us, pass the rest off to others in need or donate it to the local free store. The twin bed frame we got today went to another friend. The water toy was given to a neighbor's grandchild. If nothing else, collect stuff for a couple months and hold a yard sale!

Another strategy is to be on good terms with wasteful people. I have a sister who fits this category and I always tell her, "anything you don't want, let me know." Or, "I'm looking for ------. If you come across one. Okay?"

Sunday, after delivering the daybed to her, she came downstairs with a few items. Among the treasures was a first edition signed copy of Anatomy of a Murder by Robert Traver. The book was made in to a movie which was filmed in Big Bay, Michigan, near Marquette. I now have three signed copies of his novels! Whenever I get a duplicate, I sell it on Ebay. Cha-ching!

And finally, it pays to know people. Or know people who know people. We stopped at my friend's house today to pick up a flower pot she had picked up from her most recent curbside collection. As I stood there admiring her flowers and yard she said, "You want some raspberry bushes and rhubarb plants?" I could have kissed her feet!

We go out to inspect the raspberry bushes at the back of her village lot and she waves to her neighbor, a doctor's wife. Next thing you know, the doctor's wife is offering us blackberry bushes. She wanted them "cleaned out" of her yard because she's "tired of dealing with them." Fine by me Mrs. Doctor Lady.

I was so pumped when we got home that I sat down to cross things off my "stuff we want" list. (Yes, I have a list!) Sweetie, being the wiser of us two, says, "Why don't you call a few people and pass the word about what you're looking for?"

Believe it or not, I can blab a mile a minute online but seldom pick up the phone and call anyone. After a refreshing drink of water spiked with lemon juice, I called four people. Pleasantries aside, I said, "Oh, by the way, if you ever run across -------------- would you give me a call or email?"

Time will tell. Maybe I'll get that white wicker patio set yet!


Yukon Mike said...

Sounds like you had a very productive day!
Nice find with the berry and Rhubarb plants. I've lived with these exact plants before, good eats and they almost take care of themselves. Just a reminder these berry plants multiply by themselves so a little up front planning now will make berry harvesting a pleasure for many years to come.

Yukon Mike

Confessions of an Overworked Mom said...

Congrats on your finds!

Out here people haul their own trash to the dump so we don't get neat piles of stuff to poke through.

My freebies generally come from Freecycle or word of mouth.

Did it MY way said...

Good haul. Love them berries.

See Ya

Anonymous said...

WOW - Great job. A woman after my own heart! I've lost track of all the things we've discovered on the side of the road, near dumpsters and through freecycle groups! Ya' just gotta keep your eyes open.

AND I, too, understand how one can be blessed when they don't have "much" according to the sheeple!

LOVE the blog...I'm a fellow Michiganian...and would LOVE to move to your neck of the woods.....ah to be out in the middle of nowhere...and hear myself think! Working on getting out soon!

Stay healthy, happy and thriving!!

Be blessed,
MamaBear in the Mitten

Boom Trucks said...

You really have a productive day. I really love berries. Please stop by my site used bucket trucks sometime.

Staying Alive said...

Treesong- You mentioned rutabagas. Around here rutabagas are reverenced. There is no comparing them to mere potatoes or any mash vegetable. Rutas take the prize every time. We love 'em.