Necessity being the mother of invention, farmers and homesteaders long has been the masters of reuse. Often, farmers have had to create a tool or piece of equipment to accomplish a task, often from other items taken from the farm’s “salvage yard” or “junk pile” because they could not afford to purchase them new. Today, you see people, repurposing, recycling or the new term “upcycling” old unused items into different things with a new purpose. For homesteaders, that it is just a way of life. When I was city-slicker and would drive by a farm and see what appeared to me to be just junk, I would wonder why they didn’t get rid of it?
Now, being a former city-slicker and not wanting to appear to be a hoarder or anything, I have my salvage yard hidden in the woods behind my barn. I regularly go to my junk pile before I go to the farm supply or hardware store to get items to build or fix something here at the homestead. I can usually find something that I can make work for my situation. Just last week, I repurposed a cage I had built to hold a sick duck into a carrier to take lambs to the vet. All I had to do is move the door and beef up the bottom with some scrap lumber. I saved myself $100.00 or more. By not throwing everything away in the county dump, I create a more sustainable, self-reliant homestead. I have begun to look at items and tools with new eyes. When I am at a flea market or garage sale, I look at things for what it can be, not just what it is. I think of ways I can use it to make things more efficient or a way to expand an operation. PVC pipe isn’t just for plumbing, it is a cage over my raised beds. An old garden gate becomes a gate in my barn to keep lambs away from stored hay and grain.
Looking at a salvage yard of old tractor parts, a junk pile of old lumber and chicken wire, or just a junk drawer in the kitchen, some see it as junk, to some rusty gold, but to the homesteader or farmer, it is storage of items for future use.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so is it hoarding, collecting or repurposing?