Re-use, repair, recycle is the mantra here. Regular readers by now may have figured out that I’m tight with money, so that mantra works just beautifully for me.
Unfortunately that mantra sometimes translates into hard and dirty work and this week was no exception.
One vital bit of machinery here is my trailer. In Australia for some strange reason, trailers or their manufacturers never got around to embracing the metric system, so a trailers capacity is always measured in feet. My trailer was a 7 foot by 5 foot beast and it is now approaching 10 years old. I use that trailer to bring all manner of materials for various projects back to the farm. Without the trailer it is fair to say that very few materials at all would be brought back here.
When a few months ago, the guy at the local sand and soil supplier started pointing out the very real fact that my trailer was falling apart, I knew something had to be done. What is worse is that woody mulch and mushroom compost - that I had paid for - were falling out of the holes in the trailer along the road back to the farm. An optimist would suggest that I’d been busy fertilising the plants alongside the road. The police on the other hand would probably have fined me and forced me to take the trailer off the road until such time that I could prove that the trailer was roadworthy again.
|The steel worm (rust) is eating away at the trusty trailer|
This may be a surprising revelation, but I have a fondness for that trailer which is hard to explain, so I’ll recount the tale that led me to purchase it all those years ago.
The story takes us back to an inner city suburb of Melbourne. At the time, I was rebuilding the rear of an 1890’s Victorian era terrace house. As an interesting side note, much of the original kitchen, laundry and toilet were rooms in the backyard. Upon demolishing those rooms I discovered that they were constructed from material sourced from packing crates. Now, I like the mantra of re-use, repair and recycle but unfortunately the building surveyor who oversaw my work did not and it makes you wonder about the over-zealous requirements of our building codes given that the walls in these rooms had clearly stayed vertical for over forty years and then perhaps some.
The packing crates and other materials did not survive the demolition process so I ordered a few large 6 cubic metres (7.85 cubic yards) bins and began to fill them up. It is worthwhile mentioning that those bins were really expensive and the local council would fine you if they weren’t removed from the area within three days and the fines became larger for every day past that third day. There was no mucking around and slacking off.
The very first night after the bin was delivered, stealthy movements occurred around the bin.
It is worthwhile mentioning that I am not a morning person. In fact I prefer at least 8 to 9 hours of sleep a night and the world in the morning is rarely in focus for me prior to a good strong cup of coffee. Needless to say, I am seriously disinclined towards pleasant conversation prior to that time. After the coffee though, it is all good! Just not a moment before…
However, on that particular second day of the large bin hire, I had discovered that some nefarious individual had loaded up the bin with their stuff. Before my coffee too! And it wasn’t just the odd thing or two, they’d seriously gone hard and the bin was almost full. Oh yeah, grumpy had a new name and its name was Chris.
There was no trail, identification or even avenue of investigation to uncover the culprit – who was clearly a local – so at this point I decided a mood of acceptance and vigilance was called for and simply ordered another large bin – which I also had the pleasure of paying for.
A new bin was delivered that day and like any good hunter, I simply watched and waited for the nefarious individual to peer out from the bushes and examine the bait that I’d left them. And it didn’t take more than a few hours of stalking the prey to catch them in the act.
The human condition constantly amazes me. The nefarious individual, who was a neighbour, was a leading Melbourne radio personality. I discovered later to my utter horror that this individual received a salary far in excess of a quarter of a million dollars a year. His justification to me was that “his activities were a time honoured tradition”, to which I replied: “Stealing from your neighbours is not cool. Ever. Now f… off!”.
Once the bin was full and removed from the premises – without further additions – I thought about the various options available and purchased the trailer. Now ten years later the trailer is looking a bit sad and in serious need of a bit of repair (that mantra again) in order to be reused.
So, when I recently purchased the steel for the new set of stairs which should be built in the next week or two, I also purchased two sheets of steel plate to replace the very sad plate in the trailer.
If I was being entirely honest, I’d say that I’d never dismantled a trailer before to replace the rusty old steel plate. So I had a good look at how the trailer was put together in the first place and then started cutting out the rusty old sections. Those rusty old sections crumbled like biscuits.
|Sections of the trailer of the trailer were cut out|
It took a lot of cutting to remove every chunk of the old steel plate.
|Cutting the old steel plate in the trailer|
You can see just how dirty the job was as I was covered in the accumulation of at least a decade of ingrained mulch and compost plus other unidentifiable dust whilst cutting the very rusty chunks out of the trailer. The dogs can be seen in the background of the photo below busily supervising the hard work too:
|More cutting of the very rusty steel plate|
It took two days to remove every single chunk of rusty steel on the trailer, but finally the job was done. Scritchy the boss dog looks on the job with approval - or perhaps she is bored with the whole thing?
|The rusty sections on the trailer were finally cut out|
When the trailer was originally manufactured, you would assume that they’d rust proofed it. But no, they didn’t, so I covered the entire structure with two coats of metal undercoat paint.
|The trailer with a coat of metal primer paint|
|Trailer with the first layer of epoxy top coat applied|
Despite the drizzle over the past day, the replacement steel plate has now been installed onto the trailer and it is waiting to be painted.
|New plate being installed onto the trailer|
|Comparison of the tomato beds|
|Close up of the tomato fruit ripening on the vines|
|Zucchini fruit swells on the vine|
|Stumpy the wallaby shows how pruning fruit trees is done Down Under style|
How did I get here?
I forgot to mention previously that many years ago I chucked in my job, packed up the car – which was a small hatchback – and set off into the wild blue yonder and drove around Australia for 6 months. As travel had to be done on the cheap we camped in a tent most of the way and the biggest costs were generally food and petrol. What a big country Australia is and it is so very humbling to see firsthand how much of the continent is arid land. Much of the population here hugs the east coast and a small portion of the south west coast and other than that there is a whole lot to see, but that generally doesn’t involve many other people. The trip was awe inspiring and camping in a tent night after night you are out in the elements whether you like it or not.
The interesting thing was that during that travel, I rarely met any other Australian travellers my own age and that struck me as being odd. I met plenty of English, French, Germans and Canadians my age, it was just that there were no Australians younger than about 60.
Honestly, I’m tight with money so overseas travel usually meant that I ended up in destinations that were a bit off the beaten track. Cambodia after Pol Pot when the Vietnamese opened travel to that country, no worries. The back blocks of Laos sipping coffee in beautifully shambolic cafes in World Heritage listed towns – been there. The back blocks of Nepal where you walk uphill for six continuous hours and may see nothing but mountains, snow and yaks for days on end. Yeah. Cool. It also occasionally meant getting cornered on a train on the way to the toilet in northern India by some dude who wanted to talk cricket for hours on end after he found out I was an Aussie. Yeah, it was good fun. I even started developing an ear for the loud Hindi music which is pervasive in India.
But, travelling to some of the out of the way places meant that I saw firsthand how a lot of the world’s population lived and had no romantic notions about such matters. It was eye opening.
Even worse, was that sometimes when I arrived back in Australia, I couldn’t shake the certain knowledge that I lived in a bland house – which was in an area that hipsters would now drool over – in a bland location and lived in a bland community.
To be continued…
The temperature outside here at about 9.30pm is 11.0 degrees Celsius (51.8’F). So far this year there has been 72.6mm (2.9 inches) of rainfall which is up from last week's total of 66.8mm (2.6 inches).