I read an article a couple of years ago about how most people don’t really need eight hours a day to do their jobs; instead our capitalist economy requires us to spend the majority of our waking hours “toiling” so that in our free time we only have enough time to try to buy happiness and become the dutiful consumers our economy needs. This plan hinges on making the time to pursue happiness a scarce resource so that the average worker will instead substitute material goods in favor of seeking meaningful happiness. The article (I did try to find it, but couldn’t locate the right one, so you will need to take my word for it) then claimed that the writer had found that being unemployed or underemployed was actually cheaper in the long run because instead of seeking out material goods, one could instead focus on spending time in the local library or park to fill whatever existential hole one was seeking to fill, and that the park was always cheaper than a new iGadget. In theory I find this reasoning spot on (of course the economy needs us to buy stuff! of course I
don’t didn’t really need eight hours to do work shit!) – but as in all similar articles about the ills of society the problem comes at the end, when the writer tries to convince us that he, and he alone, has found the solution to such societal ills. (Spend too much time on your smartphone? This person whose job consists of writing articles and talking to their editor once a week will tell you how sinking your phone to the bottom of a lake is clearly the best solution. Computers getting you down? This writer has switched to a typewriter! Email checking becoming tedious? This entrepreneur with no other workers in his company has the solution for you! Check it once a day – who cares what your bosses or coworkers think!) All this is to say that the issue with the idea that being unemployed is cheaper is that the person who wrote this article clearly did not have BIG PLANS. Big plans require materials, lots of materials, and so here is where we get to the point of making do.
Making do, to me, means either making use of something I already have or trying to find a used or cheaper alternative to something I need. Yes, yes, the other part of that saying is “or do without” but when you have big plans that isn’t always an option! But this isn’t to say that I am not willing to suffer! In this spirit I present the list of Making Do:
- My Greenhouse Furnace! This has been the source of much strife in my life but I can confirm that in its current configuration it is quite functional. And the current configuration is a Frankenstein of pieces from the other furnaces all duct-taped together. (I’m mostly kidding about the duct tape) The vent pipe, the oil line, the thermostat, the wiring – all constructed from pieces of other furnaces scattered around the property.
- The duck pond wiring. So yeah – we dug a duck pond (more on this at a future time) and we needed to run electricity out there. E being the safety squirrel she is, decreed that I needed to use some safety/common sense and put the above ground wire in conduit. The greenhouses are covered in 1/2 inch EMT that I think was used to hang flower baskets, and this is how I ended up running 70 feet of UF-B wire through seven ten foot sections of conduit complete with six 90 degree turns. To those not familiar with electrical wiring, let’s just say this is a total pain in the ass. It took three days (not even counting digging the trench since I used the tractor for that) and rendered my hands unuseable for a couple days after that. The one good thing that came out of this – I discovered cable pulling lube which is both hilarious and highly useful. Would I do it again? Hell no! But in the spirit of making do I used what I had, and what I had was 1/2 conduit and 100 feet of UF-B wire.
- In a general sense, my use of the pallets strewn about the farm has been pretty successful. I’ve used them to do everything from building multiple duck enclosures to organize tools under the deck. I used one other other day to build a new wall on the greenhouse underneath two louvered windows I got super cheap from a salvage place.
- In the same vein, the cinder blocks have been very useful. I’ve used them to build greenhouse ponds (those ponds themselves have been of various shades of success, but the cinder blocks functioned as they should). The new duck pond uses them to hold the liner in place and they will form part of the bio filter/waterfall once I get around to that. They are doing an admirable job as a heat sink around the stove in the greehousen. One thing they are bad at – rubbish at being a jack stand, those things crack right in half.
- My new lumber stand in the basement is constructed of leftover 2x4s and more of the conduit mentioned above.
- Not so much as making do, but finding a cheaper version – I have been using many of the approximately 500 pieces of recycled three inch foam insulation I bought off some guy on FaceBook. It was actually a pretty sweet deal – not only were they significantly cheaper than new, they were pulled out of an office building somewhere, so yay reuse!
- The gutters that we pulled off the house when we got new gutters are now used as a duck and chicken watering system along with keeping the rain leaking into the greenhouse around my less than stellar sealing around the stove pipe from dripping directly onto the stove and rusting the hell out of it. And speaking of it, using the stove in the greenhouse is a pretty good example of making do!
- We got four trees taken down around the house and the wood will be used as both firewood (once I get it sawed and chopped up) and to build huglekultur piles in the big greenhouse which will be used as a high tunnel come next growing season (god willing and the creek don’t rise).
Other things I would like to do as part of my “making do” plans include foraging for wild edibles, bartering as a means to acquire necessary items, working on getting a group of friends up here that would be interested in a tool or skill share, and working through my pile of “to be mended” items!