Blog: My Little Farm in Town

Living a rich country life in a small Midwestern town.

Showing 5 posts in the Freebies category for this blog.
Curbside: The Siren Call of Junk
Sunday, August 01, 2010

I can’t tell you why I enjoy junk picking. The closest thing I can compare it to is the joy little kids get from playing in the mud.

I went to a garage saling acquaintance’s moving sale recently. These sales tend to be extravaganzas of accumulated “stuff” on a par with the garage sales of people who attend a lot of auctions. (Ever wonder what the winning bidders do with all the extra junk in those buck-a-box , end-of- auction deals? Now you know.)  She urged me to buy stuff and told me to come back later and I could have it all. I told her she should have her sale and put what was left out on the curb for people to junk pick. There are quite a few people from all walks of life who can’t resist a nice big pile of assorted items.

I ended up driving by her house later in the week on a detour caused by street work. I stopped and grabbed a very nice screen door I thought might be useful for displaying handmade jewelry at an upcoming craft fair and later could be used on a garden or greenhouse.

I mentioned my foray to one of the neighbors whom I have junked with in the past. She is less bold than I am and prefers to team junk pick, especially if it is within a few blocks of home.  We hopped in my van (my backseat was already out) and drove over.  I found some books for reading and some books to trade,  among them a nice coffee table-size hardcover on the Tower of London, go figure; an armful of tiny stuffed animals that I will clean up and donate; three bamboo poles to use in the garden as a bean teepee; a small toiletries bag for my husband to carry on the motorcycle on long trips; some vintage valentines; some Martha Stewart magazines I will read and pass on; and a decorative storage basket destined to hold a genre of VHS movie tapes in our built in seating area in the family room.

My friend found some shamrock candleholders, a vintage leather suitcase, interior decorator magazines, some long white feathers for trimming vintage hats, books of poetry and various arcane crafts, and some old hat display stands from the 1950s.

Our kids and one of their friends went back in another wave and came home with a sewing machine for spare parts; more suitcases for travel and going off to college, a nice pair of baseball catcher’s leg guards, various crafting supplies, lots of textbooks on various subjects, and a particularly nasty monkey toy that you shoot like a rubber band, causing it to make nasty, evil monkey screeching noises as it flies through the air. (Some things BELONG in the landfill buried deep.)

We were careful to leave the area neat and tidy. I made sure that the teens cleaned up after themselves as well.  This is very important because some towns have ordinances against junk picking because a few people were inconsiderate and left a place in worse shape than they found it.

A good time was had by all, and a lot of useful stuff stayed out of the landfill. I hate waste. Don’t you? Begonia

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My Latest Find: Cold Frame No. 2
Friday, April 30, 2010

It was the big weekend--Village Wide Garage Sale! One of my best finds of the weekend turned out to be FREE! I was walking up the driveway to a sale, and there they were—the major components of cold frame no. 2—a nice big window and a matching screen to keep out varmints.

It seems that the neighbor was remodeling and replacing all the windows in a four-season porch and asked to park them where people would see them and haul them away. While I was loading my screen and window, another woman was taking a pile of screens to use in her perpetual barn sale as displays for jewelry and other small or hanging items.

This growing season, I have other plans for the space that the second cold frame will occupy. I will stash the components behind the wood and garden box for now. In the fall, I will harvest the bed and prepare it to receive the second cold frame.  Begonia               


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Spring Cleaning and My Free Potting Bench
Wednesday, April 14, 2010

I love spring cleaning. Especially when other people are doing it!  Someone was cleaning out their back yard and placed this beauty on the curb. I was on my way to visit a friend across town when I spotted it. I dig and pot an increasing number of perennials each year on My Little Farm in Town, as well as do an increasing amount of container gardening. A raised area to divide and pot is getting more important each year. It is much easier on the back as well!

My husband has offered to build me a potting bench. He happens to be the handy one around here as far as tools and wood goes. He has a lot of other projects going that I would like to see him spending his time on. (For example, I’d rather he made me that Whizbang Garden Cart for Mother’s Day than toil over a potting bench.)

You might be asking yourself—“How does a woman with a bad back get something like that home?” Rule #1 of curbside reclamation is “Grab It Now Because It Won’t Be There When You Come Back!” Out of necessity, I have become an expert at positioning my van so that I can tip unwieldy things onto the tailgate and shove them in! Unloading at home requires the help of my husband or any other burly individual I can draft for the job.

Space is at a premium around here, so I actually will have to do some spring cleaning myself to fit my find onto the concrete apron by the rear door of my garage. I think it will be worth the effort. Begonia


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Christmas in March!!
Sunday, March 28, 2010

I was walking home from delivering a half dozen eggs  to a neighbor when I noticed a large, flat  cardboard storage box printed with a floral design and tied neatly with thick old cotton string perched carefully on top of a trash can. It was garbage day.

A quick peek under the edge of the lid confirmed it was filled with something just a bit too good to dump into an anonymous black plastic bag. When I got the box home, I realized that it was chock full of the Glory of Christmas. It was tightly packed with Ziploc bag after Ziploc bag of hand shucked Christmas in plastic canvas, beads, and wired figures with clown and doll heads. Santa enshrined in an ice cave of faceted plastic beads, tableaus captured in upturned communion cups, bejeweled and sequined Styrofoam balls full of pins. Oh the Splendor!

Although at first I found most of the ornaments not to my taste, I had to admire all the hours of determined and careful crafting that had gone into creating them.  There were at least a couple of hundred pieces of carefully constructed kitsch.

Pretty soon I started noting how they caught the light and began envisioning how they would look on a tree—a magnificent gleaming masterpiece, a tribute to all those folks who just can’t stop making shiny Christmas stuff! I could see them reflecting the glow of multicolored lights while the chipmunks sang “Christmas Don’t Be Late” in the background.  It was almost too much holiday joy to bear.

I’ve decided not to donate the contents of the box to Saint Vincent de Paul. I already have a few pieces worked into my eclectic décor. The rest I will carefully store in my warm, dry furnace room until November when I kick off the season with my annual family Christmas gathering.  Begonia


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Free Magazines on My Little Farm in Town
Thursday, March 04, 2010

Nothing beats the late winter blues like a new magazine and a cup of good strong tea or coffee (I prefer coffee).  I’ve been cutting back on my magazine subscriptions lately, and a single magazine purchased at a store can cost $5 or $6! I prefer to get them for free.

I have friends who share magazines with me. I also swap subscriptions with friends by trading my magazines with them when I am finished reading.  I find magazines in Free Boxes at garage sales and library book sales as well.  If you find a sale that is selling magazines, you can often pick up what didn’t sell free for the hauling at the end of the sale. People are generally very tired and ready to be done and are grateful not to have to deal with the recycling!

I also get a lot of “free” magazines by borrowing from my local library. I sometimes get copies to keep when they periodically (sorry, can’t resist a good pun) thin their collections because of limited storage space.

My favorite way to get a fresh, new magazine for free (or just the cost of a stamp) is by answering “One-Issue-Free” offers. Most of these offers come in the form of “Junk Mail” or postcard pack promotions delivered to my door by my mail carriers, Cheryl and Dan! You also can find these offers on line at many magazines’ web sites.

A few things to remember about taking magazine publishers up on these offers:

·         Keep track of your paperwork. Make a note that you have sent for one of these offers. Sometimes they will send you the bill before they send you the sample. Wait until you get the magazine before returning the canceled bill, or you will never get the magazine sample!

·         When the magazine arrives, be sure to mark the bill Please Cancel and return it promptly.  The deal is for one free magazine, not two—that would be cheating.

·         There is a danger in all this. Publishers make this kind of offer because they are hoping to hook you and sell you a subscription. If you are a helpless magazine-oholic, you may end up spending more money then you intended, so “ know thyself” before you send off  for any of these freebies. The unexamined life can be expensive!

Lest you think that I am a stingy, tacky person. I want you all to know that I added that last item to my list because some of my most cherished magazine subscriptions: Backyard Poultry  and Countryside  began with a free issue!  Happy reading! Begonia.


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