Tag Archives: Dumpster Diving

House Coon and Cat Houses Update

Brother Coon and I couldn’t come to an agreement about the availability of indoors as acceptable behavior for a coon with a long life expectancy.  Whatever I did to keep him out, half an hour later he’d be poking around trying to find a way in, eventually leading to success.

Last night I’d had a bellyfull of it.  I brought the live trap in and put it down next to the sack of cat food, then went to bed.  Around 3:00 am I heard the trap slam shut and a lot of ruckus.  Transported trap, coon and angry all outdoors to await arraignment, trial, conviction and final disposition.

Original story here:  Wake-up Call – Coon in the Living Room

Cathouse Success

For once I predicted something and it came to pass.  That ice chest I salvaged out of the grader ditch actually has proved itself the popular cat-hotel I hoped it would.

Cathouse urgencies – 6:30 pm Grader Ditch Hauls

Another exciting day forming up in the Middle of Nowhere

Old Jules

Building A Salvage Chicken-Hilton – One Man Band

Follow-up construction details:

I’ve mentioned and shown pics of the chicken-house built from discarded shower doors, etc., several times here.

“A chicken-house fabricated entirely from salvage, discarded shower doors, camper shell roof, refrigerator shelves, whatever came to hand free”

White Trash Repairs: Throwing Down the Gauntlet

From the ground:

I said when I made the post I’d be talking more about it, but way led onto way and I never got around to doing it. 

This was a one-man-band project.  The footprint of that structure has about an inch-or-less of topsoil over hardpan caliche or limestone.  Digging holes for the uprights wasn’t something I wanted to contemplate.

I knew I wanted the pickup camper as a roof, the shower-doors as part of the walls, wanted uprights with lateral stability without digging into limestone.  But otherwise it was plan-as-you go, driven partly by material availability.

Those lower walls are two sides of a huge packing crate I picked up for $5 from a guy in Kerrville.  Bought 30# of large lag-screws [$1.00 per pound] from Habitat for Humanity Recycling Store for the project because I anticipated difficulties in the lateral stability department.  The shower doors were free.  The 4x4s were from the same guy who sold me the packing crate.

I used the crate-sides to get three of the uprights generally in place by bolting them together.  Trust me when I tell you this ought to be a 2-man job.  I fudged on a lot of things by not paying a lot of attention to right-angles because I couldn’t be two places at once and knew I wasn’t going to live forever.

I took about a week building it, but probably it could have been done in a day with two people working.

As you can see I trenched below the lower walls and dug to bedrock, only an inch or two, to level the lower walls and provide a base for the corner posts.

Before putting the camper shell on top I built an interior frame and stabilized it with a steel bed frame salvaged from a junk pile:

Once that was in place I ran the front bumper of the truck up against it from whatever angles I could get to it, hooked a chain to the uprights from other angles pushing and pulling it with the truck to test the lateral strength.  We get some high winds and I didn’t want it coming down, even if the additional strength the camper shell structure would add became fractured.

I constructed a lean-to ramp using 4 2x12s and positioned the camper shell diagonally on it, skidded it up with a come-along until I had it in place, then bolted it to the top frame.  As I was finishing, Gale dropped down to see how I was doing and helped a lot during the final positioning of the shell.

The camper shell was missing the door, so for ventilation I used salvaged refrigerator shelving.  It keeps the predators out but allows a good breeze.  But to keep out the water I added the additional planks at an angle sloping away from the roof runoff.

Other than that there wasn’t much to it.

Old Jules

Three Dog Night– One Man Band

Pack Goats for the Elderly and a Youngish Hermit

I didn’t know I was joking when I composed this post a couple of days ago.  But even though Jeanne’s visited me here and knows me better than anyone else, when she read it she thought it was so outrageous I must be joking.  After I explained I was serious and consider it a viable alternative she thought about it a day and just told me again she likes the blog entry as a joke.  But she’s really uncomfortable about the concept as a serious possibility I might try living this way.

So I suppose I must be joking unless I decide it’s the right way to go.  But I’m concerned about the bearings on bicycle wheels.  I’m thinking maybe light motorcycle wheels might hold up better:

The financial constraints involved in trying to get the old F350 capable of pulling a travel trailer and the unknowns involved in why it was left on this place when Gale and Kay bought the property are seeming a bit overwhelming at the moment.  That, combined with the uncertainties of whether I can find an old travel trailer I can fix adequately got me thinking about this.

A couple of years ago when I thought my life might proceed differently than it has, there was a middling possibility I might have an extended trip into the high mountains left in me.  My thought at the time was to spend a month or two in the Gila Wilderness in the immediate vicinity of the Continental Divide.

But at that altitude and the years creeping up on me, combined with the length of the stay that would be required, caused me to think I didn’t want to do it carrying a backpack the way I’ve always done in the past.  My initial thought was a burro, but the fact is hauling a burro’s a bit of a problem.

A few times in the mountains, decades ago, I encountered packers with llamas and talked with them about it, but those animals are as difficult in the size department as donkeys.

However, I ran into someone once in the Gila with a string of goats doing the packing.  Goats, to my way of thinking, have a lot of advantages over the larger animals insofar as transport.  Considering it led me to join some Yahoo Goat Packing groups:

packgoat · All Things Packgoat
I began doing some shopping around looking for a couple of young goats I might train, but intervening events led me to see that another long trip into the mountains isn’t in the cards for me in the immediate future.  And further consideration about that particular use for them in that area also mightn’t be the best.  They’d be a magnet for large predators, risky to leave unattended, and they’d need a lot of attention.
But thinking about pack goats during the years since has caused me to think there might be a role for them to play in a more urban setting.  Namely, for older folks who could hike to the store for groceries, but have difficulties carrying them home without a vehicle.  Maybe a goat cart, for that matter.
Feeding them would be no problem because goats will eat just about anything and thrive on it.
But a pack goat would provide a lot more mobility than a shopping cart for people living on the streets and under bridges, as well.  A goat can go almost anywhere a person can, climb into places where a person would have a lof of problems climbing into.   The ability to easily move residency out of the clusters of street people living under bridges would keep the owner out of police sweeps, out of reach predatory humans preying on the people living under those conditions.
In fact, I’ve been acquainted over the years with several people living in small house-wagons traveling around pulled by burro-power as a lifestyle and talked with them about it at some length.  It strikes me a person with a willingness to walk alongside the contraption instead of riding in it might actually be able to construct a small, light house on an aluminum frame with bicycle wheels sturdy enough to carry everything it took to live, move without buying gasoline, big enough for four cats.
Maybe something along these lines only larger
 Something large enough to haul some luxuries such as a camp stove, some groceries, a place out of the weather, but small enough to get out-of-sight come nightfall.
 Nothing as big, or elaborate at this, but something a lot lighter a couple, or four goats, maximum, could pull.
 Maybe about that size, but constructed with bicycle wheels, ball bearing axles, built on an aluminum frame from salvage aluminum rails and door frames.  Actually aluminum mightn’t be durable enough as the frame.  Maybe steel bed frame angle iron frame as a base for everything above aluminum.
Equipped with photovoltaic charged LED lawn lights to allow night reading, cooking, etc, a chuck box and a small gas fridge.  Maybe a guy would have to move up to a pair of donkeys to pull it.  But maybe not.
I’m thinking maybe two bicycles welded outside a steel bed frame with a tie-rod between the handle-bars behind a yoke might serve, and a swiveling tail-wheel [bicycle wheel] to stabilize the weight and balance on the overhang behind the two rear bicycle wheels might be a good starting place visualizing the possibility.
I’m going to have to puzzle about this more as a potential way to keep living without going under a bridge if circumstances demand I have an escape route.
But here are a few other concept pics from the Practical Action website, Cabelas, and elsewhere, just to remind myself of the directions my mind’s going on all this:
Old Jules
Frankie Laine, Mule Train

Who Has Been an Inspiration in Your Life, and Why?

I’m not an admirer of human beings as being particularly inspirational, on the whole.  Yeah, a lot of human sentences find themselves trapped between quotation marks in fragments people find supportive of viewpoints that won’t stand on their own hind legs.  Pithy wisdomoids giving authority to vapid premises.  Often this does happen in a synthetically inspirational context.  But the sources of those quotes usually don’t appear so wise or unblemished under careful scrutiny.

Maybe ‘inspirational’ isn’t the appropriate word to capture the concept I’m hoping to convey.

Maybe ‘has had an influence on your life you believe helped you to be a person you came nearer admiring than the one you were previously’ would more accurately describe it while filling the need for cumbersome rhetoric.  The inspiration derived from firing wisdomoids back and forth at one another isn’t made of the strong stuff I’m trying to communicate.

For instance, I used to be acquainted with a Vietnam vet, who lived in an Econoline van in Albuquerque.  He had a route of parking spots and a time schedule he’d follow to hang around each place for a while.  The street guys who were dumpster-diving knew his schedule.  They also knew  he’d pay a fair price for  anything he could get his money back on that they’d salvaged out of the trash.  After making his rounds, the Econoline would head to the flea market and he’d sell first to the crowd, then whatever was left to the flea market merchants.

By reselling it from homeless guys dumpster-diving, he provided them a means of getting some cash for a lot of things they’d have no way to sell  for themselves, or would have had a lot of difficulty getting more than a few cents for.  His route superimposed an economic network devised to offer those submerged in hardship a trickle of income, a safety net.  He provided a valuable service.

But what I particularly admired was that, when he came across someone he believed was ready to try drug or alcohol withdrawal he’d pack them up in the van and head off somewhere to the middle of nowhere, usually a small town with a restaurant or grocery store where he could pick up food and supplies. Once out of the city environment, he’d keep the addict in the van a week, two weeks, a month, drying them out, getting them clean, being there for them.

I came across him once parked at Vietnam Memorial Wall park in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico.  I didn’t realize at first what I was seeing.  I just saw his van with the white Ministry sign roughly painted on the side and recognized it and him outside it.  I stopped to chew the fat with him, then heard the moaning in the Econoline.  He caught my eye and shrugged.

“Trying to kick smack.  He’s on his second week.  It ought to start getting better in a few days.”  The odor of vomit, urine and human excretions was strong near the truck, so we drifted further afield as we talked.  Probably he was used to it, but I wasn’t.

Christian guy.  One of the Christians I’ve known that kept me believing there are honest-to-goodness bona fide Christians in the world.

I surely admired his guts, his determination and compassion.  There’s a lot about him I’d admire in myself if I looked inside me and surprised myself finding it there.

Nice to come across a Christian occasionally who isn’t all hat and no cattle.

I wonder what Jesus thought about sin.  Jesus did his talking about loving neighbors, compassion, peace-making, mercy, that sort of thing.  Hardly said anything about sin.  If he could speak his mind today I wonder if he’d forgive Saul of Tarsus the way he did Judas.”  Josephus Minimus

Here are a couple of blogs you might find of interest:

Urbandumpsterdiver’s Blog

Doing It Homeless

Old Jules

Kingston Trio-Reverend Mr. Black

John Lennon– Cold Turkey

Riding the Bread Line

Someone sent me an email forward the other day explaining to me how illegal aliens, welfare recipients, other low-lifes and me, retired and living off Social Security,  is what’s causing this great country to go down the tube.  I swan.

I don’t have a TV, don’t listen to radio, don’t read newspapers or magazines, but I do get email forwards and see sidebar news flashes at Internet sites.  So knowing the country is down the tube didn’t come as a complete shock to me.  Every couple of weeks I go to town for groceries, chicken feed and other necessaries, and the fact gasoline prices are a mite high, bread, milk and produce are worth more than they used to be, and people are older, all had me wondering if things hadn’t slipped downhill.

But knowing all those old people in the grocery lines and I are causing it surely gave me pause.

Made me realize life is harder for people with ball-caps turned sideways, studs in their nostrils, belly buttons and lips, tattoo-tears running down off their faces, and attitude have it tougher than I did all those years I was younger than I am now, because I wasn’t up here then.

I mostly try to mind my own business and tend my own affairs.  I don’t want to be a part of a problem someone else has.  If people living down in the trailer parks sitting in the backs of their pickups drinking beer Saturday afternoons are suffering harder than they would if I was out living under a bridge somewhere dumpster-diving for a living I wouldn’t be half the man I think I am if I didn’t consider it a viable alternative.

I paid money every paycheck for about 50 years into Social Security, but I never figured I’d come to depend on it for a living.  When it happened I never stopped to consider that expecting some of it back was different from people living off their military retirement, Federal Employment Retirement, or Congressional Retirement systems.

If I need to go dumpster-diving and live under a bridge to clear my conscience I figure I can do it.  Lots of people are already doing it.  Just looking at them I hadn’t thought about the moral high ground they’re holding.

Old Jules

King of the Road- Roger Miller