There are many things to collect on smallholdings. In fact there’s stuff that should never be thrown away. Indeed, if the opportunity arises, such stuff should be actively collected. Here are ten of those items.

  • Baths

If you are renovating or remodellng a bathroom, chances are that you will replace the old bath with a shiny new one. Which will likely be made of glass reinforced plastic with an enamel inner lining, rather than a nice, heavy cast iron or steel one.

Regardless of the condition of the old one, it will find ready use on any smallholding. Its moulded corners and enameled interior (regardless of condition of the enamel) mean that there are no hard corners or sharp edges to cause injury to livestock or children. And, it is relatively easy to clean. Thus, it is ideal as a water trough in one of your paddocks.

And if you put the word out among your townie relatives and friends you may, over time score additional baths from their own renovations. Thus, you could finish up with a bath in each of your paddocks.

Beware, however, because those baths situated close to boundary fences are vulnerable to theft. So try to position them out of sight from roadside passersby.

Baths also make ideal receptacles in which to grow aquatic and swamp-loving plants and vegetables such as Chinese water chestnuts.

And with a bit of imagination they (and old toilets) can be turned into interesting and colourful features in your garden.

  • Poles

Other thintgs to collect on smallholdings are poles. Wooden or steel, of any diameter or length, poles should never be discarded. For one day, for sure, you will find uses for them. They can either be used to construct or beef up fences, or as stakes in the garden or vegetable patch.

  • Wire

Until it actually disintegrates through corrosion, wire of any kind and length should be hoarded assiduously.

Short lengths of hinged joint field fence (commonly known by their trade-names such as Bonnox or Veldspan) should be rolled up and stored. They will come in useful when you suffer a cut fence due to a stock theft, for example.

Barbed wire that can no longer be tensioned because of partial corrosion should, likewise, be rolled up and stored.

Then, one of your tasks during the quieter winter months can be to cut the rolled wire into 1,2m, 1,5m or 1,8m lengths. These should be straightened as best possible, and bundled together about six or eight lengths at a time.

The bundles are then compressed with nice tight wire loops (a wire clamping tool makes this task a breeze), three or four clamps to a bundle.

And there you have a use for your rusty wire – in the form of a sturdy fence dropper. The bundled droppers have the added advantage of being thicker than a new dropper, thereby making the fence look more substantial.

  • Fence panels

If you have any lengths of concrete fencing (“stop nonsense”) on your plot, there will come a time when a panel or two will need to be replaced because it has cracked. A little hoard of carefully stored loose panels will enable you to do the repair yourself, at zero cost.

Just be sure to store the panels vertically, held in place against a wall. Storing them lying flat is a sure-fire way to make them crack.

Concrete fence panels also make an excellent barrier to moles and other burrowing animals when buried in the ground.

  • Conveyor belting

If you have access to, or have lying around, some lengths of scrap conveyor belt, you have a versatile and long-lasting resource at your disposal.

Longer lengths of scrap conveyor can be used buried vertically to line planting beds. This should prevent burrowing animals and tough roots (eg Japanese bamboo) from passing through.

Small pieces of lightweight belting can be fashioned into sturdy fire beaters.

Laid flat belting makes for warm, dust-free flooring in a factory or workshop, for example next to machinery such as lathes, drill presses, work benches etc.

Attached to stable walls, thick heavy belting offers some protection to the walling (and to the animal’s legs) in the stable of an inveterate wall-kicker horse.

Lengths of belting, buried 20 or 30cm into the ground with about 20cm still protruding, make excellent, non-hazardous arena edging for a stable yard.

Flat lengths, cut to shape, make a hard-wearing sound-deadening surface in a bakkie or trailer. Note, however, that flat belting becomes very slippery when wet. It is therefore unsuitable alone as flooring in a stable or animal transportation vehicle of any type. For these two applications woven belting mats should be used (and replaced or repaired when the weave starts to come undone).

Short pieces of belting can be fashioned into handsome, easy-to-clean and sturdy kennel beds.

  • Tyres

Buried vertically to half their depth, scrap tyres can be used to line dressage arenas, driveways and parking areas.

A common use in days of yore was to fill a deep trench with tyres laid on top of each other for use as a soakaway in a septic tank system.

Stacked four or five high, and filled with soil, tyres can be used as a sort of raised-bed planter. These are particularly suited to growing potatoes. When one wishes to harvest the potatoes one simply knocks the stack over (rebuilding it with fresh soil for the next crop).

  • Pipes

Unless they are hopelessly cracked, holed or corroded to a sieve-like state, pipes of any nature should be hoarded for use on a “rainy day”.

Corroded steel pipes can be used as uprights on fences, with the bigger diameters finding use as emergency corner posts or gate posts.

For plastic water pipe any short lengths will be useful when repairing a working installation, because one of the absolute truths of smallholder life is that buried plastic water pipe will, at some time or another, be holed by a garden fork or pick-axe.

  • Pipe fittings

Along with odd lengths of pipe of whatever diameter, pipe fittings of any shape and diameter should, likewise, be stored away for re-use. Because you can be sure that when a hole in a water pipe needs to be repaired the fitting you need to repair it will need to be bought if you don’t have an old one handy. Sod’s Law has it that the repair will need to be urgently done on a Saturday afternoon or a Sunday, when all your nearby hardware and irrigation shops are closed.

  • Bricks and blocks

Used building material, particularly in the form of bricks, but also concrete lintels, paving slabs, edging etc, should be stored for further use. With new bricks now costing more than a few cents each, your little hoard of a few thousand clay stock bricks, and even half-bricks, will prove a Godsend on your pocket should you decide to do some cobbled paving, or if you need to build a chicken coop or small shed.

  • Roof sheeting

Other things to collect on smallholdings include polycarbonate or iron, corrugated or IBR profile, roof sheeting. These should be carefully hoarded, because on any smallholding there will be a use, or uses, even if not used as roofing itself.

You need to develop the habit so that when you see things to be collected on smallholdings you immediately store them safely.

Main picture credit: Liz Dawson / Old Bath, Rossendale Way, courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *