One of the first skills we teach our interns is how to pull and straighten nails.
Some interns describe this as the Karate Kid induction to Kaitiaki Farm, and call me ‘Mr. Miyagi’.
Critics have challenged the notion straightening and reusing nails when they are so cheap to buy in the shops, but to me the intent and process go to the heart of permaculture. A huge amount of permaculture can be distilled into one word: mindfulness. Most of the permaculture principles are simply different ways to say, “Be mindful of…” Perhaps no more so than Produce No Waste.
I bought some second-hand trusses this week from Reclaimed Timber Traders – an amazing social enterprise in Palmerston North that diverts construction demolition material from landfill and resells it to the public. I got a good price because they had not yet pulled the nails themselves.
Along with some pre-loved 4x2s and roofing iron we carried the trusses down the hill to the plateau near our hives.
Reusing the trusses made building the pig shelter quick and easy. As I told our interns, Dani and Felicity, “The key to building is a dry head, dry feet and diagonal bracing.”
We made sure that the iron overhung all of the timber, that we blocked the structure off the ground with off-cuts of treated pine, and we braced it in all directions. “We are not building for a beautiful, calm day like today,” I told them. “Imagine a gale southerly blowing in the middle of the night. That’s what we’re building for.”
The whole job took less than three hours from off-the trailer to completion – all while entertaining a three-year-old boy and six goats. The pigs paid us little interest, but hopefully they’ll appreciate the final product made entirely of reused materials save for the roofing screws.
The 2.7 metre by 2.0 metre shelter cost a total of about $40.