Earth Day: Reusing lath, insulation and stucco

With Earth Day coming up on Sunday, there’s lots of focus right now on how we can help the environment. Even kids at school are taught the three Rs: reduce, reuse, recycle.

I think we’ve done pretty well at Prairie Woods on the reusing part, starting way back with our first evening on the property when we burnt thistle plants and cooked steaks and marshmallows over the fire.

Since then, one of the wooden beams, which was replaced with a steel I-beam, has become a lovely and sturdy set of stairs. The other wooden beam, although not supporting anything, is still in place awaiting its future destiny.

Last summer John came up with the idea of using the wood shavings, which came out of the walls and attic, as mulch around trees and shrubs. They proved quite useful there, helping keep weeds down and moisture in.

The loose bits of blown-in fibreglass insulation found in some walls was carefully bagged and stored for future use in insulating outbuildings, especially the future chicken house.

Although a lot of the lath went to a burning pile, we also have quite a heap, nails carefully pulled, to use for kindling when we get our wood stove next winter. The wood for the wood stove will come from the huge amounts of deadfall we’ve been collecting in cleaning up walking and sitting areas in the shelter belt.

Boards from old closets and other places were claimed by Sharlee, who’s using them to build a fort in a far off corner of the property. She also has an old coffee can full of rescued nails.

Plaster was spread out on the ground in the shelter belt to decompose and go back to the soil.

For a while we didn’t think we had a use for the stucco we pulled off the outside walls. One pick-up truck load was unloaded last fall at a fill location off the property. Meanwhile, a second truck load sat in the yard over the winter.

After bouncing and splashing over the mud-puddle-filled holes in the driveway a few times this spring, I had another look at the pieces of stucco in that old farm truck. John approved the plan and we spent an afternoon carefully unloading the truck, checking for and taking out nails, and then piling big and small pieces of broken stucco into a few of the low spots in the driveway.

using old stucco as driveway fill

We found a new use for the old stucco from the house at Prairie Woods -- and a new way to ease the bumping and bouncing when we drive into the yard -- by filling the driveway holes with the broken stucco.

There are a few more puddle holes to fill and now we’re eying up the remaining stucco, wondering if there’s going to be enough!

driveway holes filled with pieces of house stucco

Bits and pieces of broken stucco, large and small, nicely fill the mud puddle depressions in the Prairie Woods driveway, and will crunch down into a nice level surface over time (we hope!).

Reduce, reuse, recycle – it’s not really all that difficult. Look at what you have and what you need and help old Mother Earth out a little!

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