Chapter 7
Recycling at its Finest
One of the features of our new home that we were very excited about was the expansive workshop.  Over the years we have dreamt of having a space for all our tools and a place to work on all the projects we have imagined we would make.  Somewhere that you could leave a project half done and walk away from it without having to pack it away.  So now we have a massive shed with a nine meter workbench running the entire length of one wall.  One weekend Benny got to one of my old cutting tables and dismantled it to make a second wall length bench with bottom storage shelf on the opposite wall.  To give you some idea of the size of this space, with both benches in place we can still drive a vehicle down the centre of the shed!  At the end we store the ride on mower and an assortment of bits and pieces that wont fit under the bench.  On shelving and in boxes are all the tools and fittings and fixtures from a variety of household projects and refurbishments.  
We have a bench vice and a place for the drop saw to be permanently located.  A section allocated to painting has mountains or rollers and paint brushes that when we unpacked all our boxes just seemed to multiply.  How many paint rollers and trays does one family need, and caulking guns?  The shed has sections for camping equipment barely used, old fish tanks have a home until they are needed to house reptiles or guppies once again.  Bits and pieces are all neatly laid out so that when you want something you can actually find it and not have to take yet another trip to Bunnings to buy something that you are sure you have, somewhere!  Best of all, there are racks to house timber, old shelving, a dismantled bunk bed, some off cuts from an old kitchen, some used cupboard doors.  All the bits that are so useful when you want to “make something”.  
So now to the projects…
We have this space by the back door that gets cluttered with shoes and I envisaged a bench seat with boxes under it to house the discarded footwear.  So off I went to the shed armed with just an idea, and hours later the old bunk bed was recycled, into a distressed retro painted park bench (the boxes are yet to be made) and installed by the door.  It has been so useful for parking your butt to pull your boots on and to put boxes for the courier to pick up so that they dont get dusty, or chicken pooped.
The next project was a team effort.  The chickens had up until this point been housed in a “blue box” inside their run, made long ago by a previous owner and slowly being eaten away by white ants.  I noticed the back leg deteriorating just in time and put bricks under the back edge to prop it up in case the inevitable happened and it collapsed.  Which is just what it did!  So it was time to build the Taj Mah Chook House.  I had surfed the net for various designs but finally agreed that it needed to be a bit free form to fit in the weird shaped space at the end of the run.  So I drew a sketch and showed it to Benny, who did the measuring and came with me to Bunnings for the blue board and framing timber to make sure I got the right stuff.
He decided that because we were making it up as we went along that it would be best if we put it together in the shed first to make sure it worked and then undid it and transported it to the chook run and put it back together again!  Only a man would think of doing this I swear!  So that’s how we tackled it. 
On the first weekend we put most of it together except the doors.  A couple of weeks later we put the windows in and then several weeks later (after loads of unseasonably cold nights which I worried was going to freeze the chooks to death) while I was cooking breakfast one morning Benny dismantled the frame and brought it up in pieces.  
We put it back together reasonably quickly and it worked!  Some roofing clip lock aluminum that we were given by our neighbours was used to make the angled roof.  I used some acrylic panels to make the windows.  We wrapped a wooden ramp in some marine carpet courtesy of our friend Glen who was busy doing up his yacht in our back yard.  This stopped the rather steep wooden slope being too slippery.  I put in a couple of perch options, reused the old nesting boxes but put a store bought plastic egg in to show them that this is the new place for laying.  I left the old laying box on the ground until they got used to it but on the first morning one girl had laid where she was supposed to and everyone else followed over the space of the next week.  
The chooks were very impressed and after the first night (when I had to go and physically put them in it) they knew what it was for and where they needed to be.  The following morning Lawson and his friend Cory (who had a sleep over) painting the house bright red and when we ran out of red they used up some old spray cans of blue paint on the back to make it colourful and help protect the boards from the weather.
I put in fresh sugar cane mulch and raked the area and then stood back and admired what we had done.  A true family project!
Benny manages a resort, if I hadn’t mentioned that before.  This means that every couple of months there is a Board Meeting that takes up family time on Saturday but in lieu he takes Monday off to do some projects around the house or have a day of rest (HA HA!).  I keep to my regular work week and try and stay out of his way during his day off so that I dont get dragged into his projects instead of concentrating on my own work.  This particular Monday not so long ago, I heard many noises coming from the shed, at least one trip to Bunnings was had and Benny didnt come up to the house to ask for a cuppa or even lunch!  
By the time it was almost time to get Lawson from school, I thought I had better go down to the shed to investigate what was going on.  It turns out I ruined his surprise as he was almost finished a pressie he had been making all day, just for me.  There is no particular name that he has given to this tool but I call it a mobile potting bench and wheel barrow. He has made it the exact height for cleaning out the chook house and the barrow space is just the right dimension to house the bag of sugar cane mulch I buy fortnightly from Bunnings.   The bench section is great for potting plants or transporting tools, storing gardening gloves, or housing a curious chicken.  He jokes that it looks like it has been made in a sheltered workshop and I think it is useful, practical and best of all made with love! Oh and it is recycled too, all except the wheel.
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